Apparently the Lutheran Church in the US has just voted to accept gay clergy if they are in a long-term committed relationship. Consertive Lutherans and some other denominations are shaking their heads. ‘They are throwing overboard biblical teaching and traditional Christian values in the name of political correctness’ one senior clergyman said. Of course, he and those who agree with him are absolutely correct. There is no doubt about what the Bible says on homosexuality and how the Christian tradition has always seen it. He’s also quite right about the ‘throwing overboard.’ But what I find difficult to understand is why this particular example of ignoring biblical teaching and Christian tradition is causing so much controversy, and all the other examples of doing the same thing are not. You see, recently I have been doing a bit of research on usury, charging interest on money borrowed. It’s a rather interesting subject actually. To my surprise, I discovered that usury is frequently condemned in the Bible (Exodus 22,25; Leviticus 25,35-7; Deuteronomy 23,20-21, etc). Even Jesus beautiful saying ‘Love your enemies, do good, lend to them without expecting to get anything back, and your reward will be great’ (Luke 6,35) was used for centuries as an argument against usury. Numerous Church councils condemned it, you could be excommunicated for it and it was a capital offence in different places at different times. According to Bill Bryson’s tremendously entertaining and readable book Shakespeare, the Bard’s father got into serious trouble for just giving credit, which was considered a type of usury under both church and civil law. Then, over a century or two after the 16th century it was…well…thrown overboard. So I wonder why when conservative Christians campaign against gay rights and abortion they are not also picketing loan companies, banks and building societies. How come they are not raging against hire-purchase? Why one and not the others? As far as I can see, there is not one of the Buddha’s pronouncements on matters of ethics or morality that would not be as acceptable today as when he spoke them. They really are timeless (akaliko). If you would like to know the Buddhist attitude on usury go to http://www.buddhismatoz.com/ and look up ‘Interest’.