Self Defense from a Fundamentalist Attack
12 Scriptures No Fundamentalist Believes
(Part 6 “For freedom Christ has set you free”)
Most people don’t understand that scripture is a call to freedom. The Bible isn’t telling you what to do, it is telling you who you are.
Exodus is the story of a people moving from captivity to freedom. What tradition has called the Ten Commandments were actually the principles of that freedom, for without discipline, we fall out of freedom into servitude, habits and addictions.
Galatians has been called the Magna Charta of Christianity because it is a brief and powerful call to freedom. It is the book where Paul most clearly rejects legalism. It is a furious letter accusing the early church of rejecting Jesus’ message of freedom and returning to the slavery to religious obedience. “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit to a yoke of slavery.” (Gal.5.1) “For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse…” (Gal. 3:10)
By “law” Paul means the Ten Commandments and all scripture understood legalistically. Paul uses the symbol God to personalize what he is saying. He says that God does not want us as slaves. He is using the image of a parent to plant this lesson deep in our hearts. Loving parents do not want their children to cower and mindlessly obey. Loving parents want to empower their children, but they must teach the children the disciplines that make freedom possible.
I was once doing a talk on ethics at a religious conference. When a woman in the audience figured out that I was pro-choice and supported gay marriage she began to interrupt my talk with unrelated Bible verses. She was afraid and was using the verses like nails to put a lid on the conversation. At the break, I asked her to meet me the next morning at a place we could talk more constructively about her concerns. I asked her to read the book of Galatians beforehand so she could understand where I was coming from.
The next morning I arrived ready to be peppered with Bible verses. As I got closer, I could see the woman was sitting there crying with Galatians open on her lap. I sat down by her and remained silent for some time. Finally she said, “I’ve never understood grace before.”
This woman had been raised fundamentalist. Her religion was one of fearful obedience. She had been taught a picture of God as an parent that said loved her, but endlessly criticized her and demanded unquestioning obedience. She had never realized the abusive nature of that image. She was also realizing that the male clergy in her life had quite a bit to gain by making sure she never claimed her freedom. Long before I arrived on the scene, Galatians had convinced this woman that God does not hover overhead counting her mistakes. Galatians pictures God as a loving parent who has created us to be happy and free. Her new image of God was not a boss hovering overhead counting her mistakes, but as a proud parent cheering her on from the sidelines.
Adult ethics require that we take responsibility for our lives. Freedom is an end in itself. “For freedom Christ has set us free.” Fundamentalism wants to turn God into a boss and the Bible into a rule book. Count on it. People who lift up God as “King” will soon appoint themselves as Viceroy.