Why Our Opinions About Gay Marriage Don’t Matter That Much

Same-sex marriage has been the topic of discussion and debate this weekend. The SCOTUS ruling this weekend has left many with hope, but many questioning the moral landscape of our nation. I have had trouble figuring out how to address this issue to both others as well as myself. Personally, I find it hard to put my view on the matter into words, so I refer to my very good friend, Gunner Briscoe, who addressed the issue very properly on Facebook today:

“My reaction to today’s Supreme Court decision and, more specifically, the reactions to it:

The Church has long permitted divorce and turned a blind eye to it despite biblical prohibitions to it. It is nothing more than blatant hypocrisy to tolerate divorce yet decry same-sex unions as an affront to the sanctity of marriage. Treat the two equally or say nothing.

Let us rebuild the sanctity of marriage within the Church, and then try to influence the world on what marriage is and is not, as it stands evangelical divorce rate is as high, if not higher, than the surrounding divorce rate of the world.

Yes, in accordance with scripture and orthodox teachings of the Church, it is my position that a same-sex union is not a marriage. But I am a child of divorced parents. My younger brother was born out of wed-lock. So long as we tolerate these, we cannot stand against same-sex unions. Reform the Church, then influence the world.”

Amen. I truly could not have said it better myself. For those Christians who think that this law is going to contribute to the moral downgrade of our society, why are you not concerned about the US government allowing divorce and other sins that the bible strictly prohibits? My personal fear is not whether homosexuals do or do not get marital rights. My fear is that a great many Christians who oppose same-sex marriage are putting American exceptionalism and patriotism above the love and respect that Christ has commanded us to have for one another. With that view in mind, I really don’t care about the Supreme Court decision. It honestly is really of no concern to me.  I care only about what God has to say.  Many people pull the “love the sinner, hate the sin” card and then jump on these rants about how the American government is falling apart because gay people can now get married. That is not to say that people who are defending traditional marriage in America right now hate homosexuals. What it means is that we have to be careful, because I do believe that there is a degree of hypocrisy involved with the person who rallies against gay rights and turns a blind eye to issues of divorce, abortion, etc. (and yes, for some reason people are taking this more seriously than abortion right now) and people notice that.

With that being said, all of my moral authority stands on the Word of God. I believe that Scripture has made it very clear that homosexual behavior is sinful. That does not mean that homosexual orientation is, but the behavior is. I need to preface my next statement by saying that the authority of Scripture is not bound by only the things that Jesus has said. However, it is important to make the point that Jesus never said anything about homosexuality, and the bible does not say anything at all about gay marriage. Jesus talked about many things, but above all he emphasized the command to love our Creator and His image bearers. If our rants against sin overtrump that, we are doing a disservice to God. This is something that I, along with every other Christian struggles to do daily. In the end, all of us (straight, gay, whatever) are not sinners because we sin, but we sin because we are sinners. Keep the authority of Scripture the center of your life, and let the love of Christ bleed into the lives of everyone around you.

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When Scripture Gets Nasty: How to Read the Bible Today

I’m not going to lie, there are times when I really do not like reading the Bible. It’s not always the fun-loving book I want it to be. In fact, there are times when I am straight up uncomfortable with the Bible. When I wake up in the morning and open my Bible, I feel as though I am never prepared for what I am going to get. There are days where I feel total spiritual satisfaction after my morning devotional, there are times when I feel confused, times when I feel sad, and there are even times where I feel like I have wasted my time. There are messy stories in the Bible. There’s murder, destruction, rape, the slaughtering of entire people groups, the desolation of entire cities, people who are struck down by God, and many other things. I started to ask myself a few months back: Why is this stuff in the Bible?! Isn’t the Bible the inspired Word of God, which is supposed to help us gain knowledge and insight about Him? Why such a nasty book? Aren’t we supposed to grow spiritually from it? How should we make sense of the Bible?

The Bible is Not God’s Love Letter to Us

 

I was at a church camp several years ago and the speaker said something to me that I will never forget. He held up his Bible and asked, “Why would you not follow God if He wrote you such a massive love letter?” I think part of the problem Christians have with reading Scripture is that they are reading it through the lens of a false expectation. Let me make a bold statement: The Bible is not written TO us. It is, however, written FOR us. When you pick up the Bible, you have not just picked up a book, but an entire library of different genres that were written specifically to different cultures of different times. The Bible is an ancient document; so it would suit us well to read it like one. Not only is the above statement false, but it is also oversimplified. Instead of the Bible just being a love letter to us, it is a huge collection of documents that are all centered around the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and his eternal plan that IS full of love. The Bible is not a love letter, it is much more than that.

The Bible is Not a Rulebook

This one is kind of a given, but it’s difficult to live out sometimes. I often have a hard time reading the Bible and not getting the impression that it is just I giant book full of rules and regulations that I have to follow or God is going to cut me down. This is not what God intended for His Word. We will always be a slave to something, be it our own desires or something else. Christ has given us the opportunity to be a slave to Him, and He calls this the only real, true freedom. Instead of viewing the Bible as a book of rules that we have to follow or we are dishonoring God, view it as a book full of freedom opportunities. God has not given to you what is the only way to live, but what is the BEST way to live.

I only bring up what the Bible isn’t because I believe it is spiritually unhealthy to go into Scripture reading with those two expectations.

The Bible IS a Story Book

 

The Bible is full of stories. I have always wondered why this is. Once I figured it out, it became a lot more meaningful to me. People love stories. Jesus often taught in parables in order to keep people focused. The Bible has so much messiness in it because that is reality. There is very little you can encounter that is not documented in some form in the Bible. Often times the best way to learn is through the story of the experience of someone else. This is crucial. The Bible is not something written directly to us, and it is not a list of rules either. It is a book of insight. It is a book of real people who are messy, broken, and trying to find their way back to God. I am convinced that this is the reason so many Christians find the Old Testament obsolete. Instead of asking, “What does this have to do with me?” ask, “What can I learn from the men and women in this story, who are on their own journey to finding God?” The Bible can be difficult to handle sometimes, but if we keep in mind that these harsh, sometimes crazy stories are all about the journeys of people who lived a long time ago, we can gain more insight about what God is actually trying to teach us through His Word.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

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This next post is about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  This Mormon movement was founded by Joseph Smith in the 1820s and since then it has risen to be a major religious sect.  What separates this group from traditional Orthodox Christianity?  What are the problems with this belief?  Should Mormons be considered Christians?  Can Mormons attain eternal salvation?  I will attempt to answer these questions in this post.

 

There is one key difference between Mormonism and traditional Orthodox Christianity.  Mormons add another testament.  The Book of Mormon is an entirely new testament that many have tried to apply to the rest of the Bible.  Now, why is this important?  MANY reasons.  First, Mormons declare that there are many gods out there, separating themselves from traditional monotheistic Christians.  Second, according to Mormons, Jesus and Lucifer are brothers.  Third, there are three stages of heaven, and if you achieve the top one you can become a god yourself.  Fourth, almost everybody gets to go to heaven and faith is completely unnecessary for eternal salvation.  Fifth, the god of our planet was once a man himself.  These are just a few of many reasons why Christianity and Mormonism are drastically different.

 

So why is this a problem?  Jesus came into the world to save, but we have to accept this eternal gift of salvation.  This is the core part of the Christian religion, and Mormons just kick it right out and completely ignore it.  Also, Mormons do not believe in the one true and living God, and this is a BIG deal when it comes to authority with the rest of Scripture.  The idea that you can become a god completely undermines and destroys what the Bible says about God and His sovereignty.  Overall, Christians have a much higher view of God than Mormons do.

 

What are some of the problems with Mormonism?  The Book of Mormon has been changed over 4000 times since Joseph Smith wrote it.  This is in complete opposition to the rest of the Bible, which has not been changed once.  This just proves that the Book of Mormon is not at all reliable.  Secondly, the Book of Mormon teaches that Jesus was born in Jerusalem, where as the New Testament claims He was born in Bethlehem.  This is a big problem considering these are two completely different countries.  Thirdly, according to Joseph Smith, the angel Moroni came to him in a vision and this is where he got the text.  This is a big problem because, according to Galatians 1:8, even if an angel brings a new text, a we are not to take it seriously.  This is probably the biggest problem, because it strikes right at the heart of Mormonism.

 

So, should we consider Mormons as Christians, and can they attain eternal salvation?  If they withhold the beliefs above, the answer is no.  The central doctrines of Christianity are completely changed in the Mormon belief system.  They do not believe in the same god or the same method of salvation.