The introduction to Noah’s genealogy troubles me.
I am troubled not so much because Ham showed disrespect for his father’s privacy, while his two brothers acted respectfully, but because the stated ensuing curse has been used to justify all kinds of inequity.
The architects of systemic injustices of racism and classism (not to mention sexism) have found themselves a rationale for violating our common humanity. They suggest that this is just the way God wanted it to be.
Sometimes though, people contradict themselves, even when they pursue goodness, by trying to argue on the basis of confusing biblical details.
I recall hearing the “Democratic Socialist Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Right Honourable Michael Manley once say that “even in heaven there is class.” Mark you, this renowned statesman lived a statement in favour of oppressed people by trying to snatch his country out of the grip of powerful capitalists; but maybe his deep undying respect for class was his undoing. Who knows?
Yes, biblical statements have been used to justify many things that seem to be out of sync with the message of God’s universal love. Does it sometimes say one thing and mean another? Or say the things we need to hear but will never quite understand? Or do we sometimes get it to say what we want to hear?
I read Genesis 9: 20-27 quietly because I don’t want to hear it aloud. I’m just not ready for that. I don’t want to hear that any set of people were made for slavery, even though I do recognise that great civilisations were built on the backs of slaves in every generation. I don’t want to hear about inherited privilege even though I thank God for the benefits of having parents who were employed, who cared for and taught me and my siblings well, while so many other persons have been neglected by the ones who should have seen to their well-being.
I prefer to believe (please leave me alone here!) what I read in Jeremiah 31; and that I am ready and willing to read aloud!
27 The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when .. 28 And just as I have watched over them to pluck up and break down, to overthrow, destroy, and bring evil, so I will watch over them to build and to plant, says the Lord. 29 In those days they shall no longer say:
“The parents have eaten sour grapes,
and the children’s teeth are set on edge.”
30 But all shall die for their own sins; the teeth of everyone who eats sour grapes shall be set on edge.