Bible reveals that even God changed mind


POSTED: Saturday, March 14, 2009

By way of this reflection, I invite the larger community to witness a theological dynamic whirling around the current issue of unions between people of the same sex. I trust that my reflection might help more people to understand a little of what is going on within the context of religious communities in conflict over this issue.

The theological dynamic in a very real way revolves around an understanding of the divine. One tradition views God as unchanging from beginning to end. God has enacted moral laws that are written in the Bible for all time. These are not to be broken. The moral law being invoked by this tradition in the current dispute in Hawaii is that marriage is reserved for persons of the opposite sex, and that civil unions represent a breakdown of this moral law.

One can appreciate this point of view in that it provides certainty and stability in a time of tremendous cultural and social change.

The other tradition views our understanding of God as one that is unfolding and changing. This tradition points to those biblical stories when God changed God's mind. One such story is illustrative. In the story of the flood, God decides to destroy the earth and all living things except for Noah and those in the ark because “;the earth was corrupt in God's sight, and the earth was filled with violence.”; (Genesis 6:11)

So God meets violence with the violence of the flood. As God reflects on what God has done, however, one notes a change in the heart of God. God makes a covenant with humankind and all living things never again to destroy the earth with a flood. The rainbow is set in the sky to remind God of this covenant of life in case God forgets.

In this tradition, our understanding of God and God's will keeps changing and unfolding. It follows, then, that just as our understanding of God and God's will, the words of the Bible, however authoritative they are for our lives, are not fixed and certain.

In the United Church of Christ, this testimony of faith is contained in a time-honored tenet: “;There is yet more light and truth to break forth from God's holy word.”;

Could it be that the principles of love and justice, which surely take precedence over any fixed moral laws or codes, now are leading the Christian community to embrace the truth that two persons of the same sex should have the same rights and protections as those of the opposite sex? It is surely a question worth considering.

The Rev. Neal MacPherson is retired as a United Church of Christ pastor, most recently as senior pastor of Church of the Crossroads.