Originally, I was going to play the role of the coward on this post, but after this week I don’t think I should. It is easy for me, behind the closed doors of the internet, to say and to think and to write what I want. I didn’t post this one, like I have done before. Why? Oh, you know why. No one likes to be bad to read the bible differently than that which they have been taught. Put this view out there, and you’ll get accursed of a lot of things. Some of them….. are pretty hurtful, if I must say so myself. This is the assignment this week, to take a hermeneutic which is wholly different than my view and explore that they have to say. Call it what you want, but it may be one of the most pastoral things that we are doing – to wrestle with another view point, wholly different than ours.
I would like your honest opinions, based on real scholarship and not what makes you afraid to read the text as such.
I am against purposely abusing Scripture and twisting it to fit our own viewpoints; however, if one can show that a passage’s interpretation should be changed using sound scholarship, then I must submit. One of those passages is Luke 7.1-10 with the parallel in Mathew 8. I value the unsaid alongside that which is said, and what is unsaid here seems to be very loud, although not as loud as Queer Hermeneutics would have us believe. If we value the very words of Scripture themselves, then we must understand that words, even individually, will have some meaning. To that end, I agree that this passage may be hiding something, although I wouldn’t go as far as some might.
The Centurion moves between calling the sick person doulos and pais, which scholarship has shown to have been used to refer to the younger partner of a male-male relationship. These types of relationships were common, especially as scholarship shows, with the implantation of the marriage ban for Roman soldiers. The key theme here is scholarship. Where I cease following Queer Hermeneutics, however, is the interpretation of this passage to affirm that Christ Himself affirmed gay partnerships, and of course for today, gay marriages. My first thought here is that the ancient cultures wouldn’t necessarily identify their lifestyles with ‘gay’ and ‘homosexual’ as we do today. There is little doubt in my mind that Christ through the Gospel writers detected the change between doulos and pais, especially since both Matthew and Luke record the use of pais while Luke records the change of terminology, without emendation to the change. Yet, I would be hard pressed to see it as a divine seal of gay marriage, especially since the questions which are also unanswered would have been against Christ’s other teachings. For example, the Centurion’s pais may have been younger than adulthood which would go against the (rabbinical) interpretation of Mark 9.42-50. Further, since it was a master-slave issue, we would have to assume that if Christ was affirming gay relationships by His silence, then He must have been equally affirming slavery of the worse kind. But, is there anything of value in seeing the text as alluding to a love between a man and a man which was unquestioned by Christ?
Yes, as I believe that it shows that Christians today may not have all of the answers to the inner workings of the Divine Mind and what we assume to be love. While Christ neither affirmed nor denied the Centurion’s relationship which his pais although we may be able to say that being silent to the man’s situation, if such existed, Christ affirmed the Centurion and the pais’ love. Christ praised the man’s faith and was able to cast it against what should have been the believing Israel. Like Amos, who from outside of the Kingdom became a prophet to the Kingdom, the Centurion stands as a testament to what real Faith is supposed to be. But, what does this do for the interpretation of Scripture? It beckons us to always being willing to reform our views and theological assessments with scholarship without going completely overboard and allowing our desires to replace the soundness of a Scriptural viewpoint. Finally, it reminds that in Scripture, the story is not just about what is said, but often times what is unsaid.
Now, for the kicker – here are my expressed view from a post a few years ago.