A few days ago, I was reflecting on the myriad of kingdom images Jesus provided for his listeners (the Gospel reading for the 11th Sunday after Pentecost). I had hoped for some feedback from my readers; but, having none, I went instead down the path of the Old Testament reading in which Laban agrees to sell his youngest daughter Rachel to Jacob in exchange for 7 years hard labor. After 7 years, Jacob "takes" Leah in a wedding night ruse plotted by Laban and then serves another 7 years for the right to take Rachel as well.
I looked at several commentaries this week including the ones in Sojourners magazine and The Christian Century and also followed some conversation on the Gen X Clergy listserv and so I cannot recall at the moment who pointed out the irony (or if, perhaps, in a moment of genius, I myself came up with the idea - not as likely) that this text is being read in the midst of the Lambeth Conference (for related reading consider pp. 27-33 of this pre-Lambeth reading).
Here we have a text (referring now back to Genesis 29:15-28) that, on a literal reading, could be used to justify polygamy - a practice that is under question in Texas in light of the child abuse scandal and a practice among some Mormons in Utah and other [I confess to not knowing enough about Mormonism to know whether or not this is a "reputable" website, but I provide the link nonetheless]. Now polygamy is a practice that the Anglican Communion considers to be contrary to God's plan. I want to be clear that I am not in favor of polygamy - primarily for its tendency (or potential tendency) to be abusive to the women in these relationships (it is rare indeed hear of a matriarchal-based polygamous marriage - such relationships tending to be labeled "promiscuity" in our society being yet another aspect of the inequality of gender that lingers). However, I find it interesting that we read "against" Scripture on this issue and insist on reading "into" Scripture issues regarding the acceptability or lack of acceptability of homosexual practices. Shouldn't Biblical literalists at least be held to a standard of consistency?
Now for those of you sometimes attend St. Barnabas in the Villas and missed out on today's sermon, you should be aware that this is not what I preached about. Instead, you are being treated to one of my more internal, quiet rants. This morning's sermon instead focused on how God can work through and around human deceit and weakness to get God's job done! As Paul writes in his epistle to the Romans:
". . . neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else [including human deceit, weakness, foibles, etc.] in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Rom. 8:38) [text in italics are words of this author, not St. Paul].