Monday, May 25, 2009

Would Jesus Discriminate? Do You?

From Would Jesus Discriminate website:

It’s often quoted, "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

The Church (and individual Christians) certainly aren’t immune from making mistakes — horrible ones, at times. In the past, we’ve misused the Holy Scriptures to defend — and even promote — some indefensible beliefs and actions.

There was a time when most Christians believed slavery was the will of God. There was a time when most Christians believed women should not be allowed to vote. There was a time when most Christians believed that interracial marriage was wrong. Each position was elaborately supported with biblical arguments — and each position, we can now clearly see, was dead wrong.

We now understand that cultural prejudice was at work shaping the way these Christians read the Bible. It is essential, for those of us who seek to know and follow the will of God in all we do, that we learn about the errors in our history so that we never those mistakes again. Precious lives are at stake, and we simply can’t afford to be so wrong again.

Proponents of slavery used three distinct appeals: nature, scripture, and social order. They argued that the nature of African people (often seen as the "curse of Ham") relegated them to servitude. This view was bolstered by a narrow reading of select scriptures. [See note 1. ] They also claimed that human society would collapse if the status quo were not maintained.

Using the same reasons as those who advocated for slavery (nature, scripture, and social order) some Christians have resisted every attempt to improve the standing of women in society, most notably fighting against allowing women to vote. Nature and selected scripture were invoked to show that a woman’s place was in the home, not engaged as a citizen.

In June 2007, the United States celebrates the 40th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, the landmark civil rights case that struck down laws forbidding interracial marriage. Here is what the judge in the state case wrote:

"Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix. " — Statement by Virginia trial judge in 1959 case that led to 1967 U.S. Supreme Court striking down laws in 16 states that prohibited interracial marriage.

Incredibly, this judge was invoking the same prejudiced understanding of God, nature, and social order to make his ruling. And this was nearly a hundred years after the lessons of slavery!

Parts of the Bible, when applied in isolation without the context of the whole of Scripture and without the guidance of the Spirit, have been used to justify slavery, segregation, racism, and the subjugation of women.

So, the questions we submit are, Where else is that same error being committed today in your life and the lives of those around you? When are the same arguments (nature, isolated Scriptures, and social order) used to condemn others?

All of these historical arguments about race and gender sound hauntingly familiar people of developmental disorders, emotional disorders, to people of varied gender identities (transgender), and to people of varied sexual orientations. Even people of advanced age or unique physical features have been subject to the prejudice of "normative" society. We’ve been told we’re contrary to nature, even condemned in scripture, and that any recognition of our rights or relationships will, at the very least, strain social order.

Christian love seeks to encompass all humanity in the embrace of God and to teach each of us to love one another as we love ourselves. There are ways to read read the Bible — spiritually, intellectually sound ways — that are affirming to all. You can hold to an anti-anyone interpretation, but that is your choice. The Scriptures do not compel it.

No comments:

Post a Comment