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by Mike Edwards

If Christians were more united or at least more open in some very important beliefs that impacts billions of lives, many may be less hesitant to reject God. Sometimes one’s understanding of a Book influences them to go against their moral intuitions. The truth is opposing biblical interpretations exist for many moral issues. Remember over half the people born never had a Bible, so they had to lean into their intuitions. I will end by suggesting what we might believe about God.

Gays

Supposed certainty has led to condemning gays, though scholars who accept Scriptures as authoritative, don’t agree the Bible disapproves of same-gender loving relationships. See here.

The main non-biblical objection by straights is that it just isn’t natural. But why would anyone choose a lifestyle subject to bigotry and hostility? Straights don’t wake up one day and decide to be attracted to the opposite sex. Gays neither of the same sex.

Women

It is a big deal! Views on gender roles effects directly half of the human population. Shouldn’t the most qualified or gifted should lead the company or the church? Men in authority over women in public or private life is conducive for violence toward women. Paul, a main writer of the New Testament, is often interpreted to suggest hierarchical roles. I doubt it. See here.

Hell

Many of us were raise to love God or fear Hell as our destiny. Does a Creator not know fear doesn’t produce relationships worth having? It makes no sense why a loving God would torture anyone forever since such pain serves no lasting purpose. Humans wouldn’t even create such a place for their worst enemies. I doubt God is a hellish, sadistic torturer according to the Bible. See here.

 Non-Christians

One’s religion or rebellion against a certain religion is often based on the family born into whether it is Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, etc. Is God a God of chance? I doubt a loving Creator is an excluder according to one’s religion in the afterlife. See here.

What can we believe about God?

We can’t make God in the Bible’s image. Biblical scholars and laypeople who respect the authority of Scriptures don’t agree on moral issues such as gays, women, hell, and other religions. It is only intuitive to think a Creator would believe and love others how we were seemingly created to love others. Human and God’s perfection is surely the same. How you wished to be loved by your parents is surely how God loves us. We don’t always know what perfect love entails, but it seems we ought to continually search beliefs that lead to loving others how we wished to be loved if in their shoes. It is better to question than be wrong!

 

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

Do you hear things about God that lead to not wanting to even bother with God? Are you a person of faith but some teachings about God create questions or difficulties in talking about God to others should the subject naturally come up? I heard teachings about God in the church that just didn’t seem true of a good or loving God. It is only human nature to have a close relationship with those you respect. Why wouldn’t that be true of our relationship with God? Maybe we shouldn’t believe everything we hear about God!

What can we know about God?

Even scholars can look at the same passages in Scripture and come up with different interpretations. Jesus spoke in hyperboles and metaphors which can lead to vastly different interpretations. Besides, the Bible can’t be the only way to know what God is like since over half the people born in this world never had a Bible to read. We all seem to have an inborn desire to treat others like we want to be treated – there are “oughts” in our relationships. God surely has given us a moral, intuitive sense what a loving God must be like.   

God can’t possibly be a homophobe.

It makes no sense to me why God would condemn gays when they can no more choose who they love than straights can. Just ask heterosexuals or homosexuals. Some only condemn gays because they are convinced the Bible does. I have written here to please reconsider that the Bible doesn’t condemn gays. We know the psychological harm done when one must hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility. So, shouldn’t we be guided by love – how should I treat others if I had the same non-choices?

God can’t possibly be a sexist by favoring men in leadership positions.

God surely knew what many of us sense – appointing men as authority over women can encourage dominance on the man’s part and dependence on the woman’s part, which can be conducive for domestic abuse and the other atrocities women face at the hands of men. Women don’t need male leadership in marriage; women need men who have the heart of a servant (Eph. 5:28-29). When the Bible says: “Women should remain silent in the churches” (I Cor. 14:34), maybe the writer would encourage men to be silent in certain situations for the sake of peace. The same writer had just assumed women, without condemning, could prophesize during worship (I Cor. 14:34). See here for rethinking if God is a sexist!

Hell!

The Bible says nothing about the traditional understanding of the word Hell. Hell seems to be an invention over the centuries to scare people into submission and obedience. Our traditional understanding of Hell is no more a translation of the Greek word Gehenna (the name of a real valley near Jerusalem) in the New Testament than Atlanta is for Chicago. Why would a loving God torture anyone forever since such pain serves no lasting purpose? Humans wouldn’t even create such a place for their worst enemies!

Can God be dogmatic about which religion you choose.

The majority of people born in this world have never heard of Jesus in the Bible. Suggesting a loving God insists one can only come to God through Jesus is to ignore the realities of our world. The vast majority of people born choose or rebel against the religion where they are born, whether be Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, etc. Those who have heard of Jesus often have a distorted view of God. When the Bible speaks of being saved, it isn’t about escaping hell and going to heaven but allowing God to help avoid self-destructive ways for our own best interests. Do you believe that? 

God doesn’t encourage hidden agendas in relationships.

People often avoid God-folks because they can smell a hidden agenda a mile away. It simply is wrong to engage in friendships with others for the purpose of converting them to believe as you do without advising them upfront of your agenda. God-folks struggle to talk about God, for how do you explain a good God is supposedly a homophone, sexist, or sadistic torturer. It turns out God wants for our relationship what we want – not a means to an end (conversion) but an opportunity to share life and love one another.

God can’t be a religious extremist.

Extremists wish to force you to believe what they think is true of God according to some Book. What is not acknowledged is literature requires interpretation so their understanding may be wrong. A truly, loving God would never force one to love but give the freedom to love or reject Them. Forced love is an oxymoron. You can’t get enough of a person or God because you have so much respect, not because you are commanded to love. Love by force only leads to brief obligations out of guilt.

God is not cruel by being invisible and inaudible.

If God cared why doesn’t God make their Presence obvious? God’s awing or overpowering presence may only lead to fearful obligations to obey. When parent push their agendas, even if in their children best interests, they may rebel against coercion and never turn back. If God communicates in less demonstrative ways, this may more allow moral development for lasting convictions. A Creator may not reveal themselves for reasons we haven’t thought of and would accept in time. The road traveled of learning, reflecting, and freely choosing personal convictions may better lead to heart-felt lasting choices that turn out to be in our best interests.

Imagine God really is good news!

Listen to your moral inner voice. You may be right about God! If God claims to be Love and encourages us to be perfect like God (Mt. 5: 48), how can we follow in God footsteps unless God has empowered us somehow to know. And what loving Parent, earthly or heavenly,  doesn’t seek to help you be the best you can be for your best interests and the interests of others!

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Growing up in the organized church, I was taught over time 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 that you picked up 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.

acceptoneanother2

Let me be clear, I no longer think this way. I believe Jesus came to show the love of God to all people and he accepted and respected everyone.

Yet in the church system I found that things such as, if you attend a certain denomination all the other denominations do not quite measure up.

If you are a christian then those outside of christianity are to be avoided. Of course acting like a friend so you can witness to them and try to convert them to christianity was OK. I know for a fact that friendship with ulterior motives can be very disheartening.

I found that inside the christian religion atheists are considered to be our enemy. They deny that God exists and it is best for us to stay far away from them so that doubt does not creep into our own way of thinking.

Inside the church system the gay community is to be condemned and shunned. Anyone openly admitting they are gay is an abomination to God and thus to us also. After all, people choose to be gay and that means they are choosing to go against God. Wait, I do not remember choosing to be straight, it is just the way I am. Is that not the case with people who are gay?

People of other religions such as hinduism, buddhism. confucianism, gnosticism, judaism, islam or a host of other religions were considered to be confused and wrong in their beliefs. Nothing measured up except christianity. Still, christianity is a religion created by men. Jesus did not come to start a religion and he is not the head of the christian religion.

Being outside the walls of religion, I have come to see people as people. I have come to know several 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.

equals

No matter what label the world or religion puts on people, that 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.

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. Being loving does not mean we always agree, but we can show the love of God and be respectful even in our differences.

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It has always amazed me how we Christians can be so argumentative. We just don’t know how to accept one another’s differences in doctrine or interpretation.

Following Jesus is obviously based on loving God and loving others. Yet we have nearly 40,000 different denominations, mainly because we can’t agree and accept one another.

We argue and defend our doctrines and interpretations, and we get mad when others disagree or have a different viewpoint. Even when we partly agree, we feel the need to point out where we differ because we think that our way is right, and everyone else is a little off.

I understand that we are not going to agree on everything, and each of us have a little different way of seeing things and understanding things, but we go too far when we let these differences separate us. We want to keep in our own particular group, which we usually feel is the more correct way to believe, and we do not want to associate with some of the others. This should not be, we can have our differences yet without separating ourselves from other brothers and sisters in Christ.

In regard to spiritual things, we are all people of faith. Whether we are Christian, Atheist, Muslim, Buddhist or whatever label we place ourselves under, we all live by faith. That does not mean we are all followers of Christ, but we are all people of faith. We do not have to be afraid to associate with people who do not have a faith in God. We just may be the only view of God they get to see, and love and acceptance should be what they feel through the power of the Spirit within us.

Faiths

None of us can prove beyond a doubt that our way is right. People have faith there is a God, or there is not a God, faith in the after-life and heaven, or faith in reincarnation, faith there is no hell, or faith that there is just an end to our existence. We can’t prove any of it either way you look at it, yet we all seem to fight and argue amongst ourselves trying to defend our viewpoint.

No matter what we believe, how much we love God, or how much we are convinced there is or is not a spiritual side to life, we cannot prove our point, it is all by faith.

As mentioned in the Bible, we walk by faith, not by sight. I am glad I have a faith in a God who created me and loves me, a God who has provided freedom from my sinful nature, and a God who has come to make His home within me, and that I will forever be in His presence.

I also respect the rights of others to feel differently. I don’t think it is my responsibility to expect anyone to believe the same as me, or to put their faith in the same things that I do. It is the Holy Spirit’s place to draw others to the Father, and convince others of their need of Christ. It is the Spirit who teaches us and leads us into truth. My responsibility is to love and accept everyone as they are, and be ready for God to show His love through me.

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