Cracking the Binary Code…

Anvil Theological JournalThis is a short section from a longer article by Benny Hazlehurst published this month in Anvil Theological Journal.  It is set alongside other articles on sexuality from more conservative theologians.

To read the article in full, follow this link to Anvil and click on ‘Cracking the Binary Code’.

“My teenage children love playing computer games. For that matter so do I. Among the pure action games are some which require a little more thought. There are choices to make, and as you make those choices the game unfolds, for better or worse. ‘Skyrim’ is a good example. Set in a mythical world of different powers, guilds, and warring factions you can choose your race, skills and weapons. You can be a warrior or a poet – a Stormcloak or an Imperial, an elf or a human – you can even choose your religion. Amidst the action sequences fighting off wolves, bandits, or assassins, there are also moral decisions to make: to fight or walk away, to intimidate or persuade, to follow or rebel.

But as I played Skyrim, there is one thing which bothered me. So many of the ‘choices’ boil down to a choice between two options. And I often found myself being asked to choose between two things, neither of which I wanted to choose. I found myself complaining to my kids about this. “But dad, you have to choose one or other option to progress in the game,” they say to me. Essentially the game is based on a series of binary choices: yes or no, fight or flee, be loyal or betray. Ultimately I stopped playing because in so many situations, neither option seemed the right thing to do.

As an evangelical of course, I am also accustomed to being given binary choices. At University 30 years ago, the Christian Union gave me a choice. Do I believe that the Bible isthe inspired Word of God, or just a human creation? If I said it was the Word of God then I could call myself an evangelical; if not, then I could not. For me that was no big issue: ‘Yes’ I said, ‘I do,’ but the binary choices didn’t stop there. Did I believe that Scripture is inerrant or merely infallible? Am I a premillennialist or a postmillennialist? Calvinist or Arminian?  Evangelical or Charismatic?  Was I ‘sound’ or ‘unsound’ in my understanding of the atonement?  At each point there was clearly an answer which the person asking the question wanted to hear, and one which they didn’t.

But what if we don’t want to follow either of the given options? What if I think that life and faith are a little more complicated than that? What if I don’t want to nail my colours to a particular mast, or be pigeon-holed by a particular category or label? As an evangelical Christian, Jesus Christ is at the centre of my life. He is my Lord and Saviour and I believe that I have been born again by the Holy Spirit. I believe that the Bible is inspired by God and I approach it in prayer to deepen my understanding of God, as well as to be encouraged, challenged or rebuked. But that does not mean that everything in Scripture is an open or shut case – a binary choice between right and wrong, sound or unsound.

It is this binary approach which has led us to such an impasse on evangelical responses to sexuality…

Faced with the choice of rejecting the authority of Scripture or rejecting same-sex relationships, most evangelicals have naturally chosen to uphold Scripture and reject any change on sexuality. But is this really the choice we are faced with, or a false choice based on a false binary construct?”

For the rest of the article, follow this link to Anvil and click on ‘Cracking the Binary Code’.

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One Comment

  1. Thanks Benny – I enjoyed reading this.

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