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Posts Tagged ‘Bible’

By Mike Edwards

I recently wrote here why a fair-minded person may think God approves of women being restricted from roles men are offered. Many opposed such equity because of bigotry but bigots don’t read spiritual blogs. It is so important how God-followers represent God.  The good news is what is often said about God may not be true. There may be similarities as to why fair-minded people think God favors roles according to one’s gender and why God condemn gays.

Many people of faith only condemn gays because they think the Bible does?  

Many of us were taught to believe God condemns gays because the Bible says so.  Some may be unaware biblical scholars who respect the Bible believe Scriptures do not condemn gay monogamous relationships. See  here. The bigger argument though is that no one can claim God condemns gays because the Bible says so. Literature require interpretations and we disagree. One main reason fair-minded people condemn gays is because of a misunderstanding of the Bible, thus misguided devotion to God.   

Some may also argue God condemns gays because homosexuality just isn’t natural.

You don’t have to be gay to understand one can no more control their feelings toward those of the same sex than you can control having feelings toward the opposite sex. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t feel natural to you. You aren’t gay. Let’s don’t cause others to keep secrets at the expense of their mental health. God-followers must always use their hearts and minds when loving others by being non-judgmental and putting themselves in another’s skin.

It is argued the world could not have populated in the beginning! We are no longer in that situation and the world will continue to populate because not all couples are gay. We have unwanted children who need loving couples. Is adoption by a same sex or different sex couple not a better situation than groups homes or orphanages? Many gay couples are far better parents than many opposite sex parents. Don’t worry! Loving couples don’t try to scare a child straight or gay.

How can we know what God thinks about gays?   

If God exists even atheists agree God must be morally perfect. The best way to understand God’s moral perfection is through our thoughts of human perfection. How we think we ought to treat gays is how to know what God thinks of gays. The test for human or godly morality is if treating others like we want to be treated. Let’s not defend our position only because the Bible supposedly says so. We do not have to check our moral conscience at the door. Be guided by love – how should I treat others if I had the same non-choices. I hope one doesn’t think I approve of pedophiles for such love is not between two consenting adults. 

How must we treat gays or anyone?

Psychological harm is done when one must hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility. Monogamous relationships, as opposed to mindless, selfish, uncommitted relationships, are in our best interests, though I am not suggesting we all should impose our views of consensual, sexual behaviors on others. One’s sexual orientation is personal and between them and their Creator. Personal relationship decisions are not violating anyone’s personal rights as do immoral behaviors as stealing, murdering, etc.  I hope more may stop judging others about their personal relationships because God supposedly condemns them through Scriptures.

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By Mike Edwards

I am not sure why any fair-minded person would think women can’t fulfill the same leadership roles as men in the spiritual or work realm unless believing God according to a Book requires this. Most would agree not allowing equal roles because of the color of your skin is immoral. I would suggest denying women equal roles is emotional abuse if they are gifted to lead. Does God really believe roles are best determined according to gender than gifts?

Can we determine God’s views according to some Book?

Men who believe roles should be determined according to gender than gifts aren’t all pigs. I used to believe this but my gut could never make sense why a good God would think this way. Many of us were taught to believe because the Bible says so. In many countries a Book is used to suggest God condones women not having the same rights as men to vote, drive, or dress how they want.

I don’t wish to argue though what the Bible says. Some may be unaware the Bible can be interpreted to endorse roles according to gifts not gender. See here.  I don’t wish to argue if the biblical writers came to a better understanding of God over time. I only wish to point out that the Bible or any literature requires interpretation, thus why so many disagree over the meaning of the same passages. No one can claim certainty because the Bible says so. 

How can we know what God thinks about women and roles?  

Saying “I love you” is nonsensical if we don’t have some ideas what “to love” means. Most believe One who claims to be God must be morally perfect. The best way we have to think what a perfect God is like is to discuss what human perfection is. Godly and human perfection surely are one and the same. If we know how we ought to love and treat women, we intuitively know how God ought to love and treat women.

The test for human or godly morality is if treating others like we want to be treated. Terrorists proclaim morality according to a Book but something is amiss – they would object to being beheaded, raped, or denied their freedom of beliefs. Men, we must treat women how we wish to be treated when opportunities arise to lead a church, business, etc. At least let’s not defend our position only because the Bible says so. We do not have to check our moral conscience at the door.

What if moral intuitions clash?

There is universal agreement on most moral matters such as murdering or stealing. We may not agree what a perfect parent or God would do in each situation, but we could agree on many attributes. Keep in mind even if believing the Bible in infallible, interpretations are not infallible. Read the Bible with a questioning spirit while putting ourselves in another’s shoes. Uncertainty, rather than supposed certainty, forces us to be more open-minded. 

The most qualified or gifted should surely be the CEO or preach!

I am going to stand on the side that is potentially less abusive to half of God’s creations concerning roles. Similarly, in marriage equalitarian rather than hierarchical relationships are less likely to lead to the mistreatment of women. Do we really want to imply that God doesn’t trust women to handle the Truth? Different opinions, expressed without hostility, surely help lead us to the most loving stance.

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by Jim Gordon

We often think about events in the old testament and wonder why God seems so mean and destructive. How can a God who created us be willing to destroy so many human beings?

Many times it is written that God told the Israelites to completely wipe out and destroy a certain group of people due to the way they acted or believed.

In our world today, we still see so much hatred and treating certain groups of people as unworthy. Many religious people think so highly of themselves and the way they live yet they want nothing to do with those they feel are unworthy, unlovable and unacceptable.

Groups of people are killed, tortured, treated with contempt and meanness, all in the name of various religions who are representing the God of the universe. Love and acceptance are only saved for those who are like-minded and with similar beliefs. If you see things differently you are not accepted into the group.

LoveGodLoveOthers

Yet we see Jesus come into the world for the purpose of showing us what God is really like. It seems like such a contradiction. Jesus showed us that God is love. Jesus loved and accepted people who many in the religious world condemned, would not associate with and found completely unworthy to be loved.

I personally think God is highly misrepresented in the bible, especially the old testament. I think many times when men wrote that God said this or that, it was more of what they thought was the thing to do rather than God actually telling them to do such horrible acts.

So often the religious world says to hate those who are different. Do not associate or accept those who they think do not measure up. Stay away from those they feel are unworthy. Yet God says to love your neighbor and to love your enemy.

In a world where hatred and unacceptance seems the norm, it is time we who are representatives of God start putting differences and personal prejudices aside and let his love flow to all we meet along the way.

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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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By Mike Edwards

Does God really torture unbelievers after death? Most humans wouldn’t create such a place for their worst enemies. Biblical scholars don’t agree such a place exist in the Bible. Does God really condemn gays when they can no more choose who they have feelings for than straights can? Biblical scholars don’t agree the Bible condemns gays. If God exist all believe God must be perfect love – even atheists. How do we determine what true love is?

We don’t just know God because the Bible says so.

We can’t know God definitively through the Bible because literature requires interpretation. People who respect the Bible as authoritative disagree what God thinks about homosexuality, gender roles, and the afterlife to name only a few critical issues. We must stop declaring something immoral in God’s eyes because the Bible says so.  It may be said Jesus was God so listen to Jesus, but we can’t even agree what Jesus thinks. People disagree if Jesus’ non-violent beliefs allow or rules out individuals or nations protecting themselves against physical evil.

God’s love is surely like a perfect human’s love.

Most non-Bible or Bible-oriented folks agree that God must be or is the perfect Lover (Mt. 5:43-48, I Jn. 4). The Bible frequently uses the analogy of God as a perfect Lover or Parent, thus assuming we have some knowledge of what such love is. It makes little sense that the Bible uses such an analogy unless perfect human and God love are one in the same.

Most if not all have an inborn sense to love others as themselves.

A universal desire to treat others like we want to be treated hints a personal external force communicating what is good. Terrorist proclaim morality according to a Book but something is amiss – they would object to being beheaded, raped, or denied their freedom of beliefs. We still can’t know what God is like for certain but the truth is there is practically universal agreement on most moral matters – murder, stealing, etc. Our intuitions about love most likely fits God’s view of love.

We can’t know exactly what God and perfect human love is like but that may be a good thing.

When it is said we can know God for certain according to the Bible, we end up imposing our interpretation on others. Forced love is an oxymoron. Being unable to declare the certainty or morality of our opinions according to the Bible forces us to listen and express ideas openly which can lead to new understandings. It is better to claim “we know so” than “because the Bible told me so” because personal intuitions are assumed rightly questionable than Holy Books.

What do you imagine a perfect God may be like?

You may be right! I don’t know anyone who says to themselves “don’t treat others like you want to be treated.” I am absolutely convinced that God’s love is the love we deep down desire to show others consistently. God’s love is perfect parental love that we have always desired from our parents. We may not agree always what a perfect parent would do, but a loving parent surely isn’t egotistical, a fear-monger, a homophobe, a sexist, or bias against one’s religion chosen because of where born!

See HERE what I recently wrote what I think perfect human parenting love is like

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By Mike Edwards

Most, whether believing in God or not, would agree One claiming to be God would always do the moral or right thing. A less than morally perfect God is not worth believing in. Being morally perfect doesn’t always mean doing the easiest thing. It may be best to show a wayward teen tough love for their future’s sake. Do you wonder what God would do in the situation you face? What do we advise others who seek spiritual guidance?

We all have an innate knowledge of right and wrong on major moral matters.   

Please don’t read this and think I am suggesting you can do whatever the hell you want. Just because I am convinced God doesn’t try to control our decisions doesn’t mean I think it isn’t obvious what to do in many situations. Laws are not really needed for murder, stealing, physical abuse, etc. I am not into running peoples lives but you can’t murder or assault anyone.

Please don’t tell people what to do because the Bible says so.  

All literature requires interpretation; interpretations aren’t infallible. Scholars who respect the Bible as authoritative disagree what God thinks about homosexuality, gender roles, divorce, etc., to name only a few critical issues. We can’t declare something immoral because the Bible says so. The overall message of the Bible is clear to most – love others unselfishly. Jesus didn’t always answer directly because circumstances vary – the issue is our heart in solving problems.

What job or partner would God suggest choosing?  

You pray and ask God to guide which job to accept or who will you remain happily married forever. The underlying assumption is that future outcomes are knowable so one job or partner is a better decision in the long-run. A predetermined future suggests freedom is an illusion. Even an all-powerful God can’t know an unknowable future. A loving, uncontrolling parent or God in an open future would surely advise to access your gifts and passions and make the wisest choice you know at that time.

What about decisions somewhat moral in nature such as whether to divorce your partner?

A partner may respond with gratitude for a second change or another chance may simply enable bad behaviors to continue. God is supportive of the wisest decisions we know under current circumstances which may include the counsel of others. God can’t promise you a certain outcome and still be a respecter of freedom. It is complicated but consider all the lives impacted by your decision and act as unselfishly as possible. If you regret past decisions – who doesn’t – make what amends you can and strive to make different decisions in your future.

What would God do when your mother favors one sibling over others.

I grew up with 4 siblings. We got involved in business together but one sibling made decisions for all of us without our knowledge. My elderly Mom chose to favor that decision though the other four siblings independently told Mom one sibling is acting selfishly. She chose to not remain impartial but sided with one brother. Should the other children simply ignore Mom’s decision and act as if a relationship is possible? Or should favoritism not be ignored thus possible enabling such behaviors to continue? Each child must decide the kind of relationship to have with Mom if at all. 

Even the Bible claims God’s Spirit guides us not a Book.

Jesus when leaving this earth said His Spirit, not some Book, would guide us in truth (Jn. 14:16-17; 16:13). Jesus didn’t seem worried that Truth always requires discernment. Uncertainty because of an inaudibly Spirit doesn’t have to lead to chaos. Certainty or the morality of our opinions often leads to imposing such beliefs on others. That is not God’s nature. Avoid declaring the Spirit only speaks truth to you and not others. It is not God’s nature to impose beliefs on others. 

What would God do or advise you?

We know what God would do in many moral issues. We know God’s mentality when making decisions impacting the lives of others. How would we want to be treated? What is best not only for you but all involved! We can recognize God’s voice when we confess wrongdoing and make amends. What one may do in relational situations describe above may be different from another. Seek God’s help in making the wisest decision you know to make.

What do we advise others what God is telling them? It isn’t always comfortable claiming uncertainty what God would do. It is easier giving advice due to supposed certainty rather than listening and helping one make their own decisions. People often don’t need our advice but our love as they make their own decisions with the help of God if inclined to seek God’s influence.

 

 

 

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By Mike Edwards

I still don’t know exactly how to describe God’s role with the Bible after I started rethinking why the Bible can’t be infallible or entirely inspired. It just seems so unlike God to control thoughts written down, rather than allowing us to grow in our understanding of God when ready. Scholars who respect Scriptures are admitting the Bible isn’t infallible. These same theologians are slow to suggest God didn’t inspire all of the Bible, which suggests God approves of everything written, but see concerns below. Many have been provoked to not even consider a relationship with God when sexist, homophobic, and genocidal behaviors attributed to God in the Bible are rationalized.

Why the Bible can’t be proven to be infallible.  

The OT records thousands of times “God said…” Writers weren’t claiming God spoke audibly; they were simply writing about their “impressions” from God. We can’t prove such impressions were always right. It is circular logic to suggest the Bible is infallible or inspired because biblical writers make such a claim. Many who accept the Bible being infallible would not accept the Quran being infallible because it claims to be. God’s freedom-giving nature doesn’t support God performing a lobotomy on OT writers’ impressions of what they thought God was telling them.

But, even if God dictated all of the Bible words are still subject to interpretation. Forget the Older Testament. Scholars don’t agree what Jesus meant when talking about Hell. The fact that we disagree about the meaning of the same passages makes the discussion of the Bible’s infallibility a moot point because interpretations aren’t infallible. The formation of the Old Testament was a long, slow development over centuries. The Catholic Bible has seven additional books in the Old Testament than the Protestant Bible. We can’t know the books of the Bible we have were the ones God intended to convey truth or that other books haven’t been excluded to convey truth about God. 

Why it is doubtful God inspired all of the Bible.   

To describe the Bible as inspired or authoritative suggest to many that God approves of everything recording in the Bible. It is hard for most to believe God inspired hundreds of OT passages like I Samuel 15:3 when God told Israel: “Now go, attack the Amalekites… put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.” Why would God inspire views that suggest God would endorse genocide? How could God inspire approving of a wife having her hand cut off when grabbing another’s man genitals protecting her husband (Deut. 25:11-12)?

There are good reasons to lean toward the Bible not being inspired because of certain morals attributed to God. An infallible or inspired view of Scriptures has led down the slippery slope of assuming interpretations are inspired. Not questioning if writers always understood God perfectly has led to justifying slavery, killing infidels, and other atrocities in the supposed name of God. Different opinions must stand side by side as we continually evaluate the most loving approach. God gave us a moral brain! 

What is the Bible if not inspired by God?

The Bible is recorded experiences of beginnings with God and Israel culminating with the life of Jesus that we don’t possess in any other documents. Writings about God can keep us talking and reflecting what God is really like. God didn’t necessarily have in mind that recordings would not be questioned. The Bible claims to be God-breathe which can literally mean God-spirited (2 Tim. 3:16). Only the Old Testament existed when these words penned. This passage could simply mean God uses writings about God to touch our spirit.

Certainty in God isn’t the Holy Grail!

An inspired Bible leads to interpretations magically becoming infallible. Believing such a Book exists has led to condemning gays in God’s name, though those who accept Scriptures as authoritative don’t agree the Bible disapproves of homosexuality. A fallible Book can’t hide behind infallible interpretations. Uncertainty doesn’t have to led to chaos as moral laws that violate the rights of others are obvious. The majority of people born in this world never read a Bible but seem to have an inborn knowledge of right and wrong, hinting a Creator not a Book communicates to all what is good.

How can we read the Bible?

Read the Bible reflectively than for solutions to specific problems. Read the Bible with an open-mind motivated by love.  Jesus didn’t always answer questions directly because circumstances vary and the issue is our heart in solving problems. Can you imagine a world where all looked out for the interests of others and not just themselves when facing difficulties? Don’t check your moral conscience at the door as you consider what a loving God is really like. As long as we read the Bible with a questioning spirit rather than blind obedience, it seems the Bible can continue to influence millions to live a more selfless life.

For related questions about the Bible go to:   

http://what-god-may-really-be-like.com/rethinking-the-bible/

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