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Posts Tagged ‘women’

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 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 through 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.

It may be presumptuous to be writing about women since I am of the opposite gender. I am more sensitive because I married a strong woman, have two daughters, and saw as a counselor how men in marriage powered over their wives often because of biblical understandings. Views on gender roles effects directly half of the human population. It’s a big deal!

What would you think about women if the Bible or Koran didn’t exist?

Most would agree it is immoral to favor one based on the color of their skin. Intuitively, to favor men over women for particular roles seems sexist or bigotry. I am not sure why any fair-minded person would think women can’t fulfill the same roles as men unless believing a Book about God teaches otherwise. Many more Christians and Muslims wouldn’t deny women equality unless mandated in the name of God according to some Book. Women can obviously feel disrespected and confused why a supposedly loving God would choose according to gender than gifts. Men, walk in their shoes!   

What did the main writer of the New Testament really believe? 

Jesus gives no hint that he thought roles were determined according to gender than gifts. Jesus was quite inclusion. I doubt the Apostle Paul, the main writer of the New Testament other than the gospels, was bias against women. See here.  The most qualified or gifted should surely lead a company. Why not in church? Men in authority over women whether in public, private, or church life is conducive for abuse at the hands of men. Let’s choose the least harmful biblical interpretation. Galatians 3:28 may be God’s ideal: “There is neither Jew or Gentile, neither slave or free, neither male nor female, for you all are one in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:28).” 

What are the consequences of women unequally submissive in marriage?

Best friends, in marriage or other dyad relationships, don’t require a leader. Men often assume loving leadership means making final decisions in impasses. I have never had a marriage issue in 39 years that cannot be solved creatively without one partner making all such decisions. Same between friends. Decisions can be shared or made according to one’s gifts. Men in 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. Men, including myself, given an inch often take a mile!

God, women, and men! 

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. WHAT! God surely believes in roles determined according to gifts not gender whether it be at home, the office, or in worship. Let’s stand on the side that is potentially less abusive to half of God’s creations. It could be argued many men don’t abuse their leadership. The temptation to abuse or stifle one’s gifts is best removed. I removed spanking as an option as a father because of the impulse to react harmfully and not consider creative alternatives. No, my kids didn’t all end up in jail! Common moral sense isn’t the enemy!

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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 Mike Edwards

I don’t write to push God on others. I am convinced God is big enough to make their own case with those seeking more of a connection with their Creator. I just know God has made me a better husband, father, and friend by their influence. I enjoy discussing my journey with those so inclined. Even if it turns out God doesn’t exist, what have I lost by living a life with fewer regrets.

One might argue the biggest obstacle Christians put in the way of others interested in pursuing God is hypocrisy. If you treat people like dirt, I doubt you are being influenced by the God I know. Most folks though understand no one is perfect. But if Christians fail to admit or confess their faults, good luck discussing your relationship with God with others.

Claims I consider false, made by Christians about God, may be the greatest problem. It is said:

  • Evolution can’t be true and God couldn’t have used evolution in the creative process
  • Women can’t be pastors or priests and wives should be more submissive to husbands than husbands should be to their wives
  • God condemns gays who are naturally attracted to those of their same sex and God forbid they get married
  • God is going to burn in hell forever those who deny God here on earth Most humans wouldn’t even justify such torture for their worst enemies. To Hell with those who grew up in a family of another religion that believed in the golden rule
  • God before creation elected some to be God’s children and the rest can freely go to Hell
  • God can control evil, despite creating freedom, thus in reality God controls how much each suffers
  • God can magically answer your prayers and if God doesn’t, you must have some hidden sin or not praying the right words
  • God can tell you to love your enemies but supposedly God can command the killing of women and children as in the Old Testament. Maybe the writers didn’t understand God fully at the time
  • If you are an atheist or not all-in about God, you are simply being rebellious to justify living selfishly
  • You don’t really love God if you don’t attend the institutional church on a regular basis

It is claimed the Bible is all about avoiding Hell rather than God desiring to have a relationship with you here on earth to face challenges inevitable in an imperfect world.

Do you doubt any of the above claims? Most if not all of the above beliefs come from one’s understanding of a Book. It is seldom admitted Christians disagree in good conscience about the above claims in the Bible about God.

Besides, many act as if it can be proven that God controlled or approved all that is claimed about God in the Bible, that God somehow magically download their thoughts and words into the writer’s brain.

Do you wish you could get more into God but certain claims are a problem? Don’t believe everything you hear. God surely gave us a brain and moral conscience to decide evil from good. If God is evil in any way, that is a God not worth believing in!

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

Did you know biblical scholars disagree whether Hell is a literal place according to the Bible? Biblical scholars who respect the authority of Scriptures don’t agree that God condemns homosexuality or that God forbids women from being preachers or priests. See here.  See here. The truth is biblical truths are debatable! 

What might a loving God be like?

An analogy helps to discern what might be commonalities in understanding God. The Bible refers to God as our Heavenly Father/Parent. God obviously isn’t exactly like human parents for we cannot be in all places at one time, but the Bible encourages imitating or being perfect like God (Eph. 5:1; Mt. 5:48). Human and God’s perfection are surely the same. How you wished to be loved by your parents is how God loves us.

Hell or Hell No! 

Jesus used the Greek word Gehenna which is translated into our word Hell. Many, many scholars believe Gehenna is a metaphor to describe what evil can lead to here on earth, not a place in the afterlife where God acts as a sadistic torturer. Humans wouldn’t even create such a place to torture their enemies after death. God’s supposed justification of violence to be appeased has led to excusing our own violent solutions in the name of justice. People are rejecting God because Hell makes no moral sense.  Since there is doubt, shouldn’t we stop preaching Hell?

Women leaders or not?   

Most would agree it is immoral to favor one based on the color of their skin. An argument could be made that to favor men over women for particular roles is sexist or bigotry. I doubt most Christians or Muslims would deny women equality unless they believe they should in the name of God according to some Book. Women can obviously feel disrespected and confused why a supposedly loving God would choose according to gender than gifts. Putting men in leadership position over women can be conducive for abuse and other atrocities women face at the hands of men. Shouldn’t we choose the least harmful interpretation of a Book? 

Gay or straight? 

It doesn’t make moral sense why God would condemn gays when they can no more chose who they love than straights can. Ask them! Why would anyone choose to be gay based on the condemnation and bigotry they face? Parents often only condemn their gay children because of their supposed correct interpretation of a Book. We know the psychological harm done when one must hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility. Shouldn’t we choose the least harmful view? 

Which view to take?

Shouldn’t we choose views of God with fewer negative physical and psychological costs? Shouldn’t we be guided by love – how should I treat others if I was in their shoes? Err on the side that portrays God as the most loving to the human mind. It is better to question rather than claim certainty and be wrong! Can you imagine meeting God one day and God saying “why did you decide on the view that made the most loving, moral sense to you? To Hell with you!”

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

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

I disagree with images of God that are frequently claimed by Christians according to their understanding of the Bible. An objection I get in my writings is that I am attempting to make God in my own image. It is defended God can be a sexist, racist, or homophobe if God wants to be. To even claim God can be a sexist implies a universal view toward mistreating women. Does God?

You can’t make God in the Bible’s image. 

Biblical scholars who respect the authority of Scriptures don’t agree that God condemns homosexuality or that God forbids women from being preachers or priests. See here.  See here. Do you really think God would deny women being preachers or priests or CEO of a business though more qualified than all male candidates? We can’t be certain what the image of God is according to the Bible because literature is subject to interpretation. “Biblical truths” are debatable.

You can’t make God in a “male” image.

We don’t think of God having more of the male than female anatomy. Both male and female best describe God’s image (Genesis 1:26). God is described as a woman in childbirth (Isaiah 42:14), or “a great eagle with powerful wings, long feathers and full plumage of varied colors” (Ezek. 17:3).  Clearly, God is neither male, female, nor an eagle in terms of gender or form.  The gods of the nations in biblical times were described as either male or female; the Jews did not speculate about the gender of God. The reason for more male references is the patriarchal cultures writers lived in. 

Whose image do we make God in? 

An analogy helps to discern what might be commonalities in understanding God. The Bible refers to God as our Heavenly Father/Parent. God obviously isn’t exactly like human parents for we cannot be in all places at one time, but the Bible encourages imitating or being perfect like God (Eph. 5:1; Mt. 5:48). It is natural to think a Creator would love us and others how we were seemingly created to love others. Human and God’s perfection are surely the same. How you wished to be loved by your parents is how God loves us. God’s image is a perfect, loving Parent!

God can’t be a sexist according to human understandings!

Most would agree it is immoral to favor one based on the color of their skin. Most would agree that is racist or bigotry. An argument could be made that to favor men over women for particular roles is sexist or bigotry. I am convinced most Christians or Muslims would not deny women equality or roles they are gifted for unless they believed they should in the name of God according to their understanding or interpretation of some Book.

What are God’s rights?

God would only claim perfect, human rights. Such claims are always in the best interests of others we claim to love – other-centered than self-centered. God loves us how we know we ought to love others. We don’t always know what perfect love entails, but we aren’t clueless. We can’t know if the biblical writers always understood God perfectly or whether our interpretation of what they write is correct. Beliefs that don’t seemingly lead to loving your neighbor more may be amiss, because they are contrary to our moral intuitions of perfection.

Why your image of God matters!

Our understanding of God can determine the depth of our relationship with God and how we might treat others. If God really created Hell, we may think we should emulate God in our attempts to judge and punish. If we believe God is really warlike, we may justify our actions in war when we shouldn’t. If God condemns gays, we will condemn gays out of devotion to God. If we believe God thinks men have authority over women in some positions, that will filter down to your wives, daughters, and friends and stifle their gifts. Imagine what you believe a perfect God is like in your life and the lives of others you interact with. You may be right!

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

I am not suggesting to read the Bible as a question-and-answer book. We can’t know if the biblical writers always understood God perfectly, unless God somehow magically controlled the writers’ thoughts and words recorded. The writer’s advice may not always be God’s advice. The Bible records experiences of beginnings with God culminating with the life of Jesus that we don’t possess in other documents. God didn’t necessarily have in mind that recordings wouldn’t be questioned but to contemplate what a loving God may be really like. 

The Bible must not be used to further the abuse of women at the hands of men. All relationship circumstances aren’t the same. Use common, moral loving sense. Women, if in danger by all means run! Take care of yourself. Even if you believe God inspired every word written down, you still must interpret the writer’s meaning. Opposite interpretations exist on many major issues such as women roles, hell, gays, etc. Our interpretations are certainly not inspired, but I doubt Paul was a misogynist even according to the Bible.

I Corinthians 14:34 says: “women should remain silent in church. ….be in submission.” 

Paul’s advice must surely be due to the circumstances at hand – the gospel was liberating women but Paul wanted: “everything to be done in a fitting and orderly way (14:40).” That seems the best way to make sense that Paul practically in the same breath didn’t condemn women praying and prophesying (I Cor. 11:4-5). Pretty hard to prophesize silently! Paul mentions also that roles are according to one’s gifts and doesn’t mention gender (I Cor. 12:4-11). Romans 16 is only one of many chapters in the Bible that speaks of women in leadership roles (i.e. Priscilla and Aquila teaching Apollos (Acts 18:26). Women or men shouldn’t teach if leads to disruption not peace.   

I Tim 2:11-12 says: “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.”

Paul surely had in mind not spreading false teachings. Paul in verse 14 used Adam and Eve to illustrate what to avoid – Eve prevailing upon Adam to go against God’s ways. Keep in mind Paul says elsewhere Adam was responsible for what happened in the Garden. (Rom 5:12). Those who suggest this passage teaches women can’t teach men ever often allow women to teach women and children as if they are less important than men! Paul advises women to avoid certain hairstyles or jewelry (I Tim: 2:9), but churches don’t make the same prohibitions as women teaching. 

Eph 5:22 says: “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do the Lord.” 

Paul also says in verse 25: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Maybe husbands should hold off telling their wives to submit to their authority until he has successfully and perfectly loved her as Christ loves her. God doesn’t even demand we submit to God by creating freedom. One may say eventually we must submit to God as a reckoning after death. Men, then wait until you are dead to tell your wives to submit!

Submission is often interpreted in marriage to imply when there is an impasse, someone must make the final decision. Jesus said the first shall be last, but most men don’t interpret this to mean their wife is the final decision-maker. I have never had a marriage issue in 38 years that can’t be solved creatively together. Men in 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. Give me an inch and I am tempted to take a mile! Women need men with the heart of a servant (Eph. 5:28-29).

How do we decide how God really feels about women and men relationships?

It is plausible a universal instinct to treat others like we want to be treated is a personal external force communicating through our moral intuitions. I am not sure why any fair-minded person would think women can’t fulfill the same roles as men unless believing a Book about God teaches otherwise. Most agree not allowing equal roles because of skin color is immoral. Choosing who should lead the company based on gender is obviously bigotry. The most qualified or gifted should surely lead the company. Why not in church? It seems Galatians 3:28 may be God’s ideal if the truth can be handled: “There is neither Jew or Gentile, neither slave or free, neither male nor female, for you all are one in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:28).”

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

It isn’t always easy to believe all of the Bible, but the story of Jesus does seem to be an amazing love story. Jesus is claimed to represent or be God here on earth but doesn’t use His power to avoid crucifixion? What is up with that! Understanding what our Creator is really like can be very good news.

It doesn’t help that christian hypocrisy taints the message!

The truth is that we all are hypocrites. What human being lives up to the standards they know in their heart are honorable? But it is reasonable to expect those who talk about God to act godly. It doesn’t help that Christians don’t get along, as evidenced by the tens of thousands of denominations, all claiming their beliefs are the right ones. It doesn’t help that God-folks often don’t say sorry right away when they screw up. Beliefs don’t matter as much as your actions.

It doesn’t help God is claimed to be a hellish, sexist, homophobe! 

The three biggest lies about God may be that God is a hellish sadist, that God is a sexist who believe men should be in leadership positions over women which has encouraged dominance on the man’s part leading to atrocities women face at the hands of men, and God condemns gays though they can no more chose who they are attracted to then straights. I doubt a loving God is capable of creating hell, denying women role they are gifted for, and condemning gays. See here.

It doesn’t help when claiming an almighty God is a controlling God.   

The truth is God can’t so some things. A good God can’t lie. God can’t act unloving. I would argue God can’t be controlling because such behaviors are unloving. Ask any adult child! It is plausible so much evil in the world exist because God can’t control or violate freedom and love perfectly. Divine love limits divine power. Maybe God can only stop evil with the help of others freely helping. Prayer mustn’t be represented as if God is a genie in a bottle. 

The prosperity gospel is miserably false. A person who believes that all their troubles will be swept away through a relationship with God is left with the logical explanation that God has failed them. Why don’t these false teachers take their message to those in extreme poverty or go to hospitals and heal the sick? The Bible is clear that lack of faith is not the reason for physical ailments or economic hardships. What God promises is a relationship with your Creator will can make you a better person than you were. I am which might not be saying much but I am trying! 

It doesn’t help when Christians claim to be so damn certain. 

Message alert. Christians can’t prove God exist. Neither can it be proven God doesn’t exist. Either believe requires faith. Christians need to let God handle their own business. It God wishes to convince anyone God is real, that is on God! It is logical to suggest we can’t be certain what an invisible, inaudibly God thinks, but supposed certainty has led to justifying slavery and other atrocities. Certainty has led to condemning gays, though scholars who accept Scriptures as authoritative, don’t agree the Bible disapproves of same-gender loving, monogamous, consensual relationships. Women, though gifted, are denied entrance into the priesthood or pastorate in God’s name. Uncertainty not certainty about God, unless talking about beheading infidels, protects against imposing beliefs on others in God’s name. We need honest, open dialogue as we continually evaluate what a loving God would truly be like.

God is good news because the bad news isn’t true! 

So many claims about God aren’t true. The Bible implies we can understand God’s love because perfect human love and God’s love are the same: “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Parent is perfect” (Mt. 5:48). Do you wish to believe in a God that you understand is truly loving? Also, do you wish to be shown mercy, be given second chances, to be forgiven for your regrets no matter how many times you fail, to be encouraged to be the person you deep down desire to be? Don’t you think you should show the same behaviors to others? Good news – God is a better lover than we are!

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by Mike Edwards

Keith Giles suggest another interpretation of Jesus’ teaching on divorce in Matthew’s Gospel that perhaps you haven’t considered. See here. It is a very realistic interpretation. Keep in mind no one can claim their interpretation is the correct one. The author isn’t available to ask what they meant nor is God writing in the sky lately. We would just twist the words in the sky to mean what we wanted them to mean than using loving sense.

Which interpretation on an issue may be best? See here.

“Anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.” [Matt. 19:9]

Jesus was speaking to men who had all the power. They could divorce women for whatever reason whenever they wanted. Women basically had no rights. Women were even more powerless when it came to opportunities to support themselves.

Jesus said what he did to protect women! Jesus was saying: Men, you can’t just do whatever the hell you want when getting married. This is why the disciple responded to Jesus’ statement – then it might be better to not marry (v. 10). Men, start acting like true lovers and not looking for ways out of your commitment if not for the right reasons!

My point is not to suggest the Bible should be read as a rules book or condemn those who have regrets in their past. Just don’t use the Bible to lead to further abuse of women at the hands of men. Don’t advise as if all relational circumstances are the same. Use loving sense! God may be speaking to you. Women, if in danger by all means run! Take care of yourself.

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By Mike Edwards

I swear this is the last time I will write on this subject until next time. There is repetition in my writing because I am always trying to answer the question better.  I named my blog What God May Really Be Like  in search of answers to this question. I am convinced many don’t pursue a relationship with God because of mistaken beliefs claimed about God.   

The truth is we can’t prove that God exist or doesn’t exist. Either belief takes faith. If a Creator does exist, most agree only a perfectly good or loving God is worth believing in. Such a statement is nonsensical if we are clueless about perfect love. A Creator surely loves in ways God’s creations sense they ought to love others.

God and perfect human love must be the same.

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). “Follow God’s example…” (Eph. 5:1). We may not always know what perfect love entails but at least we always know the question we ought to ask ourselves – am I loving others perfectly or am I loving others like our Creator loves. God is often claimed a mystery because one’s interpretation of Scriptures makes God seem evil. Such interpreters sense intuitively God and human love are the same.

Moral intuitions are a guide in what true love is.

It is plausible a universal compulsion to treat others like we want to be treated is how a Creator communicates how to treat others if in that person’s shoes. I don’t know any reasonable God or non-God believer that doesn’t respect the golden rule in relationships. Rational people don’t always agree what is our moral obligation concerning immigration, climate change, abortion, health care, taxes, or responding to evil dictators that murder their own people, but civil dialogue allows evaluating the challenges we encounter and finding what different views have in common.

But, what about the Bible?

We can’t prove if biblical writers were made to understand God perfectly as opposed to being on the same spiritual journey all are on – discovering what God is really like? Even if God inspired every word of the Bible, we can’t always know what the writers meant. Scholars disagree on the meaning of the same biblical passages concerning significant matters such as hell, women, gays, etc. Sick and weak minds carry out immoral acts contrary to common moral sense according to their interpretation. We must use our moral brains when reading ancient literature.

What About Jesus? 

It is argued, because of the challenges understanding God and violence in the Old Testament, that Jesus is the final word in understanding God. Jesus claimed to be God and His moral legacy seems undeniable. But God-followers don’t always agree what Jesus taught because of transmission, translation, and interpretation. People who love Jesus with all their heart don’t agree if Jesus’ teachings allow or rule out war when evil is rampant and victims can be saved. It is an illusion to claim we can know for certain what God would do because the Bible or Jesus says so.

What does God really think about women, gays, and non-Christians? 

Most intuitively question if a loving God really favors men over women in leadership roles which has encouraged centuries of domestic abuse and other atrocities women face. Most intuitively question if a loving God really condemn gays, who have to hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility, when gays can no more choose who attracted to than straights can.  Most intuitively question if God would torture infidels forever for beliefs while on earth only for a short time. Humans wouldn’t even create a place such as Hell for their worst enemies. Such beliefs may only be held because of one’s interpretation of a supposed inspired Book.

Uncertainty may be better than certainty.

Certainty has led to forcing “supposed” truths onto others. It is universally accepted that it is evil to kill or behead someone because of their beliefs, unless you are a terrorist, but it is not a universal belief that God condemns gays. God may not communicate more directly, because God’s awing or overpowering presence may only lead to fearful obligations to obey. The Bible was more direct communication, but it has been used to force beliefs on others despite subject to interpretation. The road traveled of learning and reflecting may best lead to lasting convictions. Different opinions communicated respectively can stand together as we continually evaluate the most loving.

It matters what we think God is like!

Our mental images of God shape our relationship with God and how followers might treat others. The more you respect your earthly parents or God, the closer you are to them. We can’t claim with certainty, which may not be a bad thing, what God would do in every situation but human perfection is our best starting point for discussion. We can’t know what God is exactly like, but continually evaluating the most loving approach openly with others is better than claiming certainty and being wrong. Imagine what God is like. You may be right!

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