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Posts Tagged ‘acceptance’

by Jim Gordon

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

This almost sounds like an impossibility in our world today. To be at peace with all men, including believers and non-believers. With all the different thoughts and ideas, the different denominations, interpretations and beliefs, different religions, how could it be possible to be at peace with everyone?

The dictionary says of peace: freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions; harmony in personal relations.

I think what God is saying is that we are to live in harmony with our fellow human beings; 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 need to realize that in regard to other believers, we are all wanting to please our Father and share his love with others. We need to accept one another in love, and respect the fact that God is working in different ways in people. Just because it is different from the way he is working in us does not mean it is not of God.

In regard to non-believers, we should not be condemning or forcing our beliefs on others. We need to let them see the love of God by the way we live, love and respect them. We need to be kind and caring without any ulterior motives. They do not need someone beating them down or twisting their arms to get 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 we are responsible for ourselves in the way we live for God. We are not responsible to live in a way that others think we should, nor are we responsible for converting others to our beliefs. We are to allow our Father to work in our lives the way He wants and follow Him on the path He has for us. Our responsibility is to love God and love others. Accept them for who they are, and pray that the Holy Spirit will work in their lives. Living in this manner would accomplish much more in showing the love of Christ and living in peace with others.

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

The short answer to my question is no one can know for sure. There may be as many reasons as individuals why some believe there is a God and others don’t. I suppose some may avoid believing in God because they are only interested in pursuing a self-centered life. This isn’t most of my friends. What I do know is that those who are convinced a Creator exists aren’t necessarily more moral than those who don’t believe. Faith is required for either belief.

There are good reasons to not be into God or be on the fence

We can only be as close to God as our mental images of God allow. We may not pursue God more because we assume certain claims made about God are true, or God is like the poor role models we have had who claim to represent God. The God often portrayed by others condemns gay people, shows partiality toward men over women despite the history of men abusing power, and God supposedly created Hell to torture people after death if they believe while here on earth. Don’t make possible false claims the reason to not believe.

What is God really like? 

It is intuitive to think a Creator would love us how we are created to love each other. We only know how to talk about perfect Godly love by comparing to perfect, human love. The Bible even suggests perfect human love and God’s love are the same: “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Parent is perfect” (Mt. 5:48). We don’t always know what perfect love entails but we know the question we ought to ask ourselves – am I loving others perfectly aka am I loving others like our Creator loves. Misunderstanding God often begin when we stray from common moral sense and insist on our interpretation from an inspired Book. 

Reasons to believe if on the fence 

If walking on a dark street and approached by a group of tough looking men, would you be more or less scared if you knew they just attended a bible study? Good religion, as opposed to bad religion, always encourages the golden rule. We have nothing to lose by living by the golden rule, and we will probably experience fewer regrets on our death bed. Personally, the biggest reason for being a God-follower is the inspiration and encouragement from God to be a better human being.

Believing in an afterlife can be a good thing. Should we tell our children there is a heaven after death when we can’t know for sure? We promise our kids all the time we will keep them safe, especially if there has been a recent tragedy. We can’t be sure if danger is around the corner. Belief in a possible God helps to not fear death and to look forward to be reunited with loved ones. And I have no reason to believe a forgiving God stops forgiving after death.

Is God Real? 

Let’s not accuse those who believe in a God as needing a crutch or being delusional, or accuse those who question the reality of an invisible God of being rebellious or not knowing their feelings. Just because you believe in the possibility of God doesn’t mean you don’t have doubts at times whether God really exist. Believing in God doesn’t mean you don’t question how good God really is because of all the evil in the world. If so inclined imagine what a loving God would be like. You may be right!

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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

Growing up in the institutional church and modern Christianity, my wife and I were taught that we are saved by grace but live by law. This seems to be a fairly common belief for the modern-day believer.

Over the past few years, we have come to see that the Bible mentions that those of us who are saved by grace are now free from the old covenant law. If we still try to live by the commands of the old covenant, we are actually living under a curse. ‘For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them’. (Galatians 3:10 KJV).

Why is it that we cannot accept the free gift provided through Christ and forget the performance-based way of trying to please God? ‘For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ. You have fallen away from God’s grace’. (Galatians 5:4  NLT).

We now live for God because of love, not out of obligation nor trying to do more and earn our salvation.

It is time we realize God, out of His love for us has provided all we need. He has done away with our old sinful nature. We are forgiven of all our sins, past, present and future by His grace. We can now enter into his rest and rely on what He has done. We no longer have to strive to keep all the rules and constantly try to do more to earn a relationship with Him. ‘We have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code’. (Romans 7:6).

Rest in Him, rely on the Spirit to teach you and guide you by love. There are plenty of things to do, but we do them because of love and by the strength and guidance of the Spirit.

Now, am I saying because we are free of the law that we can just do whatever we want? Eat, drink and be merry? No, not at all. Even though we are free from the law, we are still living in a fallen world. There will be times when we take our eyes off Christ and commit sins. Yet, in Christ our sins are already forgiven and there is no longer punishment for them, although there are still consequences in this world when we do wrong.

The fact is, that by trying to keep the law we are led into death. ‘The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law’. (I Corinthians 15:56 NASB). The old way of doing things was only a temporary thing. The law showed us that we were completely powerless to live up to God’s standards. It was a tutor for us until Christ came and fulfilled the requirements of the old covenant. ‘Therefore, the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus’. (Galatians 3:24-26 NASB).

We have been told for so long that we needed to do more for God. We were taught we needed to keep the commandments and strive to be good Christians. Fortunately, the Spirit guides us to the reality that we cannot keep the commands and in ourselves, we are powerless to do so. Christ came to fulfill the law and provide freedom to all of us.

We are now free to live by love for Him and we are free from trying to live by the law. When Jesus said ‘it is finished’, he was saying the old covenant, the old way of trying to live by the law was finished. He accomplished what we could not do. When he was resurrected, a new covenant began, one of living by grace. As children of God, He has now put His spirit within us to walk with us daily.

When we are in love with God, we do not need rules to tell us what to do. We do what is pleasing to Him because we love Him. The old covenant law cannot make us holy, but the new covenant of grace is one of loving God and doing what pleases Him because of that love.

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

Partnering With God  is a book full of essays that explores possibilities that God desires an open friendship with us all, the same kind of relationship that adult children dream of having with their parents. I will share my essay in time. See two of the essays below that can lead to the kind of relationship with God you have always dreamed of but maybe never heard about:

“God desires a special form of partnership with us; namely, a friendship.” – Wm. Curtis Holtzen, “Friends with Benefits” 

“A tragic teen suicide became a source of radical repentance and new life for a church in Manchester, England.” – Nicholas Bundock, “A Long Obedience in the Wrong Direction”

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

After being in the organized church for well over 50 years, and seeing all the different denominations, beliefs, interpretations and opinions, there is one thing that makes me sad. That is to see so many followers of Christ fight and argue over the different paths we take in our Christian walk.

I am not saying all-roads lead to God, but while trusting in God and following Christ we are going to take many different paths during our life here on earth. They are going to be different from other followers of Christ, but we are following the same Christ.

Those of us outside the institutional church should not divide and separate ourselves into the ‘in church’ and ‘out of church’ groups. In the same manner, those who are part of the modern-day church should not look down on and separate from those outside the institution. We need to accept that we both love God and are following Christ along the path he has for us.

I think this is what working out our salvation means. Not that we have to work to earn our salvation, but we continually learn as we follow Christ in our salvation. We, as Christ followers, will take different paths in our walk with God. We should not expect everyone to walk the same path. By using the term Christ follower, I mean that Christ is living within us, and we walk with him and let him live through us. We are following him and the example he set that we read about in the gospels.

As brothers and sisters in Christ, we are to love one another, encourage and build up one another. We are not to be continually expecting everyone to act like us and walk in the same way we do. We are to be accepting, loving and kind to all we have contact with each day, and especially to those who are fellow believers.

It seems we are more concerned about every Christian believing and acting the exact same way and when they act differently, we want to fight, argue and separate ourselves rather than accept that God works in each of us in different ways. He made each of us differently, and he leads us along different paths as we walk toward a common destination.

Rather than expect everyone to be just like us, we are to love one another the way Christ loved people while he walked the earth. Different interpretations and ways of walking with God should not be a stumbling block to a loving fellowship with one another.

Besides, we are not going to lead anyone to Christ when all they see is arguing and disagreements among brothers. We are not going to draw people insisting they conform to our way of thinking and following our rules and interpretations. The only way people will know we have something worth checking out is when they see brothers and sisters in Christ caring for one another and building one another other up in love.

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 Jim Gordon

Growing up in the organized church, I was taught that we actually had enemies within the religious world and that certain groups of people were to be avoided. I do not think this was done openly but very subliminally; it was just something you picked up on over the years in the Christian religion.

I can say this because I spent well over fifty years in the organized Christian church and I know how I used to feel. Fortunately, not everyone in the church system feels this way, but it does seem to be a pretty normal way of thought for those of us who grew up in it.

In the church system I often found people felt that if you attend a certain denomination all the other denominations did not quite measure up. Fortunately, this does not happen in every church organization, but it does seem to be the norm more often than not.

Another thing we felt was that if you are a Christian then those outside of Christianity are to be avoided. Of course, we were to make sure to act like a friend so we can witness to them and try to convert them to Christianity. I think this is really a sneaky and unkind way to treat others. I know for a fact that friendship with ulterior motives can be very disheartening.

I also found that inside the Christian religion atheists are considered to be the enemy of our faith. We were told it is best for us to stay far away from them so that doubt does not creep into our own way of thinking.

People of other religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism. Confucianism, Gnosticism, Judaism, Islam or a host of other religions were considered confused and wrong in their beliefs. Nothing measured up except our way of Christianity. We were the enlightened ones, everyone else was mistaken.

Fortunately, I and many others no longer think this way. For me, I believe Jesus came to show the love of God to all people and he accepted and respected everyone. If you attend a church or if you are walking with God outside the walls of religion, hating or discriminating against anyone is not what God wants and is not at all Christ-like.

We need to remember that Christianity is just a religion created by men. Jesus did not come to start a religion and he is not the head of the Christian religion. Jesus came to show us what God may really be like , a God of love. Jesus loved and respected people no matter who they were or what they believed.

No matter what religion people choose to follow, it does not completely describe who they are. Each of us is a person who basically wants the same things and same goals in life. We all want to be happy, to be loved and accepted and to live a good life. We all go about it in different ways but the basics are the same.

Being outside the walls of religion, I have come to see people as people no matter the label or religion. I have come to know many people of all beliefs and ways of life and have found them to be good friends. We all have our different backgrounds and beliefs, but we are all basically the same.

Rather than judge and condemn others who do not see things the way we do, it is time we do what Jesus said to do. Love God and love others. We are not here to judge, condemn and try to force people into accepting things the way we see them. The Holy Spirit will draw, convict and change people if that is what is needed. We are only called to be loving and kind to all we meet.

Loving others does not always mean we agree, but we can show the love of God and be respectful even in our differences. Look past the labels and the different religions to see the human being who is not an enemy, but who was created in the image of God and who is loved by God just as much as anyone else.

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

Believing God exists or doesn’t exist requires faith, but it seems intuitive a loving Creator would love the way we were seemingly created to love.  Thus, we can examine what a loving God is like though our moral intuitions or consciences. Christians may argue we should trust “biblical truths” about God, but differing interpretations exist for many moral issues. See here.  Also, we can’t prove if biblical writers always understood God perfectly. We aren’t always certain how to best love, but we know that we or a Creator ought to love others as we want to be loved.

A loving God can’t be a God of chance!

A loving God wouldn’t only let Christians into heaven when the majority of people born into this world died without knowledge of Jesus the Christ. Besides, one’s religion or rebellion against a certain religion is often based on the family born into whether it is Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, etc. No human or spiritual parent brings children into the world requiring that one’s eternal destination is based on circumstances out of one’s control. 

A freedom creating God wouldn’t act like a terrorist who seek to control one’s religion

Terrorists believe you must be of a certain religion or be killed. If our Creator believed this way, why hasn’t an all-powerful God controlled evil here on earth by dashing to pieces those who don’t accept God’s ways? A supposed infallible Book wouldn’t be so dangerous if extremists admitted literature is subject to interpretation, thus their interpretation could be wrong. It seems a good God would be more concerned about good or harmful beliefs than one’s religion.

And many scholars believe the Bible teaches all people get into Heaven

If we are going to use the Bible as our defense to claim God only accepts Christians, we must recognize passages such as: “For as in Adam all died, so in Christ all will be made alive” (I Cor. 15:22). Bible scholars who respect the authority of Scriptures interpret this and other verses to mean only those who have never died are excluded from heaven. Since all have died, no one is necessarily excluded. The Bible teaches forgiveness is unlimited (i.e. Mt. 18:21-22), so is God’s deadline limited when one takes their last breathe here on earth?

And the Bible doesn’t necessarily rule out decisions after death

John 5:25 says that the dead will hear the voice of God and those who hear will live. Romans 14:11-12 says: “It is written: As surely as I live, says the Lord, “every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.” So then, we will all give an account of ourselves to God.” Why couldn’t some make a decision at Judgment? I Peter 3:18-20 speaks of Jesus preaching to those in Noah’s day who were disobedient. Preaching is normally for the opportunity to respond.  The Bible isn’t decisive what happens after death, but the possibility of eternal decisions after death doesn’t diminish the blessings of changing here on earth.

Jesus didn’t refer to his followers as Christians 

Jesus simply asked people to follow Him.  Jesus seemed more concerned with living a caring life than what one believed. A universal desire to treat others like we want to be treated hints God communicates to us all. Jesus’ message has been exemplified by many great leaders such as Gandhi. We seem to know in our heart Jesus’ main message – love others like we want to be loved.

Hell’s non-existence requires rethinking the afterlife for all religions

Hell’s supposed existence is why many insist one must believe in Jesus to avoid such a destination. It turns out Jesus or the Bible says nothing about the traditional understanding of Hell. See here. Why would a loving God torture anyone forever since such pain serves no lasting purpose? Humans wouldn’t even create a place like Hell for their worst enemies! Such a place may be only imagined because of one’s interpretation of a Book. God can’t be a hellish, sadistic, torturer.

God cannot be the god of terrorists or extremists  

Terrorists believe you must be of a certain religion or be killed. A loving God knows true love and lasting convictions are obtained when chosen freely than forced. A Book would not be so dangerous if extremists acknowledged their interpretation cannot be proclaimed as “certainty” in God’s name. No human or spiritual parent brings children into the world requiring that one’s eternal destination is based on circumstances out of one’s control.  God must not be accused of requiring all must convert to Christianity to be accepted by God or get into heaven.

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

It is hard to believe we need to even ask this question. Women deserve equal treatment and equal rights just like any other human being. It is hard to believe that only a few years ago women could not vote, hold certain jobs or do many day-to-day things that men were doing. Women were to have their place in the family, and they were not to step outside that role.

As we look back over history, we see women have always struggled. They were looked upon as property back in biblical days and had no say in anything. Even today in some middle eastern countries, women are treated as property rather than as human beings.

Speaking of biblical times, it seems to me at least Jesus treated women on an equal basis with men. We often read that he spoke with women, respected and cared for women and had many friends that were women. That was unheard of in those times. We read of many women who supported Jesus and were part of his ministry. Yet today it is still common for women to be rejected for ministry such as being pastors or church leaders.

So often, especially in religious circles, women are treated as second class citizens and as being unequal with men. They are supposed to wear certain kinds of clothes, they are supposed to stay in the home and raise kids or only work certain kinds of jobs. Fortunately, things have been changing but there is still a long way to go.

It is sad to hear of women being abused by their husbands. This should not be. Husbands are told to love their wife as they love their own body. Husbands and wives, or any marriage partner, should be treated as equals and with love and respect. For those who are abused, I feel it is best they leave the situation and move on. Even though the bible talks about divorce, I do not believe God intends for women to stay in abusive relationships.

I remember growing up and getting my first job. I was amazed when I learned that I got paid a certain amount for my job, but later found out that a woman doing the same job got less pay. I could not figure out why that was the case.

In the years I worked as a firefighter, I saw more fairness and equal treatment than I did in my first job or within the church. The position of firefighter received a certain pay and it was the same if the position was filled by a man, a woman, someone who was black or white, gay or straight. And as firefighters we gave the same equal service to all human beings no matter who they were.

I hear complaints about women’s lib, equal rights and feminism from time to time and it makes me mad. Why do so many of us men think women are not as capable as us? I believe women are just as smart, strong, capable and able to do anything they desire. I believe what a person does in life depends on their qualities, training, capabilities and desires and not on whether they are male or female.

I believe all human beings have the same ability to accomplish the desires God put within them. Men and women have differences in that it takes both to create a new life, yet other than that, we are all basically the same and are deserving of equal treatment, equal rights and equal pay.

In Galatians 3:28 it is mentioned that there is neither male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. This is not to take away the importance of men or women, but to say we are all human beings, equally important and loved by God.

I pray that we come to fully accept and appreciate women as equal human beings. It is time discrimination and unfair treatment of women, or any human being comes to an end. It is time we realize that women, as well as all people, are loved and accepted by God and we all are to love one another.

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 Jim Gordon

As followers of Christ, I feel we should be able to accept and love everyone. No matter what we believe, what our faith or doctrine is, no matter our religion, nationality, sexual preference or color, we should try to see each other as Jesus sees us. This is a type of love we cannot do on our own. It is only possible by the love of God within us.

We want to love, accept and care for people. It is only natural that we will not always agree, but we want to look past those areas of difference and love each other in Christ. This seems to be the way that others will come to see the love of God; not through condemning and bashing one another nor in trying to prove we are right and everyone else is wrong. Love does not mean seeing eye-to-eye, it does not mean we agree or even like some of the things people do. It does mean we look past the differences and we love and respect each other as Christ loves us.

We all have different opinions, views and interpretations of things. We all come from different backgrounds and beliefs. Yet, no matter if we are LGBTQ/straight, Christian/atheist, Republican/Democrat, American/foreign, white/black, male/female or whatever label people put on us, the fact is we are all human beings. We all deserve to be treated with respect and be accepted. Each of us should be able to live our life and make our own choices without being judged and condemned by others. We should be able to discuss our differences respectfully, and none of us should try to force our views and choices on others.

If we could look past the labels we wear and see each other as people who overall want the same things. We all want to be happy, to find love, be healthy and enjoy life. If we could do that, I think showing godly love to one another would be easier, even in our differences.

We need to look past the labels and see each other as human beings who have feelings, and who want share love and friendship. We want to be people who can get to know one another, learn from one another, share thoughts and ideas and accept each other as being created in the image of God.

We are all different, we all wear different labels, yet we are all the same. We are all human beings created in the image of God. Let us each try to focus on the common goal of loving God and loving one another.

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

Believing God exists or doesn’t exist requires faith, but it seems intuitive a loving Creator would love the way we were created to love. We can examine what a loving God is like though our moral intuitions, our consciences. Christians may argue we should trust “biblical truths” about God, but differing interpretations exist for many moral issues. See here. Also, we can’t prove if biblical writers always understood God perfectly. We aren’t always certain how to best love, but we know that we or a Creator ought to love others as we want to be loved.

What does the Bible really say about God and gays? 

Leviticus (18:22, 20:13) list unnatural male same sex activities as an abomination. Unnatural in OT times could be sex not for procreation. We can’t be sure what activity the writers had in mind. Are lesbians safe because nothing is said about same sex women activities? The OT also lists as abominations lying lips, arrogance, etc. Are straights screwed? The word “homosexual” doesn’t appear in some English translations before 1946.  In passages such as I Cor.6:9-10 and I Tim. 1:10 the translation often wasn’t homosexuals” but “boy molesters.” Big difference! And the passage says wrongdoers don’t inherit the kingdom of God. I guess we are all screwed! 

Many growing up in church only condemn gays out of devotion to the God of the Bible. Let’s assume it could be proven God controlled pens and minds of the writers so every word in the Bible came from God. The truth is literature requires interpretation, even if ever word written, edited, or translated was inspired by God. We mustn’t claim our interpretations are infallible when being wrong has tremendous consequences. Scholars, who accept Scriptures as authoritative, don’t agree the Bible condemns same-gender loving relationships. See here.

Why would anyone choose to be gay? 

How could a loving God possibly condemn gays when they can no more choose who they are attracted to than straights can? If you are a straight man, don’t you naturally have to fight not looking at naked women than men? Ask gays their battle! Who chooses to be gay when one has to hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility? The mental health damage is tremendous!

Parents often only condemn their gay children because of a supposed correct interpretation of a Book. It is impossible to feel loved and accepted when someone says “I love you but I hate your sin.” But we tell alcoholics we hate their sin! Hating homosexual sex is only loving if homosexual sex is sinful. Hating alcoholic behavior is loving because alcohol abuse really is harmful. A parent need not reject a gay child according to the Bible.

What do our moral intuitions, consciences tell us about God and gays?

My moral intuitions tell me that God is not bias against females, people of color, or gays. Shouldn’t we choose the least harmful view? We don’t know why one has feelings for the same sex or opposite sex. If you think there is a .0001% possibility that science proves sexual orientation isn’t a choice, why would we judge? It’s a myth that sexual choices are always the result of some trauma or rebellion in our lives. I am convinced the Bible is silent on monogamous same sex relationships, while supporting relationships that show love and concern for one another.

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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Escape to Reality

Exploring the wide open spaces of God's amazing grace

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