Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Mississippi finally rejects slavery

Earlier this month Mississippi finally officially ratified the 13th Amendment which outlawed slavery. Actually the state voted to ratify this amendment in 1995, a mere 130 years after it became the law of the land. But the paperwork was never sent United States Archivist as required until January 30 of this year. On February 7 the paperwork was processed in Washington D.C. and Mississippi went on record, in 2013, as supporting the notion that people shouldn't own other people as property in this nation.

Mississippi wasn't exactly progressive concerning the notion that women should be allowed to vote either. It was the last state to adopt the 19th Amendment which gave females that right, taking this action in 1984, about 64 years after this was already the law of the land. But, before we in North Carolina become too indignant over that one, we should remember that this state didn't ratify the 19th Amendment until 1971, more than 50 years after it had become law. Indeed, this was the next to last state to go on record saying that women should be allowed to vote.

I've always found it disturbing that many Christians in this country used the Bible to defend slavery and to make the case that females should not have the right to vote. In an article published in 1884, Rev. Prof. H. M. Goodwin said that the notion of women voting violated the scriptures and represented "a rebellion against the divinely ordained position and duties of woman." Baptist hero Richard Furman, in his biblical defense of slavery, said, "The right of holding slaves is clearly established by the Holy Scriptures."

Today, of course, we believe the Christians who used the Bible to defend slavery and to oppose giving women the right to vote grossly erred in their interpretation. We are rightfully ashamed that our spiritual ancestors abused the Bible in these ways. But the scary thing is that Christians back then were, by and large, completely convinced that they were right and that their cause was just.

Do you ever wonder if there are issues that we face in this land that, should the Lord tarry, future Christians will look back at us in the same way that we look back at Christians who defended slavery and opposed females having the right to vote? Does it bother you that it seems that Christians seem to often bring up the rear rather than take the lead in promoting Bible-based social justice? Do you think that we could use a heavy dose of humility in biblical interpretation concerning controversial issues given our track record of being wrong on some matters that are today considered fundamental rights?

1 comment:

Jacob said...

I think that in this country's past the general public held the viewpoint that scripture had a viable opinion and authoritative teaching on how we should structure society. I don't believe this is any longer true.

In the past, I feel that church and Bible authority was common place and therefore a go to trump card for supporting opinions and beliefs whether they were actually biblically based or not. Pulling a scripture out of context and making a half way convincing argument for slavery or the suppression of women's rights was enough for a lot of people because most of the public had a view of scripture as being authoritative.

Today, I feel that a high view of scripture as being authoritative is rare. People seem to view the Bible as an outdated antiquity that is an embarrassing remembrance of how weak and naive we used to be. Homosexuality and the woman's right to choose is touted as being morally superior to what the Bible teaches.

All of this to say that, personally, I can't think of any social issues that scripture is wrongly supporting or unjustly arguing against.