So this might be controversial to some, which will continue to surprise me (but not at the same time I guess). But I’ll say this anyways since it is a thought that has been on my mind.
It seems logical to expect that if a God who decides to incarnate Godself into a particular point in time in history, such a God would do so in a language and context foreign to that both past and present.
Thus to read scripture and to speak of the spirit is to engage in the necessary work of recontextualization. In this way the story of scripture is not simply a set of doctrinal statements to repeat and believe. It is an invitation to see God at work in the particular context and the particular language of the present. The past rests simply on this- that the same God who was faithful then continues to be faithful now. The future rests on this- the same God who is faithful now will be faithful in bringing the promise to its fulfillment. And what is the promise? New creaiton. Making what is wrong in this world right.
But here in lies the true power of recontextualization. We aren’t left in the present wondering about the failures of the past or the uncertainty of the future. If Jesus is incarnated into a single moment in history embodying the particularities of its language and its context this means that Jesus’ accomplishement on the cross and the resurrection continues to reincarnate into every aspect of history past, present, and future with the hope that we can participate in the new creation work even now. That means imaging Christ and living into our vocation as image bearers in the particularness of our present- recontextualization. This is in fact what we find in the story of Israel, a story that spans ever changing contexts, generations and questions. This is a story told from the perspective of the wilderness, the desert, exile, a present seemingly caught between creation and new creation, between the raising up to life at Sinai and the settling of the Land. This is the story of a God who is not bound by context but found within it.
What are the implications of this? It means we are freed to see in the present the oppressive systems and realities that need to be challenged and remade according to Christ. This includes the way women have been oppressed by patriarchal systems.This includes the way minorities have been oppressed by racial systems. And yes, this includes the way LBGTQ+ communities have been marginalized by Christian and secular rhetoric and dogma. What oppression is in the Judeo-Christian sense is the inability of the oppressed to locate God within their story and the failure of the liberated to attend to those who are not free to find God, and thus God’s image in them, in their present context. To hand women a text that conforms them to partrarchal norms is to hand them a story in which they have no way of seeing themselves as the image of God. We do the same thing when we hand such texts to LBGTQ+ communities and persons. We make a text about Sodom and Gommorah about their destruction as opposed to hearing the very real critique towards a community that failed to see the opppressed languishing outside of their gates.
Remember what Sin is in the biblical story. It is the exchanging of our true vocation as image bearers for a lie. This is not about gender and biology, it is about the connction between God’s good creation and our embodying this in faithfulness to our vocation to be image bearers of this goodness to the whole of creation. The sin is the failure to demonstrate this goodness to the oppressed places.