"Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Saviour attractive."
(Titus 2:9-10 New International Version)
There are very few things in life that are sadder or more disappointing than when a group of oppressed, or formerly oppressed, people start to viciously attack another group of oppressed or disadvantaged people. The Jews in modern day Israel spring to mind immediately as probably the primary practitioners of this particular type of horrible forgetfulness. Whatever their grievances with the Palestinians you would think their experience, through the last two thousand years of their history, of being regarded as evil outsiders by those they lived with would have led to them being more peaceful and less arrogant in their response to Arab aggression and claims for self-determination in the Bible Lands.
But the Jewish citizens of Israel are not the only racial group to be guilty of this type of tribal selective memory. I remember well the vote in California that overturned a law allowing same sex couples to marry in the state. The biggest group of people who voted to ban such weddings were black Americans. Again, you would have thought that the African American experience of being regarded as not fully human would have led them to have a less judgemental, a less prejudicial, view of other groups of people who are "different" in some "natural" way to the majority and/or the most powerful members of society.
Newsmax has a report today about African American clergy breaking away from the Presbyterian Church USA over its embrace of homosexual marriage. Evidently the National Black Church Initiative, which claims to represent thirty four thousand black churches with fifteen million seven hundred thousand African-American and Latino members, has ended its connection with the mainstream church. With a decidedly unbiblical arrogance it accuses PCUSA of arbitrarily altering scripture to allow the extension of the sacrament of marriage to same sex couples.
Now, I am not going to bother arguing that same gender marriage is not against the teaching of scripture because, quite honestly, I believe the Bible was written by people, with all their inherent and learned prejudices, and not by God, and so is not a reliable and accurate arbiter of what is right and wrong. What I will say, however, is that people who do claim that the Bible is inerrant and use that claim to demand certain types of behaviour from everyone else should always, themselves, personally and collectively, scrupulously adhere to every instruction in the Bible or, at least, as I am a generous man, the New Testament.
Therefore, unless every single member of the National Black Church Initiative has never been guilty of adultery, fornication, impure thoughts of any kind, lust, pride or any other sin, deadly or otherwise; as long as none of them has been divorced and as long as every one of them has given their money away to the poor and refused point blank to borrow or loan money with interest, their self-righteous condemnation of their former co-religionists for being unbiblical is nothing but hypocritical cant. Furthermore, there is far, far more in the New Testament about the acceptability of slavery and the importance of slaves being obedient and dutiful to their "masters" than there is about same gender marriage. In fact, there is absolutely nothing about lesbianism, good or bad, in the Bible. Therefore, I have only one thing to say to the men and women of the National Black Church Initiative:
"Remember Onesimus, stop critisising your betters and get back to work, you lazy slaves!"
Alternatively, they could view their own righteously fought for freedom from unjust oppression and low status as a paradigm describing the freedom achieved for all people by Christ in his passion, death and resurrection, and start preaching the good news rather than the old and bad news that kept their ancestors enslaved and outside of the protection of the law for so many years.