Who Owns The Bible Anyway?
Here's how it happened that God came to live in a book (paraphrasing from Border Lines by Daniel Boyarin). As we've seen, the prophets weren't working out too well, at least not for women and certainly not for God. In due time the pharisees transferred authority to the "Oral Torah", which is the Torah that is read and then interpreted. Teachers replaced prophets. The Torah is written without vowels. The key is those missing vowels, as well as any and all sources of ambiguity, parable and contradiction. This opens up the possibility of pluralism and creativity through controversy. Hence the Divine voice can shine through the text by transforming the meaning to address any current situation. The Rabbis preserved the freedom of God to live through the text by deferring forever any final determination: "these and these are the words of the living God". So to ask who owns the Bible is to answer; the God that lives there.
The only time God's name is given is at the burning bush before Moses. "I am who I am" is a declaration by God that mere mortals have no say as to who God will be and what God will do. (By the way, the first person singular is uniquely non-gendered in Hebrew.) This is God's declaration of radical freedom from primate interference. On the other hand, it is for us to find out who God is now. We let God speak through the transforming power of changing vowels.
Forgiving rape is the same as condoning it. Check your dictionary.
Who Owns the Church Anyway?
The Gospels are written in Greek. All the vowels are nailed down. Jesus can't live there the way God lives in the Torah. What he says there, it's said for all time. For instance John 10:8: "All who came before me are thieves and robbers; but the sheep did not heed them. I am the door; if anyone enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture." Or Matthew 23:13: "But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you shut the Kingdom of Heaven against men; for you neither enter yourselves, nor allow those who would enter to go in." Though Jesus is addressing a Jewish context here, to fail to apply it to our own Christian situation leaves Jesus out on the doorstep in the cold. So let's bring him in.
But be prepared. This isn't the safe Christianity that locks the truth within the avowed "literal and factual" Bible. There are three presentations of the Ten Commandments; Exodus 20, Exodus 34 and Deuteronomy 5. Between these versions of the core values, there are 30 different discrepancies. So which is it? The bully pulpit pretends "I say what God says", when in fact all of us are morally accountable for thinking out the relevant interpretation. What's worse, these literalists hide their moral cowardice behind one uncompromising stand against a choice they personally will never have to make. In the Bible life begins at sperm. Genesis 35:11, Genesis 46:26-27, Exodus 1:5, 2 Samuel 7:12 and Judges 8:30 all refer to offspring as coming out of the male's loins (or thigh). In Judges 8:30 one can trace how modern translations have edited this out to read his "own offspring". Check the Wycliffe Bible, the 1599 Geneva Bible, Young's Literal Translation (1862), all of the early Church Fathers, and the Rabbinic literature, and you will find that until 100 years ago everyone "knew" life began at sperm. (www.BibleGateway.com) The Bible said so. Genesis 38:9-10; the thing which Onan did, spilling the seed, was wicked in the sight of the Lord. Onan's intention of depriving his brother of children is beside the point, literally. Do you see any Biblical fundamentalists opposing male masturbation? Why on earth would God count them as righteous when they've taken their own possible choices off the table. "It's the woman Eve." We've heard that before.
How does the Christian Church act like the thieves and robbers in John 10? The story of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:16 through 19:28) is a specific instance. The story involved homosexuals, but the outcry in heaven is caused by rape, as anyone who has suffered such a thing will tell you. Some Christians will tell you that God was only mad at homosexuals, not rape. Perhaps they believe that if Jesus was born to save whores, then rapists are OK too. No. If you accept rapists, no whore will come into the fold and no child will ever be safe there. For example, King Louis III of France chased down a young girl to rape her, but she ran into a cottage and got away when the King forgot he was on horseback. The door lintel knocked his head off. Even the little lintel that made the heedless headless is more righteous than the pious Church. But for the little lintel that could, the attempted rape would be unremarkable, forgiven and forgotten. "Boys will be boys."