I didn’t know (I never asked) that some Christians once used the Bible to justify slavery and apartheid. Reading that fact in the Telegraph today has made me feel very sad. I shouldn’t be surprised, I guess. The Bible has been used to justify all manner of  inexcusable crimes over the years.

Sigh . . .

A senior bishop in England has pointed out those facts, and has compared them to the anti-gay attitudes of some current-day Christians.

Reports the Telegraph:

The Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Rev Nicholas Holtam, suggested Christians should “rethink” their interpretation of Scripture in light of changing attitudes towards homosexuality in society. In a strongly worded intervention as members of the House of Lords prepare to debate the Government’s draft legislation introducing gay marriage, Bishop Holtam told peers that allowing gay couples to wed would be a “very strong endorsement” of the institution of marriage.

He says Christians need to rethink the Gospels in light of experience:

“For example, before Wilberforce, Christians saw slavery as Biblical and part of the God-given ordering of creation. Similarly in South Africa the Dutch Reformed Church supported Apartheid because it was Biblical and part of the God-given order of creation. No one now supports either slavery or apartheid. The Biblical texts have not changed; our interpretation has.”

He makes good points. Christians who openly oppose same-sex marriage need to do some soul-searching and ask themselves if they would still support slavery and apartheid if their church told them to. Because, you know, the oppression of gay people comes from the same ignorant mindset, the same wellspring of hatred.

Kudos to Rev Nicholas Holtamm for speaking up.