3. Truth isn’t like wine that gets better with age. It’s more like manna you must recognize wherever you are and whoever you are with.

Some of the people who disagreed with the article argued that the church shows an unbroken tradition of rejecting homosexuality from the very beginning. It seems to me that the focus on abortion and homosexuality are both relatively recent for the church. To be specific, they emerged after women began to gain power in the world and in the church. It is no coincidence that the religions most opposed to these two practices usually had a problem with women being leaders in the first place.

John Boswell has famously made the case that our modern concept of marriage evolved out of a “friendship blessing” that was based on spiritual commitment, not physical gender. Whatever one thinks of that argument, we have to admit that the argument from tradition has a long sorry record in times of great transition. To insist the earth is flat because it has a long tradition, or that slavery must be right because the ancients embraced it, is habit humanity needs to break. It has been said that the truth repeated becomes a lie. To mindlessly parrot a truth may be further from truth than honest error. The question for me is, is religion a futile effort to go back in time, or is a courageous leap into the future?

What does it mean to call the New Testament “new?” It is two thousand years old after all. Are we merely saying that it is a little less old than what preceded it, or by “new” do we mean it is still alive and breathing? To worship a “living” God means to leave the brackish water of tradition and to strike out on the open waters of life as we live it today. The “new” covenant is a response to the Jewish prophets who called people to sing a new song. Faith in a living God means to let go of our mooring from the past, to uproot ancient prejudices, to pluck up the toadstools of mindless belief, and to open our minds and hearts to a God that calls us from the future. To say one’s religion is ‘new” must mean it is open to the most brutally honest science, the most passionate art, and the commitment to universal human rights for all God’s children.