How do you interpret the Word of God? Why is it that so many people have varying opinions on the meaning of the text.
I am a United Methodist. As you may know we are having a BIG discussion about what are the roles of homosexuals within our church. There are about 6 verses in the Bible that discuss homosexuality. And pro and con, both sides of the argument, use the same scriptures to prove their points.
It has made me consider— where am I interpreting the Word of God to fit my own view and lifestyle?
I honestly don’t know if I will get many comments on this one. Perhaps some soul searching is all that this calls for today. But if you are brave– I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Until Next Time~
I hope it is ok to throw my two bits in since you asked for thoughts. 🙂
First off my wife and I don’t follow any denomination or religion. We left that long ago to be with Jesus. We found the whole construct of religion man-made and constraining so there was little point in staying. In walking out our faith God took us through the wilderness to become closer to Him. That has significantly affected how we hear and speak with Him. This also undermined our ability to seek our own will as we learned how to follow Him in complete obedience.
I wrote that so you can understand our background a little bit and how we approach the Word of God and the issues you discuss. I don’t believe the issue has to do with the Bible as much as it has to do with the way people think. The way most think leaves little room for the thoughts of God. Instead they use the Word of God like a weapon to thrust their beliefs on others. The Word should never be used in this manner but such is the nature of ‘self’. I understand your conundrum because it feels like you are caught in the middle of two warring armies. Both are right and both are wrong. The truth lies in the middle, that is why you find the fighting fiercest around you.
‘Self’ is really the root of this discussion, no matter what side you believe in. We all have ‘self’ and it drives all sorts of immoral behavior. What I find so disgusting is ‘godly’ old women in church pews gossiping about somebody’s sexual vice. Have they not read that gossip is just as offensive to God as pride, (which they have but cannot see in themselves)? My point in this is that we all have ‘self’. We all fail. Nobody has a free pass and there is no get out of jail free card. There is no gradient for ‘self’. Every act of ‘self’ is against God. Period. No matter what form it takes if we exercise ‘self’ we will find ourselves cut off from Him. That is the greater issue. No man can judge another man’s heart. That is solely the realm of God. All I can do is repent of my own ‘self’ before God and let other people be free to do the same. If they choose not to repent then so be it, but there will be consequences. Yes the Bible says homosexuality is a sin, but it also describes all adulterous sex as sin, as well as gossip, jealousy, envy, drunkenness, etc. etc. You see the problem is people pick and choose what they see as wrong but God doesn’t do that. If it comes from ‘self’ it is wrong. Full stop.
Regarding the church we will have a different perspective. I am not saying that everyone should leave organized religion but there are decidedly more opportunities to spiritually mature and grow into intimacy with Jesus outside the confines of religion than within its walls. How we see the church is as growing inside of us. We are the church, not an organization. When we gather together in a fellowship of like-spirited believers (mature and immature together) we will focus on Jesus alone. There will be wisdom, love and worship. This may happen with two or three or maybe more. This may be in a home, motel room or over the Internet. It doesn’t matter. Church is who we are, fellowship is what happens when we gather. With that the issue you describe becomes moot. It doesn’t matter. Those that come together, and the Spirit of the Living God is in their midst, will find that He is their focus. If one comes with ‘self’ (whatever form it takes) they will be convicted and either leave or repent, their choice.
In God’s body there just isn’t any room for ‘self’. If one really wishes to keep ‘self’ and think they are following God in relationship they are deceived. We have to make a clear choice for either ‘self’ or spirit for we can only follow one. Those that follow spirit will find those that also follow spirit and relationship will grow. Those that follow ‘self’ will gravitate to religion where there ‘self’ nature is not only excused it is celebrated. If people want that then they are free to do so. For those that want spirit though, will not like the presence of ‘self’ and will leave. This is one reason why religion in general, and denominations in particular, are hemorrhaging adherents and members at a fantastic rate. The Body of Christ cannot long endure the cancer of ‘self’. There will be a point where people will leave, searching for the truth. When they do leave, they will find a God who is calling them to Himself; where they can grow and be nurtured in faith.
Well Kate, this is my perspective. I do not expect anyone to agree, and if the past is a guide I suspect many will hate this comment. So be it. I cannot retract a word for it is what we have learned as truth in our journey. We have paid a high price for these lessons and I am thankful for the return on investment. I hope this sheds light on at least one different perspective although I am sure there are many more.
We wish you well in your process of discovering the truth.
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I appreciate you comments. I do believe that self focus rather than Jesus focus is killing the church. Also, most people do not want to worship in ambiguity where people get to pick and choose what is right and wrong. Actually, in today’s culture that is exactly what people want. But as my non-believing son says “If you claim to be of a certain faith, and that faith has text to live by…then you must follow that text.”
You have given me a lot to think about. Thank you
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Your son made a very insightful comment. I totally agree. (and I have a snaking suspicion many, many others think likewise). What people need to see is those who live their faith, not talk about it. If more started living their faith I think there would be less unbelievers. I know this was one my motivating factors in following Jesus. I was sick and tired of saying I believed in the Word and was not living like it. It was tough. We did lose our business, home, extended family, friends, pets and all of our belongings eventually ending up in poverty and homelessness. The misery was difficult BUT we learned and lived faith. We came into a deeper relationship with Jesus. The sacrifice was worth it.
I am glad I got you thinking. We pray God will open new doors of faith for you.
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Thank you. Your journey has a lot to teach us al as believers and holding faith through extreme loss. I hope God has opened doors to rebuild what was lost for you.
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You are very welcome. We are honored to be of service.
God already has restored some! We are stable now, supported as missionaries, and working on final editing our testimony in book form. What is more important though is God is bringing back faith to His people. That is a tremendous gift to the Body! We are in touch with a few others that have paid a similar price in walking out their faith. One thing that amazes me is just when we thought satan had destroyed the church we find God raising people up who are taking His Word more seriously than we have seen in the past 200 years. This is awesome. As the darkness grows God is increasing His light back through His people that are willing to put their own live aside to follow Jesus
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Kate … interpretation without proper context could be very lethal…. for any system to exist we need fundamentals and those fundamentals should never be juxtaposed by subsidiary elements. If that happens the very roots of system gets endangered.
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Very good point Salman! I agree
Hi Kate, I like both comments so far. I am thoroughly disgusted with organized religion while feeling like Jesus is the solution to so many problems. I feel like we have bastardized what He came to teach us by inserting our own thoughts and opinions to ensure we create this society we deem correct. We speak of agendas that don’t exist and put people in high positions while overlooking their sins yet won’t allow another person with the same sins to sit within our church without condemning glances and judgment. We elect folks to positions saying their backgrounds don’t matter and we shall forgive sins of long ago while telling the man who sinned last week in a way that offends us that he is grieving the Spirit. All the while, I imagine God looks down wondering when He gave up His position and allowed us to take it. My position is that each and every man needs to seek a personal and deep connection with the Father and live a life led by His Spirit. Only then will one know what is right and wrong and the appropriate time to address it. We need to remember that sin begets sin which indicates deeper sin, and sometimes the healing will come in layers and years, not in a moment. I pray that you and the church will the right way to address the issues that help get to the heart and help people live in close relationship with the Lord, even if your personal decision and theirs as an organization don’t match.
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I agree Shell. Some people in my church forget what a mess I seemed to be when I came to it 3 years ago. They probably made plenty of assumptions like those that are ade today towards other people. I would to add though that their assumptions usually have more to do with if someone is homeless and how to reach out to them without offending them. Or, we have some addicts who come, and have shot up in our bathroom previously. We don’t treat them any different when they come in clean. But there will always be those around us in our church who do make those glances and judgement. We lost a guy who was homeless and we had helped him rebuild his life. But he left to go across the street to church because during greeting time NO one would shake his hand he said.
OUr church is full of opposite opinions on church stances. Luckily most are not decisions that would cause us to question whether to remain in the denomination or not (like this issue requires).
We did an 8 week study looking at how the Bible is addressed by both sides or the argument. I downloaded the notes and just finished reading them. 31 pages.Very even handed. I see how eah side gets to where they are at.
I am with you– a relationship with God through the Holy SPirit is what we need to base our lives on. God is the only God. He alone shall fudge the living and the dead. Its not my job to take stock of other peoples sins except as in the admonition to return a brother away from sin to restore him in love. But that is exactly what we are discussing here is ____ sin or not.
You brave soul, opening up this issue!! 🙂 But, this is such an important one I’m glad you did. I think scripture kinds of works like real estate — “location, location, location.” For example: Who’s talking, who is he talking to and what has just happened? And, how does the New Testament principal compare to the Old Testament principal? And, if there’s any doubt, can we just love God enough to be willing to err on the side of “not” in our personal lives and love others enough not to skewer them even if we disagree?
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I love how you put this. Maybe you could come and speak at our next denominational conference in May LOL.
Thank you for commenting