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By Mike Edwards

Some rightly may discount the Bible because there are some pretty crazy laws in there. Did God really think rebellious teenagers should be stoned (Deut. 21:18-21)? Maybe we don’t have to figure out if God really commanded such a law or the Israelites were influenced by other cultures in laws written. Justin Lee gives a framework for knowing which laws to follow if a God-follower (Torn: Rescuing The Gospel From The Gays-Vs.-Christians Debate, Chapter 13).

What are laws good for?

It is argued Old Testament laws only served as a guide to establish a moral society until Jesus came along and thus laws aren’t needed anymore. Laws or rules aren’t all bad. Laws help hold the lawless and lawgivers accountable. The wife and I knew we couldn’t smack each other when frustrated, but I felt it necessary to spell it out for the young-ins. I told my kids in no uncertain terms they couldn’t hit, kick, or push each other. Rules have limits though. If their younger sib wandered into the street and a car was coming, I could care less if they kicked their ass to the curb. 

Do we follow the moral laws but not the cultural laws in the Bible?

It is suggested the Bible is divided up into cultural and moral laws with moral laws being relevant for today. The Bible though doesn’t make such a distinction. Most wouldn’t argue God still forbids tattoos (Lev. 19: 28), but in the very next verse the Bible says don’t make your daughter a prostitute which is morally universal forever. Ask any parent including terrorists. The Bible never says some laws are moral and others are only relevant to that culture.

Paul and Jesus in the New Testament hint which laws to follow.

Honoring the Sabbath by not working must have been a big deal because it made the top 10 list. Religious folks freaked out when Jesus said it is good to feed the hungry or help the hurting on the Sabbath (Lk. 6:1-11). Jesus didn’t dismiss the Sabbath, but sometimes laws are meant to be broken. Which ones though?

The Apostle Paul who wrote much of the NT spoke of an instance where the Jews were disturbed when certain dietary laws weren’t followed (Rm. 14). Paul suggested the Jews shouldn’t impose on the Gentiles who weren’t raised like them; Gentiles shouldn’t try to tell the Jews what violates their conscience. Some go to a church building on Sunday; others don’t go to avoid being divisive.

The sniff test – do actions smell of love.  

Jesus said all the laws hang on loving God and your neighbor (Mt. 22:37:40). Loving God is loving your neighbor. The Apostle Paul said the same thing – all laws are summed up by loving your neighbor (Rom. 13:8-10). When Jesus said He didn’t come to abolish the law but fulfill (Mt. 5:17), He didn’t mean throw out all the laws. Don’t kill but sometimes we may need to defend our family. Honor your parents but sometimes we may need to disagree or even break ties. Laws are not written just as rules to follow blindly but to guide us in loving others.

Love rules. Love is more important to follow than the actual law. How do we know when love is better than the law? God’s spirit can guide us. Sometimes we need the help of others to discern God’s voice clearly. Lie if you might save a life from a ruthless dictator. Regardless of whether you think the Bible and God condemns gays (See Here), love rules. If you aren’t loving straight or gay people, regardless of what you personally believe, you are breaking God’s law!

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By Mike Edwards

This is a two-part Post. First part here.

Most God-followers get their understanding of God from the Bible. Non-God followers often understand God from what people claims about God according to the Bible. Readers may be aware of arguments suggesting dangers when assuming the Bible isn’t entirely inspired by God. I wish to address dangers when not questioning if the entire Bible is inspired by God. When the Bible is said to be infallible or inspired by God, most assume the words penned somehow came from God and thus approved by God. Few suggest God dictated the entire Bible word per word, but a dictatorial style is implied if God somehow prevented biblical writers from having less than perfect views of God. It is very different to approach the Bible from the perspective that God acts uncontrolling but continually seeks to influence for one’s moral good.

The danger of destroying souls and families because the Bible supposedly says so

Ever moral fiber in a parent’s body doesn’t wish to condemn their child for feelings they can no more control toward those of the same sex than heterosexuals can control their feelings toward the opposite sex. Biblical passages that condemn homosexuality are highly debatable which should lead us to listen to our moral senses. God surely supports all loving, consensual, caring relationships to avoid heart-break. Family members and friends no longer need to be broken-hearted by thinking their devotion to God requires them to reject their loved ones.  Scientific knowledge available suggests sexual orientation isn’t a choice. Why would anyone choose to be gay based on the condemnation and bigotry they face? It just isn’t possible to be told “I love you but I hate your sin” and not feel unloved and rejected. We know the psychological harm done when one must hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility. We must be guided by love – how should I treat others if I had the same non-choices?

The danger of valuing right beliefs or interpretations at the expense of loving others

We must prioritize love over the right interpretation because interpretations could be wrong. It isn’t godless to approach Scriptures openly questioning with the aim to love others like we want to be loved. Different opinions can stand side by side as we continually evaluate the most loving approach, rather than forcing our opinions on others in the name of God. Jesus didn’t always answer questions directly because He sought to change hearts which influences solving problems with the interests of others in mind. Love others like they want to be loved because you could be wrong.

The danger of making assumptions about God’s actions if controlling

God’s freedom-giving nature doesn’t suggest God is capable of performing a lobotomy on biblical writers’ impressions of God. An uncontrolling God cannot guarantee a perfect Book, but God can enter our world with the communications means available so we can grow in our understanding what God is really like. If God’s nature allows this kind of control when it comes to the Bible, why doesn’t God control so much evil prevalent in this world? Doesn’t God care? God’s loving nature doesn’t allow God to control. God much less humans know beliefs are only genuine and lost-lasting when freely chosen.

The danger of using the Bible as if a rules or answers Book

Jesus didn’t always answer questions directly because circumstances vary and the issue is our heart in solving problems. Imagine a world where all looked out for the interests of others and not just themselves during difficult times. The Bible is quoted that we must always forgive, but God is often said to not forgive the rebellious (i.e. Josh. 24:19). It’s complicated. Easy forgiveness can allow a husband’s abusive behavior to continue. When a sexual abuser doesn’t acknowledge their actions, secret behaviors continue. Victims can feel more victimized, and feel God must not understand their pain, when told to forgive despite their abuser denying any wrongdoing. Isn’t the whole point to do whatever helps control bitterness to stop the victimizing?

Read the Bible for what it is. Use common moral sense 

Those not growing up in church don’t understand all the fuss. Who thinks literature subject to interpretation should be read so dogmatically? When one fails to acknowledge their interpretation could be wrong, this can lead to forcing personal convictions on others in God’s name. A fallible Book can lead to listening to different opinions as we continually evaluate the most loving approach. God doesn’t get enough credit for communicating through our moral senses (how we ought to treat others). The Bible wouldn’t be God’s main communication anyway, because the majority born into this world never had a copy.

Let’s err on the side of God that seems morally correct to most, to not turn people away from God for the wrong reasons. Would you desire to pursue God and spirituality more if you knew God was the kind of God you imagine according to how they have created you? The Bible is still valuable as it lets us know God seeks a relationship with all individuals in all nations as evidenced by Jesus’ message and life. Read the Bible with an open-mind motivated by love rather than with blind obedience.  Use common moral sense as you consider what a loving God is really like.

 

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