Tuesday, January 9

:: Bless His Heart

The Archbishop of Canterbury released a report this week addressing the misuse and misinterpretation of Christian theology with regard to domestic violence.

Britain's The Times explains:

It warns clergy that the bride’s traditional marriage vow to “obey” her husband could be used to justify domestic violence as could referring to God as “He” and “Lord”.

Bad theology, such as using the Virgin Mary “to reinforce norms of female passivity and obedience”, has even been used to convince victims to forgive their abusers and not take action against them.

The report criticises the Church of England for failing to challenge abusers and for intensifying the suffering of survivors, whether intentionally or unintentionally.

“Over the centuries questionable assumptions about the relation between men and women, which were supposed to reflect the will of God, have influenced the Church’s interpretation of the Bible, its moral teaching and pastoral practice,” the report says.

“It is a tragic fact that bad theology, in this case a faulty understanding of God and human beings in relationship, can have the effect — whether intended or not — of betraying victims of domestic abuse and encouraging the actions of perpetrators.”
The Archbishop's report makes me question my inclination to view all religious institutions as sinister at best (but just a little). If he can release something so... civilized, it makes you wonder why our homegrown Christian institutions are so... not. And this doesn't mean the nice individual clergypersons with their nice small liberal congregations and no power within the greater church hierarchy. I mean the leadership, the keepers of tradition, the heads of the old (and new) clerical behemoths.

This is the sort of analysis that our Leaders Religious would produce if they were serious about promoting tolerance of the beliefs of others (forget about women's rights; they would sooner swallow iron shavings). We get no end of commentary about backwards social ideas contained in the Koran and promoted by Islamic clergy; a little perspective on how many chestnuts of lunacy are contained in the Bible and some of the ass-backwards ideas promoted by Christian clergy (I'm thinking of you, Southern Baptists) might help our people develop a sense of context. But no. Even if our church leaders were so inclined, none would risk the inevitable public disapprobation that would follow a thoughtful, specific critique of the misuse of Christian theology. I predict we'll see something critical in our media of passages in the Bible and statements made by wackjob Christian leaders round about... never.

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