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Archive for November, 2022

by Michael Donahoe

As I was thinking about the terrible tragedy recently at Club Q, and the similar tragedy a few years ago at the Pulse Nigh Club, I wondered why such horrible treatment is directed toward those who are LGBTQ.

They are people who just want to be themselves, to be accepted, live a good life, find love and be successful. To me, that sure sounds like every other person in the world. Yet, because they find love or express their sexuality in different ways than others, they are targeted for hateful treatment. That is so sad, so wrong and so unChrist-like.

Unfortunately, such horrible treatment will only continue if hate speech continues from some of our political leaders, from some of our Christian leaders and if Christian Nationalism gets more power. What gets me the most is the hateful speech and treatment that comes from many who claim to follow Jesus. Christians are supposed to be known for their love of God and love of people. We do not always agree, but Jesus said to love one another. He never said to judge, condemn and treat others as less-than or as second-class citizens.

I do not understand why people will go to the extremes of hatred and exclusion against those who are LGBTQ. Even if you disagree or do not understand, why is it that you cannot be loving and kind toward fellow human beings?

If you choose to believe that being LGBTQ is a sin, that is your choice. But, even with that particular belief it gives no one the right to judge, condemn and hate them.

I personally believe that the few verses in the Bible that refer to this subject are often misunderstood. They may have been misinterpreted over the years by the men who were doing the translating due to the differences in the times and customs when the Bible was written, along with the many changes in words and meanings over the years. Of course, this does not necessarily mean the translations of the Bible are wrong, but there are certainly other views and interpretations that should be looked at before making up your mind on what is correct. I have read several books that shed light on some other interpretations of these questionable verses and I think it is a good idea to think about these views to help understand what the writers may have meant. The books referred to are listed for further study:

Clobber the Passages: Seven Deadly Verses by Mel White

UnClobber: Rethinking Our Misuse of the Bible on Homosexuality by Colby Martin

Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate by Justin Lee

God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships by Matthew Vines

Is God A Gay Basher?: Memoirs of a Christian, gay affirming Lesbian by Jan Liebegott

The Children Are Free: Reexamining the Biblical Evidence on Same-sex Relationships by Jeff Miner

I also look at the example of Jesus and how he loved and accepted people, especially those the religious leaders condemned. Jesus did not tell us to judge and condemn people, but he said to love one another.

I believe those who are LGBTQ are normal human beings who were created by and loved by God and just want to live their lives like everyone else. Just like any other human being, whether you agree or not, we all deserve equal rights and to be treated with love and respect.

I will end with a link to an article I came across by Mark Sandlin which gives a few things to think about when it comes to treating those who are LGBTQ in a kind and loving way:


Michael Donahoe was added as a writer as his views fit perfectly with those of Done with Religion. He also writes on Substack at https://myopinionblog.substack.com/

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By Mike Edwards

Well-meaning people, especially politicians who represent those who believe in a God and those that don’t, say things like “we need to get back to biblical truths” as a nation.” But those who appreciate the Bible don’t all agree what the Bible claims God thinks about gays, women, destiny of unbelievers, etc. Different interpretations of the Bible are normal. We need to find a way to speak of our personal beliefs without assuming all are necessarily committed to the Bible, God, or agree what the Bible claims about God.   

Belief in God or unbelief is not an excuse for chaos

Politicians often claim or imply that our rights are given by God. Any such belief is personal not universal, or one is claiming God doesn’t desire a mutual relationship. Self-evident rights may be found in a Book or natural law, as we all have an inborn sense of good and evil. No rational being argues sexual abuse isn’t evil. We can though have healthy debates what climate policies are for the greater good. We can share our personal beliefs in God and other matters in the public arena without imposing or assuming we all agree what biblical values are.

Biblical truths are debatable

Hell is often used in religion circles to scare one into a commitment to God. Some commitment if just looking to avoid burning forever after death! Biblical scholars and laypeople don’t agree what the Bible says on Hell. Some argue unbelievers burn in Hell after death. Others believe the Bible reveals all when meeting God will become convinced their Creator is loving and desire to live for eternity with God. Circumstances here on earth may prevent such belief.

Religious folks often claim views contrary to their own views aren’t biblical. But even if you believe the Bible is inspired by God, the Bible requires interpretation. It is often said we best know God according to “biblical truths.” The truth is contrary biblical interpretations exist for many moral issues. No one can claim their truth is God’s truth according to the Bible. Yes, the Bible says murder is wrong but that is an obvious truth to those that don’t have a Bible.

Insisting on biblical truths often leads to misrepresenting God

It’s logical to suggest we can’t always be certain what an invisible, inaudibly God thinks, but supposed certainty has led to justifying slavery and other atrocities. Certainty has led to condemning gays, though scholars who accept Scriptures as authoritative, don’t agree the Bible disapproves of same-gender loving, monogamous, consensual relationships. Women, though gifted, are denied entrance into the priesthood or pastorate in God’s name. Often uncertainty, not certainty about God, protects against imposing possible false beliefs about God. God surely is able to reveal their Likeness to individuals who desire a relationship.

Can We Stop Saying “Everything Happens For A Reason”!

Can We Stop Saying “Love The Sinner, Hate The Sin”!

Can We Stop Saying Our Rights As A Nation Come From God? 

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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By Mike Edwards

God commanding violence in the Old Testament makes no sense in light of New Testament emphasize on non-violence. Check out I Sam. 15:3 where God says: “Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them: put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.” Many OT passages advocate violence in God’s name.  If you don’t think this is morally shocking to many, think how you would react if you read this same command in the Koran. How do scholars justify these commands by God in a book God supposedly inspired thus seemingly approved how God is depicted?

Bible inspired view #1

Many scholars may hold on the idea that God inspired the Bible because if not inspired we can’t know then what God is truly like. Those who suggest God approved or agreed with every word declared about God defend violent passages in several ways:

  • God is God, these are special circumstances, so God at times may make commands that seem contrary to human moral intuitions. The Bible advises we should imitate God but how can we do that if God’s actions seem evil at times? Are we to imitate those actions?
  • Warfare rhetoric was common in ancient literature to induce fear and victory. But, even if God wasn’t meant to be taken literally, why would God inspire violent metaphors to specifically include women, children, infants, and animals? Even human leaders don’t use such rhetoric.

Bible inspired view #2

Some scholars suggest that God inspired/influenced the Bible, but sometimes God allowed the writers to get God wrong to contrast with Jesus’ teaching about God. But “inspired imperfection” leads to guessing what passages are true views of God and which ones are not. Even if you believe in “inspired perfection,” you still must interpret if the language is warfare rhetoric or exactly what God meant to be carried out. Using our moral intuitions in deciding what God is like and would do is unavoidable.

An uninspired view of the Bible may be a better option

I think most would assume God approved what the writers penned if God inspired or influence such a thought. God either controlled the writers’ thoughts and writings to perfectly represent God, or God did not control writers reporting their views of God even if false portrayals. Writers/editors of the Bible didn’t intentionally lie but were honest about their understandings of God at the time. This may explain violence wrongly contributed to God. I doubt God inspired any writings contributing acts of violence to God in the OT. 

Why it matters?

People read the OT and since it contradicts their intuitions of a loving God, they tune out God. Who blames them! How do you follow One you don’t respect? Also, the Bible says: “Follow God’s example…” (Eph. 5:1). We know evil people are looking for an excuse for violence; good people may be trying to be obedient to God and sincerely believe their circumstances may warrant what God commanded in OT times. After all, God inspired such views. We might know God better if we assume the Bible isn’t inspired. One cannot avoid using their moral intuitions when it comes to interpretation or statements made about God in the OT. Do you have a hard time believing the OT’s God at times? I got a hunch you are right! Don’t leave your moral brain at the door!

Was God As Violent As Old Testament Claims?

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

If you grew up in church, have you ever thought about the idea that maybe we were told some wrong things and taught some wrong interpretations? Maybe some of the doctrines we have followed were incorrect?

Most of us who have been in the church for any length of time know how the system works and it is really all we know. We listen to a pastor and figure they know what they are talking about because they were “called by God”. They went to college to be taught by another human everything about God.

For myself and my wife, the longer we were in the institution the more we felt uncomfortable and began questioning some things that just did not seem to fit together. I remember having several questions over time about doctrines and various interpretations that no longer made sense to me. I knew if I asked the pastor or others in the church, they would think I was wrong for questioning and would say I was falling away from my faith.

As we spend more time outside the walls of religion, we have come to find that some of what we were taught all those years just might not be the way God intended. Spiritual leaders might have taught some wrong doctrines all based on human interpretation apart from the Spirit.

We have found that asking questions usually leads to more questions. I think it is time we stop relying on a pastor or spiritual leader to tell us all about God and start thinking for ourselves. We have the Holy Spirit within us who was sent to teach us. We have the mind of Christ, so why do we still think we need another human being to tell us all about God.

There is nothing wrong with discussing thoughts and ideas with other people. It is not wrong to hear different views and interpretations. We can certainly learn from others and they can give us other views to consider. Yet, we should follow the guidance of the Spirit and do not totally rely on the teachings of others.

I have found that being certain usually means we think we have it all figured out and there is nothing more to learn. This could not be further from the truth. A book I read on certainty, which was a big help in understanding and accepting questions and doubt was The Sin of Certainty by Peter Enns.

We will never know all there is to know about God and we will never figure everything out. But we can continue to learn and be drawn to the truth by asking questions, talking about our doubt and by our reliance upon the Spirit.

Ask the Spirit to lead you into His truth. Do not be afraid to ask questions. Do not be ashamed of your doubts. God is big enough to handle them all. Remember, we are all equally functioning parts of the body with Christ as the head. We do not need to rely on another human being to teach us about God. Listen for the quiet and calm voice of the Spirit and seek His guidance.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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By Mike Edwards

We must first accept something to be questionable when rational people have a different opinion than yours, whether it be scientific or biblical truths. Many have insisted on a literal Hell according to the Bible and suggested you must repent and have faith in Jesus to go to Heaven or then you go to Hell. But many who respect the Bible don’t believe the Bible confirms a literal Hell. See here.  The Bible may not say as much about Heaven as one may think. See here. Is it more comforting to believe what our leaders are teaching than to question and be uncertainty about such matters as the afterlife?

Leaders insist on certainty 

We hear all the time we need to get back to biblical truths. The problem is leaders and churches don’t agree on moral issues according to the Bible when it comes to Hell, gays, women, those of other religions, etc. There is is less certainty according to the Bible than acknowledged. We are told God and the Bible condemns gays. Many scholars are convinced the Bible doesn’t condemn monogamous same sex relationships. See here. The truth is leaders must stop being so damn certain despite what anxiety or challenges that may cause themselves or others! 

Followers expect certainty

Certainty rather than uncertainty comforts individuals psychologically. One may believe the seemingly certain narrative because unknowing can create anxiety. Who doesn’t want to know Heaven is real when actually the Bible says very little about heaven after death but about heaven here on earth. Besides, disagreeing with church leadership and others can lead to isolation and loneliness. It doesn’t matter if those who proclaim certainty have good intentions or believe their ideas are right about God. They may be wrong!

What are the consequences of avoiding uncertainty?

When only one side is presented, control and power grow intentionally or unintentionally. It should be intuitive denying diverse opinions is unloving and controlling. Most don’t except such behaviors in their personal relationships. Having good intentions by believing you are right for the whole doesn’t matter when certainty isn’t obvious. A refusal to openly discuss or defend one’s views suggests an unhealthy dependency on “certainty.”  

Is there any Truth? 

Certain absolutes are universal and obvious to all rational beings. Does any reading not believe physical or sexual abuse is wrong? No reasonable God or non-God person doesn’t respect the golden rule in relationships. If one insists they are right and you are wrong, the discussion may need to end. Not all laws are necessarily universal truths such as length of punishment for certain crimes, but at least in a democratic society laws are voted on. Chaos results if the law isn’t followed, though laws can be changed through representation or vote.

How do we deal with uncertainty? 

Leaders must be empowered to be open-minded than certain. I left the institutional church due to dogmatism, then constantly be divisive. We can try to engage with those who insist on certainty when it doesn’t exist, but in time one may need to move on. We can stop labeling those who disagree with our biblical interpretations as heretics. We can stop calling those who disagree with our views of science as conspiracists. Imagine how different as a people we would be if religious and political folks were open to discussions for the common goal of pursing the greater good!

Why Do So Many Believe Something To Be True That Is Debatable?

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

 

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by Mike Edwarads

Some suggest God doesn’t cause suffering, but allows it to bring about a greater good. The problem is that greater good doesn’t always come about. A surgeon may have to break open your chest to save your life, but what purpose is served from rape, torture, betrayal, murder, deception, corruption, incest, and genocide as if part of some grand plan?  From this twisted perspective, evil is good! God never wills or desire suffering. God desires to always bring joy to all. 

God’s love cannot be controlling 

We must come to some understanding why a loving God doesn’t stop a lot of suffering. A perfect God’s love must be uncontrolling just as it can’t be manipulative. Perfect power is uncontrolling. Ask older kids about their parents! A God who supposedly can prevent suffering but doesn’t is no different than a parent who stands by and watches their child suffer. Keep in mind God doesn’t have hands and feet but is a Spirit. Evil and suffering in the world may be because God cannot intervene single-handedly without being controlling. God can’t interfere in suffering without human help.    

Why did God bother creating freedom? 

It is not logically possible for God to create freedom unless there is the possibility of love or hate.  I don’t know of any human parent who brings children into the world not desiring their children freely reciprocate their love as opposed to being forced. Without freedom we could accuse God of not creating the very best world where only true, authentic relationships can develop. Freedom allows human to develop qualities of moral character that cannot be created initially.  Freedom cannot guarantee a pain free universe. 

God not interfering may be the most compassionate

If I try to force my rebellious son to do right presently, he may further rebel or stay away forever. Not stopping my son may be the only hope I have that he eventually freely chooses good and experience joy from that. If I am patient and allow time for possible moral development, then he may freely choose to trust I have his best interest in mind. God didn’t create suffering to foster dependency; God created freedom out of love. Controlling love can have negative consequences.

Possible explanation for lack of healings 

Lots of prayers asking for healing are obviously not answered. If God can control disease and other evils, we are left to assume God’s love is infrequent. Miracles don’t happen because some people are less sinful or beg better at the feet of an arbitrary God. Conditions in our body may not always be right. Various biological and environmental factors are involved such as cells, organs, etc. If God doesn’t deny human freedom, it may not be a stretch to say God has to account for natural freedom as well. Miracles can happen when God’s uncontrolling love aligns with countless factors known and not known. God surely intervenes by all means when circumstances will allow.

Where is God?

An uncontrolling God may not always be comforting, but controlling love is an oxymoron. God has to be true to their loving nature. God is always doing all they can to stop suffering, but seeking God’s influence in our lives can be powerful. My seeking to influence others for good with God’s help is how I can best impact this world for good. A world seeking God’s guidance is unimaginable.

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

We are nearing another election season here in the USA. Each time election time comes around, I get aggravated seeing churches endorse candidates and allow politicians to come to their service and talk or be recognized. This is just another sign to me that the modern-day Christian church is off base and involved in things they should not be. There is separation of church and state for a reason.

I am not saying we as individuals should not be informed and that we should not vote. Each person should take the time to know what the candidates stand for, and then get out and vote for the ones they feel will do the best job. Yet, that does not mean churches need to be the ones to endorse candidates and issues.

The Church (“Church” meaning each individual believer) is here to love one another and show the love of God to all we come in contact with. The church (“church” meaning organized religion/building) is just another big business today. It is time the church stops allowing politicians to come in and be recognized as another way to get their name in front of voters. The “church” needs to stop being just another big corporation in America, and be there to encourage the “Church” to start being what God intended, a people sharing the love of God with everyone.

Another reason the church should not be involved with politics is, unfortunately, politics in general is a major divider between people. Most people who are Republican think the other party is a danger to our country, while those who are Democrat feel the same about the other party.

Rather than work together for the good of the country, there is more time spent on overcoming the power of the opposite party. I see more fights and arguments over political views. I see friends and even families separated because of their differing political ideas. Sadly, politics is certainly something that divides and brings out the worst in people.

Obviously, no specific politician or political party will be the answer to all our problems. It will take politicians and political parties working together for the common good of the people of this country. Finding such politicians will be up to the people who will get out and vote for politicians who are willing to do what is necessary for the good of us all, and not just a specific political party.

In all of this, I feel the job of the church is to focus on spreading the love of God to all people and not get bogged down in the game of politics which can cause further division among the people.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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