Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I'm Not Twisting Your Magic Book

OMG, the hate mail that we at Sunshine Cathedral get from "Christians" telling us that our message affirming the sacred value of all people and the legitimacy of mutual, shared, adult affection (regardless of the genders of the people sharing it) is somehow "twisting the word of God" to suit our own purposes is staggering.

Not only is such hate mail pretty voluminous, it is also completely ridiculous. And here's why. Whereas we will encourage people to think critically about the bible, and while we will place texts in their historical/linguistic/cultural contexts, and while we unashamedly bring all of who we are to the reading of the texts and try to be attentive to the voices that were ignored or silenced in the writing of texts, we do all of that to liberate the bible - not to justify our opinions.

Let me be brutally frank - I don't care what an anonymous ancient writer who thought the world was flat believed about women, samge-gender attraction, child-rearing, the ethics of warfare, or the possibility of certain foods being abominable (I'm mostly annoyed that mushrooms didn't make the list). Ancient writers, compilers, editors, translators, and interpreters had their own agendas, opinions, cultural biases, prejudices, blind spots, preferences, etc. Whatever their's were need not dictate what mine are. I can believe what makes sense to me without needing to find someone who died a few millennia before I was born to agree with me.

So, no writers of hate mail, I am not twisting a magic book to justify my "lifestyle"...because, for me, the book isn't magic and furthermore, I'm not looking up my experiences, opinions, values, needs, or longings in any book to justify them. I have never assumed that my views, beliefs, and opinions needed justification.

Now, I love reading. I love literature. I love history, I love mythology. I love poetry. I love drama. I love biographies. I love historical fiction. So, guess what...I LOVE the bible! But loving it, reading it, commiting large portions of it to memory, thinking about it, wrestling with it, arguing with it, sharing the parts that I find life-giving with others is not the same as "twisting" it. Now, using isolated proof-texts to justify your own hatreds and prejudices, that's pretty twisted, but let's not play biblical tit-for-tat.

I love the bible. I enjoy the bible. I even teach the bible. But I do not WORSHIP the bible. In fact, I freely and vehemently disagree with sections of it (the entire book of Philemon should line bird cages!).

Here's the thing, those who prefer to thump their bibles than to read them carefully:
I don't need the bible to justify my existence, my thoughts, my opinions, my love, my sexuality, or any part of life. And being free from biblical tyranny allows me to enjoy and love the bible all the more. I highly recommend such biblical liberation.

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