So which rules apply?

As a gay christian, I struggle a lot within my faith. I hear arguments from both sides that attempt to make it simple. I have just read a blog post penned (or typed) by a prominent outspoken and respected Christian theologian. He is also the priest that baptised me and brought me in to the family of Christ. So I must respond.

Baptism of homosexualsThe arguments for accepting homosexual relationships within a biblical context from the
extrapolations of the same context, to the language used in scriptural quotes can be equally complex as the arguments against accepting homosexuality which embarrassingly quotes both old and new testament scripture, but seems to ignore the verses on both sides of the biblical fence (The old and new testament) which highlight the hypocrisy where the church accepts divorce and female leadership.

I have to make a point, that I cant help but feel no one else seems to have noticed. The rules changed when Jesus died.

If they didn't change, why do we worship on Sunday? There is NOTHING that I have found scripturally that explains why the Sabbath is now a Sunday and not a Saturday. If we go according to the rules set out in the five books of Moses, then we should be attending church and worshipping on a Saturday. So can someone please explain to me why we are worshipping on a Sunday, if man is not allowed to interpret and contextually apply God's laws?

Then there are the obvious observations. Most Christians I know eat bacon, shellfish and are quite happy to pour a cheese sauce over their steak. In fact the consequences for having intercourse with an unclean woman are greater than those for eating pork, which are nevertheless dire indeed. So we find ourselves in a church that doesn't take umbrage to the fact that we consume all these forbidden foods, nor does it refuse marriage to those engaging in premarital sex and it certainly doesn't prevent remarriage of those who have divorced, so what is the whole gay issue?

Jesus came to fulfil the covenant, and so he did, so we didn't have to. He created a new covenant. That we love one another as he loves us. This doesn't mean that we have no rules to live by. Even Rabbi Hillel said love one another, do unto others as you would have them do to you - the rest is commentary.

As I understand it that while Jesus was alive he was fulfilling the Hebrew scripture, his arrival and eventual departure was the fulfilment of this scripture, it's completion. Closure. At the moment of his death, a new era began. An era that allowed us all to share in his grace. No more of the over reaching 613 commandments that restrict every part of every day of the lives of the faithful.

When the curtain tore in the temple, the old covenant ended and the new covenant began. The new covenant that means I can eat bacon, shellfish and worship on a Sunday. The new covenant that ensures that as long as I am hurting no one, I can love anyone and in fact should love everyone. The covenant that places upon me a responsibility to evangelise truth. Not cloud it with ifs and buts from the past.

When I was baptised, I lay my past down at the cross, including the near impossible 613 commandments that I failed regularly at keeping. My baptism didn't wash away my hair colour, my skin colour or my education, intellectual or spiritual gifts and it didn't wash away my sexuality, because that is how G-d made me. What it did do is wash away my sin - the man made part of me.

What belongs to G-d, he has kept in me and what belonged to man he washed away. Every time I confess and take communion, he does that for me again. And again and again.

Because Jesus died, the rules changed.

Yes I know Paul refers to homosexuality (again the context is highly debatable and suitable for a whole new post) and the place of women in the new testament. Don't forget that Paul was human. The letters he wrote may well have been divinely inspired, but they were written by a human. Much of Paul's writing is very obviously influenced by the teaching of his former mentor Rabbi Gamliel, who as we all know was operating on the premise that the old covenant was still in operation. We also need to recognise who he was actually addressing in the letters and the context of their lives and lifestyles.

I once read an excellent interpretation on punctuation and it broke down how differently we understand things that are said based on where the punctuation falls in a phrase, sentence or paragraph. I really see how this applies, since most of us have only the direct translation in our bibles to rely on. What happens when we start moving the commas, full stops and semi colons? And in the same way, when we start to view the lives and contexts in which Paul was reaching out to the addressees of his letters.

All of a sudden the perspective changes. To mature in Christ and his message, we are also expected to explore the evidence and not simply take everything at face value as do children, but to explore and develop an understanding of deeper context, within the scriptures that are available to us.

I look at the Gospel as the core of my faith. I read it in its context. It is largely the foundation of my faith that was prepared and constructed BEFORE Christ died. The Gospel illustrates the fulfilment of G-ds purpose and the creation of a new covenant. The covenant to love one another in the context that we do unto others as we would have them do to us. Our colour, financial or social status, and certainly who we love has become irrelevant.

So before you start, telling me that I am an abomination before G-d perhaps you should start going to church on Saturday(no driving -walking only), ensure that you have all the sacrifices sorted, no pork, no shellfish, no cheese sauces. make sure your menstruant women are separated from your men and be sure to have the threads of your clothes checked because wool and flax are a no-no. In fact there are 613 tick boxes to complete and then come and tell me that the covenant that I am part of excludes the people I can love.

You cant pick and choose the rules as you go along. Either you're with the old rules or the new - I have chosen Christs rule - love one another as I have loved you.

Ruthie Richards-Hill

Ruth, a free range human being and a middle aged mum of three adult children and very young grandmother to two little girls, is a glass artist, and a digital strategist, She retains the right to change her mind about anything and believes in a compassionate approach to most things, you can contact her using the contact page on this blog.

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