I read an article today called “The Problem With Assuming Liberal Christians Hate the Bible.” The title intrigued me, so I read the article. I know the author didn’t write the article to me, but this post is my response, just in case anybody cares (see the title of my blog). I agreed with some of what he said, and disagreed with other things.
First of all, I understand that there are many views on biblical interpretation, but I’m going to operate on the basis that you can’t believe in literal interpretation AND that the whole Bible is an allegorical book of nice stories that don’t apply to modern life. You have to pick one of these positions.
The article starts with a discussion about how the author just wanted to relax in the Jacuzzi when he was accosted by a fellow traveler. From his description of the other guy, we can infer that the author believes this man to be (in order of implication): old, fat, redneck, and stupid/inconsiderate. The other guy then assumes that since the author was speaking to ministers, he himself was a conservative. I agree with the author that people should not assume that those who identify themselves as Christians have the same political views as other Christians you know. We could just leave it at that, but the author goes on.
He “outs” himself (see what I did there. Little joke.) to the NASCAR fan as a supporter of “gay marriage.” I found his use of the words “…marriage for all people…” to be interesting, given that polygamy and incest are still illegal. I think his purpose could have been better served by simply stating “…marriage for both LGBT and straight people…” He then states that he thinks God would be “proud of California.” In order for God to be proud of California, God would have to approve of homosexuality. I fail to find any passage of Scripture that states God is “proud” of gay people (or any people, really).
The author relates a comment from the seminary president which states basically that Christians who support gay people haven’t done a good job of convincing other Christians that you can be a Christian and support LGBT people. I will simply say Christians should NOT support the practice of homosexuality because homosexuality is sin, and God directs us to hate sin (Psalm 97:10). I want to state right here that what the author says flippantly (hate the sin/love the sinner) is a foundational precept of my faith: we are ALL sinners. So I am to love people who practice homosexuality in the same way that I love people who practice adultery, lying, stealing, gluttony, and unbelief (the worst sin).
Then the author makes the statement that “Liberal Christians love the Bible.” I can accept that liberal Christians love the Bible for a given value of “love.” In other words, I can accept that you can support abortion, homosexuality, euthanasia, gun control, and open borders immigration, and still love the “idea” of the Bible. But, in my view, to say that you love the Bible is to say that you accept the Bible as the Word of God; the sole authority for faith and practice. And in my view (and the view of most of my conservative Christian friends), you can’t think that the Bible is the sole authority for faith and practice and still support homosexuality, baby murder, sick people murder, etc. Many liberals give lip service to the Bible, but they do not truly make changes in their lives based on what the Bible says. They think their own opinion is of greater value than what the Bible says. If the Bible says something that goes against what they think, they figure out how to interpret the Bible so that it doesn’t disagree with their view. I can give examples.
And here I will correct an error of assumption the author is making: Conservative Christians do not think the Bible is “…a set of timeless golden tablets that says all that needs to be said once and for all about everything of importance.” We believe the Bible is specific in some areas and gives general principles in others. Here’s an example: the Bible doesn’t say “don’t’ smoke cigarettes,” but it does say in I Corinthians 10:31 that we should glorify God in everything we do. Therefore, since cigarettes harm the body and are offensive to many people, it’s probably more glorifying to God to not smoke.
I want to state categorically here that I love LGBT people. I want the best possible outcome for them. I want them to repent of their sin and join me in seeking to follow God through the teachings of the Bible. I stand against those who would hurt LGBT people physically or do evil to them. I wholly repudiate the Westboro Baptist Church, Shirley Phelps-Roper, and their ilk.
But the author’s contention that liberals support the practice of homosexuality BECAUSE of the Bible is anathema to me. I cannot possibly disagree with this statement any more than I do. It would be like saying all skydivers hate heights. I cannot believe that someone has a correct interpretation of the Bible and still support homosexuality.
We conservative Christians don’t believe “…God has no problem tightening the screws on the abused and the powerless…” We believe God loves all people and wants each person to come to a proper view of their own sin before God and receive His forgiveness as provided by Jesus Christ’s death on the cross. After salvation, we believe God wants people to live for him and not for themselves. This means that we should continually examine our lives and see in what areas our behavior, thoughts, and words disagree with what God states in the Bible, and change those things in which we fall short. One of these areas is homosexuality.
And so, to my liberal friends who are trusting Christ alone for forgiveness and are headed to heaven as a result, I would say that, in my view, there are two possibilities: either you aren’t interpreting the Bible correctly or you aren’t truly a believer. I don’t see how someone can say they love the Bible, and go against what it teaches. This is the equivalent of saying you love the Emancipation Proclamation while buying more slaves. May it never be so.
“I would say that, in my view, there are two possibilities: either you aren’t interpreting the Bible correctly or you aren’t truly a believer. I don’t see how someone can say they love the Bible, and go against what it teaches.” I gently reject the assumption of this statement. First of all, your view is not the defining view for all persons. Second, I reject your premise that there are merely two possibilities, and that you have identified all of the possibilities that exist. Next, your presume that someone can “say” they love the Bible and then “go against what it teaches.” This presumes that your understanding of what the Bible teaches is the end all in understanding the meaning of the sacred scriptures. In my experience, one who sees the world, or an issue as either this way or that way, has prematurely foreclosed possibilities that may well be crucial to true understanding. Our understanding of so much is dreadfully very limited, and, in my opinion, based on my quite limited personal understanding, it is important that our judgments about conduct are better directed inward, and our love and compassion directed outward. It well may be that the attention given sexual orientation by both so-called conservative Christians and so-called liberal Christians is a red-herring perhaps designed to distract us all, as followers of Jesus, from the pathways and the jobs where we are most needed and toward which our attention needs to be directed.
I never said my view is the defining view for all persons. Obviously it isn’t, since I had to write this post. Secondly, I agree with you that there are other viewpoints. It’s like the old adage that if you ask three rabbis about an issue, you will get six different answers.
In response to the rest of your post: I would be happy to leave the issue alone, but the homosexual lobby is becoming increasingly militant, promoting homosexuality as a good thing. I have been told in the past that I shouldn’t “shove my beliefs down people’s throats.” However, I and others like me feel that this is what gay rights people are doing to us. What’s good for the goose….
Actually, homosexuality, like heterosexuality, is a neutral thing, much like hair color. The problem is when someone of one color hair demonizes those who don’t share their hair color.
Oh, and if you think that people living their lives with those they love is “shoving beliefs down your throat” then what are you doing when you post publicly about the immorality of homosexuality?
You seem to be operating under the assumption that sexual orientation is genetic. I would tend to disagree with you on this point.
Also, the point of the post is not to debate the merits of homosexuality, but to discuss the fact that some people say they “love the Bible” and yet also say that homosexual behavior is not a sin. Is it natural for people to have homosexual tendencies? Yes, because the human nature is depraved, corrupted by our sin nature. Without getting too theological here, our understanding of right and wrong has been corrupted. This is what makes happily married men struggle with pornography. This is what makes happily married women “fall in love” with someone else and abandon their husband and children. I’ve seen it happen over and over. So saying homosexuality is natural is fine, but something being natural does not make it right.
As far as “shoving beliefs down throats,” I would direct you to my post https://skpicky.wordpress.com/2013/04/16/tolerance/ for a few examples of the new normal. Me talking about how it’s wrong isn’t “shoving my beliefs? because you don’t have to read my blog. Nobody does (see the title?). My blog isn’t going to affect anyone’s life other than maybe bending their nose a little. I condemn violence on both sides. I condemn the idiots at the Westboro Baptist Church, and I condemn those homosexual activists who disturb the peace in other ways. Both sides should fight to enact laws for the good of society as they see it, but there shouldn’t be violence or hatred. Posting about the immorality of homosexuality is ok, because of the first amendment. I’m allowed to have my opinion, and you are allowed to disagree with me. That’s one of the things that is supposed to make this country great.
Actually, there is scientific evidence that it is genetic, but to me that makes no difference. Having grown up with gay people my whole life, I recognize that many of them have been gay their entire lives (like since early childhood). So it doesn’t matter to me whether God made them that way before birth or afterwards.
Do you realize that when you say that homosexuality is depraved, you are contributing to the fact that there is an extremely high incidence of suicide and suicide attempts by gay youth (one in three will try; 34,000 succeed everywhere; it’s the third leading cause of death in that group)? Research shows that that high rate is caused by the lack of support and outright condemnation they feel from their families and communities. This isn’t simply a matter of free speech to them. It’s literally life and death.
Which makes your bit on tolerance ring hollow. Deal with the daily punishment (beaten up, spit on, raped, humiliated, isolated, kicked out of their homes) that these CHILDREN face everyday and then tell me that the people in your examples (who actively practiced discrimination) are just as harmed as those they discriminate against and whom they help drive to self-destruction.
Homosexuality is genetic? How is it passed on? Nevermind. That’s a whole separate discussion.
You misunderstand my post about depravity. I never said “homosexuality is depraved.” I said, ” Is it natural for people to have homosexual tendencies? Yes, because the human nature is depraved, corrupted by our sin nature. ” We are ALL depraved. This means that we are born with a damaged moral compass. We think certain things are right when they are not right. This does not just refer to homosexuality but also to all the other sins that the Bible enumerates. When I look at my friend’s car and wish that I had it, that is equally as sinful as a man looking on another man with lust, and equally as sinful as the carrying out of those desires.
I am not contributing to the suicide of gay youth by pointing out that we are all sinful and that homosexuality is merely one of these sins. Am I also contributing to the suicide of straight youth by telling them that premarital sex is sin? I reject your condemnation of my stand on the clear teaching of the Bible.
Your last paragraph is getting pretty emotional and we are merely having a discussion here. As far as my tolerance post goes, I gave two examples of citizens of the United States who were discriminated against by homosexuals and homosexual supporters. I know gay people. Some of my coworkers are gay. They are not beaten up, spit on, raped, humiliated, isolated and kicked out of their homes EVERY DAY as your post suggests. I would venture that there are gay people who have never experienced these things. There are also some who have experienced all of them. I would also venture that you could pick any group of people (blondes, hispanics, city-people in rural areas, different nationalities, etc) that have experienced these things as well. Gay people don’t deserve special consideration from everybody else.
So yes, I will say that to have your livelihood threatened (as the B&B owner in HI and the cookie maker in Indiana were) is just as harmed as gay people who are told they aren’t obeying God in their chosen lifestyle. Have you seen this video? This is one example of someone who was peacefully protesting things that the Bible refers to as “sin.” He was vilified, yelled at, beaten up, humiliated, and isolated. His right to protest was taken away. His right to stand in a public place without being assaulted and battered was taken away. Those who support gay rights felt that they were justified in silencing his dissent with violence. Now tell me that gay people and their supporters are merely victims.
You need to reread your own comments “This means that we should continually examine our lives and see in what areas our behavior, thoughts, and words disagree with what God states in the Bible, and change those things in which we fall short.” You are right – we are to clean up OUR OWN lives and let Jesus work with others where HE sees they have need. If you are opposed to homosexuality, do not practice it. But even if you are opposed to it, the ” person without sin should throw the first stone” kicks in. It is not up to you to decide what is sin for others. I personally don’t approve of drinking or smoking, but that doesn’t mean that I am going to cut people out of my life who do either of those. They will not smoke or come drunk to my home, but that is it. I am a bit of a nag on smoking, but it is not because of my Christianity but because I do not want that person to die.
Yes, we are to clean up our own lives; on this we agree. I also agree with you that it isn’t up to me to decide what is sin. However, it IS up to God, and He has made it clear in His word. I think the word you are looking for is “judge,” as in “it isn’t up to me to judge people for their sin.” I would actually agree with you, because their sin is between them and God. That was the whole point of the story in John 8 that you reference (“…throw the first stone…”): that God is the only one that can judge someone for their sin. If you read the story, though, Christ never condemns the crowd for pointing out her sin, and He actually agrees with the crowd’s identification that what she had done was sin when he told her to “Go and sin no more.” In effect, He was saying, “I will show mercy on you, now go on your way, and stop committing adultery.”
Your example of drinking and smoking makes my point for me. Do I walk around and yell at people for being gay? No. Do they know how I feel about the issue? Yes. I have friends/relatives who sleep together that aren’t married. I don’t yell at them, even though I know that, according to the Bible what they are doing is sin. I love them and try to be a good testimony them. They know my position, and that’s enough. I don’t have to keep harping on it.
I hear people quote Matthew 6:1 a lot (“Judge not…”) but they never read the following verses in which Christ COMMANDS us to judge other people. Specifically read verses 2 and 5. The point of these verses is that we shouldn’t judge hypocritically. I shouldn’t yell at someone about the evils of smoking in between drags on my Marlboro. That’s what Christ was saying (generally speaking).
What exactly does the Bible say about gun control and open borders?
Deborah, Ha! You got me. The Bible doesn’t say anything about gun control and open borders. However, if you go back and re-read my post, I never claimed that the Bible addresses these issues. I merely identified them as issues that liberals support.
Hi Steve —
There is something that always bothers me about the sexual immorality conversation at church. The Bible condemns homosexuality and sex outside of marriage. Divorce and remarriage is also classified as adultery in the Sermon on the Mount, not just taken-out-of-context verses in Leviticus and Acts, so anyone who is remarried is living in a constant state of sin. I always hear pastors exhorting their congregation to celibacy if they are gay or unmarried, but never mentioning the probably >50% of their divorced congregation. Why is there such a large double standard?
For me, and others I imagine, it is hard to take the church seriously when there is no consistency and they seem to be angling for tithes more than sanctification.
Not sure if there is an answer, but it’s been on my mind.
“…taken out of context verses in Leviticus and Acts…” To what are you referring here?
I would agree with you that the topic of divorce and remarriage is a tough one. There are many varied views of what is correct and proper,and it becomes a sticky subject. For instance, what do you tell someone who was divorced and then remarried? Did they commit adultery by getting remarried? Yes. What should they do now? Divorce again? Who has these answers?
I understand the Bible to say that marriage is between a man and a woman, and this is the only sexual activity sanctioned by God. All other forms of sexual activity are sin: masturbation, fornication, adultery, pre-marital sex, bestiality, homosexuality, pedophilia, incest, and (unfortunately) the list goes on.
But what about when the marriage goes south? The Bible seems to indicate that if fornication is the cause, then divorce is not a sin in that case. The Bible also seems to indicate in I Corinthians 7 that if one spouse is a non-believer and they leave the marriage, the believing spouse is free to remarry without restriction.
My personal view is that, if my wife and I should divorce because we don’t like each other anymore (or whatever), then I am not free (biblically) to remarry. Ever. Unless I reconcile with my wife. This means that, unless she dies first, I will never sleep with another person on earth except my wife.
And finally; consistency. You want consistency in “the church?” There are hundreds of denominations that all believe different things about different doctrines, and practice their faith in different ways. You can’t demand something from a group like “the church” that is so decentralized as to make such a request insane. If “the church” can’t even agree on how to baptize people (pouring, sprinkling, immersing, trine, forward, backward, etc), how are we supposed to be consistent in any other area. I think you expect too much.
Maybe not consistency, although when an entity (I understand how fractured the church is, so allow a simple generalization so we don’t stick with “my pastor said..”) claims to be behind the truth but ignores parts of the Bible that seem inconvenient it’s hard to get behind the selective condemnation that occurs (i.e. yes, biblically, you should treat remarried couples the same as you would treat a gay couple — living in sin and needing to end that relationship, but in all of my years in churches I have never heard this mentioned). I think expecting them to focus on at least the New Testament rules, as spoken by Jesus, would be fair.
In 1 Corinthians 7, there would seem to be a divorce option if your spouse is a non-believer AND is unwilling to live with you. In the sermon on the mount, you would get another for infidelity. That may account for ~50% of divorces, it’s hard to quantify, but that means ~25% of people (assuming a 50% divorce rate overall) would currently be living in sin if they found a new partner.
What’s the point of religion and a relationship with Christ if you are only willing to follow the rules that you don’t struggle with? It’s easy to condemn homosexuals and other deviants, but it is simple hypocrisy if you then ignore all of your brothers and sisters who divorced and are now living in sexual immorality.
So let me understand this: you are saying that if a person gets divorced, and then remarried, they should get divorced again? I would agree with you that if they get divorced, they shouldn’t remarry, but how is committing one sin (divorce) better than committing another (adultery via 2nd marriage)?
I think where we are disagreeing is that you see the adultery as a one-time only sin. If I am having an affair, is it just a sin the first time so it’s totally fine to continue it? Or is it a new sin every single time? If you are in an adulterous relationship (aka a constant state of sin), then yes, you should end it. I’m going to pull a kind of rotten move and copy/paste something that you put in your article: “I will simply say Christians should NOT support the practice of homosexuality because homosexuality is sin, and God directs us to hate sin (Psalm 97:10).”
If you have no problem telling other people to end their relationships because they are living in sin, for consistency in your own life you should probably do the same across the board for all things that God describes as sin.
Yes, we disagree on that point. I think you are looking at each individual sexual interaction as a separate incidence of adultery. I am viewing the situation thusly: the divorced person commits adultery BY MARRYING someone else, not by sleeping with them (although this would also be adultery, before they were married). Once they are re-married, I would not consider it to be adultery, since I Corinthians 7 says that spouses are supposed to have sex.
I am going to state right now that I am not going to be dogmatic about this, as this situation is not clearly enumerated in Scripture. The Bible has principles that we can apply to the situation, but which principle outweighs the others is not clear. I look at the Bible as a whole and base my position as I understand it best. You disagree with me, and that’s fine. This isn’t something that we are going to come to agreement on until we die, because then we can just ask God.
And just so you are not confused, I don’t walk around telling people they should end their relationships because they are living in sin. This is my blog where I state what I believe, but I don’t sit at work and tell my gay coworkers that I think God condemns their lifestyle and that they should change. If they ask me what I believe, I will tell them.
Actually I had a gay man try to get me fired for my beliefs once. I am a nurse, and he was my patient. At one point during the day, he asked me point blank, “What do you think about homosexuality?” I told him in a very non-confrontational tone that I believe the Bible says that it is sin, but no more sinful than any other sin, including some that I struggle with. I told him that ultimately it is between each person and God. He complained to my manager. He lied and said that I told him he was going to hell because he was gay. I never said that. Tell me how that fits into your concept of tolerance.