Monday, April 30, 2012

Stop Using the Bible to Legislate Other People...

Speaking of how we all like to pick and choose... There are about 6-7 texts in the bible (most of which are from the Old Testament) that are used to make a case against same sex relationships, all of which can be, and are, questioned and debated as to whether or not they actually condemn same sex, monogamous, loving relationships. The state in which I live is about to vote on an amendment that reads,
Constitutional amendment to provide that marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.
People on both sides of the argument are very passionate about their positions. I've seen some good arguments and healthy discussions from both sides. That's a good thing and I respect other people's opinions. However, I am confused when Christians argue that the amendment should be supported, and that same sex marriage should be illegal, because the Bible says homosexuality is wrong or because God intended marriage to be a certain way. As I said, for many people/scholars this is debatable... No matter what you think the Bible says about homosexuality, it can be debated and the other side can be argued because the text and/or the context is not always clear. However, I've never seen or heard a debate on whether or not the Bible says to take care of the poor. Of course it does. Jesus says that pretty clearly and multiple times (he also says nothing about homosexuality). Did God intend for all of us to be Capitalist? However, just try to insinuate that there should be legislation dealing with how people (especially the rich) should spend their money and you will be labeled a communist... even though the bible is clearly against having extra while others have nothing. And what about violence? Jesus is clearly against violence. He speaks out against retributive violence. He says things like, "do not resist an evil person, but instead turn the other cheek." yet most Christians are in favor of self defense laws that protect people who shoot and kill trespassers, the right to carry weapons, and the death penalty. And with this logic, it should definitely be illegal for anyone who is divorced to marry again, for doesn't Jesus say to do so is committing adultery? Doesn't the Bible say that God hates divorce? And yet, I'm sure those who are divorced would feel differently if we were all voting on an amendment about whether or not they should be allowed to get remarried. The point of this post is not to argue what is and isn't a sin or what one believes the bible says about certain things, rather I want to say... Stop using (some of) the Bible to legislate OTHER people.


Andy said...

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, the bible IS your legislation, congress, senate, president and king! For those who question or choose to debate scripture that is plain and in your face simple do's and don'ts the Bible calls them foolish. When God told Lot and his family not to look back at Sodom and Gomorrah uh I think his instruction was clear. The only reason an individual is willing to tolerate certain sins is because we have either participated in that sin or we have thought about that sin and our tolerance for that sin has increased. If you ask a child molesting, murder on death roe if he deserves death for his crime, 9 times out of 10 he will say no. However, most of us will say yes he does because we could never picture ourselves doing something that horrible. I say stop tolerating sin long enough to see that sin seperates you from God and to obtain that relationship that God so richly desires to have with us you need only recognize your need for Him in your life and allow him to change you from the inside out.

westjourn said...

For Andy....this question. Where do you keep your slaves? Do they live in the house with you? Or do you have a shack out back where they reside? Do you hide them in the woods? Surely you have slaves, because the Bible speaks of such so freely and never, ever, condemns the institution of slavery. It only says that, if you will pardon the jargon, we should be "nice" to them. And the pastoral epistles are not even very supportive of being nice.

It only took us a little under 2,000 years to figure out that slavery is something horrific and the Bible got it wrong on that one in a big-time way.

And, oh yes, the insinuations (If you are a follower...) or the blanket statistics (9 out of 10...)Where do you get that? I am always amazed at how some folk have the power to understand so much about what others are thinking or experiencing. How do you do that?

Gary West

Andy said...

There is a tendency to look at slavery as something of the past. But it is estimated that there are today over 12 million people in the world who are subject to slavery: forced labor, sex trade, inheritable property, etc. As those who have been redeemed from the slavery of sin, followers of Jesus Christ should be the foremost champions of ending human slavery in the world today. The question arises, though, why does the Bible not speak out strongly against slavery? Why does the Bible, in fact, seem to support the practice of human slavery?

The Bible does not specifically condemn the practice of slavery. It gives instructions on how slaves should be treated (Deuteronomy 15:12-15; Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 4:1), but does not outlaw slavery altogether. Many see this as the Bible condoning all forms of slavery. What many fail to understand is that slavery in biblical times was very different from the slavery that was practiced in the past few centuries in many parts of the world. The slavery in the Bible was not based exclusively on race. People were not enslaved because of their nationality or the color of their skin. In Bible times, slavery was more a matter of social status. People sold themselves as slaves when they could not pay their debts or provide for their families. In New Testament times, sometimes doctors, lawyers, and even politicians were slaves of someone else. Some people actually chose to be slaves so as to have all their needs provided for by their masters.

The slavery of the past few centuries was often based exclusively on skin color. In the United States, many black people were considered slaves because of their nationality; many slave owners truly believed black people to be inferior human beings. The Bible most definitely does condemn race-based slavery. Consider the slavery the Hebrews experienced when they were in Egypt. The Hebrews were slaves, not by choice, but because they were Hebrews (Exodus 13:14). The plagues God poured out on Egypt demonstrate how God feels about racial slavery (Exodus 7-11). So, yes, the Bible does condemn some forms of slavery. At the same time, the Bible does seem to allow for other forms. The key issue is that the slavery the Bible allowed for in no way resembled the racial slavery that plagued our world in the past few centuries.

In addition, both the Old and New Testaments condemn the practice of “man-stealing” which is what happened in Africa in the 19th century. Africans were rounded up by slave-hunters, who sold them to slave-traders, who brought them to the New World to work on plantations and farms. This practice is abhorrent to God. In fact, the penalty for such a crime in the Mosaic Law was death: “Anyone who kidnaps another and either sells him or still has him when he is caught must be put to death” (Exodus 21:16). Similarly, in the New Testament, slave-traders are listed among those who are “ungodly and sinful” and are in the same category as those who kill their fathers or mothers, murderers, adulterers and perverts, and liars and perjurers (1 Timothy 1:8-10).

Another crucial point is that the purpose of the Bible is to point the way to salvation, not to reform society. The Bible often approaches issues from the inside out. If a person experiences the love, mercy, and grace of God by receiving His salvation, God will reform his soul, changing the way he thinks and acts. A person who has experienced God’s gift of salvation and freedom from the slavery of sin, as God reforms his soul, will realize that enslaving another human being is wrong. A person who has truly experienced God’s grace will in turn be gracious towards others. That would be the Bible’s prescription for ending slavery

Mindy said...

Interesting. Andy shows how people misinterpret the Bible as promoting slavery. In one sense, he is showing how dogmatic, "Bible-believing" Christians had it wrong 50 or 60 years ago.

(To read some of their writing from back then, it is uncanny and eerie how it parallels the language coming out today from the dogmatic, Bible-believing Christian community regarding homosexuality.)

I'd love to read Andy's hermeneutics regarding common misinterpretation of the Bible scriptures that address homosexuality.

Isn't that exactly what is happening now? Folks think they know what the Bible means...


Andy said...

Hey Mindy,

The Bible is very clear on Gods stand on the issue of homosexuality. The problem with todays society is that we have grown in our moral decay and are therefore daily becoming more and more desensitized. It is true that Jesus did not address the lifestyle of homosexuality only because it was not necessary for him to do so. it was not tolerated, practiced nor allowed in the Jewish culture. The scripture is very clear in Leviticus 20:13, Leviticus 18:22, 1 Corinthians 6:9, 1 Timothy 1:10, Jude 1:7.

If you take the time to study the character of God, His relationship with the church is patterned after the marriage relationship as a Husband being Jesus and the church his Bride. The Bible is full on how a relationship between husband and wife and their children are to be held. The ONLY scripture in reference to homosexuality is that of condemnation.

It even refers to the sin of immorality as sin against both the body and spirit 1 Corinthians 6:18. This includes fornication, adultery as well as homosexuality.

A verse continually used by the liberal christian society is Romans 8:1, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. But what does that mean? To be in Christ Jesus is to be a new creation born again, the old sin nature is replaced with the spirit of God. Jesus died to offer forgiveness of our sins. let me ask you a question, how many times will you allow me to steal from you before you say enough? As long as I say I'm sorry you should have no reason to stop me. "Its what i choose to do and no one even if they disagree can tell me I'm wrong". To turn to Jesus means you have to sacrifice your selfish desire, take up his will for your life and follow Him. To do that means to give up old sin habits. The awesome thing is that you are no longer alone but by the power of the Holy spirit are you able to change your lifestyle.

If you can find one passage in scripture that clearly says a homosexual lifestyle is not only allowed but condoned by God then please let me know. Unlike Mr. Gary, and his ignorance of slavery, to my knowledge there are none!

The scripture is clear, you can have your quote own thoughts and interpretation, but there is only one God and one Word of God. The question you have to ask yourself is do you believe Jesus is who he says he is? Do you believe the Bible to be without error? If not, then non of this matters and we will see upon our day of death. The statement to consider is, if I'm wrong then there is no loss but if i am right, then is it worth an eternity without HIM?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting my sentiments without me having to do any work! The only thing I'd like to add is the irony that legislating Christian principles is eerily similar to Shiria Law which makes most American conservatives start twitching.
Really, the two sources of law are very similar, though.

Paul said...

However, we must use SOMETHING to legislate. So what SHOULD we use? I tend to go a different direction then most. I tend to feel the Scriptures are useful in legislation. ALL the scriptures. I tend to believe the Death Penalty, Revenge, Lust, Greed, Adultery, Shacking up and Homosexual Marriage are all in contrast with Gods design. I simply can not guide my life solely on the Red Letters in my Bible alone. This does Jesus a great disservice, and undermines His purpose. For Jesus Himself claims oneship with the One who inspired the black letters and Jesus spent years of his life devoted to studying and knowing them. Thankfully Jesus overcame many of the legalisms of the Old Law, but, they should not be cast aside, just because the trend in politics says so. You see I have a hard time giving credibility to a party/movement/sect that seem to think that Jesus would be against laws protecting marriage, but that He would be FOR laws allowing babies being shredded alive within the very womb that He breathed life. See both sides pick and chose. If the Death Penalty is wrong, then so is abortion....I also have an issue with any party/movement/sect, that thinks that Jesus would want us all armed, and fighting wars and hating people who are gay. Again, both sides pick and chose.

I'm one of the weirdos who thinks both are wrong. Both are souls that Jesus died and suffered for. Which brings me to my original question. We must use SOMETHING to legislate. So what SHOULD we use?

Another thing never mentioned in these debates is this. Its all legislation. In some states Pastors may eventually be forced (legislated) to perform ceremonies that they do not condone. I will be forced (legislated) to hire someone whose lifestyle is one I disagree with. Every vote takes away the freedoms of someone.
Thats the thing that cracks me up. No one ever considers that.

Anonymous said...

The Bible plainly states:

1) There is no permissible reason to marry, divorce and re-marry. To do so results in adultery (Mark 10:11).
2) The penalty for adultery is death ( Deut. 22:22 ).
3) The penalty for same-sex relations is death ( Lev. 20:13 ).
Should the church and society follow only No. 1 or all three?

The Bible is a sacred text, containing matters of faith, ethics, justice, forgiveness, love and much more. It is not a book about science.

There is no biblical understanding of homosexuality. In the Bible there are only two types of sexual persons: heterosexual males and heterosexual females. Therefore, the six passages condemning same-sex acts are addressed to heterosexuals acting against their “nature.” There is no condemnation of loving, committed relationships in the Bible. Abusive, sick relationships are everywhere condemned, especially heterosexual ones