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    Winter / Spring 1998 [Newsletter Banner]

Faulty Interpretation,
Flawed Reality
Defining Reality
We Are Not Immune
Real Spiritual Warfare

Let me illustrate two distinct ways of defining reality, using the issue of homosexuality as an example. The first is the perspective of some (perhaps many) in leadership within the contemporary Anabaptist community. The second is that of EAF.

With increasing frequency I am hearing the issue of homosexuality compared to slavery. The argument goes like this. Even as white plantation owners held their slaves in bondage and subservience, so narrow-minded and insensitive Christians shackle homosexuals with chains of intolerance, rejection and guilt. Slavery persisted until the injustice of the situation could no longer be ignored and people were willing to lay down their lives in a struggle for freedom. Likewise, the oppression of homosexuals will continue until people (either enough people or the right people) recognize the injustice and raise their collective voice to demand liberation for the captives. Many find this definition of reality powerfully persuasive.

Ironically, we at EAF find the homosexuality/slavery connection strangely compelling as well. There are definite similarities, though not the ones advanced in the scenario above. Instead of likening homosexuals to slaves, we prefer to compare slave owners and proponents of slavery with those who advocate acceptance and endorsement of homosexuality. In the case of the former, biblical texts were wrested from their contexts, twisted, distorted and misinterpreted in order to justify and perpetuate a despicable practice which the proponents of slavery perceived vital to their economic well-being. In the case of the latter, advocates of homosexuality have taken biblical texts, which for generations have been interpreted as a blanket condemnation of the practice, and have found ways to reinterpret them in light of contemporary culture. In both cases, the clear intent of the scripture is ignored in a convoluted attempt to defend the indefensible.

(Editor's note: While some may view the above comparison as extreme, please recognize that the purpose of this example is not to imply that homosexuality is as great a blight to our society as chattel slavery. The merits of that position must be argued elsewhere. The purpose here is simply to show that advocates of both practices have employed a faulty method of Bible interpretation which inevitably leads to a flawed definition of reality.)

Leaving aside the fact that doctrine and teaching are synonyms, I objected to his argument on the ground that everything we do is a product of what we believe. The fact is, it is altogether a matter of doctrine. Every major point of contention in the Mennonite Church is the result of a departure from evangelical orthodoxy on which the Anabaptist movement and American Mennonitism were founded. Influenced by such forces as liberalism, postmodernism and New Age paganism, the contemporary Anabaptist establishment has forsaken an unequivocal commitment to "the faith of our fathers." We should not be surprised, then, that variety abounds in our definition of reality.

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