Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Hard Questions

An online acquaintance of mine (who shall remain nameless to those of you who can't do simple Brian Ross style internet research) posed to me the following questions. Questions that came up out of the supposed Chic-fil-A controversy:

Scott, can you explain to me the method for picking/choosing which parts of the bible are legitimate?

Serious question.

I'd like to know how someone makes life choices based on a book that contains God's instructions if only bits and pieces are acceptable.

Christians seem confused by their own book.

Is it "love thy neighbor", and "judge not" or is it "use the bible to justify hate while ignoring injunctions in the very same chapter"?

 ALL anti-gay bible quotes are old testament. if some of it applies, all of it applies.

 otherwise, strap on the hypocrite helmet, it's gonna be a bumpy ride.

My answer was as follows, please feel free to comment/correct my theology or apologetics:

There's a lot here, I'll try to answer your questions sincerely:

The first one, "picking/choosing," boils down to reading comprehension, really. There is a lot of ceremonial/cultural law that's sole purpose was to create for God a chosen and unique people, set aside from the "world" for His expressed purpose. A great example of this, which is often misused by haters, is that Torah observant Jews cannot wear cloth with mixed fabrics or have tattoos (apparently because God is that concerned with purity). This was, and never has been, intended to be observed by the NT church (in large part because we aren't born into the church, like the Jew is "born" into Judaism, so if I already have a tattoo or a nice cotton/polyester blend button-up when we become a Christian, then we're screwed straight away).

That being said, the OT as a whole still gives us great insight into the character of God, like the example I used - His concern for His people to be pure, even if some of the specific laws don't "apply" anymore.

Generally speaking, people that use "doesn't the Bible say don't judge" (et al) are just as wrong as the people that use the Bible to hate on other people. Personally, I believe that there is absolutely no justification for Christians to expect non-believers to adhere to dictates they don't believe are truly from God, that makes no sense, and is why I never speak against SSM equity and the likes. It makes no hill-of-beans difference to me if two dudes that couldn't care less about the Bible, or the God who wrote it, want to violate its statues. (But I also don't want the Gov't telling my church it has to marry dudes, which is in contradiction to its beliefs (I'm speaking generally here))

"Judge not" and others like, are often (I'd almost say always actually) taken out of context by non-believers to justify their sin in the face of a critical Christian populace. In my reading of it, Jesus was instructing His followers to be gentle when dealing with others' sin because of the very fact that we ourselves are sinners (otherwise, why did Jesus die?). He wasn't saying, "Hey, it's open season on sinning, and those of you that makes uncomfortable, too bad, you'll have to deal!" He was saying, "Hey, yeah, your bother is a sinner, and that's bad, but so are you, so take care of yourself before you go trying to correct him, and either way, I got it covered"

It's a misconception that all "anti-gay" quotes are from the OT. The ones you see used most often are from the OT probably because of their familiarity, but as Paul said in his letter to the church in Rome:

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
That states pretty clearly that homosexuality is both unnatural (for humans) and sinful.

And ultimately Christians are hypocrites, and for that I am genuinely sorry. Followers of Jesus should never claim to be perfect, because we aren't, we are, however, perfectly forgiven, through the Blood of Jesus Christ, thanks be to God!

People are people, that's plain to the both of us. We never do anything perfectly. To expect Christians to "do" Christianity "perfectly" (whatever that would look like) seems as misguided and hypocritical as me expecting you to come to church with me every Sunday, because the Bible says so, and me getting angry with you when you don't show.

(this obviously only scratches the surfaces of a bunch intensely complex subjects, but as always, I appreciate your candor and willingness to have the discussion)

And as always, thank you for taking the time to read!