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Archive for the ‘Acceptance’ Category

 

By Mike Edwards

I hope this brief review encourages you to read Karen Keen’s valuable insights for how we must treat same-sex relationships regardless if you a Bible person or not. I am convinced you will not find a more distinct, readable, non-judgmental, insightful book on same-sex relationships and the Bible. Keen doesn’t simply offer her interpretation of debatable biblical passages; her insights take the discussion to another level. Scholars who respect Scriptures don’t agree so interpretations only of difficult passages don’t move us forward.

Science isn’t conclusive why we have desires for the same or opposite sex. Sexual choices aren’t always the result of some trauma or rebellion in our lives. Keen points us to resources for such considerations in Chapter 7. Why would a loving God condemn gays if they can no more choose who they love than straights can? Please read this book and consider if the biblical writers had in mind loving monogamous same-sex relationships. If you believe same-sex relationships are condemned in the Bible, such relationships seem clearly motivated by lust not love. If this is even a remote interpretative possibility, we mustn’t dogmatically say the Bible and thus God condemns loving, same-sex relationships.

No one can accuse Keen of not having a high view of the Bible. Many God-folks only condemn same-sex relationships because of the Bible. Intuitively, that may not be their moral inclination but they do so out of supposed devotion to God and the Bible. If Keen’s below insights are a possibility after reading her book, we must seriously consider that the Bible doesn’t condemn faithful, same-sex relationships:

Chapter 3 challenges us to seriously consider if biblical passages typically used to clobber same-sex relationships condemn same-sex relationships because of unrestrained lust rather than faithful love. We must consider if biblical writers had in mind certain procreation expectations and gender norms that no longer exist today. Many passages are assumed to condemn same-sex relationship because of the creation account and the differentiation of the sexes, but it is also possible the context of many passages emphasize the importance of faithfulness not gender.

Chapter 4 and 5 offer convincing arguments that “God’s law is made for humankind, not humankind for God’s law (Mk. 2:27)” [p.65]. Laws are not written just as rules to keep blindly but to guide us in loving others. Keen provides examples where even Old Testament writers updated previous laws given by God to make relevant to their circumstances.  In Chapter 5 we see where Jesus puts love in action over law. Jesus didn’t necessarily dismiss the Sabbath (Lk. 4:16), but Jesus did teach more important than keeping the Sabbath is helping someone in need. If our actions don’t convey loving gays, we aren’t keeping God’s law.

Chapter 6 challenges readers it is not enough to consider if the Bible doesn’t condemn same-sex faithful relationships, but whether it doesn’t condemn same-sex marriages as well. Who are we to deny the hope and joys of marriage if God doesn’t? The Apostle Paul who wrote most of the New Testament doesn’t encourage celibate life as some holy grail. It is hard to deny most of us wish to enjoy the pleasure of marital sex and have a hard time being faithful otherwise. If celibacy and singlehood isn’t a command for opposite-sex relationships, why do we think God condemns same-sex marriages if the Bible doesn’t condemn or consider same-sex, faithful relationships?

I will end with Karen Keen’s hope and mine: “I firmly believe it is possible to imagine a new response to the gay community – and do so with faithfulness to God’s Word.” (114)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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By Mike Edwards

The Synchroblog is where bloggers write on spiritual topics – often different perspectives. This month we were challenged to write on How Churches Can Work Toward Unity and Peace. Links to other articles will be put at end of this Post November 28

Our country is obviously divided but since when does love always require agreeing. Marriages couldn’t last if they had to always agree. Churches usually desire to lead by example in promoting peace but they must “walk the talk.” Helping the less fortunate can be accomplished by a gathering of people focused on loving others as themselves. Unity by all gatherings who believe in such love surely could accomplish even greater good.

Keep in mind Church in the Bible isn’t a building but individuals.

In the Bible “Church” was not a building or a place attended once a week. Jesus referred to His followers as being the Church and to encourage and care for one another.  The Bible doesn’t tell the Church to go to church.  Jesus said “Where two or more are gathered in His name” God would be present. Jesus did not specify where they must gather, what they must do or how they must do it. Simply find environments to encourage and be encouraged to radically love as Jesus did.

When are churches with the same message going to unite over the Bible?  

Churches will remain divided, despite a common message of love, when insisting on their version of “because the Bible says so.” Books, since literature, require interpretation. Even biblical scholars who respect Scriptures disagree what the Bible says about divorce, gender roles, homosexuality, hell, etc. Terrorists justify killing infidels because they worship a Book at the expense of common moral sense inborn in us.

Atrocities such as slavery, condemning gays, denying women equal roles as men, etc. have been justified because the Bible supposedly says so. Let’s listen and express ideas openly in love which may lead to new understandings. The overall message of the Bible seems clear – love others unselfishly. Churches can unite by not declaring the certainty or morality of their opinions according to the Bible. For elaboration see: http://what-god-may-really-be-like.com/rethinking-the-bible/

When are churches going to unite over titles?  

New Testament followers of Jesus did not refer to themselves as Baptists, Methodists, Protestants, Catholics, or even Christians. Paul warned of the harm of divisions among followers: “I follow Paul; another, I follow Apollos; another, I follow Cephas; still another I follow Christ” (I Cor. 1:12). If we got rid of titles people might seek more WHO we follow than what we believe in.

Less titles means more money to help the less fortunate. If anyone deserved to be paid in spreading Jesus’ message it was the Apostle Paul who wrote most of the NT. But, Paul was a tentmaker (Acts 18:3). How much more money could be used to feed the poor if salaries didn’t have to be paid and elaborate buildings didn’t have to be erected? 

When are churches going to unite by listening not preaching?

Going to church typically involves sitting and observing than participating. The implication is that some are more spiritual and smarter about God than others! God speaks to individuals not just preachers. When you don’t agree with those in authority, you are seen as divisive. This hardly inspires unity despite differences of opinions. Churches understand going to a church doesn’t inspires connection. That is why they organize community groups outside their buildings. AA seems closer to God’s wish for gatherings for encouragement (Heb. 10:24-25).

So, how can churches unite around the message they exist for?  

I have my doubts buildings called churches will change. They would have to change their view of the Bible. They would have to drop their non-unifying titles. Thus, there would be less of a need to spend on constructions to remain separate. Their teachings methods would have to demonstrate that God speaks to all and not a few. This would create genuine intimacy thus greater inspiration. All churches supposedly exist to encourage loving others like you want to be loved. When will they unite around such a message leading to greater peace?

Here is the list of other writers and authors who contributed to this month’s Synchroblog. Go read them all to see what others think about church unity.

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I would like to take a minute and thank each one of you that takes time to read my articles. I am certainly not a professional writer but I do enjoy writing. I do not expect to get thousands of followers, but when you enjoy writing it is rewarding when you know a few people take the time to read what you wrote.

WrittenBlog

I know we are not all going to agree on what I write. Everything I write is just my opinion. My opinion has changed over the years and it will change again. We all have opinions and viewpoints on things and it is good to hear what each other has to say.

It is encouraging and much appreciated when someone reads what I write and then makes a comment. I enjoy hearing from you and reading different views. As I said, opinions change and many times what we learn from others has a hand in the changes we make.

What I do not like is to debate over the issues. I feel debating is just trying to prove a point. In regard to living for God and the many views, opinions and interpretations there is no way to prove many of those things. We cannot prove nor disprove God. It is all a matter of faith and belief. For that reason, I do not see much good coming from debates. Usually all that causes are hurt feelings and many times arguments.

So again, thanks to each of you for taking time out of your busy schedule to read what I write. I read each comment and try to reply to everyone in reasonable time. You are all appreciated.

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Romans 12:18 – If possible, so far as it depends on you be at peace with all men.

This sounds like an impossibility in our world today, to be at peace with all men including non-believers and believers. Sometimes it seems harder to be at peace with other christians due to the various differences in beliefs and interpretations.

denominations

Thinking of all the different thoughts and ideas, different denominations, interpretations and beliefs and different religions how could it be possible to be at peace with everyone?

The dictionary says of peace: a state of mutual harmony between people or groups, especially in personal relations: cessation of or freedom from any strife or dissension.

I think this is what God is saying, that we are to live in harmony with our brothers and sisters in Christ, not allowing any oppressive thoughts or emotions to take control of our feelings towards others. In other words, we live in love. Just because someone does not interpret the Bible the same way we do, or go to the same church we do, or does not go to church at all we still have the common bond of being one in Christ. We are to accept one another in love and respect the fact that God works differently in each of us.

loveandpeaceIn regard to non-believers, we do not need to condemn them or force our beliefs on them. They do not need someone judging and condemning them or trying to force them to believe like us. We are to love them and let the Holy Spirit do the work that needs to be done in their lives.

If we believers could just understand that God speaks to each of us in his own special way. We do not have to live the way others live or based on what others think. We do not have to force our beliefs on others or argue with people who see things differently. We are to allow our Father to work in our lives and follow Him on the path He has for us.

Our responsibility is to love God and love everyone we come in contact with, accept them for who they are and pray that the Holy Spirit will work in their lives. Living in this manner would accomplished much more in showing the love of Christ to all of those we meet.

 

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Kindness is something you do not find very often in our world today.

The Bible speaks about kindness many times. Kindness is one of the fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22.

The dictionary says kindness is being considerate or helpful. I think the world would be a better place if everyone treated each other with kindness. Being kind and accepting others does not mean we are always going to agree, yet we can be kind and respect each other in our differences.

It usually does not take a lot to be kind. Sometimes I think we make it too hard, especially when something so simple and easy as a genuine smile can brighten someone’s day. Being polite and kind to others can sometimes be just what they need to make their day. Holding the door for someone, letting them go ahead of you in line, smiling and saying hello, you never know.

kindness1a

The little everyday things we can do to show others kindness can be an encouragement to them and a way of living out the love of Christ.

These days it seems we even have a hard time with Christians treating each other with kindness. We want to fight and argue over our views and interpretations and forget that as Christians, we all have the common ground of faith in Christ.

A friend of mine recently talked about relationships and how they seem to come to an end. He said it is based on what the relationship is about. If it is based on some thing or some activity, once we get tired of that particular thing and move on, the relationships based on that activity willl usually come to an end. Only the common ground of faith in Christ and His grace is what does not change and the one thing that can hold together a friendship.

Let’s see if we can make a point to do one act of kindness each day. You never know where it may lead.

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Believe it or not, here we are into a new year already. For those of you that follow this site and read the posting, I just want to thank you for taking the time to do so. I appreciate each one of you, whether you agree with what I write or not. I feel we are each entitled to make our own choices without someone condemning us or trying to force a particular view on us.

At this time of year, a lot of people take time to reflect and make new year’s resolutions, wanting to make changes and do things better. The new year is like a fresh start, a new beginning.

NewYearResolutions

For me, I stopped making resolutions. First and mainly because I never keep them. Like most of us, making a resolution to do better makes sense. We want to better ourselves and do better in our life, yet like most people, a few days into the new year and the resolution has been forgotten.

Usually that makes people feel a little guilty. We want to do better, yet we fall flat on our face with our resolutions so fast.

I got to thinking about this and realized that trying to better ourselves in one sense is not a bad thing. When we want to spend more time with family, be better parents, be a better friend and treat people better, that is not a bad thing at all.

Spiritually speaking from a christian viewpoint, new year’s resolutions are something that is not needed. In Christ, he made all things new when he fulfilled the law at his death. When he arose, a New Covenant went into effect, a covenant of grace.

We no longer need to try to do better, to do more for him, to be better christians. He did everything that was needed to make us new creatures in Him. Because of his work, we are holy and righteous, we are kings and priests, our old sin nature was crucified with him and we no longer need to make resolutions to do better.

In one sense, each day is a new beginning for us, and his mercies are new every morning. Yet as far as our life in Him, each day is a day living in the Kingdom of God. Each day is a continuation of the previous day living as one with God, we, as God’s house, are now one with Him just as Christ prayed, that we might be one as he and the Father are one.

So, spiritually speaking, let’s not get caught up in the guilty feelings we have with new year’s resolutions and trying to do better for him. Let’s rest in him, knowing he has done all the work and all that is necessary for us to live pleasing to him. Let’s enjoy each new day as a day the Lord has made, and rejoice and be glad in it. Let’s live each day in the power of the Holy Spirit, showing God’s love and acceptance to all we meet during the day.

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In our modern world of blogging and posting comments online about our beliefs and way of life, I have seen many cold, mean things said. All the arguments and fighting, many times just among other Christians, but who have different interpretations and doctrines. To me, this just does not seem right. The bible says we will be known by our love for one another, but so many times I do not see love in the comments posted, even among brothers.

We each have our own system of living, whether it be by faith, belief or no belief, proof or no proof, gay, straight, asexual, christian, jew, muslim, buddhist, atheist. Each of us choose what we feel is right and live that way until something changes our mind and we make a shift. Each of us should have the right to choose how we will live and what we believe, or what facts or lack thereof we accept.

I see so much fighting and arguing over all these things, but we really cannot prove anything in regard to spiritual life, God, after-life, heaven, hell and such. The thing is, no matter what we believe, which path we follow, how we relate to others who feel differently, it can all change in a moment.

Words from the doctor

My wife recently heard from her doctor about a medical condition that could possibly become a serious issue. Aortic root dilation was the term used, and until we talk with the doctor more, we seem to understand that this is, or is the beginning of an aneurysm around the base of the aorta.

doctor-calling

Now, we have not talked in-depth with the doctor about this situation. Like a lot of doctors, she called on Friday just before going home for the weekend, leaving us to wonder what is going on. We looked up information on the internet and of course, most of it is worst case scenario. Hopefully once we can talk more about the situation we will find out it is not as bad as it could be.

It seems when you get news like this, all the other things like arguing our belief system or doctrine, trying to defend our point of view or pointing out where we think others are wrong, just seem to fade in importance. Loving, caring and being with that person becomes so much more important. Not that those things were not important before, it just seems even more so.

It would be nice if we could let these things be less important and accept others as they are without some medical situation being the thing the brings it about. Although it is typical of us humans that until something wakes us up, we go on putting our ways ahead of others.

Praying for Guidance

For my wife and me, as believers, we pray for guidance on what to do and how to proceed. We pray for health, and that things will not progress into a needed surgery. For those who see things differently, that is OK too because we all understand how we feel about those we love. All of us, no matter what, want to be loved, be happy and enjoy those people we love in our lives.

acceptance-of-others

Let me say this, I honestly believe we should accept one another, no matter what life choices we make, no matter what we believe, what we accept or deny, what doctrines we follow, what denomination we belong to, what faith we follow, or if we follow none of these. We can accept one another, love each other as fellow human beings, and yet realize we do not have to agree. We can talk and learn, and treat each other with respect even though we see things differently.

I certainly appreciate each one who reads this and your concern in this situation. I know we all see things differently, but in one sense we are all the same. We all want to be loved and accepted, to be happy and healthy, and to enjoy those in our lives that we love.

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An update to this article about my wife’s condition. After talking face to face with the doctor today, we were told that this is an enlargement of the aorta, but is NOT an aneurysm! She was referred to a cardiologist so he could explain things better, but the only treatment is keeping blood pressure under control and having echocardiogram done every year to make sure the enlargement does not grow. This is great news to us. Thanks so much for the concern each of you showed.

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