The recent news about a creation of a new "diocese" based in Canberra has included the somewhat ambiguous claim that the supporters are "bible-based". The claim was expressed most starkly in the slogan quoted from a founding priest, Peter Palmer, that "It's either all of the Bible, or none of the Bible". (SMH,August 20, 2022)
Such a slogan joins the varied thousands of others in the history of Christianity. It is just onetradition. It is not a revelation. The interpretative tradition employed in this instance has to face the uncomfortable fact that its tradition, at times, overrides biblical propositions. Also, itseems to be an assumption in the minds of the users of the slogan thattheir particular interpretative tradition is infallible. Given that tradition's selective cherry-picking of supporting biblical passages, it seems to be more infallible than its Bible.
The catalyst for the creators of the new religious entity is their objection to the blessing of the marriage of same-sex partners by Anglican clergy. While the scriptures contain a number of passages (that we shall note in general, and not in particular detail) that address homosexual practices, there is no discussion in the scriptures of the modern practice of same-sex marriage.
That is not surprising given that the scriptural passages were written in ancient historical social contexts and not contemporary ones. Hence their silence on the practice.
As will be noted below, the same silence is discerned in the scriptures as regards acknowledgingand opposing domestic violence. Are "bible-based" believers required to rule that both issues are to be dismissed? There is to be no discussion of same-sex marriage, and no discussion of domestic violence against women, because their bible maintains that silence?
So my first and, I trust, obvious observation: the particular issue of same-sex marriage was never considered within the historical context of the biblical writings.
My second observation is in relation to the presentation of the "No" case leading up to the plebiscite held on 17 February, 2017 in regard to the question: "Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?".
Overall those Christians supporting the "No" case were quite coy in regard to their citing – or, in reality, their non-citing – of biblical passages that refer to understandings of, and penalties for, homosexual behaviour. I favour their coyness because such citations are damaging for the existence, morale and wellbeing of LGBTI personnel. And citing the negative (and cruel) biblical judgments would have shocked many of their fellow Australians.
Has nothing been learned about homosexual behaviour over the last two thousand years since the first century? Has nothing been learned even over the most recent century? Instead, is the limited perspective from the first century not only infallible, but also the only permitted perspective? Do we thus erase all contemporary research?
In recent times, in Western societies both sides of the issue have been given public space. And conservative Christians are divided in their views. We are familiar with the objection voiced by supporters of the new Canberra religious entity. But to give a brief example from another conservative voice: the following words come from a speech that David Cameron, the then presiding Tory Prime Minister of Great Britain (and a committed Anglican) gave on the issue of same-sex marriage equality in 2011:
And to anyone who has reservations, I say: Yes, it's about equality but its also about something else: commitment. Conservatives believe in the ties that bind us; society is stronger when we make vows to each other and support each other. So I don't support gay marriage despite being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I'm a Conservative.
As noted earlier, the silence of the scriptures also applies to another field of human experience. I refer to the biblical and historically very long-lasting lack of Christian concern over domestic violence against women.
Discuss in our Forums
See what other readers are saying about this article!
Click here to read & post comments.
16 posts so far.