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Letter of the Day | Don’t dare blame Bible’s vintage, Mr Chuck

Published:Sunday | June 11, 2017 | 12:00 AM


I have read that Justice Minister Delroy Chuck has suggested that parliamentarians should tackle the Church about its adherence to centuries-old moral teachings from the Bible, but I refuse to believe the report.

No lawyer of Mr Chuck's eminence could advance such a silly, age-based argument!

I know that many reject the Bible out of hand because it is too old a document to be appealed to in the modern age.

How does the age of a document necessarily negate the wisdom or value of its content? What would such critics say about the almost universal millennia-old taboo on murder, adultery and stealing in every culture studied in antiquity and the abiding negative sentiments, and even legal sanctions (excepting for adultery), on those practices today?

Should we, by this age-based reasoning, trash all literature from antiquity, including the revered pieces of Egyptian literature for some critics and the equally revered pieces of Greek or Roman literature for other critics?

A comparative survey of Ancient Near Eastern law codes is quite instructive. The old Hittite laws of 1650-1500 BC, the 1800 BC Babylonian code of Hammurabi, or the oldest Egyptian laws, all have some taboos that have modern legal descendants of a kind.


'An eye for an eye'


The terribly misunderstood biblical legal principle of Lex talionis, 'an eye for an eye ...' (c. 1500 BC), is, in modern jurisprudence, a valuable legal principle - that is, the punishment should fit the crime. So if I tailgate you and damage the rear bumper of your Honda Fit, don't try to make a claim for a BMW X7! The claim must be comparable to the damage.

Indeed, the Bible's millennia-old aversion to homosexual practices may have a more plausible explanation. As Robert Gagnon says, "... The antiquity and durability of a given prohibition against immoral conduct often indicates its workability, effectiveness, and elasticity as a cultural model rather than its contemporary irrelevance." (The Bible & Homosexual Practice, 29)

If the report I read accurately reflects the sentiments of our minister of justice, Mr Chuck needs to come up with a more sensible basis for a 'social revolution' against the Church. As the French would say, "Mettez vous en garde mon frere!"