By Bernard Hoose
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Extra info for Christian Ethics
Should we take it that the non-Christian partner in a 'mixed' marriage is 'consecrated' by the Christian (1 Cor 7:14), or should Christians recoil from any union with non-believers on pain of being denied (2 Cor 6:14—18)? Then, even if there were some acceptable criteria for separating off those biblical injunctions that are still 'valid' from those which are no longer so, on what criteria are Christian ethicists to decide how to interpret this or that still valid command, and to determine what its status and function must be?
As well as having to come to terms with the above difficulties, and others not mentioned for lack of space, people who see the Bible as a repository of divine commands run the risk of trivializing the Bible by isolating elements of it at whim, or by arbitrarily privileging one particular mode of biblical discourse over all others ('norm reductionism'). This can lead to a restricted number of biblical texts exerting a mantralike influence upon their devotees. And in so far as this kind of approach to the Bible is typically accompanied by the conviction that the Bible is the sole authority in ethical matters, its advocates surely suffer the evil of having their whole ethical vision narrowed down to scattered biblical prescriptions, being left to their own imagination, or prejudices, in those vast areas of present-day ethical concern to which the Bible speaks not at all.
It will be disdainful of biblical one-liners, and suspicious of 'favourite' biblical texts or 'themes', such as are nowadays cherished by all manner of ideologues. Since it will make no blanket judgement about the 'authority' of biblical texts, it will not need to be consistent; and selectivity will be its virtue. Because it will want to take biblical writings seriously, it will not use them woodenly. It might on occasion put forward the opinion that the ethical insight of this or that biblical writer is wonderfully intuitive, while accepting with perfect equanimity that this or that other biblical writer's ethical stance is irrelevant or distasteful.
Christian Ethics by Bernard Hoose