James Dobson has attacked Barack Obama for Obama’s interpretation of the Bible. Dobson has referred to it as a fruitcake interpretation.
Two examples that Dobson cites are the fact that Obama referenced the codes in Leviticus as things we do not follow, ie, the not eating of shellfish and keeping of slaves. Then Obama referenced the Sermon the Mount stating, it is "a passage that is so radical that it's doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application."
Here is some of what is said in the Sermon on the Mount, which are chapters 5-7 in the Gospel of Matthew:
38"You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' 39But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; 40and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; 41and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. 42Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.
43"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. 46For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Obama is making the observation that our Defense Department would not survive its application. Is Dobson suggesting that the ‘turn the other cheek’ reference of Jesus ought to be the policy of the Defense Department and Obama is wrong about this?
Or the Beatitudes which, at their core, are about the need for God and anything that happens to us, even or especially dreadful, reminds us of our need for God:
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
3"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5"Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
7"Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
8"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
10"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11"Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Obama reference the codes in Leviticus because many people in the anti-gay movement within Christianity quote these very passages in their arguments for Biblical marriage. Of course, they leave out the shellfish and wearing clothing of mixed fabrics. Obama’s point is actually quite accurate. You can’t apply only the codes you want to apply and ignore the others.
Dobson does have a problem with all of this however. And this is the problem.
Dobson and Focus on the Family have two major ethical agendas that they try to promote as Christian. (Using it as an adjective.)
First, they are anti-gay and are looking to promote Biblical view of marriage. I would suggest that anyone who is looking to promote a Biblical view of marriage actually read Genesis from cover to cover and ascertain if that is really what they want to do. Most contemporary ‘Biblical’ views on marriages are less Biblical and more 1950's perception of what life was like. The Bible barely speaks about homosexuality and Jesus mentions it as often as he mentions the Internet. For those who are slow, there was no Internet back then and he never mentioned the Internet. He also never mentioned anything about homosexuality.
We have codes in Leviticus and we have writings by Paul on the subject but in reference to the Greek culture and the very odd understandings they had on human sexuality. There isn’t much to hang your hat on with this and it is very, very clear that homosexuality and homosexual behavior was not a front and center issue in 1st Century Christianity.
Secondly Dobson’s other agenda is abortion. Again, abortion is not mentioned in the Bible. It was not a medical procedure of that era and, as a result, it was never an issue. One might connect abortion to ‘life’ issues, but Dobson doesn’t choose to do that. He’s not on record as being consistently pro-life as much as he’s anti-abortion. As an aside, I’m not promoting abortion, I’m merely pointing out that it’s not a Biblical issue and to make it so by linking if with other ‘life’ issues is off the political reservation of James Dobson.
Dobson, frankly, has a political agenda more than an ethical agenda of Christianity. He cherry picks the Bible to find passages that say what he wants to say and ignores the rest. Barack Obama had the audacity to point this out. Whether one likes Obama or not is not really relevant here. He actually knew what he was talking about and simply pointed out that much of what has been labeled as a ‘Christian’ agenda (the usage of adjective again) is not really so.
Much of the agenda of the so-called Religious Right is not a theological agenda but a political agenda with Bible quotations. It’s about time that people began calling them on this.