I’m taking a preaching class right now at school, and one of the patterns we’re supposed to avoid when creating our sermons is called proof-texting. Basically, we all proof-text to a certain degree. We have an opinion, whether ignorant or informed, and we gather pieces of evidence from the world to support it. The same can be done with Scripture. We have a certain theological, usually cloaked by the word moral, perspective and use sacred texts to support that ideology. So, when I’m doing chaplain work, I’m given by the title some sort of authority when it comes to such matters. But I really don’t feel that I have this authority, especially since I do not know the Christian Bible so well. I know even less when it comes to other religions. When I make the statement, “In my professional, religious opinion…..xyz, ” I need to be able to back that with some sort of evidence. Yet, isn’t this in of itself proof-texting? And is this what gives me the authority to make such statements? Especially when they are directly contradictory to what others have said using the same texts.
It’s really complicated this authority piece. Like anything else, it’s imbedded within the structure of injustice that is my society. I, by my position within the world, was able to access health and education, which foundationally gave me the ability to eventually be enrolled in the chaplaincy internship, which is how I came to say, quite definitively in the middle of the hospital to a woman who’s daughter just had a psychotic break due to her mental illness and parental-taught belief that God does not love her because she is gay:
“In my professional, religious opinion, it’s okay to be gay.”