Saturday, June 8, 2013

Letter from a Bishop (Voices of Faith)

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Voices of Faith
The Bishop of Buckingham (UK, Church of England) writes an excellent blog, taking on the usual anti-gay clap-trap.  Bishop Alan Wilson is a staunch supporter of equality, not in spite of, but because of his faith.  Next time someone tries to use the clobber verses or say marriage equality goes against Christianity, point them his direction.

This letter takes down some of the usual arguments, from a deeply Christian perspective.
There is no single biblical concept of marriage. There are seven in the Hebrew Scriptures alone, including some that are far from ours (like 1 man and 700 women). Indeed there actually is no root in Hebrew that expresses the concept of "marriage" as we know it. People "take" or "procure" their women according to the custom and definition of the context. Similarly there is no link between marriage and procreation which, in the Hebrew Scriptures, as in the rest of life, can happen entirely separately. What is judged is not the definitions of their marriages but people's behaviour within them. We have to work with the Bible we've got, not the one we would have written, given our own prejudices. 
What I do find is that many people who begin with a saloon bar approach find that when they try to apply it to real people they love in their own circle of friends and families, its inadequacies soon reveal themselves for Pharisaic cant. An ethic that cannot be applied to people you actually love is sub-Christian by the standards of the Good Samaritan. The sermon on the mount is not a discussion starter, but a way of life. We all have to try and engage with it, as Nelson said in another context, more closely!
The more people of faith speak out, the more it is clear that opposition to equality is NOT a Christian value.  Our community too often lets the opposition paint this as "LGBT vs. Christian" but it is not.

Let's reach out to these people of faith and make common cause. (Obl disclaimer, I'm not a Christian, but I am married to one. And our marriage was, and is, blessed by her faith community.)

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