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I Don't Understand The Rules


CAT
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I am new to the board. I have just come back to Christianity after considering some of the eastern beliefs and some of the natural/pagan beliefs. I'm a hybrid of these and a lot of Joseph Campbell.

 

As I read my bible I believe it to say divorce is only tolerated/given under the condition that you as a beliver in God cannot remarry if you divorce. This seems to be true in the Levitican laws and in the new testement.

 

The bible also says fornication is against God's laws. I've found many statements saying man should not lay down with man. I also have seen an instance of approved incest. I also find it odd that a father would offer his virgin daughters in place of the beautiful male angels. That would be tantamount to destroying them for a marriage or life in that time and accepting that religion. To me it seems to be a story of ultimate sacrifice in the face of uncontrolled evil. At the time wasn't it the pagan view to use sexuality/lust to venerate their gods? A father sacrificing his daughters, knowing God's convenant was with him and that no harm would come to them. Could it be a display of faith in his God?

 

But this is what I don't understand. The modern Christian church allows remarriage. Living together is frowned on, but is done. It seems to be against the tenants of God's law. Yet homosexuality is the BIGGEST of the sins. Placards, hate mail, marchs to save "marriage" as "we" know it should be. I don't know how it should be. It seems most married couples spend a great deal of time ignoring, blaming even hating their partners...inevitably divorced.

 

If two homosexuals love each other, and pledge this before God in convenant is that not better than Christians fighting amongst themselves to see who is right.

Love God with all your strength, mind and soul and love your neighbour as yourself. How can any of this venerate God? Maybe I'm too naive, but I believe that when Christ made the ultimate sacrifice, he didn't intend to exclude anyone who came to Him and asked for forgiveness and asked for his acceptance....If He can, why can't we?

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Welcome Back: Your experience parallels mine and is why I am interested in TCPC. We agonise over the very issues you raise. At the moment I am reading "The Course In Miracles" with interest. It has Jesus's comments on many of these points through the human channel of two psychiatrist's collaboration. Join in.

 

Jeep

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  • 1 month later...

Cat,

I completely understand your frustration with much of the application of scripture in the Christian Church. I suppose it is this frustration that led me here to this website/movement.

 

The Bible, for me, is not a rule book, per se. When I finally sat down and read it straight through, cover to cover, the overwhelming theme for me was that Jesus Christ was/is the true revelation of God. Through these pages I meet the historical person who embodied the divine completely.

 

Believe me, as a woman who is married for the second time who recently completed the ordination candidacy program in the UMC, I have had to come to terms with many "literal" readings. Once I could let go of the "the Bible says this or that" I think it freed me to seek a higher truth--and I'm still seeking.

 

Thanks for your thoughtful questions!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Fundamentalists tend to pick and choose very carefully - they latch onto "the bible says" when it suits them, and are happy to ignore what teh bible says when they don't like it - eg. dietry laws, not cutting your hair - there are literally thousands of jewish laws that Jesus would have followed and modern christians ignore. How do they explain this, I wonder?

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Hi, Cat, as I understand it the biblical stance is this (I'm not advocating it or defending it!):

 

the church does not marry people. they marry each other when they become 'one flesh'. the church blesses or witnesses their union. So two people living together are technically 'married', that is why it is wrong to marry someone else afterwards.

 

Now, as to gays, the Bible rules were written in an age of high infant mortality when the survial of the tribe depended on maximum effort given to producing offspring.

At the same time, departure from the 'norm' was frowned on as it worked against uniformity . In an age when we are producing too much offspring the existence of a proportion of society who are not engaged in procreation may be seen as a balancing influence and therefore more welcome.

 

So the Bible view is obsolete. In any case it could be argued endlessly whether the infamous verses really do refer to gays. they are notoriously vague and S. Paul's references probably were to pederasty, a problem in Corinth and Galatia at the time, rather than same-sex love as we know it.

 

But, as other posters have said, that's not good enough for fundies. I think their stance over the Bible and Gays shows them up in their true light. They are really anti-gay people who want to find 'respectable' backing for their prejudice. I know I'm sticking my neck out but, as a heter myself, I am apalled by the anti-gay prejudicve I see, and think it should be seen for what it is. it has nothing to do with the love of Christ as I read it in the Gospels.

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I don't think it is as simple as fundamentalist Christians are anti-gay. We tend to reject in others what we reject in ourselves. I'm not saying that fundamentalists are all gay, btw. I'm saying that our judgement starts with the judgement of ourselves. One could easily make the blanket statement that progressive Christians are anti-fundamentalist (fundamentalist the person, not the idea). But many of us love our fundamentalist brothers/sisters. We reject fundamentalism in or for ourselves. If we were ever fundamentalist in our past, we think "boy! we were stupid and narrow-minded then, but now we aren't". Just like in 5, 10, or 20 years, we will look back and say some other judgement about ourselves.

 

I think the point the progressive Christian wants to make is that it's bad enough that we judge ourselves, but do we really need to throw that judgement onto the world?

 

So a conversation might go like this:

 

progressive: "Hey, I know that being gay doesn't work for you, but that doesn't mean it doesn't work for somebody else."

 

fundamentalist: "So does that mean that if being a murderer works for me, then it's ok?"

 

progressive: "No, because when one person is a murderer...it doesn't work for the people around him."

 

Of course a progressive will never get the last word, and we should never try to. We are all where, what, and who we need to be at the moment.

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If you want rules, they're in there. In fact, you can put together just about any kind of rules you like and find something to back them up, but why would anyone want to be that religious? I believe that God is smarter than we are and that step one of being smart is knowing when you don't know something. That's why there was Jesus. I don't believe everytrhing in the Bible, but I do believe that the word was made flesh and walked among us, for the reason I just stated. I also believe that Jesus actually said "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled." I believe this because this is a daily spiritual practice that cuts across all lines of religious tradition and geographical boundaries. It requires no special equipment or training, just an open heart; and an open heart is the only way to know God, IMHO. As far as rules go, I kind of like the lord's prayer, but that's just me, your results may vary

Take it easy

SP:D

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  • 3 months later...

Insights from a famed conservative progressive Christian:

 

Churches on the Defense of Marriage Act

by Tony Campolo

 

The Defense of Marriage Amendment being proposed by the Bush administration is going to be a hot issue in this year’s election. The Democrats already are contending that President Bush is introducing this proposal for political purposes and, by so doing, is polarizing the country. The Republicans are quick to point out that they are not the ones who raised the issue of gay marriage, but are simply defending the nation from the onslaught of liberals and their “gay agenda.”

 

Churches are further inflaming the controversy through their own infighting. The argument over gay marriage has put every major denomination in danger of schism. Church leaders have weighed in on both sides of debate, many contending that what is at stake is nothing less than the future of the family.

 

What is being ignored, however, is that it is not gay people who have put the family in jeopardy. The traditional family is in danger, not because so many gays want to get married, but because so many heterosexuals have chosen to get divorced. In fact, nearly half of new heterosexual marriages now end in divorce. In addition, more than 30% of today’s young couples choose to live together without bothering to get married. Churches, however, have made no headlines around these issues lately. On the contrary, when it comes to divorce, lately we Christians have had little to say.

 

As I listen to fundamentalist church leaders declare that the Bible requires them to condemn gay marriage, I wonder how they reconcile their claims of full obedience to Scripture with their willingness to welcome those who are divorced and remarried into their congregations. Doesn’t Mark 10:11-12 describe Jesus specifically declaring that divorced people who remarry are living in adultery?

 

If such leaders insist on ‘doing the Bible thing,’ then they at least ought to be consistent. It isn’t fair to use the Bible to clobber gays who want to get married without also using it to exclude divorced people who want to get remarried. If they must call their members’ gay sons and daughters an abomination to God, should not those preachers also start condemning the children of their congregants who are living together out of wedlock?

 

When I ask my fellow evangelicals to explain this obvious double standard, I am often told that when it comes to divorce and remarriage we must communicate grace above all else. To this I can only respond, “When will we start communicating the same grace to our gay brothers and sisters?”

 

Don’t get me wrong: I am no advocate of gay marriage. All I am saying here is that evangelical churches will have no credibility if they go on condemning gay marriages without revisiting the question of what the Bible has to say about marriage itself, and divorce, and the nature of all sexual activity. Unless they are simply homophobic, these churches will soon discover that they cannot get tough with gay people and just let everybody else off the hook.

 

I am not in favor of The Defense of the Marriage Amendment, but if there must be one I think it should also deal with divorce, instead of just picking on gays. After all, it’s high time we made getting out of a marriage more difficult than getting out of a traffic ticket.

 

Again, don’t misunderstand me: Divorces must remain available to those who must escape destructive situations like spousal abuse. Nevertheless, both church and state have condoned easy divorces for too many people, and these divorces have left millions of children emotionally shattered for the rest of their lives. Am I suggesting that unhappy couples ought to remain together for the sake of their kids? Absolutely. As far as I am concerned, innocent boys and girls are the best reason to defend marriage.

(Tony Campolo is professor emeritus of sociology at Eastern University in St. Davids, PA, and the author of 29 books, the most recent of which is entitled SPEAKING MY MIND: THE RADICAL EVANGELICAL PROPHET TACKLES THE TOUGH ISSUES CHRISTIANS ARE AFRAID TO FACE [W Publishing Group, 2003]. The founder of the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education, he has organized schools and universities in various Third World countries as well as creating a variety of ministries for “at-risk” children in urban neighborhoods across North America.)

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Q: What is the motive behind the current push for a Constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriages?

 

A: What the GOP is up to here is essentially a contemporary verision of "race-baiting" - only this time it's "gay baiting." By engaging in this disgusting political tactic, the GOP is hoping that more Americans are anti-homosexual than they are frustrated about George Jr's deception in rushing us to war with Iraq. I hope they are wrong.

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Senate Scuttles Marriage Amendment

 

Religious Right's Constitutional Scheme Falls Far Short Of Votes Needed To Advance To Senate Floor

 

In a major defeat for the Religious Right, the Senate decided today not to bring up the Federal Marriage Amendment for a floor vote.

 

Only 48 senators voted to bring S.J. Res.40 to the floor, far short of the 60 votes needed. Fifty senators voted against cloture.

 

Opponents of the amendment were jubilant. Speaking at a news conference on Capitol Hill, the Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said the Senate did the right thing.

 

"Today's vote," said Lynn, "is a powerful repudiation of bigotry. It rejects unnecessary Constitution tampering and is a strong rebuke to the Religious Right.

 

"A serious threat to the separation of church and state lurked in the shadows of this debate," Lynn continued. "From the very beginning, supporters of the marriage amendment have used religious language to describe their goals. Marriage was 'sacred,' noted President Bush, and it was a 'sacrament' according to Sen. Frist. The preservation of the sacred and promotion of sacraments is the province of religious institutions, not government bodies.

 

"This unfortunate debate," Lynn said, "was spawned by an unholy matrimony between political leaders with an eye on the ballot box and Religious Right leaders determined to win support for a mean-spirited and divisive proposal. The result was a floor vote designed to score political points, not advance sound policy. Now it's time for a divorce. The Senate needs to move on to more important matters instead of trying to curry favor with religious extremists."

 

A broad array of civil liberties, civil rights and mainstream religious groups oppose the amendment. It is supported by James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and other Religious Right leaders. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and a few other conservative religious bodies have also endorsed the measure.

 

Advocates say the measure is intended only to keep state and federal courts from requiring that same-sex couples be allowed to wed. But critics insist the amendment jeopardizes many civil rights protections extended to gay people by state and local laws. Church-state separation activists say the plan entangles religion with government by writing the marriage doctrines and rituals of the majority faiths into the Constitution.

 

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom. www.au.org

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Wow - you've covered a lot of ground - let me see if I can help:

 

As I read my bible I believe it to say divorce is only tolerated given under the condition that you as a beliver in God cannot remarry if you divorce. This seems to be true in the Levitican laws and in the new testement.

 

Actually Christian doctrine is that we are to divorce only in the instances of adultory or if one partner is a believer and the other is not, and they want to part over this. This is a limitation on the Jewish law, which permitted diveorce by the man just by posting it.

 

The bible also says fornication is against God's laws. I've found many statements saying man should not lay down with man. I also have seen an instance of approved incest. I also find it odd that a father would offer his virgin daughters in place of the beautiful male angels. That would be tantamount to destroying them for a marriage or life in that time and accepting that religion. To me it seems to be a story of ultimate sacrifice in the face of uncontrolled evil. At the time wasn't it the pagan view to use sexuality/lust to venerate their gods? A father sacrificing his daughters, knowing God's convenant was with him and that no harm would come to them. Could it be a display of faith in his God?

 

There are referances to incest, but not with "approval", Lot's daughters were violating the law in sleeping with their Dad (which is why the writer keeps reminding us that they got him drunk). I have always believed that the point of this story was to choose the higher duty, to sacrafice yourself (he went out to face the angry mob), or family to protect the stranger. Protecting a stranger was considered by the Jews to be one of the highest obligations. So for me the lesson here is that we must do even the most debasing and painful things to meet our obligations.

 

 

[quoye]But this is what I don't understand. The modern Christian church allows remarriage. Living together is frowned on, but is done. It seems to be against the tenants of God's law. Yet homosexuality is the BIGGEST of the sins. Placards, hate mail, marchs to save "marriage" as "we" know it should be. I don't know how it should be. It seems most married couples spend a great deal of time ignoring, blaming even hating their partners...inevitably divorced.

 

Divorce is permitted in some churches, but by no means all. Mine views it as a sin, and requires a great deal in the way of formation to obtain absolution. Since th Bible teaches that the only unforgivable sin is blasphamy of the Holy Spirit, we do not approve of divorce as much as we know that it can be forgiven with true repentance, like almost every other sin. Likewise I know of no Christian churches that will condone living together (in a sexual union) without marriage. Homosexuality isn't anywhere near the biggest sin, its just theone in the forefront becasue the gay rights movement is active now. It wasn't all that long ago that the culture war was fought over abortion. Sometimes we get to pick the issues that are confronted, sometimes they are choosen by others.

 

If two homosexuals love each other, and pledge this before God in convenant is that not better than Christians fighting amongst themselves to see who is right. Love God with all your strength, mind and soul and love your neighbour as yourself. How can any of this venerate God? Maybe I'm too naive, but I believe that when Christ made the ultimate sacrifice, he didn't intend to exclude anyone who came to Him and asked for forgiveness and asked for his acceptance....If He can, why can't we?

 

You are, of course, correct that any sin may be forgiven. The reason that so many churches struggle with the place of Gays is this: The Gay christian does not want to repent, or even admit that the Bible appears to teach that homosexual acts (NOT the PEOPLE) are sin, and instead would like the creed to excise or overlook those teachings.

 

Do I believe that Gay people go to heaven? Yes, but it will be becasue their sins were forgiven and through their diverse works of Charity and Love they merit the Grace of God.

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RE: "Do I believe that Gay people go to heaven? Yes, but it will be becasue their sins were forgiven and through their diverse works of Charity and Love they merit the Grace of God."

 

Did you really mean to say this? Most all Christian Churches believe in "salvation by faith" not by works; i.e. people are saved by the unmerited gift of salvation provided by the life, death, and resurrection (however one understands those things) of Jesus the Christ.

 

As a Methodist, I favor Wesley's insight that Christians don't do good works in order to be saved, but becuase they are saved, they can't help but do them as natural fruits.

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Did you really mean to say this? Most all Christian Churches believe in "salvation by faith" not by works; i.e. people are saved by the unmerited gift of salvation provided by the life, death, and resurrection (however one understands those things) of Jesus the Christ.

 

Yes, I do. I am aware that the majority hold with faith alone is required for salvation. My Church (along with others) teach that faith AND works are required, that it is not enough to believe, that the Christian must believe and then act the belief. We reject the entire Calvinist formula. As James the Just teaches, faith without works is nothing.

 

What I don't believe is that God cares why we do a thing, so if a Methodist is living a Christian life because he believes that the Spirit enables him, and an Old Catholic like me belives that I live a Christian life because the spirit calls me to, well I'm pretty sure we'll both get to meet in paradise and compare notes.

Edited by Rev. Smith
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Fair enough I suppose, but there's generally more joy in serving in response to our awareness of God's grace in our life than there is in serving because we feel that we "have" to.

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Fair enough I suppose, but there's generally more joy in serving in response to our awareness of God's grace in our life than there is in serving because we feel that we "have" to.

No argument there, but then again we don't feel we're doing the work of God's People because we "have to" either, we are honored that our Lord, in His great love has called us to his work. By being the good Samaratin and bringing an active love to the world we have the honor of, in a small and human way, of aiding God in his creation. It's not that God needs us to do it, God transcends his creation - it is that we need to serve, and in serveing come to love the creator through his cretion.

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  • 1 year later...
Insights from a famed conservative progressive Christian:

 

(Tony Campolo is professor emeritus of sociology at Eastern University in St. Davids, PA, and the author of 29 books, the most recent of which is entitled SPEAKING MY MIND: THE RADICAL EVANGELICAL PROPHET TACKLES THE TOUGH ISSUES CHRISTIANS ARE AFRAID TO FACE [W Publishing Group, 2003]. The founder of the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education, he has organized schools and universities in various Third World countries as well as creating a variety of ministries for “at-risk” children in urban neighborhoods across North America.)[/i]

 

 

Tony is an interesting man. I took Sociology of the Family with him years ago. FYI his wife is in favor of gay marriage. Tony was one of the first steps I had in leaving fundamentalist-ish Christiainty. He also opened the door to my understanding of what it is to be gay (prior to his class I understood that people who had sex with others of hte same sex were just having doing it in the same way two strangers would have sex, not that homosexuality was an orientation).

 

I'm surprised he is still espousing an anti-gay marriage stance.

 

I also think he is naive when it comes to his views on divorce. It should be harder to have children, not get married or divorced. Children do not do well in a family where their parents are miserably married. I have an acquaintance who did not believe in marriage until her parents finally divorced when she was in college. If that was marriage she wanted nothing to do with it. It wasn't until they finally admitted their relationship was bad and ended it she was able to bring her self to even consider getting married. (Last I heard, she was engaged!)

 

What is "attacking" heterosexual marriages is the fact that humans are doing it. Divorce is just a sign that some people are realizing that their relationship is sick and they need to get out. It is kind of like dying, really. Part of the cycle of life.

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