Prominent Baptist leader, Richard Land, is is the president of Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina. Yesterday on AFR (American Family Association radio) Mr. Land said:
Either you believe the Bible and you do not accept the morality of
homosexual behavior, and you do not accept homosexual marriage or you have taken a position that you’re going to
decide which parts of the Bible you’re going to accept, and which parts
you’re not going to accept.
It’s that last part (about selective observation) that is puzzling. Apparently Mr. Land puts to death children who are insolent, adulterers and brides who are not virgins. Bacon and eggs anyone? What? Mr. Land doesn’t keep Kosher?
Actually, deciding which parts of the Bible to accept and which not to accept has a long Christian history. The purpose of, and for, religion is to provide a path to an afterlife. Follow the rules and you go to paradise. But which rules and who gets to edit the rules?
In Asia Minor, around 47 CE, Paul was faced with a sales problem. Jews were not converting to Christianity. Paul needed to recruit gentiles but doing so had some obstacles. Jesus was an observant Jew which means that he was probably circumcised and he probably observed Jewish dietary laws. Asking others to submit to painful (primitive) surgery and to give up the foods that that had eaten their entire lives limited the potential for proselytizing . Therefore, Paul arbitrarily changed the rules — not for the glory of God but for the glory of Paul.
Since then, as societies and jurisprudence have evolved, we have collectively determined that the Bible is subject to selective observation. We are not killing even a fraction of the people that the Bible subjects to capital punishment and (I think with the exception of Oklahoma) we have pretty much abandoned stoning as the method. We are usually not murdering adulterers and we do not treat people who remarry as such. Even Israel has a secular culture.
Most importantly, Most civilized nations presume that nobody has a monopoly on wisdom when it comes to religion. We accept the rights of people of many different faiths and no faith at all. It is abundantly clear that Mr. Land has no respect for anyone other than evangelical Baptist literalists. That is the very definition of narrow minded.