Sex, the Bible and the Real World; the Church of England's Turmoil over the Jeffrey John Affair Raises Questions about How the Testaments Are Interpreted

By Sewell, Brian | The Evening Standard (London, England), July 8, 2003 | Go to article overview

Sex, the Bible and the Real World; the Church of England's Turmoil over the Jeffrey John Affair Raises Questions about How the Testaments Are Interpreted


Sewell, Brian, The Evening Standard (London, England)


Byline: BRIAN SEWELL

THERE are many who absolutely believe in the holiness of Holy Writ, particularly those in the Evangelical wing of the Church of England who, with the casuistry of the skilled Jesuit, struggle to justify as God-given the Bible's every word.

I am not one of them. It is time we recognised the Bible for what it is - a thing of three testaments, not two. The Old Testament is a compilation of convenient myth and a history of racial justification and aggrandisement, threaded through with rules of hygiene and behaviour, all devised to convince the Children of Israel that as God's chosen race, no matter what calamities befell them as victims of Babylon and Egypt and no matter what calamities they wantonly inflicted on other races and religions, they should strive to increase in number, power and extent.

The New Testament, as expressed in the four Gospels, is a dispensation from the narrow and proscriptive uncharity of the Jews, appealing to the Greek and Latin temperament. And the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles of St Paul, that sanctimonious master of self-adulation, record his efforts, physical and intellectual, to reverse the generosity of Christ's Christianity and wrestle the hopeful new religion back into the stifling folds of Jewish law and custom.

What we have witnessed in the past few weeks in the affair of Jeffrey John, the wouldhave-been Bishop of Reading, is, 2,000 years later, what we see in the New Testament - a tussle between the generosity of Christ, whose response to sin was a benign "Be off with you and sin no more", and Paul and his followers, who were prepared to condemn, blind and dispatch to perdition anyone whose actions and arguments offended them.

To the agnostic, it seems extraordinary that half the members of the C of E, while proclaiming the divinity of Christ, should prefer the hellfire teaching of St Paul, a mere man, and an unpleasant man at that, who was never in the physical presence of Christ, who could claim only to have seen a vision of him on the road to Damascus, yet who usurped his authority as a teacher, diluting the humanity of the Sermon on the Mount and the example of Christ's compassionate response to sinners.

Jeffrey John is homosexual and has been hounded for it, yet not one of his enemies - and enemies they are indeed - can point to any words of Christ that condemn the acts and emotions of the man who physically loves another man.

They can, however, in their assumption that homosexuality is sinful, point to the Old Testament for such condemnation, and to St Paul's fulminations as their secondary authority, but in both cases they are obliged to assert the nonsense that not only must every word of the Bible be accepted as divinely inspired, but that every act of the ferocious God of the Old Testament must be applauded, every instruction obeyed.

Consider the daughters of Lot after their flight from Sodom - girls who got their father drunk and themselves pregnant with his semen; surely such incest is further up the scale of sin than sodomy?

Consider Tamar, who seduced her husband's father, Judah, and conceived his twins - this after Onan, her husband's brother, had been struck dead by God for refusing to inseminate her, preferring to spew his semen on the ground; would the Evangelicals condone such behaviour among the families of the nearest housing estate? …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Sex, the Bible and the Real World; the Church of England's Turmoil over the Jeffrey John Affair Raises Questions about How the Testaments Are Interpreted
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.