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Archive for September, 2017

How Can A Divided Nation Unite More?

A divided nation can’t totally unite when their views strongly differ. We can begin by respecting one another’s right to have opposing views. It is only when we accept one is entitled to a different perceptive that we may listen and change our beliefs if appropriate. The blessing of a democratic society is the freedom to express our personal beliefs and vote when laws are necessary because of personal differences.

Those who make peaceful resolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable. (JFK)

Violence is never appropriate unless protecting oneself from danger. We must peaceful protest so we can discuss solutions to our differences. It is horrible when people of different color or gender don’t naturally have the same rights. Such views must not be enabled through silence by those who enjoy their rights protected. Violent protestors who share our views must be called out.  Martin Luther King demonstrated change is possible through peaceful means.

Moral laws are the only beliefs rightfully imposed upon others.

Universal immorality, such as murder or dictating religious belief, are intuitive to all except extremists. Universal moral laws necessary for survival can be identified by whether we would accept such actions dictated to other to be imposed on ourselves. Stealing is wrong because we do not wish to be stolen from. Terrorists seek to impose their religious beliefs on others, but they do not accept certain religious beliefs imposed upon them.

Personal beliefs that do not violate the rights of others don’t have to be treated as moral laws.

Gay people obviously believe their sexuality is a moral issue. I don’t disagree. Many God followers oppose homosexuality morally according to the Bible. Though I disagree that God condemns gay relationships, we must find ways to discuss. Personal beliefs can be distinguished from moral beliefs by whether one’s rights are being violated. Rights are not being violated between two consenting adults who can no more love one of the opposite sex than one can love the same sex.

God followers can take an important first step by accepting that any book, such as the Bible, cannot be used definitively to determine moral beliefs. Literature is interpretation, thus we must admit our interpretation may not be God’s view. It is important to recognize that biblical scholars who believe in the value of Scriptures rightly debate if the Bible condemns loving, gay relationships. If sexuality can be discussed in this matter, police actions and other dividing issues can be as well.

Not listening or not being open-minded is not an option. Violence is not an option. Imposing our personal beliefs on others is not an option.

The attitude of “I am right and you are wrong” is destroying possibilities of peace. In marriage couples gradually fall out of love because they forget the only reasonable demands are moral behaviors intuitive to all. All other expectations are negotiable. In a nation of laws personal beliefs can be voted on when necessary. Imagine a world of relationships that did not argue with certainty that their personal beliefs are necessarily moral. True spirituality insists only on the Law of Love which entitles all to form their own personal beliefs if not violating the rights of others.

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The Danger In Not Reinterpreting Violence In The Bible And How To View?

The Old Testament causes more unbelief in God than we admit. God often commends killing all the men, women, and children during wartimes. God orders killing all the boys and non-virgin women and seemingly approves of sex slavery: “save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man” (Num. 31:18).  OT laws encouraged capital punishment for adulterers and rebellion children. Can you imagine some parents believing God approves of this? I may be dead?

I have rationalized in the past violent passages: “…do not leave alive anything that breathes. Completely, destroy them… (Deut. 20:17). I argued God first ordered driving the same nations out of their land (Deut. 7:1), thus destruction was only carried out if the people refused to leave. If one is able and refuses to leave lands inhabited by terrorists coordinating to destroy other nations, it is a moral option for soldiers to destroy whoever before being destroyed. There is a danger in such an interpretation, and passages such as Numbers above are even more difficult to justify.

There is better option to rationalizing God as truly violent according to the Bible.

There are two basis viewpoints about God’s role in Scriptures. God either controlled the writers’ thoughts and writings to perfectly represent God, or God did not control writers reporting their views of God at that time even if false portrayals. The amount of evil in the world, though God opposes, is surely a sign of God’s uncontrolling nature thus supporting God didn’t perform a lobotomy on OT writers.

Misinterpretations of the Bible or Koran has led to justifying immoral actions.

Literature is interpretation, thus no one can claim their view with certainty. The Bible or any book written in the past cannot be definitive ultimately of what is good. If you believe evil exist you believe morality exist. Universal moral intuitions could be the result of a moral Creator communicating to human beings. We determine what God is really like and good from evil from such intuitions, then claiming our interpretation is God’s. Only extremists don’t recognize that true religion doesn’t seek to be served but serve, that genuine beliefs are freely chosen not demanded.

We can interpret confusing OT passages through the views of Jesus.  

Those who value the Bible would agree that Jesus’ views of God were perfect. Bible believers do not suggest OT prophet views have the same authority as Jesus’. Whenever we are confused or sense a contradiction between the OT and NT, Jesus’ view can be accepted as the final word. Trusting an interpretation of a Book rather than our moral intuitions or perceived views of Jesus leads to justifying violence in the name of God.

Only extremists don’t sense that God loves peace over war, but few would argue a wife cannot protect herself against a husband’s violence or nations cannot defend themselves against other nations who are a threat to their existence. We must never justify violence according to an interpretation of a Book. It simply is impossible that a good God, who denounces evil, would ever be involved in genocide or women used as sex options for spoils in a war.

The Bible is valuable for reflection and not meant to be a rules’ book to gain God’s favor.

Jesus clearly chose non-violence as a way of life whenever possible. If we every sense the OT justifies God being immoral, we can assume something else is going on. A uncontrolling God can give writers the freedom to misunderstand and grow in their understandings of God, without denying the Bible is useful for teaching through the lens of Jesus. Comparisons encourage seeking what God is really like. Guidance from God that doesn’t lead to loving your neighbor more are likely to be a false representation of a God who claims to be perfectly good.

It Can Be Freeing To Know How God Communicate To Us!

We want to feel more of a connection with our Creator, but obviously God isn’t visible to communicate as we are used to in other relationships. How can we know that God is truly guiding us if we aren’t sure how they communicate to us?

The Bible records that God spoke audibly sometimes to give instructions or voice approval. God is said to have spoken to Moses where people could hear during the giving of the Ten Commandments (Ex. 19:9), and God’s voiced approval from heaven when Jesus was baptized (Mt. 3:17). Some claim today on rare occasions God has spoken audibly to them, but I am not sure how to prove that unless others are present to confirm it was a physical than psychological experience.

OT prophets write “God said” as if God had spoken to them personally. We do not know exactly how this type of revelation from God differs from simply impressions, thoughts, and feelings one may have as to what they think God has communicated to them. Prophets played a unique role in history in introducing God to the world. I do not believe any today can proclaim themselves to be like OT prophets where God is conveying new information.

Many would suggest God’s primary method of communication today is through the Bible.

The challenge is that literature is interpretation, and misinterpretations are often proclaimed to be the Word of God. It is not uncommon for different meanings to be expressed of the same passage and different applications suggested for our personal circumstances. Books written in the past cannot be definitive ultimately for guidance, as the writer is not available for clarification and explanation.

It is plausible if a God exists, they have communicated clearly to us through our moral intuitions.

It seems to me the presence of moral anger hints of a personal external force communicating through our moral intuitions that lead to outrage. How else do we explain a universal desire to treat others like we want to be treated? There is agreement on most moral matters. Nations can establish laws because there is almost universal agreement on stealing, lying, or murdering. We know God’s moral advice to us because of such intuitions. 

God gives us a sense of morality for our own good, but then sets us free to follow our desires. We are asking what God wants us to do; God is asking what we want to do.

God’s plan is not a detailed blueprint but a general one to set us free to love. The future isn’t already determined, making freedom an illusion. Many get frustrated with God because they assume God keeps information hidden from them. God can’t know an unknowable future. Which career or job do we pursue or any decision that is not moral in nature? God is like any good parent when it comes to future, amoral decisions – we are free to make the wisest decision at that time based on our gifts, past experiences, current circumstances, and future aspirations.

God has communicated – be free!

God has already communicated morally through our intuitions. How do we treat others? How do you wish to be treated! Should you forgive? Do you want to be forgiven! But, certain decisions depend on one’s personal circumstances. One may divorce or remain in a marriage for the sake of the children. God has spoken when we make the wisest decision we know at the time. Seek wisdom from others. There isn’t always one right decision as if the future is predetermined. God simply desires to persuade and empower us to do all the good we can, for the all the people we can.

How We Know There Is No Hell And Hope Of Heaven For Loved Ones!

⇒Hell isn’t from the Bible but an invention over centuries to command obedience
⇒A Creator of Earth can create Heaven where decisions can be made even after death

Okay, I have a confession. I haven’t died yet so I can’t positively tell you what happens after life here on earth. I do believe there was a Creator as opposed to life originating by happenchance. If there is a Creator there is nothing irrational about hundreds of millions believing in an afterlife.

I have suggested in this series if a Creator exists, they have communicated clearly through universal moral intuitions. How else do we explain a universal desire to treat others like we want to be treated or our sense of ought or guilt? How do we know it is wrong to steal, murder, lie, or commit adultery? We can’t always know what is good according to a book such as the Bible or the Koran. Literature is interpretation and we claim our interpretation is the Word of God.

We know intuitively a loving God would not torture people forever for beliefs while living a brief time on earth. Unending suffering is pointless. God is a God of many chances.

God is fully aware beliefs are influenced by opportunities, role models, or misinformation, so it is suspect a loving God determines our destiny based on beliefs on earth.  Biblical scholars rightly debate that Scriptures teaches all enter Heaven after meeting their Creator – often referred to as universalism. God can’t stop being forgiving and merciful at the moment of one’s last breathe. I’m not sure anyone would choose non-existence as opposed to life with a loving Creator, unless they have come so harden on earth. God will not coerce anyone against their will on earth or after death.

It turns out the Bible appears to argue what we intuitively believe is most likely about the afterlife if we believe in a good God who is perfect morally.

Hell as we think of it simply doesn’t exist in the Bible. Gehenna is the Greek word translated as Hell in the NT. Gehenna was the name of a real valley nearby Jerusalem with a history of terrible slaughter. Jesus used Gehenna to illustrate that spiritual death can be as tragic as horrendous physical death. The Apostle Paul who wrote most of the New Testament never refers to Hell. Noah, or any prophet in the OT, never warned of Hell as a consequence for behaviors here on earth. Hell seems an invention over the centuries to scare people into submission and obedience

Heaven as we think of it isn’t mentioned as much as we might think in the Bible. The word “heaven” appears the most in the Gospel of Matthew. Matthew doesn’t refer to the Kingdom of Heaven as a place after death. Jesus speaks of bringing heavenly love to earth – “on earth as in heaven.” The Apostle Paul, who wrote most of the NT, in his longest theological letter only mentioned heaven twice and says nothing about Jesus dying so we can go to Heaven (Rm. 1:18, 10:6). Eternal life in the Bible refers to a quality of life that begins here on earth, not a quantity of life after death. The Bible teaches forgiveness is unlimited (i.e. Mt. 18:21-22).

We know Hell doesn’t exist. The only reason we might believe in such a place created by a loving God would be if we thought such a Book taught such a horrific thing.  Also, there is hope for our loved ones who didn’t acknowledge God much less have an obvious trusting relationship with their Creator here on earth. For many God may bring to memory the pain and harmfulness caused for the sake of victims, but a good parent much less a good God is always seeking to restore than pay a price. God will always show grace and mercy whenever one decides to trust in the true God.

How We Know A Good God Is Not A Bigot Toward Females!

 

God is incapable of showing bias or favoritism since God is perfect
Moral intuitions and the Bible suggest roles are best determined by gifts not gender

I have suggested in this series if a Creator exists, they have communicated clearly through universal moral intuitions. Even if you don’t believe in a Creator, we might be able to agree that we can know what is good according to moral intuitions we share. By claiming to know what is good according to a book such as the Bible or the Koran, it is overlooked that literature is subject to interpretation. We end up claiming our interpretation is the Word of God.

God is not bias against gays, people of color, or women because that is what a perfect God must be like. Those who do or don’t read the Bible would insist a Creator be perfect to call themselves God. Bible readers will point to passages that say God is perfect thus not evil. The Bible’s challenge to be perfect like God is meaningless unless we can sense what perfection is (Mt. 5:48).

Most would agree, unless believing some book advises otherwise, that a good, perfect God is incapable of showing any bias or favoritism toward men over women.

I may be bias because I have two daughters and I am married to a very smart, independent, woman. I am convinced our hearts tell us that roles in personal or business relationships should be determined according to one’s gifts not gender. Who should be the CEO or preach? The most qualified of course. Who should handle the finances in the family? The one most gifted.

If you wish to determine God’s views toward females according to the Bible, since there is much debate by scholars, shouldn’t we choose the interpretation that seems more likely according to our moral intuitions. But, I am convinced the Bible doesn’t show favoritism when it comes to gender. I only mention a few examples though there are many more:

  • It seems unlikely God would suggest women be under the authority of men, especially when men are prone to dominate women anyway. The Apostle Paul who wrote most of the New Testament supposedly suggested wives are subordinate or under the leadership of their husbands in a way husbands aren’t to their wives (Eph. 5:22). Paul says in verse 22 in the original manuscripts: “wives to your husbands as to the Lord.” Translations often supply the very missing from verse 21: “wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” Paul just said submission is a way of life for all (5:21). If wives are under the leadership of their husbands, then we must also say church members are in subordination or under the leadership of one another (v. 21). Women do not need male leadership in marriage; women need unselfish men who have the heart of a servant (5:28-29).
  • 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. The same writer had just assumed women, without condemning, could prophesize during worship (I Cor. 11:5). The writer surely had certain circumstances in mind when suggesting silence.
  • Women are denied the privilege to exercise spiritual gifts in the church because of one main biblical passage (I Tim. 2:11-15), which is highly debated among scholars. Those who suggest this passage teaches women can’t teach men often allow women to teach women and children as if they are less important than men! Paul has in mind false teachings when he says a woman must not teach or have authority over a man. The passage uses the analogy of Adam and Eve.

God is incapable or bigotry or favoritism toward non-Caucasians, gays, or females.  

Even if I thought truth was ultimately determined according the Bible, it is more likely the Bible reveals that roles in life are determined according to one’s gifts not gender (I Cor. 12:4-11). A good and perfect God is incapable of showing favoritism. God is the kind of Creator worthy to follow in becoming more the person you desire to be deep down.

How We Know A Good God Is Not A Bigot Toward Gays!

TAKEAWAYS
√A good God by nature supports all loving, caring relationships
√Literature is interpretation; don’t assume the Bible condemns gay relationship

I have suggested in this series if there is a Creator, it is very plausible they have communicated clearly through universal moral intuitions. How else do we explain a universal desire to treat others like we want to be treated or our sense of ought or guilt? How do we know it is wrong to steal, murder, lie, or commit adultery? It is suspect a loving God only communicates what is good according to a Book such as the Bible. Literature is always subject to misinterpretation. The Bible in fact says that God didn’t promise to leave a Book but their Spirit to guide when Jesus’ person left this earth (Jn. 14:16). 

Most parents’ hearts break when they think their devotion to God requires them to give their child some version of “love the sinner, hate the sin” speech. Our moral intuitions tell most that God is not bias against females, people of color, or gays.

You don’t have to be gay to understand one can no more control their feelings toward those of the same sex than you can control your feelings toward the opposite sex. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t feel natural to you. You aren’t gay. Biblical scholars disagree on interpretations on this matter in the Bible so we mustn’t claim the Bible condemns gay relationships. If unconvinced God doesn’t condemn gay people, I would encourage you to accept one’s sexual orientation as personal between them and their Creator. 

We should look briefly at the main Bible passages used to condemn homosexuality. Seven main biblical passages are used to condemn homosexuals.

Who doesn’t condemn homosexual acts mentioned in the Bible involving violence such as rape (Sodom and Gomorrah in Gen 19; Judges 19:22)! We can’t be sure why and what sexual acts are condemned in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, but if these two verses are used to condemn gays then why don’t we apply the laws that advocate the death penalty for cursing parents (20:2), witchcraft (20:27), or sex with an animal (20:15). We must look for clearer passages if we are going to use the Bible to condemn homosexuality.

Romans 1 condemns homosexuality activities, or any sexual activities for that matter, devoid of fidelity or love (v. 31). The writer surely didn’t have in mind consensual, loving, monogamous, gay relationships. When Romans was written it was common for masters to be involved in sexual acts with their slaves or men having sex with younger boys. Who doesn’t condemn abusive, controlling, unequal, relationships!

Finally, there are two obscure Greek words translated as homosexuality in I Corinthians 6:9 and I Timothy 1:10. Scholars debate if homosexual or what type of sexual relationships the writer has in mind (David P. Gushee, Changing Our Mind, Chapter 13). Other sins listed are seldom used to threaten Hell (i.e. adulterers, thieves, drunkards, slanders, or the greedy). These passages should not be used to condemn consensual, loving same-sex relationships.

Even if claimed truth is only determinable according to the Bible, interpretations that condemn homosexuality are highly debatable.

What does your heart tell you to feel and say when asked if you condemn them because of their love for someone of the same sex? Gay people don’t feel they have a choice to love any other way. The church should be slow to condemn faithful relationships when half their relationships divorce.

God doesn’t favor according to gender, race, or sexuality because every moral fiber in my bones tell me so. That is just the way God made us.

The only reason I might think otherwise is because I think a Book from God argues otherwise. A good God is only capable of perfect love. The Bible encourages loving, consensual, caring relationships to avoid heart-break. Any sexual behaviors that are abusive, unequal, controlling, mindless, selfish engagements, as opposed to consensual monogamous relationships, are wrong to any rational human being.

Next In This Series:
How We Know A Good God Is Not A Bigot Toward Females!
How We Know There Is No Hell And Hope Of Heaven For Loved Ones!

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