“So it was that sex drove me to the Bible. The new emerging sexual consciousness and the passing of ancient stereotypes challenged the authority of Scripture, raised profound questions about the authenticity of biblical insights, and created for me and for many others a crisis of faith.”
~Bishop John Shelby Spong, in his book Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism: A Bishop Rethinks the Meaning of Scripture
He cites the bad and antiquated treatment of women and homosexuals, when the Bible is taken literally:
- “For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man.” 1 Cor. 11:7-9
- “the women should keep silence in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as even the law ssays. If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.” 1 Cor. 14:34, 35
- Fundamentalists often use the story of Sodom and Gomorrah and other condemnations of homosexuals in the New Testament to justify their political and moral stances on homosexuality.
- The bishop notes the emerging science that homosexuality has genetic components, and that the idea of male/female as black/white is challenged by the variety observed from effeminate men to women with baritone voices and athletic skills to rival men.
- I add hermaphrodites and trans-gender folks to that sexual continuum. Are they committing a sin when one organ is removed, and they choose to copulate with someone of the same sex? Most fundamentalists will show some leniency and mercy in these cases, but if you were born looking and feeling like a man, then you better have sex with women, or you’ll go to hell.
“A person born with both ovary and testicular tissue, this could be 2 seperate gonads ( one of each) or a combination of both in one (an ovotestes). The genitalia can vary from completely male or female, to a combination of both or even ambiguous looking. The chromosome (karotype) compliment can be XX (female), XY (male), XX/XY (mosiac) or even XO (extremely rare). Those XX with female genitalia are raised female ( some have even given birth). Those XY with male genitalia are raised male ( a few have fathered children). The children born XX/XY or XO (with genitalia male or female are raised in the sex they look most like) ,Those born with ambiguous genitalia have many medical tests for the doctors to determine which sex they should be assigned. Doctors then recommend early surgery to make the child look physically like the sex assigned to them.”
Bishop Spong also cites how fundamentalists justified slavery using passages taken literally from Genesis. I can identify with his response to this:
“It did not occur to those quoting this Scripture to raise questions about what kind of God was assumed in this verse, or whether or not they could worship such a God. Since they could not identify themselves with those who were the victims of this cruelty, the God to whom they ascribed this victimizing power did not appear to them to be seriously compromised.”
What yoga has taught me is about coming back to God. Because I felt the God of the fundamentalist Bible was not a God I wanted to worship, I abandoned God completely. Bishop Spong says what I am beginning to feel:
“I write as a Christian who loves the church. I am not a hostile critic who stands outside religion desiring to make fun of it. I am not a Marxist who believes that religion is the opiate of the people. I am not a Madalyn Murray O’Hair who believes that God should be expunged from public life. I am a bishop in the Anglican (Episcopal) church who was raised as a biblical fundamentalist and who, when I left that fundamentalism, did not leave my love of the Bible or my desire to serve God through the church.”
And he makes a convocation at the end of the book for those that feel the same:
“It is rather the recognition that we have no more than one generation left, in my opinion, before the dying embers of the values that were based on Bible reading and biblical view of life will be cold. There is still time for those embers to be fanned into bright, contagious flames once more. If we do not succeed in this last opportunity, the ignorance of mainline Christians will increase and the absurdity of fundamentalist Christians will reach a new crescendo. The result will be a revulsion that will accelerate the total secularization of the life of this society, putting an end completely to the religious traditions of our past. That process will move us beyond the reach of a revival. One can revive that which is dormant. One cannot revive that which has ceased to be. That requires a new creation.”
And he urges us not to throw out the baby with the bathwater.