Thursday, February 6, 2014

Everyone’s a Biblical Literalist Part One


…Or divorce, or gossip, or slavery, or head coverings, or Jesus’ teachings on nonviolence, or the “abomination” of eating shellfish and the hell-worthy sin of calling other people idiots.


Then we need a little context.
Then we need a little grace.
Then we need a little room to disagree.
I got to thinking about this after I was criticized last week for my post about loving gay kids unconditionally. Some folks were very upset that I had the audacity to write an entire blog post about putting a stop to LGBT bullying without including a Bible-based condemnation of LGBT people, or at least a theological discussion around the issue of homosexuality and Scripture.
Bible verses were quoted.  Open letters were written. End Times predictions were made.  Pillows in my home were thrown record distances.
It’s funny. Yesterday, in Sunday Superlatives, I included a quote from Mark Twain in which he referred to a snake oil salesman as an “idiot,” but no one left an angry comment warning me of hell based on Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5:22 that “if you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court; and if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.”
Nor did anyone raise any biblical objections regarding gluttony a few weeks ago when I casually mentioned overdosing on Sweet Frog frozen yogurt (strawberry, with a pile of chocolate chips, Oreo crumbs, and chocolate animal crackers on top, if you must know), or about materialism when I shared pictures of our new car. (Hey, for some people, a brand new Honda Civic is pretty flashy.)
And in spite of the flood of emails I get each week condemning my support of women in ministry, I’ve never received so much as an open letter criticizing my refusal to wear a head covering, even though my Web site is full of photographic evidence of what the apostle Paul calls a “disgrace” in 1 Corinthians 11:6.
We may laugh at these examples or dismiss them silly, but the biblical language employed in these contexts is actually pretty strong: eating shellfish is an abomination, a bare head is a disgrace, gossips will not inherit the kingdom of God, careless words are punishable by hell, guys who leer at women should gouge out their eyes.
Heck, you could make a pretty good biblical case for gluttony being a “lifestyle sin” that has been normalized by our culture of "Supersized" portions and overflowing buffet lines, starting with passages like Philippians 3:19 (“their god is their belly”), Psalm 78: 18 (“they tested God in their heart by demanding the food they craved”), Proverbs 23:20 (“be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat”), Proverbs 23:2 (“put a knife to your throat if you are given to appetite”), or better yet, Ezekiel 16:49 ("Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.")
Yet you don’t see weigh-ins preceding baptisms or people holding “God Hates Gluttons” signs outside the den of iniquity that is Ryan’s Steakhouse.
And we haven’t even touched on materialism, or the fact that on the day I stuffed my face with froyo, 30,000 kids died from preventable diseases and many more went hungry. 

Rachel Held Evans



1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wonderful! I shall look forward to Part 2