December 14, 2013

Religion as Shield for Bigotry

A thought for anti-gay religious people who don't want to be thought of as homophobes

Consider this: the fact that a given belief has a religious basis, or can be claimed to have a religious basis, does not shield the believer from being answerable to charges that the belief is wrong, false, or otherwise flawed. For many years racism had a readily available religious justification, and chattel slavery had its ardent religious defenders in most churches until well into the mid-late nineteenth century. But slavery was always morally wrong. It's just that, for example, the cultures in which Scriptures were written were not able to see past their own economic situation. It is ironic that some who protest that changes in standards amount to giving into cultural pressure, fail to recognize the degree to which cultural pressures created the very standards they think should be beyond reform.

For dealing with any such issue today, the telling indicator will be the degree to which believers apply the same rules and methods of biblical interpretation or religious thinking to actions they themselves condone or practice. A selectively applied religious standard is an offense in the eyes of God and Humanity. That is why the prophets were so offended by unequal weights and measures -- and hypocrisy.

Religion ought not be a shield, but a beacon.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG


JCF said...

[Somewhat off-topic]

Tobias, over at Friends-of-Jake, we've started a discussion of this book, "From Shame to Sin: The Christian Transformation of Sexual Morality in Late Antiquity" (via this article).

Care to join us? Or write a review here at IAGD? I'd really like to hear your take.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Thanks, JCF. I'm in the midst of a good pile of work just now, but I did enjoy reading the linked article. I'm a bit surprised though, at the surprise the reviewer expresses, or the idea that what Harper has set out is all that new. Of course, I've been reading the original materials for so long that maybe I just assumed others had been, too. I agree that the focus on philosophers and theologians rather than romances, and laws likely distorted the view in many people's minds. But the tensions described in the review are no surprise to me.

Peace and all good...