Monday 16 April 2007
Beware of flying folders
For the past week I've been struggling with an assignment on the Bible and ethical decision making. The Bible and what? Back in WCG days I can't recollect the word 'ethics' appearing anywhere. I guess the closest thing was the Meredith booklet on The Ten Commandments. I even checked the infamous STP. Ethics are missing in action.
I think most of my ethical struggles in those days - at least conscious ones - were about food. Could there be ham in that sandwich? All the big issues were deferred to the powers that be. One size solution fits all: just do what the church says!
In any case, I've come close to turfing the study guide out of the window more than once over recent days. I'm not sure the Bible has anything relevant to say about ethics at all. The track record of Christians generally is hardly impressive. Lest anyone think the COG tradition is different, remember back to the days of D&R when families were split up.
The Bible can and has been used to promote slavery and oppose slavery, to promote anti-Semitism and oppose anti-Semitism, to promote capital punishment and also oppose it. Prohibition, Sunday laws, military service, you name it. The Bible is a marvelously malleable weapon in anyone's culture war.
In New Zealand at the moment there's a huge debate going on over whether parents should be able to smack their kids (corporal punishment.) As usual the fundamentalists are up in arms, waving their Bibles and quoting scriptures in defense of their God-given right to belt the devil out of their progeny. At the other end of the spectrum non-fundamentalist Christians generally support a change in legislation that would give kids exactly the same protection adults have. It's a debate that has the community cleanly divided, and a lot of tempers frayed.
I notice that Samuel Martin, son of the late Ernest Martin and the guy in the picture, has a book out on the spanking issue. In one of those "isn't it a small world" moments I also noticed that it's been endorsed by my sister's Presbyterian minister. Hmm.
In any case, after a week of hard labor, I at last have a draft up even if it is completely unreadable. Even better, the study folder hasn't ended up in the hedge or crashing on top of the neighbour's cat.
But there's still time, still time...
Addendum: It's been pointed out that the impression might be given that Samuel Martin's book is pro-spanking. Absolutely not, as the link makes clear. I haven't read the book, but on the strength of what's available online it seems to be a valuable contribution to the debate from someone who has some real insight on the issue. If anyone has read the book and wants to provide a review, drop me an email at email@example.com