Are we settling for sound bites of Scripture? ‘
By Gil Hanke
As many of you know, GCUMM is partnering with UM Women and with other entities to end violence against women.
As I was working with our local YWCA on this issue, we looked for our “next steps.”
They had hosted several training events for coaches and other community influencers, and they proposed their next step would be to meet with faith leaders.
“Oh, but then we will have to deal with Ephesians,” commented one leader. She had already had experiences with men who attempt to justify the abuse of their wives based on a few lines in the 5th chapter of that letter from Paul.
That epistle has been part of the lectionary readings this year. And so every few weeks I have read from this particular letter from Paul, as I follow the Upper Room Disciplines.
As with other devotionals, I read selected verses that illustrate a point being made by the writer for that day or week. The verses in question about women “submitting” to their husbands have not been part of those readings, and I recalled that what I had read from that letter clearly would exclude violence against anyone.
And so, to be sure, last night I read the entire letter to the church at Ephesus. It did not take long, and reading the whole letter led me to suggest that when we invite faith leaders to be part of this vital discussion on domestic violence I strongly suggest that we do deal with Ephesians . . . all of it.
In our sound-bite world, we often miss the intent of the speaker. If all we are getting are sound bites of Scripture, we may find fuel for an argument, but not the full power and grace that was intended.
You cannot read the whole letter of Ephesians and justify causing harm, and you have wonderful illustrations and direction as to what it means to be in the body of Christ.
If you, like me, find the mechanics of reading a challenge, Kindle and other formats have a “text-to-speech” function that allows you to listen to the text and read the text at the same time. The UM Publishing House also has the Common English Bible in an electronic format that will also allow you to listen while you read.
Some of you don’t read any Scripture on a regular basis, so reading The Upper Room, or other devotionals that have a Scripture included is a great start. But, I would encourage all of us to find 30 minutes in a week to “search the Scriptures” and read all or most of a single book of the Bible.
Let’s not settle for a sound bite, but partake in the whole message of the Good News, one book at a time.
Gil Hanke, general secretary
General Commission on United Methodist Men