— C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
— Mark Twain
I am not preaching, and Heaven knows I do not pretend to be better than anyone else. I am only trying to call attention to a fact; the fact that this year, or this month, or, more likely, this very day, we have failed to practise ourselves the kind of behaviour we expect from other people. There may be all sorts of excuses for us. That time you were so unfair to the children was when you were very tired. That slightly shady business about the money—the one you have almost forgotten—came when you were very hard-up. And what you promised to do for old So-and-so and have never done—well, you never would have promised if you had known how frightfully busy you were going to be. And as for your behaviour to your wife (or husband) or sister (or brother) if I knew how irritating they could be, I would not wonder at it—and who the dickens am I, anyway? I am just the same. That is to say, I do not succeed in keeping the Law of Nature very well, and the moment anyone tells me I am not keeping it, there starts up in my mind a string of excuses as long as your arm. The question at the moment is not whether they are good excuses. The point is that they are one more proof of how deeply, whether we like it or not, we believe in the Law of Nature. If we do not believe in decent behaviour, why should we be so anxious to make excuses for not having behaved decently?
For you notice that it is only for our bad behaviour that we find all these explanations. It is only our bad temper that we put down to being tired or worried or hungry; we put our good temper down to ourselves. These, then, are the two points I wanted to make. First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. Secondly, that they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in."
— C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Zondervan’s NIV Study Bible, which boasts more than twenty thousand notes. Nearly half of this Bible is “supplemental.” Some of the added material offers to help readers delve deeper into the biblical text itself, providing information about historical contexts, or alternative translations of the original Greek or Hebrew. More often, however, the intention is not to encourage readers to interpret for themselves but to interpret for them, to control meaning, dispelling doubts and questions and directing readers toward specific conclusions…
Often these values-adding editorial controls focus on texts that could have something to do with present-day hot-button issues…Take, for example, the small handful of biblical passages usually cited in discussions about homosexuality. The popular cultural assumption is that the Bible very clearly says that homosexuality is an abominable sin. Biblical literature itself, however, is not so clear. In fact, it has very little explicitly to offer by way of moral teaching or legislation on matters of sexuality, let alone homosexuality, and what it does have to say does not speak directly to the issue as it appears in contemporary society…
In the New Testament, Jesus has nothing to say about homosexuality and very, very little to say about sexuality in general. Paul’s letters do disparage some specific male-male sexual practices common in the larger Greco-Roman society (e.g., pederasty, or sexual “mentoring” of young men by older men, and soliciting young male prostitutes). But Paul never condemns consensual same-sex relations between adults. That’s not to say that if Paul were time-machined to the present he would be an advocate of gay marriage. It is to say that one can—and many do—interpret the Bible in ways that are supportive of homosexual unions and gay rights. The simple fact is that the Christian Scriptures are not clear on this issue. It is a matter of biblical interpretation and ethical reflection in which faithful Christians can and do disagree…Yet the supplemental features in many Bibles, especially those marketed to teens, make much ado about the “biblical view” of homosexuality—that is, “what God says” about it in the Bible."
— Timothy Beal, The Rise and Fall of the Bible