Sarah Mbuyi, The Bible and the Literalist Approach

Very sadly, a Londoner, Sarah Mbuyi was sacked because she allegedly  ‘refused to read gay stories’ to children as well as ‘harassing a lesbian colleague’  by giving her a Bible during her recovery from an accident (you can read the report here).

It’s a pity it had to come to this. I know people like Sarah who are very passionate about their faith and feel they are ‘saving’ a soul from sin and hellfire. That’s her view and she has a right to it. However, she should respect the mood of the public space in which she lives and works.

I did watch Sarah on TV  as well (ITV News, 6.30-7pm on 21/4/14) where she said that this is clear truth in the Bible that in fact homosexuality is forbidden. She portrays herself as the sole reader of the Bible.

This is a rather simplistic outlook to the entire process of interpretation. The Bible, as far as I know, isn’t aware of itself. It’s a compilation of narratives which was authorised during the Council of Nicea in 325 CE (the process of canonisation). This makes it somewhat difficult to simply lift one verse of the the Bible and say ‘The Bible forbids homosexuality’ because the Bible does not tell you how to interpret it (since it does not talk about itself). Some Bible-believers may even say ‘maybe it did at some point but Jesus came and abrogated that law by dying for us’ (Paul said something to that effect, I think) or say something like ‘if you want to obey that law in Leviticus, you need to obey all laws’ trying to appeal to the notion that some laws are not applicable anymore. This is called ‘relativist readings’ while Sarah’s is called a ‘literalist reading’.

I hope Sarah appreciates this fact. As a Muslim, I am trying to promote the same thing – that Islam is a matter of human experience and that every person should understand and interpret Islam for him/herself.