This post is a direct response to a comment I received on an article I did called Heinz Ad Pushes Gay Marriage and Family – Features Homosexuals Kissing. I knew when I posted it that the article might spark a debate, but I don’t think I realized how much of a debate it would be.
The comments on that article were really kicked off by Tamara who felt I was misinterpreting the Heinz ad. She argued her point intelligently and others got involved in the debate. The discussion got in to politics and religion, however, and the comments started getting long and fairly in-depth so I decided that breaking a couple of them out into their own posts might be a better way for me to respond and for others to get involved in the discussion should they desire.
I already posted a separate reply to a comment by Michael in a post I called Michael’s Comment: “Some guy said that God told him to tell you…” – Jason Responds. There were also two other articles that derived directly from my reply to Michael which were How Do We Know The Bible Is The Word Of God? and An Explanation of the Apparent Contradictions Between the Old Testament and the New Testament of the Bible – either of which I may refer to in this post.
I understand that not everyone will agree with my opinions (nor those who oppose my opinions), but I do ask that we all keep the debate and discussion civil and respectful as I always try to do. I have a firm grasp of my own beliefs and why I believe the way I do so I always enjoy debating and discussing my ideas and beliefs be they religious or political or whatever, but it’s only constructive and only enjoyable when everyone feels free to share their honest opinions. I welcome and encourage everyone to do so.
Now then, you might want to hop over to the other article if you want to read all of the comments, but I will be quoting and responding directly to the last comment made by Tamara.
The people who do not follow its (the Bible’s) commandments would also include yourself–Leviticus is filled with various nuances that very few people hold to the letter of the law (including the wool linen mixing).
You’re absolutely right about there being a lot of laws in Leviticus and the Old Testament in general that people today do not follow. However, there are legitimate reasons why not all of those rules are being followed today. I think I managed to give a pretty decent breakdown of those reasons in my post entitled An Explanation of the Apparent Contradictions Between the Old Testament and the New Testament of the Bible. I think if you’ll read that it will clear up some of the common misconceptions people have regarding this subject.
Humans are by nature “sinners”. “Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone”, was Jesus’s rebuttal to people who pointed fingers at others who were sinners without first cleansing themselves of their own sins.
It is true that we are all sinners. In the example of the woman brought for stoning, it wasn’t just about people passing judgment on someone else. There were a lot of other things going on in that scripture. The scribes and Pharisees who brought the woman to Jesus was trying to trick him into saying something that would go against the law. The Bible says she was caught in the act (of adultery) yet they only brought the woman and not the man (for whom the law also ordered a death sentence). Jesus saw through their hypocrisy and used the situation to show that God looks past the sin and is able to forgive the sinner. However, the scripture doesn’t really say anything about the actual judgment on the woman. She was guilty. Jesus even told her to go and “sin no more.”
I do not believe this scripture or any other scripture says or implies that we should turn a blind eye to open sin. But as I’ve said before, there’s a difference between judging someone and saying that the actions of an individual are sinful. The woman in the example committed adultery which is clearly a sinful act. However, as Jesus implied, the scribes and Pharisees may have been qualified to point out the sinful act, but they were not qualified to pass judgment over her.
So how is it one goes about cleansing their own sins? Must one go to church every Sunday? Must it consist of reading the Bible frequently?
It is not possible for one to “cleanse their own sins.” Only God can forgive a sin. There is nothing we can physically do to make that happen. Jesus has already died for the forgiveness of sins. The Bible teaches us that we must first accept Jesus as the son of God – as our savior. We must accept that he came to Earth in the form of a man, lived a sin-free life, took our sins upon himself, died on the cross for those sins, was resurrected on the third day, and rose to heaven to return again one day. Basically, we must be “saved.”
In 1 John 1:7 we learn that the blood of Jesus Christ is responsible for cleansing us from sin. So, the means by which we are cleansed is not dependent upon our actions, but based upon what Jesus Christ has already done for us.
If a saved person sins, as we are all prone to do, then we should acknowledge to God that we have sinned and repent. Going to church every Sunday or reading our Bible every day or doing whatever won’t help because it’s not our works that free us from sin, it’s God’s grace.
From what I have read in the Bible, God says simply this, “ask and you shall receive, knock and the door shall be opened onto you” He will not turn away anyone who looks to Him for guidance.
Your interpretation of the scripture isn’t entirely accurate. You are quoting from Luke 11. It is familiar scripture to many and is often known as the parable of The Importunate Friend:
Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.
“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; those who seek find; and to those who knock, the door will be opened.”
“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:5-13)
This parable was a direct answer to a disciple’s request to learn about prayer – specifically, how to pray. I could probably fill a lot of pages concerning what it all means, but the gist of it is that it is instructions for how we should pray to God and not so much an open invitation for anyone to just ask God for whatever they want whenever they feel like it.
It isn’t true that God won’t turn away anyone who turns to Him for guidance. If you haven’t truly repented for your sins then you are living in a state of rebellion against God. Although God is sovereign and can choose to answer any prayer He finds to be in accordance with His will, John 9:31 declares, “We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will.”
We must assume from this scripture and from other scripture in the Bible that God does not, generally, listen to nor answer the prayers of those who are not saved unless they are prayers asking for forgiveness.
If a gay or lesbian person opens themselves up to God and welcomes the Lord into their hearts then that is their communion with God. Likewise, whatever communion Michael and I have with God is personal and private.
The problem with this assertion is that it goes against what the Bible actually says. I maintain that the Bible makes it clear that homosexuality is a sin and not a natural state of being. This point of view is supported by scripture.
In the Old Testament, the Law of Moses said, “Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.” (Leviticus 18:22; also 20:13).
The New Testament is even more clear on the subject. In Romans 1, Paul was discussing how the Gentiles had failed to live up the revelation of God given them. In that book he wrote about the evils they did while suppressing the knowledge of God:
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. (Romans 1: 26-27)
Although homosexuality is not specifically named in this passage the act is clearly described and there can be no mistaken what he is talking about.
In 1 Corinthians, Paul was even clearer in his message when he plainly stated that homosexuals will not “inherit the kingdom of God” and that being saved frees you from homosexuality.
Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God.
Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)
In the second half of that passage Paul makes it clear that once you are saved, you stop doing the things he named – homosexuality being one of them. He says that “some of you were once like that,” clearly implying that they are no longer.
This scripture clearly says that if a gay or lesbian person “opens themselves up to God”, truly, they would no longer be gay or lesbian. If they continued in their homosexual lifestyle they would be living in sin and then would be faced with other scripture:
“But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.” (Isaiah 59:2).
“We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will.” (John 9:31).
You might also check out, Does God answer the prayers of unbelievers?
I do not believe that “your” God is any different than the Yahweh that Jewish pray to, or Jehovah of the jehovah’s witnesses, or Allah that Muslims seek. Each has their own “word of god” that they follow in order to please “Him” these scriptures hold the same value as your Bible and all “scripture” belongs to Him.
I’m guessing that you mean all of us are actually praying to the same God, but have each created our own “word of god” in order to have directions by which to follow His will?
You can say that they all have the same value and that all the “scriptures” belong to Him, but that is completely ignoring the fact that the scriptures between the religions are incompatible. All of the religions you mentioned do use elements of the Bible (which actually helps prove my point about it being the most widely accepted text), but the Jews ignore the New Testament scripture that announces Jesus as the Messiah, the Jehovah’s Witnesses deny the holy trinity, hell, and even the existence of a spirit that continues after death for all but a few, while the Qur’an that the Muslims use as scripture is in complete opposition to the teachings of Jesus concerning the trinity since Muslims consider it blasphemus to even say there is a trinity.
None of the adherents to any of the above mentioned religions would accept your statement as factual or agree with what you said.
I think the way is like a mountain, the peak being God. The mountain has many sides and many paths leading up to “Him” whichever path we choose, they ultimately lead to the same direction. Those who do not venture the climb will never know his grace. God has poured himself into many vessels in order that we may know Him. To me, religion is an institute by which we separate ourselves in order to prove that our chosen path is the correct one, however God has made the mountain and every path on it. His WORD is in everything. He has ultimately shown us the way in many different forms. I do not call myself religious but adhere to the spiritual principal that my life is a continuous path that shall eventually lead me to Him–and that if I see Him in all things, my path will unfold effortlessly.
The problem I have with your statement is that all religions are not equal. They do not all teach the same things. Therefore, there is no way that people following, say, Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism would all end up heading in the same direction or to the same peak. The religions have fundamental and irreconcilable differences of philosophy that prevent them from being easily melded into one belief system no matter how much one wants to believe everyone is correct.
You made the statement that those who do not venture the climb (attempting to find God) will never know His grace. I find that statement fascinating because I’m not sure you’re even aware that Christianity is the only religion that teaches the “grace” of God.
Christianity is the only religion that is a religion of grace. Every other religion besides Christianity is based on people doing something; followers are forced to struggle to somehow earn the favor of God. In other faiths the adherents have to use a prayer wheel or go on a pilgrimage or give money to the poor or avoid eating certain kinds of meat or do an unspecified number of good deeds or pray at a certain time each day or do something. In these faiths you attempt to earn God’s favor by doing the right thing, the right way and thus earn some form of salvation.
However, in Christianity the Bible tells us that God’s gift of salvation through Jesus originated with God and was God-given. The gift is not from man to God through our efforts. It is from God to man. Christianity alone is based on grace and not works. On the basis of this point alone, Christianity is different from any other religion in the world. No other religion or ideology teaches a free forgiveness to those who have done nothing to earn it and in fact deserve judgment instead.
Getting back to your statement, it would seem unlikely that a God who wanted us to discover Him would go around the world and teach different people completely different and contrary things about Himself. Why would He create more than one path to discover Him? Given this situation there would be virtually zero chance humankind would ever grow to understand God in any meaningful way.
As far as Michael’s separation of church and state–on Jason’s part, it is true the this separation has historically been hard to come by. Religions do have Moral basis, but these morals can still be applied to the general people without catering to a specific religion and that proves to be difficult in politics because people hold fast to the idea that theirs is the One true religion and therefore the correct “moral”–finding politicians who were not raised on some religious principle or other is difficult–personal beliefs do influence the laws as they are written through the ages.
Most of the time morals can be applied to everyone without a specific religion entering into the discussion. However, I maintain that there is nothing wrong with politicians using their religious convictions and personal moral beliefs in making governing decisions if the general moral belief is being debated. Our nation was founded by men with strong personal religious and moral beliefs and I see no reason why it cannot continue to be run by men with similar personalities nor why Christians shouldn’t ask for and expect their politicians to share their viewpoints.
Thou shall not Kill–is a moral found in Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, and even tribal communities in Africa and Native America–your religious translation of it being “thou shalt not murder” is also a moral but it does not REPLACE the first moral–it just defines it in a way that fits your chosen path. However, what is your definition of “murder”? Regardless of which word makes for a better “translation” you still have to come up with the definition of murder.
I think you’re getting dangerously close to splitting hairs on this one. I’m not using a religious translation of “thou shall not kill.” I believe the moral has always been “thou shall not murder” in almost every society as war and self-defense which required killing has always existed. Sure, murder must be defined, but that isn’t any different from any other moral law. We can say “thou shall not steal,” but we still have to define what constitutes theft. Is it theft if I planned to return the item I took? Is it theft if I stole food to feed myself because I was starving?
I would like to reiterate something you stated a while back. How do I teach my children that it (gay and lesbian union) is wrong when the rest of the world shows it as right? (I too am paraphrasing) If you truly believe in the Word as it is written in the Bible then you should have no troubles passing this on to your children. What your children choose to believe as they grow is their path and their communion with God.
Of course I can teach my children what I believe to be right and wrong. Of course I can teach them what the Bible says. However, it’s either naive or disingenuous of you to insinuate that the world around us plays no part in the information that my children will be exposed to. I believe I have every right to limit as much as possible those outside factors and influences which I believe will hinder or harm the education of my children and/or their spiritual well-being.
Surely you must admit that having gay marriages be a part of normal, every day life would adversely effect any teachings I might give on the subject to impressionable children?