Resistance Reading as an Act of Faith

 Resistance Reading

How do we make meaning out of scripture?  How do we listen for a Word of Wisdom in this ancient library of manuscripts we call the Bible? This week we transition from the book of James into a three week series drawing from the gospel of Mark and dive headfirst into a challenging passage served up by the revised common lectionary.  

Mark 10:2-16
Some Pharisees approached Jesus and, as a test, asked, “Is it permissible for husbands to divorce wives?’ In reply Jesus asked, “What command did Moses give?” They answered, “Moses permitted a husband to write a decree of divorce and to put her away.” But Jesus told them, “Moses wrote the commandment because of your hardness of heart. From the beginning of creation,
‘God made them male and female.
This is why one person leaves home
And cleaves to another,
And the two become one flesh.’
They are no longer two, but one flesh. What God has united, therefore, let no one divide.”
Back in the house again, the disciples questioned Jesus once more about this. He told them, “If a man divorces his wife and marries another, he commits adultery against her; and if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”
People were bringing their children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples scolded them for this.
When Jesus saw this he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not stop them. It is to just such as these that the kindom of God belongs. The truth is, whoever doesn’t welcome the kindom of God as a little child won’t enter it.” And Jesus took the children in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.
Let’s just be clear: this passage has the potential to be hurtful to people in our community. People who are separated, divorced, remarried, as well as to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons in the congregation. 
So what do we do with passages of scripture that are hard? Part of the beauty and challenge of our entering into a relationship with the lectionary is an opportunity to reflect thoughtfully on passages we would normally avoid.
This week I would like to suggest the strategy of ‘resistance reading’ as one means of approaching this and other difficult texts. This approach takes seriously the role of the reader in determining the meaning of the text.  A text does not come to us wearing its meaning, like a campaign button, on its lapel. Rather we co-create meaning in the act of taking our lives and questions to scripture.
In addition, there are moments in our lives where it can be a faithful act to read with resistance, rather than assent. Some of the noblest moments in Jewish and Christian history are moments of resistance to officially approved oppression, injustice or traditions gone sterile. Resistance reading is practiced therefor by all kinds of people struggling for new relevance for their old traditions.
So let us turn to Mark with these eyes in the coming weeks and invite a ripening of our approach to scripture. And pray for the Holy Spirit, bearer of Wisdom, to show up in our conversations and to show us the Way.
Community Dinner tonight at 6:30 at Michael and Donovan’s. There will be fried fish, sausage, hominy, portabella mushrooms and asparagus.  We could use dessert, drinks and salad. 108 S. Briscoe Blvd, Dallas, TX 75211.  Call 214. 233-4605 if need directions or more info. 
“Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom.” (James 3:13)

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