David Robertson, Ruth Davidson and knowing better than Jesus

David Robertson has written a letter to both the Courier and the Scotsman in response to comments from Scottish Conservative leader, Ruth Davidson, regarding the DUP. In short, Davidson is pressurising the DUP to implement gay marriage in Northern Ireland. She has stated to not endorse gay marriage is to be a ‘dinosaur’ and insists such views are ‘not welcome’.

Robertson helpfully notes that Davidson has made no noises about Angela Merkel, herself against gay marriage, being a prehistoric creature. Likewise, he wonders whether the Conservatives in Davidson’s own party that share these views, people such as Philip Davies, are ‘no longer welcome’?

More pointedly, Robertson questions the approach taken by Davidson that because she is a Christian who is OK with gay marriage, it must be – by definition – an acceptable view within Christianity and thus all other Christians should jump on board. You see, Ruth Davidson – apparently the arch-interpreter of scripture who speaks ex cathedra on this issue – has determined there are no legitimate theological objections to gay marriage. All who name the name of Christ but demur on gay marriage are simply being belligerent, bigoted or something else pejorative. We know because she has said so.

Robertson states:

Ruth Davidson likes to play the ‘Christian card’ when discussing this.  “I am a practicing [sic] Christian’ she writes – as though this were somehow a justification for imposing her social/sexual views on the rest of us.  I’m not exactly sure what she means.  Does it mean that she is a follower of Jesus Christ who taught that marriage was between a man and a woman?  Does she think Jesus was a ‘dinosaur’?

He goes on to ask:

Is Ruth Davidson really telling us that the Christian church throughout the ages, the Catholic Church in Scotland today, the growing evangelical churches and up until this year, her own church, have got it all wrong?  I realise that our political leaders are prone to hubris but even they should beware of claiming to know better than Jesus!

Herein lies the problem for many, the Bible does offer a clear line on same sex marriage. Most who support its implementation recognise this by determining that we shouldn’t be ruled by ‘archaic belief’ and ‘ancient books’. It’s not a view I share (obviously) but it is, nonetheless, consistent. The Bible isn’t my final authority in anything else, they aver, so why should I pay it any heed on this? It is a credible position that begins with the question ‘why even follow the Bible?’

Davidson, however, has determined the Bible should, in some way, act as her regulum. At the very least, she affords it respect and believes its wisdom ought to be heeded. The problem with maintaining this view, whilst insisting that affirmation of gay marriage is now the only acceptable position for anybody to hold on the binary matter of whether or not it should be affirmed, is that there is not one positive affirmation of homosexuality in the canon. This is not an argument from silence for, not only is there not even one positive affirmation of homosexuality, every reference to the practice of it across the Old and New Testaments is negative.

This leads us to conclude one of several things. Either, (a) the Bible is not so important to Davidson that she takes heed of what it says; (b) she has such a poor, or disingenuous, approach to hermeneutics she has no interest in letting the Bible speak on its own terms but insists on using it to say whatever she happens to want it to say (we might call this the Humpty-Dumpty hermeneutic); or, (c) Davidson simply doesn’t understand theological matters on any level whatsoever. In any case, we are left to wonder why – given any of the above – any Christian ought to be swayed by Davidson’s ‘I’m a Christian so all Christians must agree with me’ approach.

It seems to me she is employing the Humpty-Dumpty hermeneutic in order to bring the word of God to bear on her own views. What this means is that she is simply not convinced that her own argument is strong enough to make the case for gay marriage so she co-opts God to divinely decree what she happens to want us all to think. Aside from the fact that nowhere does God say what she wants, it is an act of blasphemy to put words into his mouth this way.

As the writer Tim Keller so eloquently put it:

If your god never disagrees with you, you might just be worshipping an idealized version of yourself.

Taking his cue from St Augustine who similarly argued:

If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.

As a Christian who knows better than Jesus Christ, his apostles and all mainline churches for the last 2000 years – and calls us to sideline any qualms we may have and simply agree with her despite such things – one does wonder quite who Ruth Davidson wants us to worship?

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