Tuesday, June 24, 2008

SO, Which Part of the Bible Are They Talking About?

In Focus on the Family's James Dobson's radio broadcast earlier today, he said that Sen. Barack Obama was "deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own worldview, his own confused theology."

Senator Obama replied that Dobson "was making stuff up" and that "somebody would be hard pressed to make that argument" that he was distorting the Bible.

I'm concerned about both. I find it almost laughable that Mr. Dobson (he is not a minister, he just plays one on radio and tv) doesn't understand that he too uses the Bible to fit his own worldview, his own theology. After all, the Bible is silent on birth control, silent on abortion, and silent on consensual same sex adult sexual relationships as we understand them today, yet Mr. Dobson says he is talking about a Biblical morality when he opposes them. And as a Unitarian Universalist minister, I understand that of course, we bring our own worldview and our own theology to understanding our sacred texts.

But, I also frankly am uncomfortable with one of the two candidates for President going head to toe with a leader of the Religious Right on what the Bible says at all. What do you think? Is Biblical interpretation something relevant to this season's political campaign?



5 comments:

moreover said...

I think it's telling what choices politicians make when selecting from holy books. It reveals their political agenda. I kinda like it for another reason: it teaches people the hard fact that there is no ONE bible with a coherent message. Instead, it's a grab bag of contradictory quotes that no theologian can disentangle. Perhaps the recent Pew Religious Landscape survey with its finding on greater tolerance may have this realization at its core.
BTW, I just started my own UU blog at http://juuggernaut.wordpress.com/ to enter this discussion.

Rev. Ricky said...

The speech of Obama's that Dobson is critiquing was made two years ago, so it's not quite the same as though they were going "head to toe." And the point that Obama was making was absolutely the right point to make: religious people have every right to enter the public sphere but they need to base their arguments on appeals to universal values, not religious beliefs or texts.

Frankly I'm glad that Obama knows enough of the Bible to counter the interpretation that the Bible and the Christian religion are exclusively in service to the politics of the religious right.

Bill Baar said...

Dobson's right about Obama seeking the least common denominator. Obama told us on Father's day (and he's told us in Illinois the same thing every Father's day) that a Dad's responsibility to his child does not end at conception.

If that's indeed the case, seems to be Obama muddles around a bit when it comes to abortion in a way Dobson never would... and one doesn't need scriptures to figure this out.

Obama trys to straddle this gaps and ultimately he just falls apart if you listen to him with your brain rather than heart.

If human life begins at conception and that's what Obama implies, then Dobson quite right to fight for Human life from that point on... Dobson has enough clarity to see that... Obama either doesn't or just prefers to slip around on it without explaining.

Robin Edgar said...

"After all, the Bible is silent on birth control, silent on abortion, and silent on consensual same sex adult sexual relationships as we understand them today, yet Mr. Dobson says he is talking about a Biblical morality when he opposes them."

Isn't that somewhat disingenuous on your part Rev. Haffner? After all, the Bible was written a few millennia before "today" so it is not very realistic to expect it to conform to these things "as we understand them today". At least Mr. Dobson is being honest when he says he is talking about "a Biblical morality" when he opposes birth control, abortion, and same sex adult sexual relationships. The Bible may not directly address modern methods of birth control, or even some ancient ones. . . but "Biblical morality" is generally pro-fertility aka "ProLife" except on those occasions when God is ostensibly advocating infanticide of course. The Bible is hardly "silent" on same sex adult sexual relationships, consensual or otherwise. I know that liberal clergy like to jump through all kinds of hoops to rationalize "biblical morality" but surely it would show more integrity if liberal clergy simply forthrightly stated that they do not believe certain problematic passages of the Bible, or that they just plain disagree with what is said in them even if God actually said it.

Robin Edgar said...

Believe it or not, this blog post inspired yet another LOL U*U graphic Rev. Haffner. ;-)

Feel free to post it here or otherwise share it. I expect that plenty of U*Us will get a chuckle out of it.