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 I’d be interested in hearing your answers, whether or not you think the Bible is outdated or simply a historical document.)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.)