A few texts that have been used to deny the dignity and worth of gay and lesbian persons and wrongly presumed silence about transgender persons have caused great pain. Similarly, texts that have denied the full humanity and personhood of women, slaves, lepers, cultural and ethnic minorities have far too often been tools of exclusion.
The first question is how do we approach the Bible? We may come seeking simple answers… We may come with fixed ideas… We may come poised for an argument.
But remember, the Bible is bigger than any six or seven highlighted passages. It is more meaningful than tiny slices of scripture and proof-texting. It has greater impact than our favorite verses. We would have a richer experience by asking
- What is the point?
- What am I learning about God’s character?
- Am I confined by the short list or am I gaining a better understanding of the whole?
Here’s where to look for discussions of specific texts and more.
Sacred texts inspire us, offer examples of journeying with God, help us to be faithful to God and to see the central message of God’ love in action. We do not simply rely upon words on a page, but we live out the meaning in our relationships with others. We should engage and read the holy writings and be open to the positive messages in the Bible, while acknowledging that there are problematic messages.
Most of us use the Bible in many different ways:
- for personal reflection,
- for congregational sharing/preaching,
- for group study and prayer,
- as the basis of tradition and denominational development.
In each use and reading of the Bible, it helps to consider
- The historical, social and cultural context at the time of the writing
- Our current time, knowledge and understandings
- Our culture, traditions and denominational affiliation
- Our personal experiences and beliefs
Listening for the Word of God is about remaining open to what God is doing now and discerning how you will respond. Certainly, God’s welcome is broader than we could ever imagine and too vast to be contained between book covers.