Use the Bible responsibly
From the Pastor's Desk
June 23, 2018
Like many of you, my heart is broken for the children and parents being separated at our southern border. I pray that by the time this article goes to print this traumatic situation will be stopped. Imagine your young child taken from you by strangers for a misdemeanor offense, while it is being investigated. It makes me sick that people are claiming this is the law and there's nothing that can be done.
It was the law that a righteous man must marry a virgin, but Jesus' earthly dad didn't let that stop him from marrying pregnant Mary. It was the law that people could not work on the Sabbath, but Jesus, and many folks since, have found it appropriate to do so. It was the law that slaves should obey their masters and women their husbands. It was the law that Germans could not harbor and protect Jews. There have been many immoral laws and traumatizing children falls into that category.
It makes me sick that powerful adults can be so small and mean-spirited and even attempt to use the Bible to justify their weak morals. Yet, that is not new. The Bible has been used as a weapon by many to justify bad behavior and hatred.
When I went to seminary, one of my teachers, Dr. Mary Tolbert, a woman who spent her life studying the Bible, gave me my favorite analogy for this precious book. She said it is like fugu, a fish that is a highly prized delicacy in Japan. Only highly trained fugu chefs, who have had years of apprenticeship, passing multiple exams, including preparing and eating the fish themselves, are allowed to be licensed to purchase and serve the fish, because toxins inside the fish are extremely fatal to humans. Once the toxins are consumed, consciousness remains, but asphyxiation occurs quickly. There is no antidote. The Bible is Fugu Sashimi, an artwork, a beautiful, rich, delicacy. In Tolbert's words, "an exquisite feast that can kill...It is a HUGE responsibility to become a highly trained bible-chef, serving up life-giving nourishment, without killing folks."
Many people have died due to the Bible, trapped in sanctioned slavery and abusive relationships, during soul-saving-body-killing-inquisitions, in the holocaust, crusades and LGBTQ hate crimes. Too often the bible has been used as a weapon using a technique of "proof-texting." That's when someone, like a short-order cook serves only a short piece of biblical text to prove they are right about something. In seminary, Tolbert made us raise our hands and pledge to never use the Bible as a weapon in this manner, no matter how badly we are losing an argument.
A prime example of this happened when our nation's attorney general used a quote from Romans to prove to his Christian friends that we are required to follow the law. He was proof-texting, without even knowing the intent and context of that piece of scripture. He selectively chose one piece he liked while ignoring about 100 pieces of scripture that clearly state aliens and foreigners should be treated well and not oppressed.
How much lifelong harm will come to these children from this proof-texting? How long, Oh Lord, how much must they suffer? Will religious folk and ethical humanists cry out and be heard? How long, Oh Lord? Comfort, the little children, Lord, as powerful leaders use them. Prayer is good, but following Christ's example of caring for outcasts and the weak is what disciples do.
Cry out to your legislators,
About Tehachapi Community Church, UCC:
No matter who you are, no matter where you are on life's journey, you're welcome here!
The Tehachapi Community Church, UCC is an open and welcoming community of faith that believes that each person, created in the image of God, holds a piece of the truth. Therefore we respect each person's unique spiritual journey. We invite you to experience the difference that religious freedom in a caring community can make in that journey.
We are located at 100 East E St., in Tehachapi. Worship and Sunday School are at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays. Please join us for coffee and fellowship at our Friendship Hall after worship (approximately 11:30 a.m.).
All are welcome.