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Archive for March, 2017

How Can One Not Gay View Gay Love?

Wesley Hill writes: “When I was around thirteen years old, I began to realize that what my male friends were feeling toward girls – a vertiginous delight, an emotional and physical longing, commonly referred to as ‘romantic attraction’ or ‘having a crush’ or, more seriously, ‘falling in love’ – I was feeling toward my male friends, toward men. I found myself noticing them in a way I never had before – noting their newly firming muscles, the hue of their skin, and the depth of their voices. I recall sitting outside one summer on a camping trip, struggling mightily to keep from glancing at one of my best friends whom I was suddenly, and confusingly; finding beautiful. He was wearing shorts, and I realized that I keep surreptitiously looking at his legs the way he would have talked about looking at a girl’s legs, my eyes drawn to their curvature; my heart beating faster with pleasure as a result.” (Two Views On Homosexuality, The Bible, and The Church, p. 124)

How can one read Wesley’s story and judge or not wonder how you would wish to be treated if your story?

Wesley’s account is the story of many that have been rejected by God-followers because of their understanding of the Bible. Wesley is a biblical scholar and gay Christ-follower. Wesley chooses to abstain from sexual intimacy in same-sex relationships, but that is a personal decision that each must make with their Creator.

What does the Bible says about homosexuality?

Passages mentioning homosexuality condemn abusive, unequal, controlling, loveless sexual behaviors for the purpose of satisfying one’s own pleasures. You don’t have to be a God-follower to believe such relationships are selfish. Many scholars suggest Scriptures do not speak about consensual, loving same-sex relationships. Regardless, when the meaning of an ancient text is debatable God-followers must be non-judgmental and put themselves in another’s skin.

God-followers have always had to use their hearts and minds when loving others.

The majority born into this world never had a copy of the Bible. One’s relationship with God has always been the most important guide. For those who do have a copy of the Bible, one must be free to choose their own beliefs as interpretations are fallible. This doesn’t mean anything and everyone is right. Terrorists obviously don’t represent true religion which is never self-serving but for the service of others.

I am not suggesting God-followers impose even their monogamous views of sexual behaviors on others. Many aren’t asking for God’s wisdom in their relationships.

If you have a meaningful relationship with your Creator that you hope others might consider for their own gains, Jesus’ example is telling. Jesus accepted people when not violating the rights of others. Jesus lived a loving life in hopes others might come to know their Creator’s amazing love for them. When others seek God’s direction in their personal relationships, an open discussion can be had.

How does God feel about same-sex relationships?

I can only answer for myself. We must support and respect the feelings and choices of others. God surely only encourages unselfish, caring, consensual relationships to avoid heart-break. I am convinced this is the way we were created. Judgments are not avoidable for the sake of victims. But, there are no victims in consensual monogamous gay relationships except when rejecting others in the name of God. One’s sexual orientation is personal and between them and God if they seek such a voice. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t feel natural to you. You don’t live in another person’s skin.

 

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What If God Was Inspiring Not Compulsory?

Imagine a world where we felt constantly inspired to pursue being spiritually healthy. Surely, if we became a more spiritual nation the world would be better place to live in. The pursuit of spiritual healthiness is simply caring for others as we wish to be cared for, understanding in a broken world we cannot always expect instant love in return or relationships may never heal.

When one feels extraordinarily loved they simply want to return that love to others. Children, who have positive, encouraging relationships with their parents, seek to not disappoint not out of guilt but because they know their parents want only what is best for them. Businesses transform when the Boss truly inspires because of how they treat their employees. If one views their Creator as loving them perfectly as we deep down desire to love others, such a relationship can inspire. Mother Theresa once said that she was simply responding to God’s boundless love for her and for all of humanity.

God seeks to inspire by being uncontrolling.

What kind of all-powerful God allows the freedom to choose one’s own personal beliefs? Humans know forced love doesn’t lead to meaningful, long-term changes, yet we try to control our older children when not following our expectations. What kind of God sees how the world has turned out and doesn’t just say the Hell with it, but enters such a world to experience underserved suffering via the Cross to inspire and relate.

God seeks to inspire through encouragement rather than constant disfavor in our battles against self-centeredness.

We constantly fail to live up to even our own standards. A standard of being just good enough or not as bad as others is not going to rock the world. How do you stay inspired to respond in ways that enable the best chance of relationships surviving and thriving? God is always willing to begin anew rather than “pile on” as we sometimes experience from humans.

An inspirational God can give hope to the hopeless in ways humans cannot.

Some have engaged in horrible actions and feel hopeless to change. Overwhelming guilt doesn’t lead to change. Hopelessness can breed more bad actions. But, some if feeling forgiven and accepted by a merciful God may confess and make amends. It is never too late to begin anew with God. An inspirational God can encourage those who question their significance or worth.

Consider your views of God that can help to make a difference in a troubled world.

Spiritually-minded people must stop harping on supposed beliefs necessary to be accepted by God. The only belief require by God is not violating the rights of others. Imagine God’s love being the perfect parental love we have always desired from our parents. Do you need forgiveness to begin anew? Do you need hope that you are important enough to make a difference? Consider what a loving God can do for you. God’s love is the love we deep down desire to show others consistently.

 

What If Our World Looked For Truth In All Faiths?

What if you could only change one thing about yourself and everyone else in the world? Okay, there is so much that needs to change but we must start somewhere. Yes, the greater change for the world would be terrorists and dictators converting. But, those evil-bent and not believing unselfishness is an important trait aren’t reading this.

Imagine a world where all faiths were accepted as possibly possessing truth.

Contradictions can be discussed respectfully. Unless your God encourages beheading people, each must be allowed to work out their own personal beliefs. God is surely able to work through individuals to discern essential truth. Many may not pursue being more spiritual minded because the religious argue about individual beliefs rather than focusing on what is the main message of true religion. Imagine what more could be accomplish focusing on commonalities than differences.

True religion is surely agreeing  on the importance of loving others like you want to be love in good and difficult times.

A good God surely only seeks to inspire such love. True religion must be self-sacrifice not self-service. True religion doesn’t insist on any beliefs other than the Law of Love which entitles all to form their own convictions as long as they don’t violate the rights of others. Obviously, religious extremists don’t represent a loving God.

The majority of people accept or rebel against a certain religion based on the family born into whether it be Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, etc. A loving God would not ignore the realities of our world and insist one can only come to God through Jesus or anyone else. A loving God would not suggest truth is only in the Bible since the majority of people born have died without any knowledge of the Bible. Besides, many things about the Bible cannot be agreed on. We don’t have to deny personal convictions but the conversation isn’t about certain beliefs to be accepted by God.

Christianity stymies communication when only seeking to convert others to certain beliefs assumed necessary to be accepted by God and obtain eternal life.

If Heaven depends on certain beliefs Jesus would have answered the question. Jesus when asked about eternal life answered by encouraging loving God and your neighbor (Lk.10:25-28). No one is going to Heaven if such actions are required according to God’s standards. Good works can’t be the criteria for getting into Heaven or Jesus set us up to always worry if what is good enough. Jesus simply sought to inspire, through a relationship with God, living a loving life for a greater world.

A loving God would only seek to inspire us to live for the world to be a safer, kinder place?

Pursuing physical healthiness may only impact our lives but pursing spiritual healthiness can impact the lives of those we have relationships with. A loving God like loving parents surely only seeks to inspire and empower us to lead to a life worth living. Find inspiration from your Creator to go the extra mile in relationships or healing can never take place. Care for others like we would want from others if in that person’s shoes.

 

What If Our World Disagreed Respectfully?

What if you could only change one thing about yourself and everyone else in the world? Okay, there is so much that needs to change but we must start somewhere. Yes, the greater change for the world would be terrorists and dictators converting. But, those evil-bent and not believing unselfishness is an important trait aren’t reading this.

Can you imagine a world where everyone who had a different opinion always listened carefully and responded respectfully.

Okay, I am talking to the hand. But, I can only change the future not the past. If I continue to think about this, write about it, strive for it then I may actually one day be closer to the kind of person I want to be. We often never get around to attempting solutions because we can never respectfully agree to disagree in hopes we can find common ground.

If only spiritual-minded folks would practice such love like their Leader teaches.

If someone doesn’t agree with them, the other person is going to Hell or they can get the hell out of their church. Do you really believe committed, homosexual lovers are the same as adulterers, thieves, or slanderers (I Cor. 5:9-11)? I see no reason why one, despite their beliefs, cannot accept and respect each seeking God’s guidance in their personal sex life. Church folks condemn gay, committed relationships but they get divorced half the time.

If we could respectfully disagree with one another, as long as personal rights are not be violated, we can actually start watching TV talk host shows like CNN, Fox, etc.

What has been accomplished by talking over one another or shouting the loudest? Why do commentators not let others finish their thoughts rather than each sharing their viewpoint so to possible find common ground, unless they don’t think we would watch?

If we could respectfully disagree in marriage, not nearly as many families would be torn apart.

When young I naively assume once married, love meant the wife and I would begin agreeing on everything. Damn! When one enters a long-term relationship, once a desire becomes an expectation, this translates into demanding behaviors. Differences are normal between any two people, even more so in 24/7 relationships. Great relationships have differences; they just are able to solve them by how they discuss them.

Can you imagine if presidential candidates or political representatives showed respect to one another?

If they actually listened to one another and agreed to disagree, the calmness may actually lead to possible common ground they could initiate change. Who can blame them though? Candidates spend so much money to win elections because we the voters aren’t always influenced just by the facts. What can’t candidates state their position, the other candidate counter with their position and let the voters decide? If you think a candidate has a character flaw, what can’t we point that out with reasoned thoughts, let the candidate defend themselves, and let the voters decide. Disrespecting one another is not going to change the world in the end.

Let’s personally begin by dropping the attitude of certainty – I am right and you are wrong.

Only then might we discover common grounds to make positive changes or persuade appropriately to lead to change.

 

My Journey – Is The Bible Infallible Or Human?

This subject may not be relevant or familiar to those not taught it is essential to believe that the Bible is infallible. The Bible has been interpreted to imply God controlled what human beings wrote down: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteous” (II Tim. 3:16). This doesn’t fit with my view of God’s uncontrolling love evidenced by God’s lack of interference in the world in decisions made contrary to God’s wishes. This matter is important because interpretations may suggest God authorized, because God breathed it, genocide, slavery, or other atrocities. God’s reputation is at stake!

I began to realize insisting the Bible is infallible entails a major assumption. It seems to me that to insist the Bible is infallible implies God somehow verbally dictated the words to the writers, rather than gave the writers the freedom to use their minds in writing. God always gives writers the freedom to misunderstand and grow in their understandings of God. We also cannot prove that God somehow magically controlled over time which Books only should be recognized as Scriptures without error. God-breathed, which could only mean the Old Testament since the NT had not been formed when Timothy written, can mean God used Bible writings to reflect upon what God is really like with the help of the Spirit (Jn. 14:16).

The Bible can still be inspired by God while accepting God is not controlling, allowing an author the freedom to write the words they did. Many problems with the Bible can be resolved when considering the challenges in interpreting writings. Genesis is often thought to contradict science. The writers may have not intended “in the beginning” to be a strict, literal account. The writers may not have intended parts of Genesis to be an exact literal report as opposed to a rendering to explain essential spiritual truths. Adam and Eve may have been a representation of humankind but consequences for sin are real.

Claiming the Bible isn’t infallible doesn’t declare the entire Bible fallible or everyone’s opinion is right. Some interpretations are clearly wrong. God, unlike terrorists, would never violate one’s freedom to believe in God or not. It is always necessary in literature to discern a writer’s intended meaning. The OT speaks of God’s involvement in wars, but the NT says to turn the other cheek to our enemies. The main message of the Bible is clear. Essential truths about God are obvious. Maps that aren’t perfect still get us to our destination.

Many problems occur when the focus is on a Book than a personal relationship with God: 

  • When we insist the Bible is infallible, we often end up defending our interpretations as infallible. We become dogmatic in our views, failing to acknowledge that an author’s meaning in ancient literature is always subject to interpretation. Sincere people have different opinions of the same biblical passage or topic suggesting that discernment and a flexible attitude have always been necessary as we rely on God’s help in our relationships.
  • When we insist the Bible is infallible, we often feel compelled to play mental gymnastics in defending certain actions contributed to God in the Bible. We fail to recognize our interpretations are disputable, thus sowing discord over God because the Bible supposedly says so. Thousands and thousands of different denominations, formed due to their understanding of Scriptures, attests to this. The Bible was meant for reflection than arguing over one’s view. God didn’t promise an inerrant Book but God’s spirit in guiding us.
  • When we insist the Bible is infallible, the Bible is thought to be a magical book of rules rather than a book for reflections in one’s individual situation. When Jesus said turn the other cheek, He wouldn’t advise a woman to allow an abusive husband to continue to hit her. Read the Bible as stories about God’s desire for a relationship as you reflect upon your own personal circumstances.
  • When we insist the Bible is infallible, we worship the Bible as an idol as opposed to who the Book is about. Our interpretations become the authoritative voice rather than God’s personal voice to each of us. The Bible can’t be God’s only form of communication because the majority born into this world didn’t have a Bible. The Bible was God accepting human means available to communicate to as many people as possibly what God is really like while not condemning those who unselfishly misunderstand it or never had a chance to read it.

I am still convinced there are often plausible interpretations that don’t contradict our intuitive sense of a loving God. If God and the Bible teach that God proclaims authority roles are based on gender than gifts,  why did the Apostle Paul assume that women could prophesy just like men during worship (I Cor. 11:5). When the Bible says: “Women should remain silent in the churches” (I Cor. 14:34), maybe the writer would encourage men to be silent in certain situations for the sake of peace. It has been argued that many of the Old Testaments laws attribute inhumane actions to God. The Laws could also illustrate that God doesn’t simply override freedom to determine one’s own laws. But, we don’t have to get bogged down in rationalizations about God because the Bible supposedly says so.

I am concerned about those on the fence about God who may be opposing “supposed” views of God and not who God really is. We do not have to assume the Bible is infallible. Neither do we have to assume the Bible doesn’t have truth about God. Avoid people who don’t listen carefully and respond respectful to your concerns about the Bible. What beliefs about God do you question that may keep you from leaning toward as opposed to away from God? Don’t allow others’ understanding of God keep you from exploring your own views. Faith in a God who cannot be seen always involves intuitions of the heart.

Benefits Of Being A God-Follower Emotionally?

It is normal to think of disadvantages of being a God-follower. In some countries people are put to death for their belief in God. But, there can be emotional benefits in pursuing a connection with our Creator if any inclination to do so. I can’t prove God exists though how can nothing produce something. Millions if not billions are not insane for knowing or at least hoping there is a God who can provide worth, perspective, meaning, and hope of life after death.

God’s approval of our worth can be a breath of fresh air to those who may need it the most.

Some parents beat down their children all their life, reminding them constantly how worthless they are. You aren’t thin enough. You aren’t pretty enough. You aren’t smart enough. You aren’t successful enough. You are worthless! God looks at the heart of a person not circumstances we can’t control. God can never betray us like parents or partners can. A relationship with God always entails mercy and acceptance.

God’s perspective on freedom can liberate.

The world loves to tell us we can and should be able to do whatever we want. Where does being free to drink as much as you want or have sex with whomever you want get you? I didn’t always want to be uncontrolling of my children. I don’t always want to be patience with my partner’s flaws. I don’t act that way – on my good days! True freedom is sacrificial. Certain viewpoints lead to more loving, long-lasting relationships.

God’s help in suffering, which is inevitable in a free world, can make life less meaningless.  

God seeks to help us help others facing similar undeserved sufferings. I understand it is easy to blame God when not intervening with suffering that seems totally senseless. But, where does God draw the line to not make a mockery of freedom? If God stops the murdering of millions by an evil dictator, why doesn’t God prevent every murderer, every sexual abuser, and every adulterer before they destroy lives? God may be able to explain some day how God’s love must be influential but not coercive to remain moral.

God can give hope beyond suffering and death. It is human nature to hope there is something beyond this life.

Suffering doesn’t have to be an end all for those who have suffered terribly in this life. A Creator can give hope to victims that one day their perpetrators will be forced to face justice by understanding their victim’s pain and accepting the harmfulness of their actions. God after death may bring to memory every action of betrayal felt by victims. The cleansing and educative effect may take longer for some.

There are other considerations for being a God-follower besides worth, perspective, meaning, and hope.

God can inspire to treat others better than they always treat us, or there may never be reconciliation in relationships or help for people in difficult circumstances to turn a moral corner in their lives. We may have committed such horrible acts that we can’t forgive ourselves much less expect others to forgive. God never gives up on us. A moral, insightful and forgiving God empowers me to continually pursue perfection while not being paralyzed by guilt when failing. God is a constant encourager to be more the person we desire.

Believing in God doesn’t mean you don’t have doubts at times whether God really exist.

Believing in God doesn’t mean you aren’t so sure whether there is life after death.

Believing in God doesn’t mean you don’t question how good God really is because of all the evil in the world.

What if a relationship with God is the same relationship we have always desired with our parents, partner, or friends?

What if God’s love is the love we deep down desire to show others consistently? I doubt you will regret pursuing more of a connection with your Creator any more than regretting having more of a connection with your partner, children, or friends.

 

Please Don’t Reject A Gay Child In God’s Name!

I was listening to a television show “The Voice” and my heart broke. This beautiful young lady shared that she hadn’t seen her parents in about ten years because they had rejected her sexuality. I am slow to be judgmental because many, many years ago I thought I needed to condemn homosexuality as a God-follower because the Bible did. I don’t have in mind bigots who judge people simply because they are of a different nationality, race, or sexuality. I am writing to sincere, good people who take a stance against homosexuality because of their devotion to God.

I believe the Bible never warns against consensual monogamous relationships but against relationships devoid of love and fidelity.

Jesus, who represented God on earth, never condemned homosexuality. Paul, who wrote a great deal of the New Testament, warns against any relationships purely for self-gratification. Paul when referring to homosexuality likely had in mind masters involved in sexual acts with their slaves or men having sex with younger boys. Who doesn’t know abusive, controlling, unequal, relationships are immoral!

The Old Testament speaks against homosexual acts involving violence such as rape (Sodom and Gomorrah). Two passages in Leviticus aren’t as clear that violence is involved but homosexual acts are mentioned in the same breathe as having sex with animals. Adult, consensual relationships are obviously not comparable to bestiality or pedophilia. It is questionable if monogamous relationships are in mind (Lev. 20:13; 18:22). We must use our hearts when not knowing the background. Women were not allowed to be Leviticus priests perhaps because OT laws were made to differentiate from neighboring nations where sexual rituals centered around religious duties.

We can’t be sure always what is not being said when interpreting ancient literature.

An obvious example is when the Bible says turn the other cheek, it is not advocating women accept abuse from men. Biblical scholars trained in the original language simply don’t agree that monogamous homosexual relationships are condemned. I am not suggesting we should go on crusades against non-monogamous sex. There are loving ways to advise how sexual relationships without long-term commitments can rip your heart out.

When there are any doubts what the Bible might be advising, God-followers must take the most compassionate, less judgmental stance toward others.

Many parents know in their hearts to not judge their child but they are torn when hearing others say the Bible condemns homosexuality. Please don’t tell someone “I love you but I hate your sin.” It is impossible to not feel unloved and rejected when such words are uttered. Gay people will tell you they have no choice. This is who they are!

A parent does not need to reject a gay child according to the Bible.

The Bible is silent on monogamous same sex relationships, while supporting relationships that show love and concern for one another. One’s sexual orientation is personal and is between them and God if they seek such a voice. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t feel natural to you. You aren’t them! Some pastors avoid the subject not because they are cowards but because they want people to experience God’s love and not condemnation as they seek God’s wisdom on a personal level.

 

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