Thursday, August 20, 2009

Scripture and Culture: Same-Sex Love

We are asked to affirm a description of sexuality based on a reality that's shaped not by Scripture but by today's culture.
This is the comment of a disappointed delegate to a church convention regarding his denomination's new open stance toward homosexuality. Unfortunately for this point of view, Scripture and culture cannot be dichotomized sharply in this fashion. The Bible was written in a cultural context and is interpreted in a cultural context. The culture of the time influences both text and interpretation, not only in form but also in substance.

There is more biblical support for slavery than condemnation of homosexuality. So why is the latter binding on us today but not the former?

If Deuteronomy 21:18-21 is not a moral imperative for us today, why is Leviticus 20:13?

I Timothy 2:11-12 is not authoritative for us today, why is Romans 1:26-27?

No, it is not a simple matter of obeying Scripture or culture, it is much more complicated than that. Sometimes enlightened culture is right against time-bound Scripture, e. g. in rejecting slavery and granting equality to women.

As I used to say to my students about the Bible-culture problem:
Some things abide, some things change. Which is which, and how do we know?

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