I need to be writing a paper right now but I'm stuck. I'm writing a paper on Leviticus 18 - a chapter dealing with laws of sexual behavior, particularly prohibiting various types of incest. On the one hand, these laws don't seem at all problematic. Our society today has no problems saying incest is wrong (although we don't talk about how often it happens in real life....), but then where is the "interesting twist" for my paper??? I question the Bible's authority in general and yet in this case, I want to go right along with what the words say. Of course, this isn't the only passage where I like what the words say - there are tons, particularly in the gospels.
The problems are more where I don't like what the Bible has to say - such as "eye for an eye" or passages condemning women in positions of authority ove men, or condemning homosexuality. I've learned in several classes, undergrad and seminary, about the ways that the Bible was written (beginning as oral tradition passed down in a lot of cases) and then was compiled much later in history, really only becoming an agreed upon "canon" in the second century. The writers are thought to be a variety of people in various time periods of the history of Israel, the chosen people of God, but these people were all men and were writing for specific audiences and situations. What can a bunch of Jewish men from the ancient near east have to say to a contemporary woman in a same sex relationship??? Many times I think "not a heck of a lot!"
There are many times when I want to write off the Bible as a collection of myths and stories that were deemed important by the writers and some of the their readers, but to which I don't have to ascribe the same level of authority. But the fact remains that I do ascribe the Bible some authority - my sermon was filled with references to Bible passages! I refer to scripture when it suits me, but write it off when it doesn't. One of the biggest values I hold is integrity, and I question whether or not I have any when it comes to the way I read and use the Bible. Does it have authority, or doesn't it?
I don't want this post to come off as too much of a confession (bite your tongue now, BigUnit!) because I know that I'm not the only one who struggles with this. We ALL take some passages as being "more authoritative" than others (for example, do you tend to follow "an eye for an eye" or "turn the other cheek"??). We all choose our own "cannon within the cannon" but the question is DO WE KNOW WHY?? What basis do you use for highlighting certain texts and writing off others? Can we know which texts were "inspired by God" as opposed to written by men serving a specific purpose? Can we know which ones are still valid and applicable today and which ones are bound to the time and place in which they were constructed? This class that I'm in is asking me to figure that out and state it explicitly and I'm don't know the answer yet, but I'd love to hear some of your thoughts on this....