Dave Brisbin 6.7.20
We’re sailing through a perfect storm of pandemic and protest driven issues that are raising deep questions and the need for reexamination of ourselves and our society. Can our scriptures help us at a time like this? I’m asked how we’re supposed to understand Romans 13 where Paul tells us to obey our state authorities no matter what—they are ordained by God. He tells us to pay our taxes and bills and respect our leaders—no matter what. In other letters, he tells us if we’re married, stay married, if we’re single, stay single, if we’re a slave, stay a slave, if we’re a woman, submit to your husband and don’t speak or teach in church. Paul seems completely committed to the status quo, no fight for social justice here. What are we to make of all this and how can it help us in this present crisis? It all comes down to how we are conditioned to read the scriptures. Paul will never make sense to us until we realize that he wasn’t writing to us. We’re reading someone else’s mail.

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Paul was writing to groups of people trying to live through their own present crises, and if the circumstances of their crises weren’t the same as ours, then specific details of Paul’s answer may or may not apply. An answer can only be true within the context of the question, even if the principles it invokes are evergreen. The first step is giving ourselves permission to read scripture in a different way. The second step is to determine as best we can the prescriptive principles that always apply and will guide us anywhere and anywhen through our own perfect storm.

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