I’ve been mulling over the twin tsunami type events of the week which have been generated from within the Christian Community. The first was Mr Camping’s prediction that the world would end on the 21st May, which I was rather hoping it wouldn’t, as my birthday is on the 29th. The second has been the storm which broke at the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland with regard to the ordination of openly gay people whether in same sex relationships or single. Mr Camping and those who are against the ordination of gay people both affirm the sovereignty of the Bible and appeal to it as the basis of their case. Mr Camping refuses to back down despite the evidence, though like Ken Clarke, he has apologised for getting the detail wrong. Apparently the first fruits did happen on 21st May, in a spiritual sense, in that the world is now under judgement, whereas before the 21st it wasn’t. The date of the real action with fireworks has been revised to 21st October, fortunately after my birthday.
The point however about both Mr Camping and the anti gay lobby is that appeal to Scripture is not actually where it is at. The appeal from both camps (excuse the play on words), is futile. It no more proves greater zeal for the Lord than excessive words in prayer. Mr Camping will be proved wrong by real events in real time. He will square it with Scripture by yet more sophistry. The anti gay lot, whilst not in a position to be proved wrong, can be taken to task on two counts. One is that the evidence from Scripture is being ripped out of context in order to condemn wholesale. This makes their case less an appeal to Scripture and more a reliance on ignorance. Second, they conveniently do not point to the many instance of deliberate overlooking or ignoring of plenty of other Scriptural mandates. Women are not supposed to worship without hats in mixed company. We are not supposed to lend our money out at interest. Although admittedly that is difficult in today’s economic climate, I cannot imagine that many in the anti gay group have never used interest bearing accounts in banks. And what about the stoning of those caught in adultery, the wearing of clothes made from mixtures of materials, and using inventions never thought of when the Bible was written, (enter the Amish communities). If we ignore some things and have a go at others, I want to ask why?
The question is actually a real one, for I have been as guilty of this kind of hypocrisy and more, as anyone. As someone whose roots are in evangelical conservative theology, I have struggled with the issues of interpretation of Scripture and the witness of the Church. And quite frankly I am tired of having to play games with Biblical interpretation. I believe the imperative to love is so overriding and overwhelming that it has to be allowed to interpret my actions and beliefs, rather than me coming to interpret Scripture with my little mind.