Here’s what I think:
Every single time one uses the phrase “the Bible says,” one should precede it with “I believe that…” or “The way I read it…” or “According to my interpretation…” or some such clarifying phrase. Especially with issues upon which there is well-documented disagreement, like homosexuality.
Actually, I kind of thought we were past all of the “the-Bible-clearly-says-this” versus “oh-no-it-doesn’t-it-clearly-says-that” skubalon (Look it up – Philippians 3:8). But apparently not. I’ve read comments on a few online posts recently that are filled with it. Whatever comes after that phrase, the point is weakened because the author has demonstrated they are unwilling to hear any other perspective.
Question: How in the world am I supposed to take your point seriously if you are so blatant about your unwillingness to take anyone else’s seriously? Seriously.
Not to mention, there is a kind of arrogance in claiming to be privy to what the Bible clearly says or not. I am reticent to make such a claim myself; I take the Holy Scripture far too seriously to even remotely hint that I understand it completely. My wisest wisdom is utter foolishness with God. I believe that God’s Word is too big, too complex, too omni-everything to be codified or contained in a list of doctrines. And I know that the only interpretation I ever have is the one God has revealed to me, and spiritual maturity means learning how to deal with the fact that sometimes my interpretation is different than yours.
Looky here. Be clear about what you believe. Be firm in that belief. Claim it! And at the same time, be willing to hear reproof, rebuttal, admonition, and even affirmation. If your belief is really that strong, another perspective will be no threat to it! And maybe, just maybe, you will actually learn something and end up better for listening. That’s why we are supposed to do this Christianity thing together, as the church, just as “one body has many members,” because no single one of us, no single group of us, no single denomination of us, has an exclusive hold on the full truth of God.
(And now let’s get to the nitty and/or the gritty, whichever you prefer.)
Specifically, I am tired of being accused of not loving Jesus, or not regarding scripture as God-inspired, or not being a faithful disciple of Christ, and so forth, simply because I am in the group of Christians who do not believe that homosexuality is a sin. To be clear: I love Jesus. I believe scripture to be inspired by God. I am a faithful disciple who is working out my own salvation with fear and trembling. And so forth. And – I do not believe that homosexuality is a sin. (Side note: Yes, there are a lot of Christians who feel this way.)
At the same time, I have dear friends and colleagues who do believe homosexuality is a sin. I do not think they are hateful people. I do not think they do not love Jesus. I do not think they are unfaithful or “wrong” or homophobic or anything like that. I think that they are faithful disciples of Jesus who love God and neighbor just like me, and who happen to have come to a different perspective on this issue than I have.
There are other examples, too. This one happens to be one of the most sensitive. I have written a lot about it before, and you are welcome to click around my prior blog posts to read what I’ve written at various times over the past few years.
The larger point of this post is to issue a plea that we might “provoke one another to love and good deeds” in the way that we disagree with one another, a plea that we might set at tone of grace and respect in every one of our conversations. Journalism is not setting that tone; politics is not setting that tone; business is not setting that tone.
And sadly, neither is the church. But maybe we could. Maybe we should! Please, “if it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” At least that’s the way I see it. If you disagree, I just ask that you do so respectfully!
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