Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Biblical Morality

A couple of weeks ago, or so, I was reading in Exodus (these verses aren't part of the daily office lectionary; I must have been doing some lectio divina) and ran across this passage. (I must have read this many times before, but for some reason it never "stuck.")

21:2-4: When you buy a male Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years, but in the seventh he shall go out a free person, without debt. If he comes in single, he shall go out single; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him. [So far, so good.] [Well, sort of.] If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master's and he shall go out alone.

That's swell.

It goes on to say, by the way, that if the husband loves his wife and children and does not want to abandon them, he can stay with them, but at the price of committing himself to servitude for the rest of his life.

Ain't that nice? Very moral.

I sometimes wonder whether the folks who talk so much about "Biblical Morality" (especially "Biblical Sexual Morality") have actually read the Bible.

An awful lot of the sexual goings-on in the Bible, apparently with divine approbation or at least divine indifference, are by our standards pretty appalling.

Of course there are many passages, in both the Old Testament and the New, that can be appealed to for the foundation of genuinely godly and Christian sexual morality. So by what principles do we distinguish between that "biblical sexual morality" which is genuinely godly and Christian, and that (also) "biblical sexual morality" which is cruel, abusive, exploitative, etc.? (Is there anyone out there who really wants to try to defend Exodus 21:2-4?)

Maybe a genuinely godly and Christian sexual morality requires more than just quoting Bible verses.

Just saying.

1 comment:

Doorman-Priest said...

You old kill-joy you! What would they do all day if they couldn't berate people with the inerrancy of scripture. There'd be no fun in the world.