At the recent meeting of the Anglican Primates, the issue of same-sex marriage rose to the surface. In a refreshingly conservative, faithful and courageous move, the Primates have issued a statement declaring that the Episcopal Church in America, because of its unilateral choice to part ways with the Anglican Communion by solemnising same-sex unions in contravention of both Scripture and the teaching of the Church (which welcomes all people and celebrates marriage as taught in Scripture), is no longer a representative of the Anglican Community. Things will remain that way for three years, giving the Episcopal Church a chance to get things in order.
Category: moral theology
Christians shouldn’t oppose X, because Jesus never said anything about X! Right?
With same-sex marriage being the topic of the day for a lot of “progressive Christians,” this is an argument I’ve seen lately. Since Jesus never said anything about same-sex marriage, Christians shouldn’t oppose it either. When I last saw it, I queried whether it was even true, but the same line was repeated back to me each time: Jesus said NOTHING about same-sex marriage (the capitals were used in the reply).
Long story short: “Turning the other cheek” does not mean becoming a pacifist. But some of you may require more persuasion than that, so keep reading.
On the 27th of October 2012 I enjoyed taking part in a panel discussion for Elephant TV on Christian views on war. Dr Chris Marshall (a former lecturer of mine) and Adrian Leason spoke on behalf of the Christian pacifist view, and Rev. Captain Paul Stanaway and I represented a just war perspective. Elephant TV is a fairly unique forum in New Zealand, bringing together Christians from different perspectives on contentious issues in front of an audience and cameras, getting a summary of their side of the story and putting questions to them to discuss. I think the event – and the series as a whole – is a fantastic idea to give exposure within the Christian community to the “elephant in the room” (where the show gets its title), those issues that we know are there and are important, but aren’t necessarily being discussed in churches in a way where all sides get a fair hearing.
The hope of all of this of course is not just that people will hear somebody say something they like and make up their mind on the spot, but that they will gain a new perspective to help them think more about these things for themselves. We were only able to scratch the surface of some of the issues mentioned, and as I said to people after the recording – there’s so much that we’d all no doubt like to have added, responded to, explained further, but that’s what blogs are for! Being stimulated to focus again on the issues of pacifism, the use of force and the role of Scripture in the discussion has meant that my thoughts have been occupied by some of the biblical material that frequently becomes part of the arsenal (pun intended) of Christian pacifists. Over the next little while I’ll be discussing some of that biblical material.
The so-called pericope adulterae of John 7:53-8:11 has frequently been used to suggest that Jesus did not approve either of the application of the Mosaic Law or of the death penalty (or both). Christopher Marshall for example claims that “there is only one passage in the New Testament that refers directly to the legitimacy of the death penalty (John 7:53-8:11).”1 Marshall concludes that what we have in this crucial passage is an example of “restorative justice overthrowing retributive justice in the Christian age.”2 Thus, here Jesus overthrows the justice of the Old Testament in favour of a more gracious approach to social ethics. Arguing from a clearly different theological/ethical framework, Kaiser too appeals to this passage, viewing it as important evidence that “the morality of the law abides while the sanctions may change.”3
Here’s Episode 8, in which I discuss whether a truly secular version of political liberalism can really embrace a proper liberal doctrine of equality. I argue that it cannot.
I’m also experimenting with lower quality mp3 files to save space, and it make it quicker to download. This one is only 64kbps.
I also have a cold in this episode. I hate colds.