Monday, July 1, 2013

The Bible

 Dawn in the Desert on a Monday Morning

The recent Supreme Court marriage rulings have inspired hundreds of "on-air" pundits to wax eloquently about the merits and effects of same-sex marriage in this country. 

Yesterday I was listening to NPR. An obviously educated and articulate lawyer who has been involved in several contentious legal battles to prohibit same-sex marriage, was being interviewed.

In the interview, the argument he made for opposing the latest court rulings was totally based on the Bible, and he spoke with such authority that you wanted to believe he was making a valid point. The only problem is that he didn't have a clue about what the Bible had to say either about marriage or homosexuality.

His basic argument was: God wrote the Bible. The Book of Genesis (the story of creation) was written at the beginning of time and is the oldest book in the scriptures.  In the Book of Genesis, God commands that marriage must only take place between one man and one woman (Adam and Eve).  So the Supreme Court struck down one of the most ancient commandments that God ever gave us.

The problem is that each and every one of this lawyer's so-called biblical arguments were simply not true.  This obviously educated man was biblically illiterate. 

First of all, the Bible is a collection of many different kinds of literature written over a long period of time from thousands of years ago. I suppose you could say that "God" inspired the Bible. I'd prefer to say that these books were written by various individuals and communities of people in order to articulate how they experienced God in their various social contexts.  Certainly God never wrote the "Bible". 

With regard to the Book of Genesis, it is indeed the first book in the Bible, but it isn't the oldest book;   and it obviously wasn't written at the beginning of time. In fact the Book of Genesis is one of the later books of the Hebrew Scriptures, and it contains a variety of creation-type stories (some of  which come out of the Hebrew culture, while other stories (myths) come from various other ancient middle eastern cultures.

Finally, the assertion that God commands that marriage should be between one man and one woman is actually rather ludicrous in light of the fact that the Hebrew law (the Law of Moses) directed that a man should marry as many wives as he might be able to support.

Although the "Bible" is often used as a source for arguing against same-sex marriage, the various books of the Bible have little or nothing to say about marriage at all. The way we understand marriage today is a relatively recent cultural phenomena. 

Likewise, although the Bible is often quoted (referred to) as a source for condemning homosexuality, the books of the Bible have little or nothing to say about human sexuality and virtually nothing at all to say about homosexuality. The notion of homosexuality,  as we understand it today,  is also a relatively recent phenomenon.

As I see it, those pundits who wax eloquently about what the Bible has to say might do well to not only read the Bible, but also to learn some more about what the Bible actually is, and what the books of the Bible actually say before they go on the air to articulate their authoritative opinions.

No wonder religion has such a bad reputation nowadays. 

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