By Gilles Castelnau
translation Louise Thunin
When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do (…) He shall have no right to sell her to a foreign people. (Exodus 1 : 7…8). We can see in this law the merciful spirit of God aimed at protecting the fate of some unfortunate girls during a period in Israel when slavery was clearly a common practice. Is this the imutable law of an eternal God ? Of course not. But rather the desire ever rrenewed to render pratical the eternally compassionate spirit of a God of love.
It’s a good thing we think to change laws so that they reflect, always, in a society in constant evolution, the immutable spirit of an eternal God. If a man lies with a man as if with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination ; they shall be put to death. (Leviticus 20 : 13). … anything in the waters that has not fins nor scales (…) of their flesh ye shall not eat. (Leviticus 11 : 9). I was indeed « abominable » to eat shellfish without our knowing where this strange idea came from. And indeed, was this « abomination » as serious as that of homosexuality ? God must smile today at the ethical research of law-makers of yore.
In the same way as our descendants will probably be surprised tomorrow by our present-day certainties.
We like to sing while thinking of our forebears : « May Spirit who gives them life inspire their children to follow them. » It is not the aggregate of moral laws that insure the continuity of our religion throughout the centuries ; it is the desire to be ever faithful to the creative dynamic of God. We would certainly feel foreign among past church customs, but we would certainly communicate with all our hearts with its leaders when the they seek to discern the Word that they received from God in their time.
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