Monday, November 24, 2008

The Bible, Racism, and Homosexuality

GetReligion takes note of the changes underway in some conservative religious institutions in regards to their understanding of reading cultural mores into the Bible. At Bob Jones University:

The private fundamentalist Christian school that was founded in 1927 said its rules on race were shaped by culture instead of the Bible, according to a statement posted Thursday on the university’s Web site.

The university in northwestern South Carolina, with about 5,000 students, didn’t begin admitting black students until nearly 20 years after the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling found public segregated schools were unconstitutional.

“We failed to accurately represent the Lord and to fulfill the commandment to love others as ourselves. For these failures we are profoundly sorry. Though no known antagonism toward minorities or expressions of racism on a personal level have ever been tolerated on our campus, we allowed institutional policies to remain in place that were racially hurtful,” the statement said.

From Furnam University:

Vaughn CroweTipton, Furman University chaplain, said there has been a long debate about whether the Bible condones slavery or discrimination. Most communities, he said, have decided biblical references to slavery were a reflection of contemporary culture.

“We can say ‘No, that was for them and not for us,’” CroweTipton said. Scholars and the faithful, CroweTipton said, are having a similar debate about the role of women in society. “We struggle to understand which of the texts we read are culturally bound.”

The school had used the Bible to justify discrimination in the past, such as in a 1998 letter to a writer who questioned the school’s ban on interracial dating. Then, school officials noted that God had created oceans to keep men apart, as well as ethnic, cultural and language barriers.

Little by little the circle of God's love becomes more open. For this we can be grateful. Is it not painfully obvious that the biblical passages that talk about homosexuality need to be seen in the same light? There is more biblical justification for slavery in the Bible than there is condemnation of homosexuality. Both views reflected cultural understandings of the day.

Conservative Christians can admit cultural biases regarding slavery and racism today. Thankfully. Let's pray for the day when they "get it" about homosexuality. Sometimes it just amazes me that they don't see the connection.

1 comment:

Raycol said...

Thanks for your views on culture and homosexuality. This is one of the main themes of the “Gay and Christian” site (www.GaysAndSlaves.com).