The key reason why such arguments do not satisfy me is that I have yet to see how they can be applied consistently. Why, exactly, don’t they lead to the conclusion put forward in the title of this blog post? When does the Bible become specific enough to listen to? There are many things that the Bible does not specifically mention which the Christian church has long held to be sinful or at least unwise (and being unwise is not, as I’ve attempted to demonstrate, much of a step up from outright sin).
I have shocked people when I pointed out that the Bible says “nothing” specific about the evils of paedophilia or polygamy . . . I didn’t mention de-facto marriage, slave owning, or membership of the Nazi party. Yet surely Christians must face and explain these things if they are to put forward the argument that if something is not mentioned specifically it is an area of Christian freedom. If an argument does not work when it comes to large matters, does it work for small ones? If so, how do we make the distinction?
I believe that the Bible does speak, directly or indirectly, to almost all areas of life. The Bible doesn’t use the word paedophilia, but it forbids sex outside of loving marriage. The Bible doesn’t condemn polygamy outright. It shows its destructive consequences and deviation from God’s plan. There are areas where the Bible specifically says we are entirely free: what we eat and drink and what days we keep (Romans 14). In these cases, the Bible does speak – and tells us to follow our own conscience.
As we seek to grapple with what the Bible says, there are many things to keep in mind:
- We are to seek peace with one another, and it is wise to hold our tongues (read Proverbs!). I often fail on this one!
- Many of us struggle to live out the Bible’s obvious teachings, and we need to focus on these. How many of us can say we’ve “arrived” when it comes to forgiving others or helping the poor?
- Some areas of life are less important than others, and the very clear (love on another) must never be forgotten in our attempts to understand other matters.