Breasts. Can the same bible text mean completely different things at different times and different places?

Another post by Neil Hart on gay stuff and the Lutheran Church of Australia.

a little story i liked to tell to illustrate the importance of cultural context in understanding God’s eternal truth in different times and places.

And it came to pass that the Gospel had finally reached the citizens of Perth in Western Australia. The good news about Jesus Christ and the forgiveness he brings and membership in God’s eternal kindgdom as a free gift through Christ   was brought to the West Aussies by the apostle Barry. After establishing the fledgling christian church in Perth, Barry continued on to preach the message of salvation to the heathens in the eastern states. (a much tougher mission field indeed!)

The christians in Perth decided they should continue to spread the message of Jesus to their fellow Perthians. One of the women in the church was particularly grateful for the freedom that the message of Jesus had brought to her life. As a demonstration of her new found freedom in Christ, she decided to walk up and down Hay St Mall with a loud hailer…topless…proclaiming the message of salvation and the freedom Jesus offers, bearing her breasts for all the world to see. The elders of the church in Perth were a little concerned and wrote to Barry for advice. Soon, the reply,  the first Letter of Barry to the Perthians arrived and the church gathered to hear it read.

Greetings Perthians! The Lord be with you!

(“The lord be with you” mumbled some of the Perthians to no-one in particular. Barry got straight to the point).

I hear that there is some foolishness going on there since i left. I hear that there is a woman preaching bare breasted in the mall. Tell that woman that she must cover herself up! It is a shameful thing that she does. She is an embarrasment to herself and her church and she sins against her God. Tell her that she does more harm than good. With her breasts bare she is a stumbling block to the gospel and a hinderance to the message of Christ.

The Perthians and Barry exchanged many letters over the years and the church in Perth grew. Eventually, and with Barry’s  encouragement, they decided they would send their own missionaries into the world to preach the good news about Jesus. Armed with their knowledge about Jesus and the letters from Barry which they all cherished, a small band of missionaries was despatched northward. They walking many days… and then decided that walking sucked and caught a bus the rest of the way to Darwin and a boat to Port Moresby in New Guinea.

In New Guinea, to their horror, they saw that ALL of the women were bare breasted and they knew that they had their work cut out for them. Thery began preaching the good news about Jesus. They also taught the New Guineans about the things of God they had learnt from the letters of Barry.

Cover your breasts women of New Guinea! it is a shameful thing that you do going bare breasted. You embarrass yourselves and you sin against God.

The missionaries were faithful to the massage of Jesus and the letters of Barry. They couldn’t understand why so few New Guineans believed the message. As for the people of New Guinea, they were confused by these strange foreigners who wore two different masks. Sometimes they spoke wonderful words about a God who loved them. But sometimes they spoke angry words about women’s breasts.

So, the men went fishing and the women fed their young and talked in the shade of the trees. They talked about family and food and neighbouring tribes. Sometimes, when other conversation ran dry,  they wonderered out loud about the strange god of the foreigners who loved them all but seemed to hate their breasts.