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Bad Theology

I’m a pretty open guy. I love to hear others’ opinions, even when they are in direct contradiction to mine. I enjoy diversity of thought, and am happy to discuss differing views with anyone. As long as we can stay friends and our discussion doesn’t morph into hairpulling or eye gouging, then I’m game for some friendly banter.

In other words, I would rarely call someone’s theology ‘bad,’ even if I disagreed with it. You believe in a literal Bible and a seven-day creation? Cool. I don’t, but whatever. You think Acts is historical fact while I may think parts are embellished? No problem – we can still go for a walk in the park. Again, just because we disagree doesn’t mean one of us is wrong. So, (I hope) we can still be friends.

Unless, of course, your theology causes harm to another person. I believe that Jesus’ command to love others takes precedent above any other Biblical passage, and so if a text is contradictory to that one, it must go. Biblical authors wrote in a particular time and place with particular stereotypes and beliefs; thus their writings can be particularly unheeded when it comes to staying consistent with Jesus’ ethics of love and service.

When I read about this report, I had no other option than to call this bad theology. Ephesians 5, the ‘submission’ passage that should have disappeared with the times, is still read at many weddings, and many relationships claim to live by its mandates. The wife is to submit to her husband, and the husband to Christ. Submission levels can vary, I suppose, but there is no doubt that this passage has been used negatively and incorrectly to keep women in abusive relationships. And now there’s a study to prove it.

I like the report because it addresses root causes. I hate that a root cause of domestic violence is the Bible. Christians (and other faiths) use their sacred texts to justify lots of behavior. The inside group (the faith) uses the text to keep adherents (insiders) loyal as well as keep non-adherents (outsiders) at bay and as enemies. Texts are used (like words) to call names and give power.

And, the confines of marriage are apparently no safe haven from such literary abuse.

I hate to see the Bible misread, but I can let it go because certain people need to read it a certain way. But, when that certain way instigates or condones certain violent actions in direct contradiction to Jesus’ teachings on love, I can’t let it go.

We don’t need for everyone to become Biblical scholars and know everything about every verse in terms of background, intended audience, or points of contention. But we do need to make sure that people are not using the Bible to dismiss the life of others. If they do, then that’s just plain bad theology.

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