If I hear the phrase “The Bible says…” one more time I’m gonna scream. “The Bible says” is code language for “I’m proof-texting this particular verse and intend to hit you over the head with it!” Perhaps you’ve been on the receiving end of such a “The Bible says” attack. If you’re a member of the LGBT community, you get hit with it all the time. Verses from Leviticus start flying..and yet, these same people completely ignore portions of the same chapter they are quoting from! When you confront them with this observation, and call them on their inconsistency, the general response is “Well, that’s different.” Of course it’s different…because the other stuff applies to you!
The same goes with Wiccans and NeoPagans who are always on the receiving end of “The Bible says…Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” Seriously? These same books also say that we should not eat pork, shrimp, or divorce someone for any reason other than infidelity. They also tell us that if someone is a glutton or drunkard, the men of the town should stone them to death. (Deut 21:21) Same goes for an unmarried virgin who is engaged to be married. If she sleeps with a man, we’re supposed to stone both of them to death, too. (Deut 22:23-24). I think you get the point.
Christians have to do more than simply say “The Bible says…” It’s reckless, irresponsible and, quite frankly, dangerous. When Jesus was asked “What is the greatest commandment?,” he simply said “Love God with all your heart, soul and mind…And love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Mt 22:38-40) It’s pretty clear that a bit of interpretation and context is important when quoting the Bible. It’s not intended to be a weapon to use against other people. It’s supposed to be a guide that brings us closer to God and closer to our neighbors. If we use it for any other purpose, we’re not using it for it’s highest and best good.
Martin Luther said “the Bible is the cradle wherein the Christ is laid.” I take this to mean that it’s a tool that supposed to help us connect with the Divine. The Bible is not the endpoint. Our relationship with the Holy One is the end point.
This is where Wiccans have an advantage over “The Bible says…” kind of Christians. Since there is no central scripture or authority in Wicca, everyone is free to discern their own path. I’m sure there are probably fundamentalist Pagans out there but, so far, I haven’t met one! The basic guideline is the Wiccan Rede: “An it harm none, do what you will.” As I have said in earlier posts, it’s not that much different from Jesus’ dual love commands.
I have found Wiccans to be much more open and accepting of other people’s spiritual paths that may be quite different from their own. If it makes you feel closer to the Divine and makes you a more grounded and centered person, then it’s the right path. If it awakens in you the desire to help heal the planet and the people around you, then it’s the right path. Christians spend far too much time arguing about who is right and who is wrong in terms of how we interpret the Bible and practice our faith. I think this is like kids arguing in a sandbox. It’s childish and doesn’t serve the greater good. Perhaps we Christians can set aside the temptation to utter those words “The Bible says…” and, instead, ask how we can better love and serve God as well as love and serve our neighbor. (It’s also WAY past time for us to learn to love our planet as well!) The world would be a far better place if we could practice our faith in this way.
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