PM misrepresents the Bible

Last night, on a serious Australian current affairs program, Q&A, our current serving Prime Minister, a self-professed Christian, grossly caricatured the Bible.

A pastor questioned the PM’s change of mind on same-sex marriage, pointing out that Jesus says, “A man shall leave his father and mother and be married”—summarising Matthew 19:4-6—and asked why someone calling himself a Christian does not believe the words of Jesus in the Bible.

The PM replied,

“Well if I was going to have that view, the Bible also says that slavery is a natural condition.”

This received the most enormous applause of the night, which incidentally seems to indicate both the depth of biblical illiteracy and the hostility to Christian morality.

As justification, the PM went on to refer to Paul’s instructions—delivered in both Ephesians 6:5 and Colossians 3:22—for slaves to be obedient to their masters. And he suggested on this basis, “we should have all fought for the Confederacy in the US Civil War”.

I am appalled at how this national leader, publicly claiming “an informed conscience and a Christian conscience”, misrepresented the Holy Book of the faith he confesses, on its teaching on one matter (slavery) to avoid its teaching on another matter (of marriage), in order to justify his abandonment of that biblical teaching.

The Bible’s teaching on slavery is extensive and diverse and was spoken into various cultures: Ancient Near Eastern society, largely agrarian, as well as Graceo-Roman culture, where practices of slavery varied considerably. And some of these versions of slavery were themselves quite different at points from the race-based slavery that blighted North America and other parts of the world, against which the Christian MP, William Wilberforce, and others fought from the late 1700s into the 1800s. However, none of it was part of the original created order.

Nevertheless, it is true that the Bible also honestly records, and sometimes regulates, the practice of slavery. It is naïve in the extreme—just a poor reading strategy—to assume an endorsement of an institution or activity, simply because it is recorded without particular narrative assessment at one point, or because it is regulated—for what might be called harm-minimisation, or an ethic of retrieval—at another point.

Let’s be clear. Even a cursory reading of the Bible would tell you it never says slavery is a “natural condition”. Never. Not once.

Any material regulating the practice of slavery needs to be read alongside the extensive material which shows the Bible ultimately opposes slavery.

One of the paradigmatic episodes of the Old Testament is the Exodus. It involves God’s rescue of his people out of slavery! Slavery is presented as unequivocally unpleasant and cruel. Refer Exodus 2:23-25:

During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them. (NIV84)

Under God’s direction in the Law of Israel, the Exodus became a driving shaper of ethics. For example, Deuteronomy 24:17-18:

Do not deprive the alien or the fatherless of justice, or take the cloak of the widow as a pledge. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you from there. That is why I command you to do this.

In the New Testament, as in the Old, the slave trade is condemned out of hand with various other grievous sins. 1 Timothy 1:8-11 says,

We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me. (NIV11)

How is any of that teaching that slavery is a natural condition?

But more than that, freedom is always a key goal of the Christian gospel. This is ultimately a spiritual freedom from slavery to sin and its consequences. But it has implications for earthly human freedom or enslavement. Yes, spiritual freedom before God—in relationship with Christ, who purchased you by his blood—enables one to accept a lack of temporal, earthly freedom, indeed to work hard for your master.

So here is the full context of the only words of the Bible on slavery the MP referred to. I am using the version in Ephesians 6:5-9:

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.

And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him. (NIV84)

Your true master is Christ, a truly good master. And understanding that frees you to work hard for your boss, yes, even if he is your earthly slave master. Even, it is noted elsewhere, if they mistreat you.

But that it not all this passage says about slavery. It counter-culturally warns masters never to mistreat their slaves. It reminds owners that far from having a totally superior status or being a class apart, rather, before God, they are equal to their slaves.

In that connection, we note the much quoted verse, Galatians 3:28:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Your ethnicity and gender, your social, educational and economic status or class, are far less important than the fact that all humans are created in the image of God. And here, far less important to a Christian, than that you are all united, equally, in Christ.

But the New Testament goes further. Paul encourages the emancipation of a runaway slave, Onesimus, in his letter to the wronged-master, Philemon. And in addition, Paul writes these words in 1 Corinthians 7:21-22:

Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you—although if you can gain your freedom, do so. For he who was a slave when he was called by the Lord is the Lord’s freedman; similarly, he who was a free man when he was called is Christ’s slave.

Slavery is never once taught in Scripture as the natural condition. Rather, if you can gain your freedom, do so.

I am deeply sorry to say it—and all the more in an election week—but our Prime Minister convicted the Bible on a trumped up charge. How sad for someone in high office, publicly professing the Christian faith.


Update: Friends, I have tried to engage with critics on slavery and Bible interpretation in a later post here.

Given the length of comments here, if your issues are with the slavery and interpretation matters, it might be better to read the new post and comment there. Thanks.

There’s also an intervening update on whether I had simply misconstrued what the PM said.

271 thoughts on “PM misrepresents the Bible

  1. Slavery in the Old Testament was endorsed by God along racial lines.

    Leviticus 25:44-46 (NIV)
    44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. 46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

    • “Permitted” and “endorsed” are very different things. God, for example, permitted divorce, yet:

      Matthew 19:3-12 ESVUK
      And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”

      The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” But he said to them, “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.”

      So, the biblical ideal is for people to marry once and stay married, nor never marry and stay celibate (“become eunuchs”). Something less than the ideal was regulated because it’s better to minimise the harm that sin can cause than to take an all-or-nothing approach.

      Similarly, for slavery, the ideal is never to have a slave. But, in order to minimise harm, regulations were put in place for when it did occur.

        • I suppose when the government introduced the Needle Exchange Program they should have just said “Don’t do illicit drugs,” instead.

        • You also have to remember that in those days when Israel was fighting against neighbours/ countries determined to destroy them, that often victory in battle meant the capture of the opposition. The choice was either be put to death for trying to kill us, or earn forgiveness by serving us. Make no mistake, the peoples and nations that God let Israel have victory over were barbaric, evil people.

          • No, they weren’t barbaric, evil people at all – they just weren’t Israelites. All people are God’s people – no one nation can claim exclusivity.

      • For example, God could have said ‘buy slaves from other countries so you can set them free’, rather than ‘keep them as property for life’, if he was not keen on the idea. I can’t see a difference between this and buying African slaves.

        • A large part of the problem is equating slavery in the “modern” world (e.g. what happened in America) with what took place in the Ancient Near East. Note how in the verse you quoted from Leviticus 25:44 they were allowed to buy people from the nations – plural. One of the biggest differences is that slavery in the ancient world was not based solely on a person’s race as it was with the African slave trade and so was effectively racist.

          In the Greek and Roman societies of the first century for instance it was something many people even entered into voluntarily because it was better for them financially and their was more economic security. According to “The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia” almost 50% of slaves were set free prior to their 30th birthdays.

          • Released at 30? How tragic! Then they would have lost that important economic security they had entered into voluntarily!

          • Not so John West. They did earn wages even as slaves (bondslave is a better term – an indentured servant). They also had the option to choose to stay with their current master for life if they thought it was a good living and did not wish to leave. There were laws preventing the gross mistreatment of slaves, even foreign ones, though foreign bondslaves did not have to be given the option of being set free every seventh year – and so could only earn freedom by paying their redemption price.

            Also, many foreign slaves were actually war captives – who otherwise would have been killed or been displaced refugees. It was far more humane, for a people group who had lost a war, to set them up as indentured servants with economic security and a place to live than it was to massacre them or leave them without home or job.

        • Hi Ben,

          Thanks for your thoughtful comments. In the historical milieu of the ANE where slavery was a given, being a servant (ebed) in a household of the Lord’s people, with exposure to His redemption in a family employing His standard of ethics would have ironically been liberating. The alternative would be to have been driven far from the knowledge of God through a simple emancipation…into the hands of any number of idolatrous masters…from marauding bands of terrorists back into nations that practiced all kinds of evils. This is very different to the African slave trade that Wilberforce and Newton protested so strongly about. It was their Christian worldview of how others should be treated in God’s image that was the common link. Blessings, Dave Hann (Reformers Bookshop – we’ve had a couple of chats with our kids in the park)

          • By you reply here am I to understand that you believe that slavery is ok as long as it is for ‘the good’ of the slaves

      • Alex, you just argued really well for why same-sex marriage should be permitted… “better to minimise the harm that sin can cause than to take an all-or-nothing approach”. Well said. Permission does not have to mean endorsement.

        • No. Alex’s argument could perhaps be used to justify such things as the decriminalisation of homosexual behaviour, and the recognition of property rights between two same-sex individuals living together. But extending that to include same-sex marriage is actually taking the all-or-nothing approach from the opposite direction. Adam and Steve are already *permitted* to live together. Recognising same-sex marriage would be to *endorse* that relationship as a good and desirable thing.

          And it’s not. So we shouldn’t.

          • It’s strange that you say permitted and endorsed are two different things on this issue. If ‘permitted’ is okay for someone’s sexuality, then ‘endorsed’ doesn’t even come into the argument. You can’t endorse someone to become a homosexual, just like you can’t endorse someone to become a heterosexual.

          • Responding to Callum: I was previously responding to Ben’s comment,

            “better to minimise the harm that sin can cause than to take an all-or-nothing approach”. Well said. Permission does not have to mean endorsement.”

            So I was distinguishing between “permit” and “endorse” in the same way that Ben was.

            There *is* a difference between permitting and endorsing. You can permit something to happen without saying it’s a good thing. When you endorse it, though, you’re saying “This is good, I approve.” Legalising same sex marriage would be for society to say “Homosexual behaviour is good, we approve.”

            But it’s not. So we shouldn’t..

          • Well that’s a pretty loose argument. If you can *permit* a couple to live together (already a ridiculous concept), you can *permit* them to marry. Because as you said, permit and endorse are separate terms.

          • Tim, you state that a homosexual relationship is not (and imply it never could be) a good or desirable thing as if it is an unquestionable fact of the universe. But that’s a subjective opinion, not fact. I would argue that harm is most caused in relationships and families by lack of commitment and loyalty. SSM actually supports committed monogamous relationships, which you’d have to agree is good and quite possibly the “less harm” approach.
            Lastly, I strongly believe the more you treat someone as perverted, whose sexual identity is abhorrent and without merit, the more they’ll believe it and act it out. You end up perpetuating and inciting the behaviour, like the father saying “you’ll never amount to anything”. Maybe if we were to give homosexuals marriage equality, could it not be possible we might actually start to curb the promiscuous tendencies that may be present in gay culture? Just a thought.

      • I don’t think the distinction between permit and endorse matters. I don’t believe a truly loving god would permit slavery.

    • Thy bond-men and thy bond-maids which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you: of them shall ye buy bond-men and bond-maids. Moreover, of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land. And they shall be your possession. And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession, they shall be your bond-man forever.”

      —Leviticus 25:44-46

      “When a man strikes his slave, male or female, with a rod and the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. But if the slave survives a day or two, he is not to be punished; for the slave is his money.”

      —Exodus 21:20-21 (RSV)

      Although Jesus abrogates the Old Testament provisions on kosher dining and not working on Sabbath days, he has not a word to say about the injustice of slavery. In fact, on one occasion he works slavery into a parable as if it were the most natural thing in the world, favorably comparing God to a slaveholder who beats his slaves for not obeying him:

      “The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.”

      —Luke 12:46-47

      In fact, as the above passage shows, the biblical authors considered it blasphemous for a slave to disobey or dishonor his owner – as if rebelling against slavery was sin against God.
      The Prime Minister didn’t misrepresent the bible. It’s clearly written in both the Old and New Testament. What’s up for debate is the interpretation of what appears to be very simple. Many would argue that that was a different time. Yet
      how does it matter that it was from a different time? Even at its loosest interpretation, it is still advocating the practice of treating human beings a tradeable commodity, or at least loosely supporting the practice by attempting to casually use it as a parable. It does not matter if that was the social norm at the time to have slaves, if the Bible really is inspired by God, and God is perfect, then it would never advocate such a thing. Unless you believe that God supported slavery back then simply because it was a “different time,” your arguments fall hopelessly apart. Either that, or you believe that the Bible was written primarily through human influence and is far from the infallible “sacred text” you take it to be.

  2. Pingback: Election ’13 and same-sex marriage | Senator קהלת

  3. What people need to understand is that, yes, homosexuality (like all sin in general, actually and like heterosexual sin) is an abomination to God. But it’s not abominable because God hates people who sin or commit such things. In fact it’s because He loves sinners them that such a sin is so abhorrent to Him! Why? Because sin destroys the image in which Yahweh God created them, it alienates them from Him, and it breaks His heart as well as His law. Doesn’t the daughter of an alcoholic rightly hate the alcohol and the habit of her father? Not because she hates her dad but because the behaviour/habit is killing their relationship. The false security of the bottle is killing her family and she rightly despises it and everyone is losing out. As someone who once lived in gay ‘relationships’ and has been set free from that kind of slavery by the blood and body of Christ I find Rudd’s attack on fellow believers in Christ to be truly appalling. I pray that his false witness not lead others astray. Christians need to be very shrewd and prayerful at the upcoming election. Well done, Sandy Grant.

    • Well said.

      Rudd is also trying to walk both sides of the street on this matter while misrepresenting Christ, and showed disrespect to a pastor to win applause from the crowd. Poor form, Kevin.

      • You think the Pastor was showing the PM respect? He was taking a cheap shot and he got schooled.

        • Respectfully Peter, from what I saw he wasn’t taking a ‘cheap shot’ at all but just asking a question every Christian, certainly myself anyway, would like the PM to answer. Sadly he answered as expected.

          • The pastor was absolutely laying a trap. Many people here have judged KR as falling into it, but many of us think he answered the question honestly and Biblically as well, showing he had considered these matters in that context.

            This is all about judgement and those who love to vilify homosexuals. Well, let he who is without sin cast the first stone. Accepting people is the first step for your own redemption.

    • It is unnatural, check your own anatomy – tale a look at biology.
      It is unproductive, it cannot create new life.
      It is unhealthy, check government health data and you will see that rates of STDs are much higher + over 80% of those suffering HIV/AIDS are men who have sex with men. Incontinence is a huge and growing problem for those who engage in anal sex.
      This is not ‘hate’ – The central tenant of Christianity is TRUTH, not love as, Mr Rudd claimed on Q&A.
      Yet he appears to treat the truth with considerable disrespect when it suits his cause – why did he change his mind on this issue – because it gave him a few extra votes when he needed them and hopes it will do it next Saturday.

      • Thank you for your reply.

        I disagree with your basic premise that same-sex behaviour is unnatural as it occurs throughout the animal kingdom

        Further, how does someone else’s wish to have their relationship legally recognized impact your life in any way?

          • Hi LS,
            If homosexual relationships already enjoy all the legal benefits and protections that heterosexual relationships do, how does it impact YOUR life if Australia maintains the status quo?

          • Hi Ian,
            All you have done is just redirect my question. Have the respect to answer a question asked of you first and then I will happily answer. How would SSM impact directly on your own life?

          • I never said that it would impact me, but as you are the one insisting that we should change, the onus is on you to show why it would be a benefit, especially as the legal rights already exist, making this purely an exercise in redefinition.

          • Why are you arguing about something that does not matter to you?

            For me, SSM would mean that my sister and her partner, who are in a loving, caring, long term relationship would be able to get the same SOCIAL acceptance that I have. It is ridiculous that they don’t.

            I think the bigger issue here though is that there is such a large number of people who believe that religion, and it is only Christians who speak so loudly, has any sort of place in politics. How dare one group of people think that their belief system is the only one which is correct and should impact on how a multicultural group of people should be ruled.

          • I never argued anything, I just responded to a question asking “how does someone else’s wish to have their relationship legally recognized impact your life in any way?” by pointing out that their relationships are already legally recognised. So the wish has already been granted :)

            Changing the definition of marriage isn’t going to provide any more acceptance to your sister than she already gets. Those who think her relationship is acceptable will continue to do so, and those who think otherwise will also continue to think the same.

          • It actually would change peoples opinion, obviously not yours, and that is fine, but it will change many people who are not lucky enough to have exposure to all kinds of relationships in their lives. Acceptance by a higher authority, the people selected by us, is what people in some communities need to be able to be accepted themselves.

            Once again. the bigger issue really is this idea that religion has a place in politics.

          • LS…

            Your state that acceptance at govt level is important for acceptance to become widespread. In Sept 2012, the SSM bill was overwhelmingly defeated in federal parliament. In this democracy, should that not put an end to the argument? You criticise Christians for “speaking loudly”, yet the lobby pushing SSM continues to roar, even though their request for SSM was defeated by 98 votes to 42 (more than double!!). You continue to push a debate that was easily defeated. As disappointed as I’m sure you feel, the tribe has spoken. Please, please…ask yourself, wouldn’t you expect Christians to move on if the vote had been the opposite? Ultimately, there are much, much bigger issues at stake in this election, and the PrimeMinister is using an emotive, narrow issue, driven by the media, to steer attention away from issues he is clearly losing ground upon.

        • Hi Tim,

          I disagree that humans should base their behaviour on the behaviour of animals. People who use this argument generally only apply it to the same-sex argument. But we don’t condone rape just because it sometimes occurs in the animal kingdom. When people rape (or gang-rape) a woman, we call them animals, and we don’t mean it in a good way.

          And what about the rest of life? Should we sit in a field eating grass all day just because that’s what cows do? Should we wallow in mud because that’s what pigs do?

          I just don’t follow that line of reasoning. What do you think?

          • Emma,
            The observation of homosexuality in nature is simply a rejoinder to the argument that homosexuality doesn’t occur anywhere in non-human nature. No one is suggesting we model our behaviour and domestic relationships upon animals (although we could probably learn something from them).

          • Homosexuality in the animal kingdom was brought up to explain to those that think homosexuality is unnatural that it is in fact a normal fact of nature. It’s not saying we copy other species behaviour. Sure, it won’t result in making babies, but who cares? If you don’t want to do it, then don’t, if you do, that’s fine too. The point is stop telling other people what to do because of an antiquated belief.

          • Hi Emma,
            My reference to animals was in reply to Ian’s comment that same-sex behaviour is ‘unnatural’. How else do you gauge a behaviour’s ‘naturalness’ except by comparison to nature?

            Some statements by other posters along the lines of “well some animals gang-rape so that’s natural” isn’t actually the same argument at all. It’s a straw man. Gang-rape is non-consensual; same-sex union is consensual.

            I come back to the issue that’s really at hand – how are opponents of same-sex marriage ACTUALLY affected by people they don’t mix with getting married?

        • The natural world according to scripture is also corrupted by sin, hence comparison of human behaviour with nature is not a valid comparison scripturally. The bible does not compare natural vs unnatural, it compares perfect vs imperfect.

        • What so many people forget is the fall. The way the world is now is not the way it was in the beginning. Homosexuality in people or the animal kingdom is not natural, that is it is not the way God designed things to be, just look at the biology for goodness sake. The fall introduced death, suffering and corruption into the whole universe, and sin into mankind. Homosexuality in people is a sin, just as coveting or deceit is a sin.

          Respectfully this is why the belief about where we came from is so vitally important. Most people today, sadly even most Christians, hold an evolutionary world view so is it any wonder we think homosexuality is ‘natural’?

          • No, sadly many Christians hold the non-evolution view. I don’t say creationist, because creationism and evolution are not exclusive – you can be both. If you don’t believe that God is big enough to have created the world using evolution, you should read J.B Philips “Your God is too Small”.

            It is also not true that homosexual behaviours are unnatural in the animal world. We may not like homosexuality, but that does not give us the right to condemn others for their own sexual practices. KR was right on the money.

      • You could say the same thing for a lot of conditions, such as obesity (abnormal excess of body fat, is linked to infertility, unhealthy, causes many more health complications than being homosexual does).

        • Why not ask the Islamic community what their view is on SSM? Why not allow polygamy? Why not allow bestiality? After all your argument is that it doesn’t affect anyone else..
          Democracy doesn’t mean everyone gets their way. If people oppose SSM that is their right and in a democracy they ARE entitled to their view without prejudice.

          • Wow, another slippery slope argument… It’s best not to compare bestiality to this topic, especially as bestiality could never be considered consensual or fair. Anyway, more than half of Australians are for gay marriage, so I suppose that’s democracy.

  4. So… my conclusion is, and always has been, the Bible is full of contradictions. Since the Bible ‘regulated’ something that was permitted back then, which is no longer permitted now, then that provision is irrelevant. The same thing can be argued for same sex marriage. Society changed and the laws changed with it, so therefore once same sex marriage is legalised, then the verses regulating same sex marriage in the Bible are irrelevant.

    You can’t chop and change for one area and not another.

    • God’s teaching on marriage has never changed, that is the difference.

      The provisions around what slavery is and isn’t has changed over time. God instructed the Jews in the OT that they cannot mistreat their slaves (and if any serious harm came to them, then they must be released by their master). In any case, the condition of master and slave was more like lord and serf of the middle ages. The lord of the land can be a good land owner and give the serfs excellent conditions and plenty to eat. Or he can mistreat and extract a heavy price from them.

      In the New Testament we see Jesus, God the Son, again express that slavery is not a natural condition.

      Some critics claim that Jesus never said anything about the wrongness of slavery. Not so. He explicitly opposed every form of oppression in His mission “to proclaim release to the captives … to set free those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18 NASB1; cp. Isaiah 61:1). While Jesus did not press for some economic reform plan in Israel, He did address attitudes such as greed, materialism, contentment, and generosity.

      It is not chopping and changing. It is interesting that people who are not Bible scholars deciding they can criticise the Bible without studying it in context. Nor realising that God’s commands are for the benefit of society, not to be a killjoy.

      Who are we, mortal men, to tell our Creator that we understand what the better way to live is? Selfish choices to follow after our own selfish lusts only result in further degradation of ourselves, our children and our society.

      As the apostle Paul wrote:
      “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power.” 2 Timothy 1:1-5

      And Romans 1:28-32
      “just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over [in His divine judgement] to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”

      Can you honestly say that running away from God’s Word has produced a better society over the years?

      • So, the bible seems to allow for a number of different kinds of marriages (and legalish couplings). A brother must marry his sister-in-law if her husband dies (presumably regardless of either his or her opinion). Two girls conceive from their father after getting him drunk. A man may take a captured woman and make her his wife (regardless of her opinion). A man must marry a maiden he rapes (again, regardless of her opinion) etc. There’s a bunch of stuff about mistresses, and additional wives too.

        I accept that these are all heterosexual relationships, but there are things here that are not acceptable today. I would hope that no one in a Christian country would force a woman to be married to her rapist “in the name of God”, nor would I expect that someone would expect me to marry my husband’s brother if I were widowed (especially if neither of us were interested in the marriage).

        What is your bible based definition of marriage? And show me where the bible allows marriage to be between two people who love each other and want to be with each other (as opposed to being joined for political/property reasons). Explain why brothers no longer have to take responsibility for their widowed sister in laws. Why men may only marry one woman, and not have mistresses. Why women can now avoid marrying their rapists… Because I think our current definition of marriage is already extraordinarily modern, and only bears passing similarity to the unions in the bible.

        For bonus points, have a go at explaining in a largely secular country like Australia, why a minority of the population should get to define the legal rights of another minority?

        • You’re doing exactly what was discussed – isolating fragments of the Bible away from their context and condemning them.

          You list the kinsmen redeemer (brother marrying his widowed sister-in-law), and marrying captured women and rape victims, and yet you fail to identify /why/ those laws existed because you don’t understand the context.

          Without those laws, a widow, or a captive, or a rape victim was basically destroyed. You had no capacity to earn a living, no income, no government pensions, child support or alimony.

          What those laws are saying, is that part of the consequence for taking a captive woman, or rape was that you then must provide for her for the rest of her life. It is a financial obligation being placed on the person who commits an offence (or, in the case of the kinsman redeemer, an obligation to look after your brothers widowed wife).

          Deuteronomy 22: “If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the girl, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives”

          Note that this is directed at the rapist of an unmarried, unbetrothed girl – that is, someone who has no other prospects of support, because men at that time were unwilling to marry non-virgins. If she were married or betrothed, the rapist would be stoned instead, because the woman would have had the financial support of her husband. Since she is likely to lack such support, her rapist is forced to provide it for the rest of her life.

          • And, on the other hand, if the rapist is not discovered? Then she’s ruined anyway, right? Because women weren’t people able to inherit properties and govern themselves.

            But I merely gave some examples, I note you didn’t mention polygamy. There are a whole lot of people here suggesting that God invented marriage, or that marriage is defined in the bible as if the idea of trading women away to men as property didn’t exist before Jesus came. Or before the Jewish recorded their books.

            I contend that women have been traded as property for longer than we’ve hand language.

            I asked you for where the bible defines our more modern idea of marriage where both parties (in theory) have a say in it.

    • Kate, you’re wrong about the Bible. So-called Bible contradictions have been soundly refuted over and over again by many great biblical scholars. The key to progress is to accept the Bible’s straightforward claims, from the very first verse. That’s the key. Only the courageous can do it … and the courage comes from God Himself. Ask Jesus (God) for that courage and you will receive it.

      • Spot on Jonathan, sadly most Christians downplay the early chapters of Gen due to an evolutionary world view. This leaves them with no reasonable answers to these questions…..and unfortunately with liberal theologies like the PM’s.

  5. Pingback: PM misrepresents the Bible « Journeyman

  6. I appreciate this response. My question, however, is what is the church of which Mr. Rudd is a member going to do about this? The Scriptures call the church to discipline their members for the glory of God, the holiness of the church, the salvation of the sinner and that we may be a credible witness to outsiders. That must include doctrine as well as conduct. Does not our lack of discipline in the church today make us all share in this guilt? 1 Corinthians 5.

    • Well I think Scott Morrison’s church should have quite a few words to him about the Liberal’s asylum seeker policies, which are completely antithetical to what the Bible says.
      Secondly, SSM is not a salvation issue. It’s actually something that Christians can hold thoroughly considered yet different views on. To suggest church discipline because a Christian has a different view on an issue of social policy is, quite frankly, ridiculous.

    • I agree Mr Rudd may well be taking passages from the bible out of context.
      I agree that biblical scholars are probably two-parts dumbfounded and one-part furious over some of his comments.

      Unfortunately, MOST of the people who follow the bible’s teachings are NOT biblical scholars either and FREQUENTLY misquote or misuse the bible.
      Because of this ease of misuse – perhaps the bible shouldn’t be used to direct policy?

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  8. I think that we are focusing on the wrong issue here, and I think that the gentlemen who posed the question on Q&A is too – although I give him massive props for engaging in the political discourse.

    Rudd is not the first Christian politician who has misrepresented the gospel. I would argue that 2 minutes of listening to Fred Nile discuss virtually any topic would probably make some Christian folks cringe. Taking a step back and considering, we could argue that our politicians tend to do poorly when speaking about sources of truth.

    If Rudd has misrepresented, or anything else, he will no doubt account for that in good time, as will we all for our failings.

    As Christians, generally though, my view is that we are focusing on the wrong issue. Firstly, we should not be afraid or concerned that gay marriage may one day be legislated. If this happens, it will be in keeping with God’s will. We need to take heart in that. Secondly, we need to stop focusing on the yes/no issue, and work with lawmakers to determine what legislation may look like. Will our clergy be found to be on the wrong side of the law for their beliefs if we do not take time to participate in what a law change may look like? Surely we need to be concerned over these matters also.

    Rudd was asked a personal question, and answered personally, and defensively, as he is entitled to do. This however doesn’t make him a poor candidate for the Christian to vote for, nor does it make the Labor party a poor choice when considering this issue. As John Dickson recently pointed out, we should not be blindly voting for “Christians” anyway.

    My own view is that a conscience vote is a gift. It allows people of all views to engage with their local representation and lobby for their views. Christians are entitled to a view – as are others. The question is, will you? Rather than taking to facebook, or Matthias Media comment blog, will you, on September 8, engage with your local politicians and state senators to lobby for your beliefs. This is the heart of the issue, and the place where Christians, in my view, need to spend their time and energy

    Its a time to engage in the political process. If CS Lewis were to modernize the screwtape letters, one could imagine the current disengagement with modern politics as being an excellent device that a senior tempter might recommend to his junior.

    Rudd answered personally. Some will agree with him, many won’t and that is fine. He has made his views plain, should we be surprised that he holds them when he has done so? My main criticism is that as a leader he showed absolutely no grace towards the man posing the question. I think that at least acknowledgement that it is a deeply personal issue for many would have warranted at least some grace.

    • Craig, thanks for your comments. The issue I was focussing on was the public misuse of the book I love, the Bible, and which Christians consider their primary documents in terms of faith.

      In this article, here, I have made no comments about same-sex marriage, beyond indicating that it was the context for his careless comments about slavery, to which I object.

      I also made no comments here about whether or not people should vote for Mr Rudd. That’s up to each person, and there is certainly more than one issue to take into account. And I agree that we do not simply vote for a candidate because he (or she) says he is a Christian.

      However, positively, if you read back over my posts here at the Briefing, I hope you will see that I have attempted to engage with politicians on the marriage matter (and many other issues – just get me going on the pokies and problem gambling) and simply just to encourage them in their difficult task.

      • Sandy, may I ask if you’ve read the theological defenses of slavery made in the lead-up to the Civil War in particular, but also in other anti-slavery movements? Because your article makes absolutely no mention of these facts. I’m guessing that this fact is ignored for two reasons: 1, because slavery was abolished and we all now rightly look back on it as repugnant. But reason number 2 is the bigger one: if we acknowledge that slavery was rigorously and biblically defended, then we need to accept that Christians can now hold biblically considered positions in support of SSM. You have to accept that, just like in the case of slavery (and civil rights, and the suffragettes and women’s rights), there are genuine Christians on both sides of the debate.

        Because this is what I personally, as a Christian who supports SSM, find most frustrating – the suggestion that because I hold a different position on a non-salvation issue, I’m not really a proper Christian. And that’s why Rudd answered so bluntly – the pastor who asked the question all but denied Rudd’s faith because he dares to publically hold the ‘wrong’ view on a social issue. I’m not sure if you’ve ever had that experience yourself, but I’ve had it quite a few times over a number of different issues, and there’s little that’s more hurtful – there’s nothing more hurtful for a fellow Christian to say.

    • Well I think his lack of grace has in part been countered by Sandy calling him a liar in this opinion piece. The sitting PM is a liar, because his interpretation of the ancient texts is not the same as Sandy’s. So take that KRudd. You’ve been well burned.

  9. The following passage shows that slaves are clearly property to be bought and sold like livestock.

    However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way. (Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT)

    The following passage describes how the Hebrew slaves are to be treated.

    If you buy a Hebrew slave, he is to serve for only six years. Set him free in the seventh year, and he will owe you nothing for his freedom. If he was single when he became your slave and then married afterward, only he will go free in the seventh year. But if he was married before he became a slave, then his wife will be freed with him. If his master gave him a wife while he was a slave, and they had sons or daughters, then the man will be free in the seventh year, but his wife and children will still belong to his master. But the slave may plainly declare, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children. I would rather not go free.’ If he does this, his master must present him before God. Then his master must take him to the door and publicly pierce his ear with an awl. After that, the slave will belong to his master forever. (Exodus 21:2-6 NLT)

    Notice how they can get a male Hebrew slave to become a permanent slave by keeping his wife and children hostage until he says he wants to become a permanent slave. What kind of family values are these?

    The following passage describes the sickening practice of sex slavery. How can anyone think it is moral to sell your own daughter as a sex slave?

    When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again. But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her. And if the slave girl’s owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter. If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife. If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment. (Exodus 21:7-11 NLT)

    So these are the Bible family values! A man can buy as many sex slaves as he wants as long as he feeds them, clothes them, and screws them!

    What does the Bible say about beating slaves? It says you can beat both male and female slaves with a rod so hard that as long as they don’t die right away you are cleared of any wrong doing.

    When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property. (Exodus 21:20-21 NAB)

    You would think that Jesus and the New Testament would have a different view of slavery, but slavery is still approved of in the New Testament, as the following passages show.

    Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. (Ephesians 6:5 NLT)

    Christians who are slaves should give their masters full respect so that the name of God and his teaching will not be shamed. If your master is a Christian, that is no excuse for being disrespectful. You should work all the harder because you are helping another believer by your efforts. Teach these truths, Timothy, and encourage everyone to obey them. (1 Timothy 6:1-2 NLT)

    In the following parable, Jesus clearly approves of beating slaves even if they didn’t know they were doing anything wrong.

    The servant will be severely punished, for though he knew his duty, he refused to do it. “But people who are not aware that they are doing wrong will be punished only lightly. Much is required from those to whom much is given, and much more is required from those to whom much more is given.” (Luke 12:47-48 NLT)

    • The New Testament doesn’t encourage Christians to forcefully overthrow existing institutions already established in society, but to model how they respond (Eph. 6:5; 1Tim. 6:1-2) even in difficult oppressive, circumstances. However, for a master who becomes a Christian, the NT expects any negative connotations of the idea of “slavery” to be transformed (Eph. 6:9).

      Jesus isn’t approving of masters beating slaves, but making an observation as an analogy to a divine just judgement.

      Would you be open to understanding how Christians view the law prescribed to Israel in the Old Testament that you are quoting from?

    • Yes Exodus 21:20-21 is an interesting passage:

      “When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property.”

      Exodus could have treated the deaths of slaves like it did for other deaths (the death penalty).

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  11. Pingback: Prime Minister Rudd vs Jesus on same sex marriage

  12. Wasn’t the bible also clear that Marriage was forever? yet the Pastor that brought this hateful question to the PM was divorced? Isn’t this the definition of Hypocrite?

    I personally live by the golden rule “Love one another as I have loved you” and thats why welcome the PMs change of heart! If the pope of the day feels he is in no position to judge, not sure what gives anyone else the right!

  13. It is stated in the article that, ‘freedom is always a key goal of the Christian gospel.’ Does this not mean that no matter ones ethnicity, gender, social or economic status, education, even faith, they should have the same rights. How does sexual orientation not fit in here. I do not understand how a group of people who claim to be accepting, and actively seek out conversions ( have a friend who is training to be a minister, and I know that within the very large organisation he is with that they celebrate being able to convert someone) feel that they are fully accepting and loving when they do not think that one group of loving, happy people do not deserve the same legal rights as themselves.

    How is this ‘Christian’?

      • Thanks Paige,
        It seems that no one is able to give me an answer! This is such an obvious question to me.

        • LS, I’ve tried pasting in the link but can’t make it work. There is an article at, search for ‘let marriage be held in honor’ – thinking biblically about marriage” that you might find helpful – I did.

          • That 1991 article that you refer to, I actually find it quite sheltered. It is defending a religions view issue, which is ultimately about people, not religion.
            Who is one group of people to say that someone is not allowed to be happy in their relationships and life. I don’t think this is fair or accepting. It is the way someone is. I just fail to see how this promotes the love, care and acceptance that Christians preach about.

  14. I note that you omitted to mention the pastor (who you’d expect to have an even greater comprehension of the Bible, given that it is his paid job) had absolutely no idea either! He said that the PM should listen to “the words of Jesus” on homosexuality… Slight problem, there weren’t any. Moses, yes. St Paul, yes. Jesus, didn’t say a word.

  15. The Right Hon. K.Rudd is our prime minister and not a theologian. So if we are to discuss biblical theology, let us not do it at the risk of dishonouring those to whom God has placed over us. Has PM Rudd the right to speak publicly from his understanding of the Bible? Every entry on this page would suggest that the answer is “Yes” because we all do irrespective of our political position. I do thank God that the article has prompted healthy theological discussion and not the basis for a political debate.

  16. No wonder Christianity is a dying religion. You’re values are based on a two-thousand year old book

    • James can you explain a little further on why you think christianity is a dying religion? That is a big statement to make….

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  18. the issue I have with the PM’s logic is that he appealed to “tolerance” as the key Christian virtue. By this I mean that he sought to equate Christian “love” as meaning we should tolerate and accept anything.

    This is the typical logic of the LGBT / MSM crew whereby disagreement = hatred and bigotry. It used to be said of tolerance (Voltaire?) that “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

    Nowadays you are not allowed to disagree with anyone (= totalitarian state?).

    The Bible is clear: the key message is one of grace, mercy and forgiveness to sinful people by Jesus taking our just and due punishment on the cross. And if you receive this forgiveness it leads to repentance which entails changing your behaviour.

    So saying that the message of the Bible is that God simply accepts everyone as they are (Rudd’s false idea of Biblical love) and tolerates their sinful behaviour completely misses the point. If so – then why would Jesus need to die? Why didn’t God say to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane “Actually its OK, I’ve decided just to accept everyone as they are and their sin doesn’t matter. I’ve called your crucifixion off – why not take a holiday with that nice Magdalene girl”.

    • There is a difference between the right to have a view and having a view and imposing it on others. Sure, I believe that you are entitled to your opinion but I don’t see why that should then dictate whether two people who are in love should not have the same rights as you, just because you decide to cling onto old values.

      I think that it is established that what is considered ‘sinful’ has evolved over time. If the teachings should be interpreted given the context of that time, then teachings of today should also be interpreted given the context of the modern age.

    • Hamish thanks for your comment.

      I cannot speak for other gay Christians, but I do not equate disagreement with bigotry, and it’s not disagreement that gets my blood up.

      Lets be frank, the Christian churches view on marriage equality does not occur in a vacuum.

      Many Christians, me included, experience isolation and judgment in the church, and encounter very little genuine understanding

      I find most of this intellectualism fails to fill the enormous chasm in pastoral care that drives gay Christians, and gay people generally, to distrust the Church, and to see it only as an institution to be fought.

      Trust me, people feel that way for a reason. I do not say this lightly given I think we went to the same church once.

      At the end of the day, I would like the freedom to get married, but I assure you I lose no sleep over the fact that I am unequal in my own country.

      I decided long ago to take back any power I gave to Christians to make me feel less worthy of being in the world. It almost killed me, and yet here I am.

      So if the church and my Christian brothers oppose marriage equality, I do not see that as bigotry.

      The church has and continues to do more damage to gay Christians to lose sleep over this.

  19. I wouldn’t have written this if the atheist Julia Gillard were Prime Minister, but I don’t know know how any Christian could vote Labor with a Prime Minister such as Mr Rudd.

    • I have found that I cannot vote for Rudd, and not just because of his views on the bible and same sex marriage. But i also do not think that Abbott would be a suitable leader.

    • Because of one view on a social issue? This sort of attitude is why Christians are seen as ridiculous. Treatment of the poor, of asylum seekers, of the environment? Meh. But dare to suggest gays should be allowed to marry? Burn the heathen!!!! Frankly, it’s ridiculous.

  20. The bible is not holy, it’s a fictional book that should not be used to determine reality and serious world issues. Stop caring what some book written by misogynistic men a thousand years ago says.

      • It is a factual comment. A story book shouldn’t be used to determine the fate of same sex marriage.

        • Well, no, actually. It’s not fictional, it wasn’t written a thousand years ago, and the men who wrote it weren’t misogynists (and even if they were it means nothing with regards to SSM). That’s at least 3 strikes, and we haven’t even started on tone.

      • f.t. does have a point Sam. It is known by anyone who has done any level of theological studies that the bible is a collection of verbal stories, which were told to a group of people for a purpose. They were changed over time according to the needs of the groups of people the stories were told to. Why else are there so many common numbers, and so many different gospels. It is a shame that only 4 of them were put into the final book that Christians have now. It is a shame we don’t know the other stories, I wonder what the big issues could be instead.

          • Sam, where did I say that? I know that historically, there was a person who was killed named Jesus. but the Roman records are the ONLY thing from that time that tells us that. I’m assuming that you have some kind of theological background to be making the statements that you are. The stories in the bible were not actually written down for hundreds of years. Can you honestly say that you have never slightly changed a story about something that happened when retelling it to make it more engaging?

            Yes, purpose is not the same as bias, but of course the bias with these stories is that they were told to convert people and encourage them to follow the belief that Jesus is the son of God.

            People then interpret these stories in whichever way they want to in order to support their own personal beliefs, or the teaching of the Church, which in my opinion are not all based on the bible, but on tradition which was build up over the years, as well as greed.

          • f.t’s original comment was that the Bible was fiction. You said he has a point, it’s a collection of verbal stories, thus making a link (whether or not you intended to).

            Just because something is a story does not make it fiction. Just because it’s an oral tradition does not make it changeable or less accurate. Comparing the oral and textual transmission histories of the Old Testament (which I assume you’re talking about with your ‘hundreds of years’ comment, as it’s certainly not the case for the NT), shows you the high degree of transmission accuracy in an oral culture.

            There’s lots of evidence aside from the biblical witness (which ought to be included amongst that evidence anyway) as to the historicity of Jesus’ life and crucifixion (and resurrection too): have a look back through some of Sandy’s recent articles for some examples.

            Yes, people interpret the text differently, but that’s a separate question from the nature of the text itself. f.t.’s comment on the nature of the text, apart from being trolling, is just wrong on several levels.

  21. I wonder whether all those deleted offensive comments are coming from the pro or anti camp. Who is showing lack of love and fairness? I suspect the pro same-sex marriage people, on previous form, but someone please correct me if I’m wrong.

    • It’s a tiny proportion from both camps, David, but most of them are just trolls who are here with the sole intention of offending as many as possible.

    • Hi David,
      I saw these comments come through earlier (they get emailed to you if you ask to be notifies on follow-up comments). You aren’t missing anything. There were no actual arguments, just aiming to offend with puerile nonsense.

    • Just a follow-up to the last comment, as there are still a large number of pro same-sex marriage comments still here, I think you can assume that those removed were not done so out of a desire to remove comments that disagree with what we say. (You wrote a letter to the editor of the Blue Mountains Gazette a while ago about the rubbish some people who disagreed with you put in your mail – think along those lines and you’ll understand what was removed).

  22. Hi

    It’s laughable when people use the arguement that since some animals have same sex relations it is therefore a natural practice. Don’t forget some animals eat their young, using these peoples weak logic it must therefore be natural to eat your children. Sick!

    • Graham,
      First, there should be an apostrophe in “people’s”, to indicate possession. Secondly, who is arguing that we as humans should model all our behaviour on animals? I do a lot of yoga and could, like my mum’s cat, lick my own genitals if I wanted to. However, I don’t have the desire to engage in this quite natural activity. We as a society of humans choose to prohibit eating our children, despite its possibly occurring in nature. The fact that something happens in nature doesn’t mean we have to do it too. The observation of homosexuality in nature is simply a rejoinder to the argument that homosexuality does not occur in nature. It does. Sick!

      • Richard
        Sorry I made a minor spelling mistake!
        I have seen this poor argument used for human homosexuality.
        It’s good you got my point though; you did make another interesting point. Choice, we humans have that ability.

  23. I think this article has mis-characterised and mis-quoted what he said. It is thorough and accurate on it’s comments on slavery but Mattias you have totally missed the point. It’s the right answer to the wrong question! He did not say the that the bible endorsed slavery… that was his whole point… an overly simplistic non contextual reading of the bible would suggest it did… but the reality is something very different. He was drawing the analogy the same applies to homosexuality, a narrow reading would immediately paint it the way right wing north american Christians that gay bash and bomb abortion clinics perceive it… but the reality of the bible’s teaching on the issue is far more complex. He wasn’t claiming to present a full theological or even personal rationale on how he thinks about the issue… he suggested people more interested in his thoughts in detail should read his essay on the matter. There are many christian scholars divided on the issue of homosexuality/pedofilia and regardless of where each of us fall on either side of that line if we don’t want the world to think we mindless morons we shouldn’t just say “well it’s wrong because the bible says so”. It’s a Sunday school first grade quality answer and doesn’t cut it. There are well educated theologians that trust wholeheartedly in the authority of the scriptures and don’t see eye to eye on this issue… as with many other complex issues such as divorce and singleness… sexuality is complex! Rudd is not a theologian but a polititian. It sounds like the author is playing semantics and coming from a heart and spirit of wanting to attack the messenger and looking for an opportunity to do this. Mattias I wish you would spend there time more wisely righting on the issues that would be much closer to Jesus heart in election week… Do you remember how many times Jesus mentioned money and the poor? Read the gospels and you’ll see it’s a lot!!! Google a numerical count on the references. Do you know how many times he discussed homosexuality? Not once!

    • Amy, just for clarity, there’s no ‘Mattias’ here. Matthias Media is the sponsor of the blog. I am the author of the post.

      Thank you for commenting. I am not persuaded that I’ve mis-read or misrepresented Mr Rudd. Here again, is what he said, “Well if I was going to have that view, the Bible also says that slavery is a natural condition.”

      He was responding to a pastor, asking for Mr Rudd’s views as a Christian, in response to concerns from the Christian community. The pastor cited the explicit teaching of Jesus on marriage in the Bible to indicate it was between a man and a woman. That was “that view” to which Mr Rudd replied – citing the words of Jesus for one’s definition of marriage.

      So in the context the view Mr Rudd seems to be repudiating is that one can quote the Bible – especially the words of Jesus – to help establish a Christian view on an ethical topic.

      To illustrate why he thought that was bad, Mr Rudd suggested the Bible also said slavery is a natural condition, and then himself cited Paul’s words from Ephesians/Colossians.

      A fair implication is that he thought (a) such teaching ridiculous and (b) sufficient to establish his claim that the Bible says slavery is natural.

      Personally, I think (a) is an unsympathetic and totally incomplete reading of Paul in the context of the whole Bible from creation, through sin and redemption, to new creation. In regards to (b) citing one verse falls far short of proof of his contention.

      Anna, in speaking to the wider world, I have never said they should legislate simply because of what the BIble says. I have suggested that the Bible’s views are worth considering, given that they are an important – though not sole – influence on the development of Western democratic law, culture and thought. But though I don’t hide the importance of the Bible to my views, I have always also attempted to mount my arguments in the public arena on the basis of what might be called natural law and in a way that might be plausible independent of Christian faith commitments.

      Lastly, those who know me will realise I have commented on many social issues, and that for example, problem gambling, especially on poker machines has been an area of considerable activity.

      I certainly have not suggested that one issue is all I am concerned about nor that one issue alone should determine how Christians should vote.

      • You haven’t really responded to Amy’s point. The Bible was used to defend slavery – that is an absolute fact, but you don’t acknowledge it at all in your essay or in the comments (from what I’ve read so far). The Bible was also used to oppose slavery – that is an absolute fact which you have rightly highlighted. In just the same way, considered Christians use the Bible to defend their position on both sides of the marriage equality debate.
        Rudd’s point on slavery was simplified, but accurate – those who defended slavery on theological grounds pointed to the specific verses about slavery, while those opposed to slavery largely took a broader, thematic view of the Bible as justification for their opposition.

  24. It is great to see many who are not Christians taking the trouble to read and comment on a Christian forum.

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  26. Gang-rape is known to occur amongst ducks and dolphins so does that mean it is natural too?

  27. Although my disappointment with Mr Rudd was because of his careless use of Scripture on slavery, I’d just like to respond to those who suggest Jesus said nothing relevant to the issue of homosexuality.

    A brief response is to recall that Jesus did condemn “sexual immorality” (Greek ‘porneia’) alongside “adultery”, for example in Matthew 15:19. This word is most likely a broader word signifying “unlawful sexual intercourse” (BDAG – a standard Greek lexicon). Given the context is a Jewish man speaking to Jewish people, then the OT law informs their understanding of such a word. And there is little argument that the Old Testament law proscribes homosexual activity along with other kinds of sexual immorality.

    But a key text for Jesus is Matthew 19:3-12, especially vv4-6, and its parallel in Mark’s Gospel. Here Jesus quotes from the first pages of the first book of the Bible, Genesis, which records how God created the world.

    Jesus clearly understands marriage to be a heterosexual union—between one man and one woman—for life. And from the universal creation context of Genesis, this understanding applies to all humans in the world, not just Israelites, or believers.

    I also note from the context of Genesis that the creation of humans as male and female and their union in marriage, is intimately linked to childbearing (to “be fruitful and multiply”, Genesis 1:28, adjacent to the “male and female” verse Jesus quotes).

    As the Anglican Prayer Book puts it, “In marriage a new family is established in accordance with God’s purpose, so that children may be born and nurtured in secure and loving care, for their well-being and instruction, and for the good order of society, to the glory of God.”

    One last observation, in Matthew 19:10-12, Jesus does consider the alternatives to marriage, namely chastity in singleness – remaining celibate. That is the legitimate alternative he gives.

    So he did not need to mention homosexuality for his words – in their context – on the fundamental nature of marriage from the beginning of creation to have relevance for ongoing Christian belief.

  28. This is an intriguing discussion. Thank you for raising it.

    You are absolutely right, Sandy, to observe this: “The Bible’s teaching on slavery is extensive and diverse and was spoken into various cultures: Ancient Near Eastern society, largely agrarian, as well as Graceo-Roman culture, where practices of slavery varied considerably. And some of these versions of slavery were themselves quite different at points from the race-based slavery that blighted North America and other parts of the world, against which the Christian MP, William Wilberforce, and others fought from the late 1700s into the 1800s. However, none of it was part of the original created order.”

    But it seems Mr Rudd was making the same point about the passages that deal with same-sex behaviour.

    They also were written in and to particular cultures.

    The emerging understanding of Scripture on this subject today right across the churches seems to be that God was dealing with particular same-sex behaviours in certain historical and cultural contexts. Some behaviours are definitely prohibited.

    But all? Probably not. Scholars are increasingly coming to accept that abusive, adulterous, destructive, idolatrous same-sex unions are wrong and are condemned in Scripture. But loving, faithful, monogamous unions are not.

  29. I respect the pastor literally standing up – twice – for his view, even though I disagree with it.

    But we have separation of church and state, beyond the beliefs of individuals including MPs, for good reason.

    • Like the verses “an eye for an eye”, the separation of church and state is, in my view, misunderstood.

      This is to stop the state imposing its will on the church (see what’s happening in the UK regarding gay couples complaining they can’t have a church wedding).

      Its not about keeping the church out of contributing to the affairs of the state.

      Oh, and the “eye for an eye” reference – that’s about limiting the extent of punishment rather than insisting on a minimum level of retribution.

  30. Mostly Correct.
    What Rudd was saying is that it is easy to take a verse out of context and thereby misunderstand the Bibles teaching. He then proceeded to do so to show how easy it is. That was the whole point.

    Its not about slavery, its about whether the pastor in question was taking a Bible verse out of context or not.

    The key questions that should be addressed are:
    – Is a gay lifestyle a choice or not?
    – Is a gay lifestyle equally valid, equally meaningful and equally beneficial as a heterosexual one?

    The issue here is not the right to live a gay lifestyle or not – that question has already been decided. The issue here is whether the Christians right to speak his mind trumps the gay persons right to live without being offended or vice versa. Should a gay couple be able to adopt children at the same rate as straight couples? i.e. If I say the straight couple make better role models am I being discriminatory? If I hold that view does that mean I am too biased to evaluate applications for adoption?

    Please, lets understand what the Marriage Equality arguement is actually about so there can be a rational discussion on the topic.

  31. So what you’re essentially saying is that Kevin Rudd’s comments are not a misrepresentation of the Bible but simply a different interpretation to your own views.

    You build a convincing argument that the Bible doesn’t endorse slavery but that’s not what Rudd said in the first place. His point was that the Bible says it is a natural condition. Which, by your own admission that, “it is true that the Bible also honestly records, and sometimes regulates, the practice of slavery”, also assumes that this must be the case. This is supported by his reference to Ephesians 6:5 that, “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.” Again, this implies that slavery is a societal norm of the time.

    Even then, you miss the vital point of Rudd’s comment: that the Bible is an archaic text, whether it actively endorses slavery or simply acknowledges its existence, and thus its teachings on homosexuality must also be framed in the context of modern society.

    You may disagree with his interpretation of the biblical passages but you have to acknowledge that that’s exactly what it is: just ONE interpretation, as is yours. The Bible is a text written by countless different authors over a broad historical timeline, edited by countless different editors, translated by countless different translators, and interpreted by countless different readers around the world. There is no definitive way of understanding it and to argue that Rudd is misrepresenting the text when he is in fact basing his argument on textual evidence is misleading.

  32. Matthias Media make the answer seem simple by leaving out the messy details. At issue are matters of worldview, the separation of church and state, and the civil nature of marriage vs the bringing of marriage within church control since the 18th century. KRudd was making a loose analogy in a civil context within a public forum, not delivering Bible study material to a Christian enclave. At the heart of his argument, in his essay (not mentioned by Matthias Media at all) is the right of every citizen to civil equality under the law. Taking an apologetics perspective, there are two levels of conversation: the first is about making an appeal on the basis of what is known to the common person, the second level directly confronts civil society with a Christian worldview. KRudd was making an appeal on the first level. Matthias Media are making an assumption on the basis of the second. I may hold a Kingdom perspective, but my initial appeal to the common person will not always be at this level. The validity of multiple perspectives in civil society is at the heart of democracy.

    • Hmmm… Kevin wants Christians to accept him as a Christian too. It’s reasonable, then, for Christians to expect that his public statements will demonstrate a Christian worldview. I take your point about the “two levels of conversation”. But the problem for Christians is that Kevin’s “first level” appeal actually *contradicted* the Christian worldview – at least, the evangelical Christian worldview that Sandy and I hold, and that the Briefing espouses. [Pull me up, Sandy, if I’m putting words in your mouth you wouldn’t agree with.] That evangelical Christian worldview holds, among other things, that the Bible is sufficient to define what is morally right and wrong; that the Bible is not self-contradictory; and that God’s standards of morality are absolute, not relative, and do not change through the ages. Kevin’s statement is at odds with all that. Sandy’s simply pointing out that huge inconsistency.

      • Mr Rudd very clearly espoused the Christian view that love is the greatest 1 Cor 13:13. That is the absolute morality – all else is relative to that. If standards do not change through the ages, explain the difference between Old and New Testaments.

  33. In fact, Jesus actually re-affirmed the sexual ethic of Genesis 1-2. Genesis 2:24 says ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh’. In Matthew 19 and Mark 10 Jesus quotes Genesis 2:24 which demonstrates that Jesus sees and commands the picture of human sexuality presented in Genesis 1 and 2 to be the only legitimate expression of sexuality. In addition, Jesus says in Mark 7:20-22 that ‘What comes out of a person—that defiles him. For from within, out of people’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immoralities, thefts, murders, adulteries, greed, evil actions, deceit, promiscuity, stinginess,[k] blasphemy, pride, and foolishness’. Jesus reference to ‘sexual immoralities’ is essentially tantamount to saying that anything which goes against the sexual ethic presented in Genesis 1-2, as well as in the entire OT and NT, is considered ‘sexual immorality’. If you want to think homosexual activity and marriage are legitimate, that’s up to you but don’t say Jesus was silent about the issue as that is patently false.

  34. Homosexuality and the animal kingdom have nothing to do with whether homosexuality is unnatural. Paul in Romans 1 when he refers to homosexuality and homosexual desires as ‘unnatural’ is not talking about it being unnatural compared to nature but unnatural compared to God’s created order as revealed in Genesis 1-2 and throughout the OT. God created sex! He created it to be between a man and a woman. Anything outside of that is unnatural because it goes against God’s order he has instituted for men and women. God’s laws are not given to animals which are not moral agents, God’s law are given to humans and that is why homosexuality is considered unnatural by the bible

  35. As a Christian reading and observing these posts, l have become increasingly intrigued by the responses coming from other fellow brothers & sisters here. We are so quick to push forward scriptures such as Matthew 19:4-6 (which would mean nothing to a non-believer), and we can go so in depth in theologically arguing something to convey why same sex marriage is so wrong …..

    But when it comes to Mark 12:28-31 or John 13:34-35, are we actually OBEYING Jesus in arguing or showing just as passionately that we love homosexuals? Just as much as we would love OURSELVES? Just as much as …Jesus loves us? Because if we don’t have love, everyone here – even the first post …are just noisy gongs. Clanging cymbals.

    Why are we all trying to save people by asking them to conform to our beliefs? Jesus came down to earth – in the midst of sinners, the religious, non-religious, the gays, non gays, the prostitutes, tax collectors and even his own disciples – to transform them not by telling them how to live their life – but by giving them reason to FIND new life. It was never about performance that saves and transforms but by Gods grace.

    So far as it stands, lm conflicted as to what Jesus would say in this forum if he was here right now.

    • Theophilus, I’m sure Jesus would say the same when He was asked about marriage/divorce; He answered, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female”
      The Bible reveals Jesus reaching out to sinners and the lowly. But one thing is clear, He always told those same sinners who experienced his love and grace to ‘go sin no more.’ I’m a christian, and I do not hate gays. God does not hate gays. God hates sin, and the cross was given to separate sinners from sin that we might live for God according to HIS commands. This forum is a lively discussion on defending the bible stance on marriage. The Bible stance that Kevin Rudd turned his back on.

  36. I agree with every thing you say Sandy except that Q&A is not a serious current affairs program. It is entertainment value only!

  37. Wow..

    In your ‘article’ you say “But more than that, freedom is always a key goal of the Christian gospel” If freedom is a key goal of the christian gospel shouldn’t gay and lesbian people have the FREEDOM to choose if they want to marry someone?

    I really don’t see what the huge issue is. If your not gay or lesbian it’s not going to effect you in any way shape or form, so move on.

    • It will effect us Sam A. In the UK and Canada en US churches are being brought before courts because they refuse to partake in gay marriage ceremonies. That after guarantees were given to exclude the churches from forced participation. The media is rife with examples of christian business people (cake bakers, Bed & Breakfast, photographers, marriage celebrants to name but a few) being sued because they were uncomfortable and declined to partaking in a gay marriage because of their faith conviction.

  38. Pingback: Kevin Rudd and the bible. | anothersecrettokeep

  39. As a fellow christian, totally agree with theophilus!!!! Lets be the beacon of light on top of the hill. Biblical theology means nothing to non-believers, so why try to hold them to it. Lets live the way God teaches us, love the way he does and touch the lives of non believers through our lives and relationships with them. We want all non believers to come to the word, we wont do that by prejudice. Why not keep Gods church held fast to the word, as a beacon of light, and let the holy spirit work in the hearts..

  40. Sandy

    Right wing fundamentalist thought emanating from the bowels of the Sydney diocese percolates through the internet and finds me at this Blog disappointed that in the last week of a campaign you side with the Dark Forces of Reaction and misrepresent and misinterpret the best NT scholarship and make yourself a self appointed advocate of a myopic evangelistic hubris.

    Do you think that opposing Rudd ( a past master at spin double talk and taking any position that suits ) will help the evil forces of Neo Conservatism to reign supreme and that your evangelistic fervor will guarantee a Victory for the Christian Right wing to unleash the dread forces of reaction and your censorial hypocritical judgemental ramblings will make any difference to the tragic result of a Coalition victory ?

    Shame on you for using such a watered down insipid defense of some hodge podge of rancid theological mutterings.

    • Richie, I’m glad we can have a vigorous interchange – freedom of speech matters greatly to me – and I’ll treasure this comment as a classic example of a rhetorical ad hominem. I’ve rarely had a better combination of epithets thrust at me!

  41. I think it is you who misread Mr Rudd, and the Bible. He was referring to 1 Peter 2:18… Servants (slaves) honour your masters… even the bad ones.
    In Genesis God was pleased with everything He created. We are all marvels of creation… and that includes homosexuals. The most important thing is love and Mr Rudd was right on the point.

      • You may well be right, but I only needed one passage to show that KR was not misrepresenting the Bible as suggested.

        As I’ve said here, what his argument is is that we would not suggest that slavery should be brought back because of these verses, so…

  42. Christianity as a faith will learn by proper exegesis. Christianity as a religion will, as will all other religions, misinterpret according to their own standards calling on the authority of a scriptures to support their own errors.
    Remember faith means a free unambiguous gift. Religion means an earned reward.

  43. Sandy Grant wrote an extremely thorough, well put together response to the comment of our Prime Minister purportedly on “same sex marriage” and slavery being a “natural condition” according to the Hebrew scriptures. “Same sex” marriage is futile, marriage is for the procreation of children, which, obviously, cannot occur if either or both partners in a relationship are male or both female or both missing half a chromosome. Certainly if the relationship is solid there is the opportunity to foster or may-be adopt a child. Commit to each other in a formal ceremony but NOT a Marriage Ceremony, that makes a mockery of Christian religion, and I have no doubt, other religions too.

  44. If your book got the age of the earth wrong why is it so hard to believe it got everything else wrong? Including the consumption of shellfish and how to treat slavery and the rights of gays?

    Go read a science book.

    In fact go read a bible (seriously the more thoroughly you read a bible, the more you will realise it is a ridiculous book with hundreds of contradictions).

    • Hehe yeah Jason, l can totally see your point if l was in your shoes. I have to say brother, that there are HEAPS of things in the bible that l don’t understand …and definitely contradictions that lve spotted but at the same time, l could also be wrong about those contradictions.

      But you raise such a good question, how does this one book last through millenniums, changed billions of peoples’ lives through history, set the foundation in starting orphanages, charity organizations, welfare and so many humanitarian things still make a big deal today?

      But you know what this book has taught me that no science book can? I can appreciate you as a person and want to love & connect with you despite how foolish it may appear to you lol I’m not going to bible bash you or shove the gospel down your throat brother, but l encourage you to keep asking more questions and exploring more if you feel strongly about what you’ve said. Bless you Jason

    • The old shellfish comment. Seriously!? Who needs to read the Bible more? Jason, are you even interested in understanding the place of the law in the OT and how the rest of the Bible to be read today? Be honest.

  45. Pingback: Selected News Stories from Around the World* — Tuesday, September 3 | The BibleMesh Blog

  46. A comment in regards to people who ask how legalising same-sex marriage will affect those who disagree with it:

    A holistic understanding of the Christian faith looks a little bit like this:

    God is all truth, all goodness.
    The things that lie outside of that, are what Christians call ‘sin’. It is very difficult to argue against the presence of sin in the world.
    No man lives unto himself. We live in families and communities. Our sin always affects others – whether directly, or indirectly. This is a mega-theme in the Bible, and it relates to all sin, not just the sin of homosexuality specifically. We do not believe that people live unto themselves, and that one person’s actions (even private ones) do not affect others.

    In a Christian worldview, to call what God calls “wrong” as “right” ALWAYS has consequences. Here is where it gets murky — our PM is proof that all Christians do not agree on what the Bible says is “wrong” or “right” when it comes to marriage equality. But, for the sake of the argument, it’s fair to say that *at this point* the majority of Christians and Biblical scholars would disagree with homosexual marriage. That may change in future.

    For Christians who disagree with same-sex marriage, the concern is that by legalising, there is a moral flow-on affect to society as a whole. You may disagree with that basis, but that is what forms the foundation of the Christian faith: that our sin separates us from God, and limits the ability of our communities to flourish in health.

    You are right, in that allowing a gay or lesbian couple to marry may not directly impact my own marriage in a tangible, concrete way. But, we [I use ‘we’ to reference other Christians of my own personal persuasion] argue that such a decree weakens and destroys what God wants marriage to be about — it becomes yet another example of the ways that marriage isn’t what it should be, just as divorce, abuse, adultery, pornography, polygamy all do the same. We recognise that they exist, but we disagree with the way that they speak to the concept of marriage. The same is true for homosexuality. As such, we don’t want to see it lifted up as a celebrated practice.

    Hypothetically, I challenge those who disagree to put themselves in our position. If you had a core, fundamental moral belief about humanity (insert anything here — environmentalism, child abuse, censorship, abortion, freedom of the press etc), and it was under threat in current legislation, would you be content to allow people to say that your beliefs have NO place in politics and that legislation should be outside of your own deeply held views? I suspect not. Christians are merely exercising their democratic right to disagree and question, yet they are constantly criticised as bigots and fanatics who have no intellectual basis for their beliefs. That is offensive.

    I realise some of this language may offend, and I don’t mean it to — my intent is to give a less cliche-driven understanding of where Christians are coming from.

  47. First, the bible is a book that has been reprinted and rewritten by people over time. The PM can interpret the book as much as he wants. The ‘church’ is just a large group of people doing the same thing.

    Does the many opinions make the minority opinion a misinterpretation?

    Second, the bible uses the word marriage. It does not own the word. If this was the cases society would not be able to use many other words. Our legal system, tax laws, society also use the same words. Why should we constrain their use when they have an evolving meaning in the world we live in? Does it compromise the lives, souls or beliefs of Christians? No one is suggesting any change to the bible are they?

    I find this whole debate unbelievable, no doubt I will be called ignorant and other names by Christians – are Christians not tolerant people? Is it time to turn the other cheek or maybe an eye for an eye?

    The church leaders should demonstrate tolerance.

    • Matt, what makes you think the Bible has been rewritten over time? The PM IS free to to believe what he likes, but it doesn’t make his interpretation correct. Remember he claims to be a Christian, and so I think people have the right to question what sort of Christian he is to know what to expect of him if he is re-elected.

      But I agree, Christians shouldn’t force society to follow the Bible, and I don’t see many Christians trying to argue that. But all citizens have values and a worldview, and just want to discuss subjects and vote in a responsible way. Christians are no different here. We’re all voting for what we think will be best for Australia, which is the nature of democracy.

      And eye for an eye is not to do with revenge, but with enacting no more than what is just according to the law. But in our personal relationships we should turn the other cheek.

      Tolerance doesn’t mean agreeing with everyone. I don’t see how this article is intolerant. Are you tolerant in the way you define it?

  48. I find the nature of debate on this issue very intolerant towards Christians. It is commonplace to hear collective groans whenever anyone merely says that they believe marriage is between a man and a woman, as any person who believes so is entitled to express without being castigated or shouted down or deemed bigoted, backward or irrelevant.

    What happened to the spirit of debate where according to Voltaire’s biographer “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”?

    There is nothing backward, intolerant or bigoted about supporting traditional marriage, or marriage as it is still called – the intrinsic definition of marriage is between a man and a woman. Marriages when supported and given the space to breathe remain the most important unit of social stability and health for society and are to be given every opportunity to be upheld and celebrated.

    If people want to be in same-sex relationships that is their democratic freedom to do so in this secular democracy, and I support the right for people to express those views. But don’t call it marriage – it isn’t, and never will be because it is a basic definition attested to by history. The issue of marriage should never be hijacked and misrepresented by any group so as to stifle healthy and respectful debate. Marriage remains the dominant view and practice the world over – let it get the proportional voice it deserves.

    • Thanks Ben for this comment, and the reminder of the summary of Voltaire’s teaching on freedom of speech.

      Of course, we must therefore defend freedom of speech for others, as you pointed out.

      Further, although I’d prefer people to express themselves in measured tones and to avoid personal abuse where possible, Christians must also have a reasonably thick hide when people use unpleasant rhetorical flourishes against our views and must not too quick to claim offence and persecution.

      Freedom of speech means there is not freedom from offence. Violence and aggression and abuse is another matter.

  49. This article is also quite selective in it’s reading and equally as dishonest to argue there is no “endorsement of an institution”. Simply look at Leviticus 25:44, Exodus 21:7-11 or Exodus 21:20-21. Fighting dishonesty with more dishonesty is just hypocrisy.

  50. Kevin makes lamentably inadequate reference to the bible’s teaching on slavery. His opinions are clearly very similar to athiests.

    • Who are you to judge that KR is an athiest. What he said was very Christian. In fact this whole discussion has misrepresented and misinterpreted what he said. His argument was as follows: that if you believe the Bible condemns gay marriage then you may as well say 1 Peter 2:18 is condoning slavery. He used that to say that would be a nonsensical position. Most people here have not seen the subtlety of the argument.

      People are misusing the Bible here to say how others should or shouldn’t live. Get the message…. it’s about you stupid! I really think KR stated this well in the little time he had. That evangelical pastor was obviously laying a trap. KR did not fall into it, but many of you have.

      • Was Kevin referring to 1Peter or something Paul wrote?

        But I agree, Christians should uphold and endorse 1Peter 2:18. But that’s got nothing to do with endorsing slavery in 18th/19th century America.

        • And yet many Christians and many theologians and pastors used those very passages to defend the slavery of 18th/19th century America.

  51. I haven’t read all the Bible, so I’m not qualified to say whether Kevin misquoted it with the slavery thing. But its hardly the point. He was pointing out that parts of the Bible are arcane, that society adapts and not all the lessons contained within it are relevant today.

    Perhaps he was going for a soundbite, but his point was quite clear to anyone with an open mind.

    • And I think that’s fine for Kevin to have that view of the Bible – that it’s not relevant and he doesn’t intend to follow it. But as he claims to be a Christian, I think it’s OK for someone to question him on it. And he answered that he doesn’t intend to more or less. That’s also fine. But the subject of the article was his misuse of the Bible, which I think is fine for Christians to point out.

      • But he didn’t misuse the Bible – he’s merely a Christian (not someone who ‘claims to be’ one, such an insulting way to dismiss those you disagree with) who has a different position on this issue to you. Many Christians support SSM. Many Christians oppose it. That’s actually ok. Rudd’s clearly thought through his position, and – like it or not – his position is biblically based. You don’t need to agree with it, but suggesting that a different opinion on a secondary issue makes someone not a ‘real’ Christian is ridiculous.

  52. I believe that this article is pulling the whole response out of context. Had any of the commenters actually watched the video they would know that the allusion towards slavery was merely a technique. His core point was, that as a Christian, he believed that we should love fellow man and allow them the same decency and rights that any other person has. He was saying that using the bible as a reason for being against same sex marriage rights was hypocritical. He said that there are many outdated commands in the bible (such as same sex relationships and slavery) and we should be focusing on the core teachings; of love and acceptance and tolerance, not the technicalities.

    • Except, the core idea of the Bible is that Jesus is Lord. I’m just saying… loving others doesn’t mean you have to agree that SSM will be good for society. Did you get the idea of “focusing on the core teachings; of love and acceptance and tolerance, not the technicalities” from the Bible?

      I think the point of the article is that Christians are NOT being hypocritical to say the Bible is against SSM AND the type of slavery we see in 18th/19th century America.

  53. Missing the point here Sandy. The PM was simply arguing against literalist interpretations of the bible, i.e. reducing its most important, universal truths to the (necessarily) cultural and historical forms in which these are communicated.

    So ‘natural condition’ in relation to slavery here simply refers to the notion that slaves are an assumed part of the social world in the Bible, i.e. not that the Bible necessarily endorses or advocates slavery, but that is accepts it as part of the given conditions of human society in its age. Just as marriage restricted to men and women are an assumed part of the biblical era social world.

    Times change, slavery is now viewed as entirely abhorrent. Similarly, discrimination based on a persons sexuality (rather than their character, their moral principles and ethical practices) is seen as unreasonable.

    Incidentally, there is nothing in the passages you cite to suggest that the Bible opposes slavery. At most rather, that slavery or servitude is not a desirable state, especially for God’s chosen people. It clearly denotes low social status, but there is no biblical injunction against slavery per se (as, for example, there is against adultery).

    At the same time of course, the bible clearly states that such worldly differences count for naught in the eyes of Christ — rich or poor, slave or free, circumcised and uncircumcised, Jew or Gentile ‘you are all one in Christ Jesus’.

    Odd that so many Christians don’t apply this sentiment to gays and lesbians. If we are indeed ‘all one’, then why are we not all treated as such when it comes to marriage?

    • The PM’s point was that he (as a Christian) doesn’t need to follow what the Bible teaches about SSM because it’s out of date or wrong, just like the Bible is out of date/ wrong on slavery. And if Christians do uphold the Bible’s view on SSM, then to be consistent they would need to uphold the sort of slavery we see in 18th/19th century America. The point of the article was to say that the PM misunderstood what the Bible teaches about slavery, which I think he did.

      • The PM was not suggesting the bible is simply ‘out of date/wrong’ re: SSM, but that there is a fundamental imperative present in biblical (particularly New Testament) teaching regarding love and equality which, in a contemporary sense, clearly overrides historical assumptions also present in the bible concerning such matters as slavery and homosexuality. Put differently, there are no explicit ‘teachings’ concerning either SSM or slavery in the bible. But there are vivid and direct messages of love and care for others which are at the very heart of Christ’s message to humankind. Christians need to consider which should be regarded as more important – the presence of assumed but not directly addressed everyday realities of the social life of the day (such as slavery, or marriage occurring only between men and women) or the explicit and unambiguous exhortations of Jesus towards love for our fellows?
        ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.’ Matt 25:32-46

  54. As I have read through the various remarks on this page, two things quite a few entries back have jumped out at me.

    One writer remarked about acceptance (of SSM) by a higher authority (the govt) as having significance and meaning to same sex couples. I am pretty sure private members’ bills recently put forward relating to SSM have already been defeated in parliament, yet a vocal minority of people won’t accept this and move on (hear me out). You insist that the majority has to accept something that has already been rejected. Doesn’t that fly in the face of democracy? If such a bill ever eventually passes, won’t you expect me to accept it and move on?

    Another writer made a reference to religion wanting to interfere with politics. Marriage was originally introduced into the laws of the land as part of a religious practice. If you want religion completely out of politics, why not remove marriage from the political arena? As complicated as it would be to do so (heaps of laws exist relating to marriage), remove “marriage” from law. The law already recognises co-habiting partnerships without discrimination. Gay couples already hold civil ceremonies, as do hetero couples, regardless of any law. Why not take the marriage definition out of law. Churches/religions are then free to marry people according to their practices, and civil celebrants likewise. The arguments would probably end.

  55. Thanks Emma
    I would add to your answer to Tim.HUMANS,may be (as homosexuals are claiming) born with instinct to be homosexual, and with other insticts as you mentioned.The most important difference between humans and animals, is that humans are able to SUPPRESS animal insticts, and lift itselve above animal world. That ability is given to HUMANS ONLY by god creator, trough Bible and prophets, and not by evolution.If is by evolution, than animals would develop similar ability.

  56. To love something, you may also have to hate other things. If I love children, I may hate abortion…

  57. Here’s what this whole discussion and the gospel of grace boil down to. When I seek to justify myself no matter how ‘right’ I am on a topic, I attempt to substitute my goodness for Jesus Christ’s. Beyond the nearly absolute silence throughout the Bible on same sex anything, no one at the time the New Testament was spoken (in the debauched first century) would have considered for a second that marriage was anything but between a man and a woman. In a democracy, if homosexual persons possess the right of heterosexual persons to legally be in relationship with all the legal benefits of marriage shouldn’t that be enough? Neither Australia nor the US (where I live) invented marriage. God did. Get all the legal equivalence you can, all that your country can provide, but please don’t look for my acceptance of what you’re putting forth as marriage. Long before Australia was, God already weighed in on that. My sins as a heterosexual are no less painful to my Savior than if I was gay. The destruction of marriage as a God given idea seems to be your hope. Sorry, eternally speaking, you’re too late.

  58. In a debate such as this about same sex marriage, there is a danger of the sin of Pride distorting the arguments. In short, it is foolishness or arrogance to work from the unstated assumption that our understanding of God’s Will today is the ultimate, and that the Holy Spirit has no more to teach us.

    Look at past and consider these “christian” beliefs:

    Theological justification of apartheid.
    Martin Luther’s rejection of contraception.
    Christian opposition to Women’s suffrage movement.
    Tradition of the celibate priesthood.

    Supporters of these positions in history all have their clutch of Bible passages that prove their position is God ordained and the natural order of creation. These beliefs are based on God’s word just as opposition to same sex marriage is today.

    Ignoring these lessons from history, and assume that this issue is different, and we risking hardening our hearts and turning away from the Holy Spirit. Do you not think that supporters of the above were just as earnest as we are in our love of God, and as committed to following God’s Word and overcoming Sin and preaching of God’s saving Grace?

    Whenever the Bible is used to support oppression or restrict the rights of any group, a warning should be heard at the back of every thinking Christian’s conscience. To ignore this small voice is the folly of pride and is the same as saying we have nothing more to learn, we have all the answers, and God has nothing more to teach us.

    • I agree that the way minority Christian groups have misused the Bible in the past should cause us to be really, really careful. But not that it should stop Christians attempting to understand God’s mind on it. But this is very different to saying that Christians should force the rest of society to follow the Bible. That’s not what is happening here.

      • Simon, if you are suggesting that the 4 examples above are simply aberrations illustrating misuse of the Bible, that may be missing my point. I am pointing out that at the time and context of their society, each is an example of how sincere Christians can hold beliefs that can be supported by the Bible. But they are views that we no longer consider the will of God.

        I am not speaking against trying to discern God’s will, but do think it is folly to act like we know all the answers and feel we can speak confidently on God’s behalf to broader society.

        Too many Christians speak about issues related to sexuality like their understanding of the Gospel is the only (true) one, and overlook the fact that there are prayerful Christians who love the Word of God just as much, but have come to a different understanding.

        It is especially troubling since the type of arguments used against same sex marriage seem like an echo of the types of reasoning (using the Bible) to support other gender and sexuality oppressions such as: the role of women in society, whether priests can have sexual relations, and that contraception is a sin.

  59. Was Jesus’ definition of marriage wrong? Perhaps Mr Rudd’s definition takes precedence now.

  60. Kevin Rudd is quite accurate. The Bible is very clear that it supports the system of slavery in general (people owning other people). Primarily, Lev 25:44-45 gives God’s general permission for the Israelites to buy slaves.

    There are plenty of examples of the Bible saying that owning slaves is okay, including slaves being owned by Kings David (2 Sam 6:20) and Solomon (1 Kings 9:20-21).

    In the New Testament, Jesus appears to have accepted slavery as part of his society. He told parable stories with slaves in them, including praising those slaves who serve well. There is no record of him opposing it.

    Paul and the apostles accepted, and implicitly endorsed, the system of slavery and they instructed masters and slaves about their duties (Eph 6:5-9; Col 3:22-25; 4:1; Tit 2:9-10; 1 Pet 2:18-19, 1 Cor 7:20-24). They did not proclaim that slavery was an evil. Paul even returned a runaway slave to his master (Philemon 1:12).

    • Kevin’s point is that the Bible supports the system of slavery we see in 18th/19th century America. But this is clearly wrong as the article points out. The Bible transforms that type of system. To be sure, the Bible doesn’t tell Christian slaves to forcefully overturn such a system if it exists in society, but to bear up under the system even when it is really difficult. But the instruction to master’s who are Christians (as you have alluded to) transforms such a system into something even better than an employer/employee relationship

  61. Could people please use their full names (as per our comment policy)? I’m getting confused between the Tims. I think there are two different Tims here, but I’m not sure. :)

    • Hi Emma,
      Yes, you’re right. My bad. In my first few posts I called myself just “Tim”, as quite a few others were only using first names. But then another Tim appeared, so I started using my full name.

  62. Matthew 7:1, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

    “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

    Nicely said.Jesus,

    On the weekend we had a convert to Christ speaking at our church. He had been a mafia hit man. He had killed lots of people. He was praised and cheered because he had come to Christ.

    Ask yourself if a church should embrace a murderer who now believes? Now imagine they are gay. Did that make you feel differently – and if you did go examine your beliefs and ask your pastor to explain Corinthians 6:11 “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

    • Absolutely. A church absolutely should embrace a gay person who now believes.

      But note carefully the tense in 1 Cor 6:11: “And that is what some of you *were*.” Not “are”. Paul is speaking to *former* homosexuals, people who have abandoned their former practices now that they have come to Christ. I trust your mafia hit man is no longer continuing in his former practices?

      • Hi Tim, The tense is past continuous, meaning all sins including ones in the past, now and in the future were washed by Jesus Christ and the Spirit of God. Your sins were paid for before you acted, including future sins so there is no meaning to your reference to “former”.. Please speak to a pastor

        • Ummm… I am one.

          Your comment re tense is valid with regard to the *second* sentence in this verse: “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” That does indeed mean that Christ has cleansed His people from all their sins, past, present and future.

          But with respect, that’s not the point at issue. I referred to the *first* sentence in the verse: “And that is what some of you *were*.” This sentence *cannot* validly be interpreted to mean “And that is what some of you were, are, and will continue to be.” The context forbids such an interpretation. In context,this sentence *must* rather mean “And that is what some of you were formerly, but are no longer.”

  63. This is an offensively stupid post. Everything Rudd said was true. He did not misrepresent the bible. There is a reason what he said caused the crowd to cheer: because he was right.

    Now I know you think you have the Lord on your side, but you need to realise that the Bible isn’t the be all and end all of Christianity, word for word. The messages of peace and love is what the bible is about.

    • Perhaps you could tell us how “everything Rudd said was true”? Or what you think is the “be all and end all of Christianity?” The Bible is the Word of God, and Christians take what it says VERY seriously.

      As for Rudd’s comments getting the biggest applause of the night: as Sandy says, it just serves to “indicate both the depth of biblical illiteracy and the hostility to Christian morality.”

  64. The pharasees were about to stone a woman caught in adultery. They had hatred towards her, and self righteousness. Jesus came in with love, and how he loved her is very important. YES he showed her mercy, pointing out the pharasees self-righteousness which caused them to drop their rocks. and YES he showed her love telling her to ‘sin no more’ telling her to drop her Sin. A Christ-like approach to Gay people will involve genuiinely loving them (and some of us may need to ask God to give that to us, as we repent of our self-righteousness). Only in loving them will there any hope of reaching them to know the genuine love of God. And only then can Jesus be the one to turn anyone from sin, whatever that sin would be. I think we need to be careful not to do the role of holy spirit, trying to point people away from homosexuality, but rather to have the sole mindset of pointing people towards Jesus, who alone can change hearts.

  65. The repeated statements here that a change in the definition of marriage doesn’t effect anyone other than gays is erroneous. Forty + years ago, I voluntarily entered into a legal and moral (and in my case sacred) contract to commit my life to another opposite-sex person. That was and currently is the whole definition of marriage. Now other people, however well-meaning, are telling me that I should enjoy an new and more advanced status of being married, where marriage can be to a same sex person. I know this is highly personal to them, but they need to accept that it is also highly personal to me. It is about the core of who I am, in just the same way that the SSM lobby claims it is about the core of who they are. The whole topic is just as important to my internal view of myself as it presumably is to them.
    Second point, to assert or infer that Christian love = tolerance = all views and behaviours are acceptable is a gross misrepresentation of a biblical position. It is pure modern humanism.
    Third, it appears to me that a subset of society is seeking to force a change of definition to the term marriage, presumably because that term carries with it certain status/perception benefits for that subset. I would like to suggest a radical idea. Perhaps that subset would consider creating and setting up their own arrangements to accommodate their needs, and then work to have that arrangement recognized by society in a way that marriage currently meets the needs of those who are happy with the current definition of marriage. In short, be creative rather than trying to piggy-back on and change an existing and time proven concept. Barry.

    • So you wouldn’t have got married 40 or more years ago if same sex couples also had the option? Really? Have you told your wife that you feel this way?

      I honestly cannot understand anyone saying that their own decision to marry a person would be somehow altered by the marriages of others. It makes it sound as if the important thing is successfully joining a club, rather than committing to the specific individual you got married to.

      If same sex marriage comes about, I sincerely hope you continue to love your wife every bit as much as you do now.

  66. Pingback: Being questioned on Q&A#1 – on Mr Rudd | The Briefing

  67. Sandy Grant: “It is naïve in the extreme—just a poor reading strategy—to assume an endorsement of an institution or activity, simply because it is recorded without particular narrative assessment at one point, or because it is regulated—for what might be called harm-minimisation, or an ethic of retrieval—at another point.”

    Perhaps for David and Solomon’s polygamy but can the same be said for Israel’s slavery laws after their Exodus (or even for NT slavery)??

    If Israel had also possessed their own slaves in Egypt – that they had been viciously oppressing – then this might have improved the chances of arguing that the Sinai laws were a retrieval ethic. If your only experience of slavery for 400 years is the wrong end of a very oppressive slavery then do you need a retrieval ethic to moderate and regulate your own use of the slaves that you not even have? Instead, you could have been commanded to completely avoid starting slavery in your new laws which are designed to make the nations around you marvel at Yahweh and his laws (Deut 4:5-8)?

    The nations around Israel could have had the chance to marvel at laws without slavery, without beatings at all (Ex 21:20-21), without selling your daughter into slavery (Ex 21:7) but God chose not to. Bizarre or suspicious or both.

    God wanted no confusion over his attitude to slavery so he left his clear and emphatic denunciation of slavery to Paul’s offhanded mention to some slaves about gaining freedom “if possible” in 1 Cor 7?? On one other occasion, a careful reading between the lines reveals a very real possibility that Paul’s sending of a runaway Christian slave back to Philemon, his Christian master, might result in him serving his master as a Christian, rather than being severely punished. It is desperate to liken continued service to any kind of “emancipation” proclamation.

    Yet in two other places, Paul tells the owners of slaves to merely be nicer masters and not to kick the bad habit of slavery itself or even consider freeing the odd slave if able. If only Paul had added that additional clause then the whole matter would not be so disputed. But God did not inspire him to do so. Bizarre or suspicious or both.

    A double dance is done by defenders: On the one hand “Greco-Roman versions of slavery wasn’t so bad after-all” (complete with the need for Christian commands to not be cruel/unjust to slaves like others are)?? However on the other hand, “Christianity is all about freedom and this is the goal” (without the need to even suggest to masters that freeing slaves is a possibility when instructing them about the radical difference Christ should make to them)??

    Christians are to be “slaves of Christ” (Eph 6) and “slaves of righteousness” (Rom 6) because as Sandy Grant says “Slavery is presented as unequivocally unpleasant and cruel” – unless of course it was merely the that version of slavery in Egypt that was oppressive and cruel not all slavery in the Bible?? After-all Sandy says “practices of slavery varied considerably”.

    At least we know for sure that “It is naïve in the extreme—just a poor reading strategy” to be blind to the fact that God wants all slaves set free! Who could miss that point?! Wilberforce might have fought politically against entrenched slavery in his Christian nation but at least nobody in their right mind could have used the Bible as justification of slaves continuing to submit to their masters. That much is indisputable!

    Rudd was wrong that the Bible sees slavery as a “natural condition” BUT it requires creative argumentation (preached to the choir) to present the Bible as saying that God wants slaves to be free when he had so many opportunities to emphatically leave people in no doubt by replacing the institution, by instructing masters to consider alternatives or by explicitly condemning slavery. He never did. Instead to the millions of slaves throughout history, the Bible glibly says in 1 Cor 7:21,

    “Don’t let it trouble you”

    I am afraid that the reality is that slavery and the Bible’s discussion of it does trouble people. That’s the reality without the rhetoric.

    • Paul, to take liberty with one of your points and partially quote you:

      BUT it requires creative argumentation to present the Bible as saying that single sex marriage is a sin when Jesus had so many opportunities to emphatically leave people in no doubt by teaching a parable about it. He never did.

      • Scott McDonald, I am sorry but that’s completely different. Jesus did clearly say marriage is between a man and a woman as does the full sweep of the Bible. Sex with the same gender is clearly disapproved of (because of breaches that norm) for example 1 Corinthians 6:9 and Romans 1:26-27.

        You can argue the Bible is wrong on homosexuality if you like, but you can’t say it didn’t disapprove of it like you clearly can with the issue of slavery.

        • The only verse I know where Jesus talks about marriage in the context of male and female is in Matthew Chapter 19. Here Jesus is answering a question about divorce.

          He clearly states in verse 6, “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.

          Can I respectfully suggest that it is bordering on being selective and tricky for a Church to pick out verses 4 and 5 as the universal truth that applies more widely than the original question of the Pharisee in verse 3. While allowing divorce despite the plain words of Jesus in the next verse.

          I am not arguing against you or the Bible, but I find it disturbing how God’s Word gets used to suit the current beliefs and biases of the Church.

  68. Pingback: The secret of sex | crossroads

  69. Many people posting here seem to have a concern for human rights – whether it be the rights of the slave or of the gay person.

    The christian can claim that people are made in God’s image. So a rational argument can be made that people have value and rights based on God making us.

    I wonder though about the grounding of the belief in human rights for those who don’t believe that people are made by God in his image. Where do human rights come from given a non-christian position? The possible grounds of evolution, majority opinion, or brute fact all seem less rational than a religious basis..

    What I see is that the belief in human rights that many people in western culture hold is largely a belief inherited from the historical christian culture. When that Christianity is discarded so then is the rational basis for their belief in rights.

    I think people should ask themselves whether their belief in human rights is rational and on what basis they hold such belief. Asking where such rights come from may help us all in deciding the rights and wrongs of slavery or gay-marriage.

    • I don’t know much about the history of human rights, but when I want to discern between right and wrong ways of treating others, Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:12 are always a good starting point.

      “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

  70. It is common for christian apologists and ministers to claim that the bible is all good and loving. Unfortunately it is far from the truth. This bronze age fiction is full of bad history and downright lies. I see that Sandy has quoted Exodus, neglecting the fact that the Egyptians did not keep slaves, a little fact that undermines the whole section that includes the ten commandments, and the cold blooded murder of all the first born egyptian males. Indeed if you continue to use archaeology in an examination of this story Moses and his between 600,000 and 2 million followers got lost in a reasonably small desert for nearly 40 years (so much for the guidance of an omnipresent imaginary friend) leaving no evidence of any kind, yet there is archaeological evidence for contemporary Bedouin tribes. So nothing from 2 million itinerant travellers, and yet evidence of small tribes in tents. Try and comprehend the logistics: how much water, food, for two million? the water alone would be an olympic sized pool 3 meters deep every day for 14,600 days, a good trick to find in the Sinai Peninsula.

    As far as the bible condoning slavery check out
    “Bible Defence of Slavery; Origin Fortunes, and History of the Negro Race.” by rev. Josiah Priest, a.m. published 1852. (this book is available online as a free download) This little gem goes into great detail on how ‘good’ christian people managed to justify the enslavement of any race or indeed lower class of people that they wanted. remember this book is nowhere near as old as the bible, so saying we have learned better since then does not work.

    Let us not forget the chosen people invaded the homeland of the Canaanites and annihilated the local population and destroyed their cities because their imaginary friend said it was cool yes indeed you can feel the love.

    The bible and the other Judeo Christian, Islamic texts are full of smiting, enslavement and ethnic cleansing to deny that is a bit short sighted, or downright ignorant. It is time to leave these bronze age superstitions behind us

    • Tony, where did you get the idea that the ancient Egyptians did not keep slaves? It seems odd that there are references to slaves in a number of their written texts if your claim is true. Certainly there is less documentary evidence about the nature and extent of slavery in ancient Egypt compared to Mesopotamia and later Greco-Roman slavery, but references to slavery do exist (e.g. The Complaints Of Khakheperrē-Sonb, the royal inscription of Sethos I, Papyrus Rylands, etc.).

      You’re probably right about the large numbers of people in the exodus, but there are indications within the biblical text that these large numbers are derived by misunderstanding the terminology used.

      • In this book , “The Bible Unearthed,” Israeli archeologist Israel Finklestein of Tel Aviv University and archeological journalist Neil Asher Silberman raised more doubts and offered a new theory about the roots of the Exodus story. The authors argue that the story was written during the time of King Josia of Judah in the 7th century BC–600 years after the Exodus supposedly occurred in 1250 BC–as a political manifesto to unite Israelites against the rival Egyptian empire as both states sought to expand their territory.
        The Exodus story was produced for theological and political reasons: to give an origin and history to a people and distinguish them from others by claiming a divine destiny. So then after a century of excavations trying to prove the ancient accounts true, archeologists say there is no conclusive evidence that the Israelites were ever in Egypt, were ever enslaved, ever wandered in the Sinai wilderness for 40 years or ever conquered the land of Canaan under Joshua’s leadership. To the contrary, the prevailing view is that most of Joshua’s fabled military campaigns never occurred–archeologists have uncovered ash layers and other signs of destruction at the relevant time at only one of the many battlegrounds mentioned in the Bible. Like i said before there is no evidence for this whole episode. We could continue back to the noah/gilgamesh myth as well if you wish but again there is no archaeology to support the story of a global inundation let alone a floating menagerie of tens of thousands animals being tended 8 people now where did the feed come from again? Let us continue back to the beginning Adam and Eve must have had a strange relationship what with Eve being created from Adam’s rib and all (perhaps a type of proto-cloning) now if they are the first people then we have a very strange sort of incest going on to create the rest of humanity, I cannot see that you could find any way around that. I am afraid that for you to consider the bible as history you would have to have a very large set of blinkers on

    • Ian, and yet clearly there are homosexuals wanting to marry so they are no longer practising fornication. Ironic is it not?

  71. Please, at the end of the day. The bible really is a work of fiction. Has it really be proven to be factual????? I think not….that people can base there whole belief in a load of garbage of a book that really has not been proven to be factual is stupidity rather than faith

    • Yes just like the Apollo moon landings were also fictional. Did you know that Stanley Kubrick made it up?
      Incidentally, if the Bible was fictional, does that mean Jews were a fictional people (the people it talks about the most) and furthermore the Holocaust never happened because you can’t kill fictional people in the first place?

  72. The Prime Minister’s entire point was that it is possible to cherry-pick verses from the Bible to interpret them to endorse slavery, while ignoring other principles. Those Christians who abolished the slave trade had to do it while fighting other Christians who claimed Biblical support for slavery. You’re not disproving Rudd’s argument, you’re making it for him.

  73. Hi LS. All of your questions are valid, however have been widely answered. It would take too long to answer them in full here (a short answer might give the main points but is no substitute for a complete answer). If you are truly looking for answers, and not merely asking questions that you hope are rhetorical, then there are plenty of books on the topics (websites too, though I haven’t looked in to many of those). One book which answers many questions are “Answers To Tough Questions About The Christian Faith” by Josh McDowell & Don Stewart. You are much better off reading answers by scholars/theologians/researchers etc than by asking questions on a forum where most people will not have the full knowledge required to answer. Some people (not implying you) seem to think everyday Christians should have all the answers, however if I asked my English-speaking buddies to define all the complicated words in their dictionary, they’d fail miserably. I’m just trying to make the point that you most likely won’t get the answers to your questions on a forum like this.

    • A good point Claire, and one that I don’t think all people appreciate on this forum. Which is also why I ask the questions.
      Unless anyone is able to speak to authors, ‘truth’ can only be guessed. Sometimes it is done with an educated background, but how could anyone truly know the meaning behind the writings.

  74. Glad you liked it Comrade
    Although we have our differences we are all working in the vineyards of the Lord.

  75. Still no acknowledgement in any comment here that the Bible was used to defend slavery. Some of the most vehement supporters of slavery in the USA were theologians. Rudd was 100% correct in the point he made – a strict literalist view of the Bible can and has been used to defend horrible slavery. It’s an uncomfortable fact, but a fact nonetheless. It’d be nice if that fact could be acknowledged if you’re going to try and argue that Rudd’s response was misrepresentation, because the fact of the matter is, he really does have a strong point.

    • Yes, in previous times good and godly theologians who ought to have known better tried to find justification for slavery in the Bible. They did so because, theologians or not, their attitudes and values were affected by the social order of which they were a part, causing them to be partially blinded to the clear teachings of Scripture. We can look back now and see how desperate some of their rationalisations were.

      I don’t wish to sound rude, but it seems to me that this is exactly what is happening now with Christians who try to find Biblical arguments supporting SSM. It is ironic that all are able to recognise that those arguments for slavery must have been flawed, but seem oblivious to the fact that making the Bible support homosexuality requires far more theological ingenuity than slavery ever did.

      The fact is that the Bible does speak very clearly regarding homosexuality, not just once or twice but many times. And (unlike slavery) much of what it says is impossible to dismiss as being the product of “historical assumptions”, the cultural mores of the time. To take just one passage in particular: Romans 1:26-27, in the wider context of 1:18-32, places homosexuality firmly in the context of God’s abandoning fallen mankind to sinful lusts because of their rejection of him and his truth. The whole passage is emphatically a moral statement, one which clearly spans across all cultures in all ages. There are a number of other such passages that simply cannot be written of as the product of the times. There are no passages that come even close to making such specific moral statements condemning slavery.

      • Isn’t that the point?
        That the authors of the bible, given enough time, were evidently wrong in the manner with which they treated slavery.

        • No!

          The authors of the Bible were not wrong in the manner with which they treated slavery. Those theologians who tried to use what they wrote to support slavery are the ones who were wrong.

          In the process, they:
          – took OT *civil laws* about slavery that reflected the imperfect social order of OT times, and tried to say that those laws should be normative for all cultures and ages.
          – took OT *historical reports* regarding slavery and tried to say that those who recorded such things must have approved of them, which of course does not follow (imagine if we did the same thing to reporters today!)
          – took NT comments designed to encourage slaves to act in God-honouring ways in spite of the injustice of their social condition, and tried to say that those comments actually validated that social condition as just.
          – and, very importantly – in the process, completely ignored two of the great sweeping themes of Scripture, themes that could and should have shaped their understanding of those other, less clear, passages referred to above: (a) God has a great interest in delivering his people from the bondage of sin, and the slavery of the Israelites serves as a type or picture of that bondage (thus showing very clearly that in God’s eyes, slavery is a bad thing; and (b) Love your neighbour as yourself, doing to him as you would have others do to you.

          What those theologians *couldn’t* do, though, is point to clear, unambiguous Bible statements that say “God says slavery is good”. Because there aren’t any.

          Let me be clear. The Bible has been saying the same thing about slavery all along. But for a long time, that didn’t suit the social order of the day; and so people desperately looked for ways to make it say something it really doesn’t.

          And that’s exactly what is happening today, on the homosexuality issue. With this very important difference: The Bible is actually much, much clearer with regard to homosexual behaviour.

          • Seriously, the sheer volume of teaching either directly against or warning of the dangers of wealth in the context of sin is overwhelming compared to the handful of verses that address same sex relationships. Yet I don’t hear a rallying cry against the middle and upper classes within and outside of the church.

            No doubt someone will have counter arguments that run contrary to God’s Word in both the Old and Testaments, or even pull out a couple a verses to justify his or her way of living.

            Why is that? Is it because those teaching directly relate to you and me and offend too many “good” Christians? Hey, let’s concentrate our holy judgment on a group in society who is a tiny minority in our churches. Yeh, that’s much easier. I’m done with the discussion in this topic. It makes me feel too upset.

          • Neither, could theologians point to clear, unambiguous statements that say “God says slavery is bad”.

            If it were as clear on slavery, as it is on sexual activities conducted outside the marriage, slavery would have been prohibited sooner.
            But it isn’t, so people like William Wilberforce, sought ways to make it say something against slavery it really didn’t.

            That is why I think the authors of the bible were wrong in the manner with which they treated slavery.
            Perhaps they’re wrong in their consideration of homosexuality? Maybe it is we who are wrong.

            So people today are desperately looking for ways to make it say something it really doesn’t?

          • Jason,

            ‘Neither, could theologians point to clear, unambiguous statements that say “God says slavery is bad”.’
            – True.

            ‘If it were as clear on slavery, as it is on sexual activities conducted outside the marriage, slavery would have been prohibited sooner.’
            – Arguably also true.

            ‘But it isn’t,…’
            – Again, true.

            ‘…so people like William Wilberforce, sought ways to make it say something against slavery it really didn’t.’
            – Not true. The Bible may not be as clear on slavery as it is on homosexuality. But that doesn’t mean it says nothing. As I discussed in my previous post, it actually says a great deal.

      • In all honesty, everyone’s trying to find a justification for their opinion. We’d all like to think we’re only letting God’s word and spirit shape or positions, but none of us manage that.
        As for Romans 1, I always try and remember what follows in Romans 2 – where chapter 1 is all those bad people out there, chapter 2 demolishes all claims to self-righteousness, and, to my mind, a lot of grounds for judgement. When we just pick those few verses from chapter 1 and forget the bigger picture, which isn’t that there are some bad people out there doing naughty things, but that all need Christ, we tend to miss the forest for the trees.
        But really, the thing that upsets me in these sorts of debates is when anybody’s position on a non-salvation issue is used as a weapon to question their faith. Slavery is a clear example of genuine faithful Christians coming down on both sides of the debate, and genuine Christians come down on both sides of the same sex marriage debate. Could I be wrong in my position? Sure. I’m willing to admit that. I’m imperfect in my faith, imperfect in my understanding of the Bible, of God’s will, of all that. What I’d really like is just that we make sure these debates start from a point of recognising that there is genuine faith on both sides. The debates are important to have, the theological discussion is important to have, I just wish it could be done without the ‘you’re not a real Christian if you don’t share my worldview’ attitude that seems to be all too common.

        • Hi Pam,

          Thanks for a really gracious and thoughtful reply.

          I do appreciate your point re Romans 2. Verse 1 is like a glass of cold water in the face – all that discussion about the general state of sinful mankind in chapter 1, and then Paul says “Hey! This includes you!”

          Nevertheless, I think that Romans 1:26-27 is really important to the specific question of whether or not God considers homosexuality to be sinful. You mentioned the “bigger picture”. Those verses are emphatically part of a “big picture” passage, a passage that gives us a sweeping overall view of God’s perspective on humanity. The fact that homosexuality is specifically mentioned as sinful in that context is therefore hugely significant – particularly since most of the counter arguments are based on the premise that when the Bible appears to disapprove of homosexuality, these are “small picture” statements that reflect the social conditions and prejudices of the time, and therefore cannot be normative.

          I also appreciate your point about people using someone’s position on a non-salvation issue as a weapon to question their faith. I agree, that shouldn’t be done; and I agree, some of that has taken place in this forum discussion.

          I don’t think Sandy did, though. Sandy’s original post wasn’t “How dare you support SSM?” His objection was to the way Kevin Rudd handled the Bible. And the way we handle the Bible is emphatically a salvation issue.

          Rudd’s approach was basically “Fancy thinking the Bible can be relied on to give actual answers! Why, it can be made to say whatever you like! In the past, it’s even been made to support slavery! Let me demonstrate!”

          It’s a cheap shot, that’s been levelled against the Bible many times before. It is a really cheap shot, because absolutely *anybody* can be misrepresented by selective quotation. And the fact that Rudd would treat the Bible in that way speaks volumes about his (dis)respect for it. That is a salvation issue.

  76. Pingback: Being Questioned #2 – more on slavery and Bible interpretation | The Briefing

  77. Pingback: On Kevin Rudd, the bible and marriage equality | andypaine

  78. Pingback: Putting Rudd into Context | ..::Divine Iniquity::..::Tier 6::..::The Counter Break::..

  79. Friends, I have tried to engage with critics on slavery and Bible interpretation in my next post here.

    Given the length of comments here, if your issues are with the slavery and interpretation matters, it might be better to read the new post and comment there. Thanks.

  80. Pingback: Lakeshore Community Church of Christ – Sunshine Coast » The Bible, Slavery and Same Sex Marriage

    • Craig, thanks for the link. It is a good article. Just for the record, Glenn Davies is Archbishop of Sydney in the Anglican Church, not the Uniting Church (who don’t have bishops).

  81. I agree with Sandy that Kevin Rudd misrepresents the Bible. Kevin seems to be also claiming that science has proven that gay people are born that way. Now why single out only one group of people – gay people. What about those who are born liars, thieves, murderers, rapists? Why treat gay people specially? Are we not all born sinners expect Jesus the Lord and excluding Adam and Eve who became sinners before Abel was born?

    • Wow. I think people choose to lie, steal, kill, and rape. Those are actions. People choose to take actions. Being gay is a condition. That’s who they are.
      I cannot believe people goes to such extreme when talking about LGBT matters.

      Gay people treated the same as liars, thieves, murderers, rapists…?

      Oh gays can get marries so what’s next? Man can get married to animals?

      People really scares me.

      • “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell”
        (Matthew 10:28).

        Youre right that people choose to lie, steal, kill, and rape, and that those are actions. And yes, being gay is a condition. I dont think the Bible portrays the condition, IE same-sex attraction, as sinful. It’s the action that it portrays as sinful, IE having sex with someone of the same gender (Leviticus 18, Romans 1 etc).

    • Really? How sad, you think that you were born with sin? Please explain to me how anyone who has not even taken a breath has been born with sin!!!

      I feel sorry for you that you think this.

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  83. Hi Sandy

    A great respond to the PM video. I am gay from Japan. And I think it’s great to have PM like Kevin in other country. He may have misused the Bible but the pastor could not respond to that like you did. And he is a pastor who leads and teaches people at his church. That scares me. You seems like a person who really care and study the Bible. I respect you and others who do the same. I’m not judging the pastor only by the fact that he looked defeated on the spot. But makes me question how many people in his position really know what they are talking about. Not they think they know but they really put their care and efforts to reach somewhere everyone could be understood. I firmly believe you could be Christian and support marriage equality. I believe you could be Christian and be close to gay people without being condescending.

    Anyways I do see your point but I hope you see the point of the PM video. It is a leader like Kevin who can lead people to peace and understanding.


  84. No Kei. PM Kevin did not misuse or misinterpret the Bible. People are just saying he did. The pastor tried putting a question to him to trap him, but the pastor ended up looking like a fool.

    • Hi Ian
      I do not think, personally, PM Kevin misused the Bible. But I could see why others make remarks otherwise.
      There are always two or more sides to any matters. I appreciate good counter points with respects.

  85. Kei, although we disagree on some things, the manner in which you comment is helpful to us all, and gives me encouragement.

    In a civil society there is something important for its health about being able to disagree with as much kindness as possible, not just vigour, let alone vitriol.

    Just in passing, in my limited experience of being put on the spot in the media (local radio and newspaper interviews) it is easy to get a little tongue-tied, and so I’m not surprised he looked a little stunned on the TV, when the tables were turned and he was asked the question instead of the PM on the Q&A panel.

  86. Hi Kei, I was not suggesting you thought PM misused the Bible, but that others had made that suggestion.

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  91. Dear Matthias Media,

    I read your article and great refutation which addresses slavery in the Bible:

    “PM misrepresents the Bible”

    I am the director of a Christian Discernment Ministry in the United States and am a regular guest on many national Christian radio programs, and have written two books on Rick Warren.

    The interview has made news even here in the U.S.

    There is one more issue in this interview…that is This refutation address what the Apostle Paul says about what is “natural”:

    “Romans 1:26-27 and Homosexuality”

    If Homosexuality and is “natural” then why did God destroy Sodom and Gomorrah? Was it just because they were in hospitable? If that were true, God could have destroy myriads of cities. But even two other Apostles confirm what Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul warned regarding homosexuality which specifically and textually refutes the hospitality argument. And is Jude and Peter:

    Jude 4-6 and II Peter 2 4-8

    It has not changed in two thousand years. Every Conservative Christian scholar in the world confirms these Scriptures…as our final authority.


    James Sundquist

  92. This is absolutely right. I have to say, that one discussion shows just how great a politician Rudd is- ie. using misinformed and/or misrepresented emotional hot-points to twist things around, allowing him to draw support for whatever plans he has, & to get votes. Seriously, it was politicking at its best.

    A gay friend of mine posted Rudd’s response on Facebook, all aglow about how great it is, but I was immediately struck by his misrepresentation of the Bible. How strange is it that Christianity and the Bible are clearly still relevant in society and politics, yet few people bother to learn how to understand it properly- ie. in its historical context (including that overall story arc you mentioned)- saying that it’s outdated and unnecessary… yet they do bother to learn enough to be able to grab a poorly-referenced line here or there which is then twisted and misrepresented so they can support whatever cause they want.

    And then, he throws in the reference to American slavery, as if the two things were at all the same. It’s ridiculous, really. Even in the areas that seem more supportive of slavery- and that are usually used to suggest the Bible is pro-slavery- slaves are still clearly to be treated as human beings, and the overall gist is that a master should not mistreat his slave. That’s the exact opposite of what happened in America. But again, it was a masterful use of an emotional flashpoint to get an ovation from a group of people who are uneducated on the matter and/or so blinded by the desire to support “equality” that they’re willing to throw historical and cultural nuances under the bus.

    And to top it all off, he says this is all due to his deliberating with a good Christian conscience, implying that those of us who don’t agree with him are poor Christians who should get with it.

    Well played, Mr. Rudd, well played.

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