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Saturday 19 October 2019
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Commentary

Pick up your Bible

Akilah Holder made me pick up my Bible this week (well, not literally; it’s all virtual now). I never thought she’d be the one to take me back to the word of God.

I still haven’t heard any word yet from President Paula-Mae Weekes, amid the storm of public debate prompted by a front-page story alleging she’s reintroduced an old-school policy: legal spouses only as your plus-one at OTP events.

What a joyous storm it’s been, though. Trinbs standing up for Caribbean family forms. Sharing their long history. Celebrating the struggles to overturn the law’s denial of recognition to Hindu, Muslim and nonmarital unions. Saying how, entering the 21st century’s third decade, it’s plain dumb to limit recognition of partnerships and chosen family to people in institutional marriages. Defending religious pluralism against the hegemony of the old colonial Anglican state. Asserting values that would make parents want to raise LGBTI children here.

Then in rolled the Evangelical Council and its executive communications assistant (whose persistent letters-to-the-editor queers with a little tertiary love to poke fun at) to applaud the President and claim her as poster girl for Christian morality.

You’ve got to admire Full Truth folks, ent. Their b--sy imperialism to say unapologetically that the Bible’s prescriptions apply to everyone.

The only problem is that kind of thinking is precisely what jihad is. We just give it a nicer name, “dominionism,” because, well, Christianity is “Western.”

It makes no sense to make sense of faith. It’s the “evidence of things unseen,” Hebrews reminds us. I might give up other things about belief; but grace is something I can’t. Don’t we all – at least sometimes – want to believe there’s something other than logic, some “substance of things hoped for,” some force larger than humans?

It’s one thing to walk around believing the Old Testament is God’s literal word. Another to ignore bunches of its rules, like killing sexually active menstruating women.

But I’ve always found it roll-on-the-floor hilariously hypocritical when pastors quote Genesis 2:24 as the case for monogamous heterosexual marriage.

“That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.”

I mean, have they read the rest of Genesis? Are they trying to fulfil the illiterate small-church huckster stereotype; or assume people listening are uneducated sheep?

We ought to have an Old Testament national reading week in TT. The dailies should print out the verses in their pages since, for all the Gideons’ efforts, we seem woefully ignorant of what’s in there. How could anyone hold up the Old Testament as a prescription for anything related to moral modern relationships?

The Pentateuch (Genesis through Deuteronomy, the five opening books of the Christian Bible, I’m supposed to say politically correctly) is chock full of the most salacious, violent and nasty practices and prescriptions, often towards women – because, of course, it was written literally 26 centuries ago, and describes lives and events going way further back. The stuff in there is, bluntly, primitive.

There’s probably nothing besides that one half-a-verse that suggests heterosexual monogamy as a Christian tenet. I mean, all the Old Testament folk are polygamous, for a start.

So, thanks to Akilah, I decided to take a re-read of my Genesis. And in just there, there are oh so many relationships that would never make it past Paula-Mae’s doorstep.

You remember Lot offered his two virgin daughters to the men of Sodom to defile instead of the angels, and how, leaving the burning city, wifey looked back and turned to salt. The three of them get to the hills, where there are no men, so the girls get the old man drunk, one a night, to get them pregnant.

Laban promises Jacob he can work to earn his hot daughter, but tricks him and gives him the older dowdy one instead, and indentures him for further years to get the young one. Later, when both Rachel and Leah are unable to bear Jacob kids, each gives her servant as a wife to Jacob to make babies.

Judah and Tamar are even more bizarre. When your husband dies, you get passed down to his brother. But Tamar’s brother-in-law Onan refused to breed her and would pull out, then he died, and the next brother-in-law was a minor. So her father-in-law Judah told her hold strain till the boy grew up, and she did, but nothing happened, so she got vex and tricked Judah into getting her pregnant.

So pick up your Bible, do. Before anyone tries to fool you that God always wanted you be married, and to one partner.

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