A lot of our conversation today centred around the reality of the Bible as always being a translated text, and so we cannot avoid the bias of a particular context. We wondered about the newest English Bible (Common English Bible) and how it translated 1 Corinthians 6:9,10 – here it is:
Don’t you know that people who are unjust won’t inherit God’s kingdom? Don’t be deceived. Those who are sexually immoral, those who worship false gods, adulterers, both participants in same-sex intercourse, thieves, the greedy, drunks, abusive people, and swindlers won’t inherit God’s kingdom.
Actually the whole passage is interesting – you can read it here.
We talked a lot about the literary context of these verses, and the overall sense of what Paul was trying to convey. Also about the reality of temple prostitution, and slaves being sexually abused by their masters, and there being more interest in prohibiting male homosexuality versus lesbianism, and especially the negative response towards a man who was the passive recipient in homosexual activity, and so seen as more feminine…
(We also noted that if Paul really wanted to condemn homosexuality, he would likely have used the word “paiderasste” – and he doesn’t.)
Next week we will talk about chapter 3, and the conversations Coren reports on from people he knows who identify as LGBTQ, including folks who have chosen to stay in the church and those who have left.
Just a reminder – tomorrow at our lunch meetings we are going to continue the conversation about Biblical texts. Specifically, we are going to look in more detail at the story of the healing of the centurion’s slave/lover, and the two remaining clobber texts.(These can be found in 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy. The texts are linked in the previous post.)
I think it might also be worth thinking about how we look at scripture. What does it meant to take scripture seriously but not literally? What difference does it make what the Bible says anyway? Why would we allow a text written two thousand years ago to impact us in the twenty-first century? (These are not just rhetorical questions. I’d be interested in hearing your answers, whether or not you think the Bible is outdated or simply a historical document.) What do Anglicans mean when we talk about a three-legged stool approach to decision making in the church? What is pastoral and what is doctrinal?
Looking forward to conversation tomorrow, and to some comments…
So today’s discussion became more like a lecture as I tried to fill people in on contextual background and issues when we look at Biblical texts – and give my own version of why I interpret the Bible through a more liberal lens…
Some thoughts from today:
- not everyone had seen the letter to Dr. Laura
- a big theme of our conversation today was how different understandings of both marriage and sexuality are in our context, versus the various worlds in which the Bible was written
- we did read the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, and concluded that it is a story about gang rape, and many of the group recalled that rape is about power not about sex… (helps to have several SDS folk in the circle!)
- we had a WIDE variety of levels of Biblical literacy present today in the group – not sure where any of the virtual group are at? Makes me aware again of the need to do some general teaching around how you can take the Bible seriously but not literally. It may be time for a group on that again (each week so far we have ended up talking about the interpretation of other passages). I used to have a group to look at Bible passages (Re:verse) – would anyone be interested in that starting up again?
We didn’t get through all the passages, so next week we will continue to look at Biblical verses/stories/teachings and how they apply (or don’t!) to same-sex marriage. You can go ahead and keep reading the book, or simply continue to think about how the Bible is used both for and against acceptance of LGBTQ people & relationships. (Next week we will look at the story of Jesus’ healing of the centurion’s slave in more detail, as well as the ‘clobber’ texts in 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy.)
Well, a (very) small group of us met over the lunch-hour, and had a very good conversation. Some key points:
- Folks were saddened by the negativity that Coren experienced even before he had come out in favour of same-sex marriage. We talked about how most of us move in more liberal circles and don’t tend to experience this first hand. Even when we do, it is often done anonymously, with people not brave enough to actually own their negative response. What has your experience been?
- We were struck by the comparison Coren makes about how Jesus actually condemns divorce, and yet many conservative church groups are more tolerant of that as a reality, versus same-sex marriage (about which Jesus says NOTHING). We talked about the way in which Jesus’ idealism about marriage and statement against divorce is seen by many feminist scholars as a way of affirming women in a culture where it was easy for men to discard wives. We also talked about how the acceptance of divorce is a relatively new development in even the Anglican church, and the irony of that in a church which formed around the request for a divorce from a monarch! (And then Megan gave a brief history lesson on why the Anglican church is not just the result of a whim by Henry VIII…)
- We wondered – why did Coren think the Anglican church was more welcoming than the Catholic church? Is that because we focus less on doctrine? Is it because he is in the Diocese of Toronto which is quite liberal? I am not sure that either of this article or this interview helps clarify these questions, but they are interesting to read!
- We also wondered if this change of heart around same-sex marriage has affected his other beliefs?
What do you think? What comes to mind with any of this, or with the questions posted yesterday? What did you think of the first chapter? Does it make you want to keep reading? Got questions about our questions? Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments.
(and note – next week is the ‘meat’ of the book, an exploration of the Biblical arguments – I will have the ‘basket of Bibles’ from the chapel at our Monday meeting and we will sit and actually look at the passages…)
So – did you get through the first chapter of “Epiphany”? Thoughts so far? This is a fairly light introduction to the serious business of chapter 2, when Coren looks critically at the Bible. But this chapter sets the stage as Coren lays out the strong negative response that he experienced as he moved to a less conservative position about same-sex marriage.
Some questions to ponder in response to this chapter:
- Coren seems surprised by the vitriole that his change of heart prompted in others. Are you surprised? Can such a response be justified? What is it that prompts such anger and fear?
- How familiar are you with the conservative world that Coren portrays? In your own everyday world, how much of this negative response exists? Does his story seem accurate?
- The tipping point for Coren seems to have been learning about the new laws in Uganda (p. 15 “Those people in that nation who happen to have such a biting obsession with the gay community and such a chronic and violent homophobia brought me to my senses.”) Until then, Coren believed that he could still act in love while opposing same-sex marriages. Are there other experiences that have changed people’s minds on this issue?
- Coren was let go from his role as host of 100 Huntley St. Was that fair? If you are host of a show, do you need to agree with the unwritten values and asumptions of the company paying for the show? What if the position was reversed and he was promoting a conservative agenda on a liberal, left-wing show – would that be OK?
- When do you take a stand? When do you stay quiet?
- Who do you think this chapter is aimed at? Who is his intended audience?
Coming to our group tomorrow (Monday) at 12 noon in the Ministry Centre? Bring your thoughts with you – come prepared to discuss these and other questions. I will post an update after the in-person meeting, and then feel free to comment and add your own thoughts…
It’s been a couple of years since we posted from the chapel community. But this winter we are inviting people near and far to join us as we read Michael Coren’s latest book, Epiphany: A Christian’s Change of Heart & Mind over Same-sex Marriage. This book made The Globe and Mail’s list of the top books from 2016, and the author will actually be at Renison on Saturday June 17th for a one day workshop marking the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. The book is readily available from most booksellers and on-line, both through Amazon and Indigo.
If you are around Renison and want to join the in-person discussion, we are meeting on Mondays at 12 noon in the Ministry Centre, beginning on January 16. I will try and post here each Monday – both as an update on the questions/wonderings/insights I am bringing to the day’s discussion, and then also sharing what happens from the face-to-face conversation, and inviting you to join us as that continues virtually.
Looking forward to some thoughtful conversation!