Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I Blame the “Rainbow Bible”.

In the old days, someone thought “wouldn’t it be nice if God would come to earth and speak to the people, as a human, face to face; boy that would be some important stuff! Hey, wait a minute, God did come to earth and speak to the people as a human; Jesus did that! You know what would be really helpful, if we were to highlight His words!” So, the red letter edition of the Bible was born, and now whenever there was some confusion about what the Bible meant, one could search for the red bits, and any ambiguity would be solved. People over the ages, who followed the words in red, became abolitionists, and civil rights leaders and anti-war activists; they fought for the rights of women and workers and the oppressed in other lands. Dorothy Day, the founder of the Catholic Worker’s Movement and William Sloane Coffin, an advocate for peace and social justice for over forty years knew what the red words said, and gave their hearts to their message.

But now when you open the Bible, you have a riot of color and the words in red get lost amongst the blues and greens and violets and oranges. And it is apparently not so obvious that the peacemaker is blessed (Matt. 5:9) and those who live by the sword will die by it (Matt 26:52); or that whomever is without sin should cast the first stone (John 8:7); or that your designation as a lamb or goat will be determined by how you treat the “least of these” (Matt 25:40,45). And, apparently, the condemnation of gay bashing (Matt. 5:22) and command to “not call unclean what God has made holy” (Acts 10:15), have equally gotten lost. In the newspaper today is a story about the Baptists in North Carolina passing an anti-gay policy (Baptists in N.C. OK anti-gay policy This is apparently the beginning of a witch hunt for “gay friendly” churches. A spokesman goes on to explain that homosexuality is the only sin that has its own advocacy group. You can’t reason with this kind of narrow-mindedness, the whole point is that homosexuality is not a sin, but the way God has created some of His children. By ignoring the above scripture, they misread a small number of “proof texts” that have a much more powerful message that that ten percent of the population should be disenfranchised by the church. The article goes on to state that the resolution radically changes the entire relationship between the Baptist Convention and its member churches. While previously member churches were only required to support the convention through funding and co-operation, now, well I’ll let them tell you “any churches that ‘knowingly act to affirm, approve, endorse, promote, support or bless homosexual behavior’ will be barred from membership”. But any church that acts to support bellicosity and greed and hatred is still OK. You can preach that God is a giant asparagus (should you capitalize “asparagus” when referring to God?), or that Jesus will be returning on a space ship and that is just fine, but affirm, approve, endorse, promote or support a brother or sister in Christ and out you go. I think they should “shake the dust off their feet” (Matt. 10:14) on the way out. That is what I did (and it is in red, after all). I belong to a UCC church now that preaches the gospel and practices “incredible compassion, dynamic hope, extravagant hospitality, and radical love” (from our web page ).

Maybe it isn’t fair to blame a colorful Bible for all the problems in Christianity; maybe the problem is what it always is; monochrome minds and a blackened soul. What do you think?

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