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LETTER: The Bible is not optional

Wednesday, June 16, 2010 | 2:01 p.m. CDT; updated 2:10 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, June 16, 2010

This letter is in response to Molly Harbarger’s essay “COLUMN: Faith for the marginalized at the intersection of thinking and believing” (June 14). She said she has feelings of alienation regarding the topic of homosexuality within the Christian church.

My suggestion is to remember that if we force any church to accept even one policy, then true freedom of choice is lost.

Many people believe that the Bible is valid in its entirety, and they gain a great personal strength in aligning with its teachings in feelings, thoughts and actions. To my knowledge no Christian church has yet publicly made the disclaimer that some portions of the Bible may be invalid.

Gay men and women, if they want to be a part of the Christian faith, based on Bible principles, may participate with the acceptance of the church’s core policy that all parts of the Bible are valid.

The only other choice is to create a religion that uses an abridged form of the Bible. This would not be a Christian religion, but it could be given its own category.

Christianity in its true form never points fingers at one group, but instead says there is no man that does not sin (1 Kings 8:46). Everyone needs to struggle toward all the virtues, all the time, every day. No one is exempt.

Ms. Harbarger uses Bruce Ough’s quote “Jesus welcomes and loves all with the same love,” and yet this statement is incomplete. Jesus loves the potential to be holy in every person because “But, besides all these things, (clothe yourselves with) love, for it is a perfect bond of union.” (Colossians 3:14) If love is a perfect “bond of union,” then Jesus loves the parts of us that have bonded with his truth and goodness.

Everyone, including gay men and women, has the right to choose where to practice their faith. The Christian church, however, must not be regulated by law or public opinion. We must remember that the separation of church and state protects the church as well.

 


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Comments

Ryan Gavin June 16, 2010 | 3:04 p.m.

Julia,

I, too, believe that all of the Bible is valid and should be followed verbatim. However, I'm disappointed that other abominations are overlooked nowadays. Maybe you can help me out.

- Where should we go to sell daughters into slavery? (Exodus 21:7) What is a fair price to charge?
- I know I can own slaves, provided they're from a neighboring nation. (Leviticus 25:44) What country exports the best?
- Who do I go to about putting my coworker to death for working on the Sabbath? (Exodus 35:2) It'd be a real morale booster around here.
- How do we get rid of some of these fish places in town, seeing as how eating shellfish is an abomination? (Leviticus 11:10)
- What do we do with the people who cut their hair around their temples or insist on trimming their beards? After all, it's expressly forbidden in Leviticus 19:27.
- How do we ensure football players never come in contact with the ball? Leviticus 11:6-8 makes it clear that touching the carcass makes you unclean.
- There are several farms in and around our town that insist on planting two crops on the same land. There are also many people who wear fabric made of two different types of thread. (Leviticus 19:19). Do we stone them along with those who blaspheme? (Leviticus 24:10-16).

I anxiously await your response to my queries.

Sincerely,
Ryan Gavin

(My credit to J. Kent Ashcraft)

(Report Comment)
Claire Baker June 17, 2010 | 9:04 a.m.

Dear Ryan,

Off the top of my head I do cannot recall all the passages your verses come from. But I am rather sure many of them are not entirely in context concerning what God or Jesus was teaching and/or the historical context would change the implications of the passage.

I think we are in agreement that if homosexuality is going to be chastised so heavily by Christians (too heavily I think) shouldn't other sins be equally focused on? Especially since all sins have equal weight in God's eyes (provided a person is Protestant).

But we all are sinners. Currently, I am wearing fabric made from more than 2 types of thread. Luckily, Jesus still loves me.

Sincerely,
Claire Baker

(Report Comment)
Robert Simms June 17, 2010 | 1:12 p.m.

The bible is already a heavily edited and abridged book.

http://www.explorefaith.org/faq/bible/gn...

(Report Comment)
Warren Mayer June 17, 2010 | 3:45 p.m.

Hello, Ryan. Hey, I'd like to invite you to seek out any local Christian church and ask your tough questions to a pastor, elder or fairly-well-read member of the congregation. The cleanliness laws you cite from the Old Testament, for example, were written for a specific, historic, covenant people - the Jews - with which God had initiated a special relationship. In Acts 10, though, God effectively takes the wheels off Peter's wagon when He tells him not only to eat "unclean" food but also to minister to the Gentiles, absolutely unheard of and scandalous for a devout Jew of Peter's day! Point being, if you want to discredit the Bible by using the Old Testament, I'd probably go with the book of Joshua and the blood-soaked conquest of Canaan instead. Better, perhaps, to ask your difficult questions with a true seeker's heart. And keep asking until you get a better understanding of the old and new covenants...and then at least you will be rejecting an orthodox understanding. Wish you all the best!

(Report Comment)
Ryan Gavin June 17, 2010 | 4:27 p.m.

All,

I appreciate the feedback, but I do want to clarify what I meant by my earlier posting.

I do think the Bible and Christianity in general have great things to offer society. Messages of loving your fellow man, caring for those worse off than yourself and doing the right thing are messages for any person in any society.

I take umbrage with people who use passages from the Bible to promote discrimination when there are so many ridiculous ways to interpret literal things written. My absurd take on it was simply a way of pointing those out.

Please do not take my posting as an attack on others' faith but as a counterargument to the author of the letter. I apologize if you felt that was my intent.

Sincerely,
Ryan Gavin

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush June 17, 2010 | 8:57 p.m.

For when my belief is tested -
http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

And this tells me to whom I should listen (I Tim. 2:11-12) -
http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=1Tim+2%...

And here's why I'm not a Christian (Luke 14:26)
http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Luke+14...

I love my parents too much, and my mother, who is Christian, has too much wisdom in other things for me to discount her experience.

(Report Comment)
Terry Williams June 23, 2010 | 8:11 a.m.

As a seminary student in the United Church of Christ (the church of the Pilgrims), I have to admit, my church has always advocated careful exposition and interpretation of the Bible as it is used in the life and faith of the church.

To assume that the Bible is even of one mind within itself on issues confronting humanity is to reflect a poor reading of the entire book. A great multitude of opinions related to centralized worship, warfare, and sexuality are expressed within the Bible, giving the book a smorgasbord character rather than a single, clear voice.

The matter of homosexuality is likewise an unclear topic within scripture. While the Bible does contain a few isolated statements condemning the abuse of others via same-sex rape and power struggle, at no point in the biblical record is there any statement condemning same-sex, mutual-love relationships. The concept of modern homosexual love and commitment is as foreign to the Bible’s human authors as the internet or the Toyota Prius; the Bible simply does not speak to the issue in the modern day.

So what does the Bible speak today? Love (John 3:16), Corporate Humility (Matthew 7:1), and Faith above belief (Hebrews 11:1) are enough for me to safely assume that homosexuals who love each other are not incompatible with Christian teaching. You can disagree with my interpretation--the interpretation of the majority of the United Church of Christ--but you cannot discount it. Christians do accept lesbians and gays, and we do not have to change our name to do it.

(Report Comment)

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