Questioning the Bible

In response to a comment related to my last post (here), I’ve decided to talk about the following question in this post: What’s up with the God and the Bible?

If you haven’t noticed already from reading this blog, I am a Christian. I have come to the hard-core belief that the Bible is God’s Word and ones way of life. As 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and Hebrews 4:12-13 state, I believe that:

All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man (woman) of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

For the Word of GOD is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from GOD’S sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of HIM to whom we must give account.

I have come to hold firmly to these beliefs because of the evidence I have seen in my own personal life in regards to who God is.  As I left off before, His love has convinced me to follow hardcore after Him – no matter what I need to “give up” in order to grow closer to Him.  Where before I struggled with choosing between my own desires and His, I am now in a place where I greatly desire His ways over my own.  His love has captured my heart once and for all.  In that, then, I firmly trust who He says He is, and I trust the source of His claims (the Bible).

I realize there is a huge debate, increasing more over time, centered around the authority and reliability of the Bible. Questions like “who wrote the Bible”, “how did the Bible come about”, “can we really trust the Bible and those who put it together”, etc. And all of these questions are acceptable to ask/have. While no one really argues about the questions, the debate about this issue revolves around the given answers.

Often, the answer you conclude about the Bible’s reliability ties to the answer you give to another question: Does scripture condemn gay sexual relationships/relationships and gays themselves? Again, a valid question that fuels debate because of the answers that are given. So let’s tackle one question at a time.  *Note: I am using “gay sexual relationships” and “gay relationships” interchangeably from now on.

A more detailed answer about this particular question can be found in Bruce Milne’s book, “Know the Truth”.

First, How did we get the Bible, Is it reliable, and so forth?  The Bible was assembled by various religious leaders back in late 300 AD.  They compiled the books together based on certain criteria such as: the apostolic authorship (was it written by an apostle), did the doctrine and story flow together/make sense, and did other books refer to such teachings.  The validity of the Old Testament, and everything that is written in it, can be summed by the words of Christ Himself: “‘Everything must be fulfilled that is written about Me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms’.  Then He (Jesus) opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures” (Luke 24:44-45).  The term scriptures here refers to the Hebrew Bible, which consisted of everything in our Old Testament.  It should be noted that every book of the Old Testament is alluded to in the New Testament, except the book “Song of Solomon”.

So when it came time to put the Bible together, the leaders already knew the validity of the Old Testament scriptures.  The New Testament was put together based more so on who wrote the particular book, why was it written, and what was contained in the given book.  What we have has been tried and tested, and the books we have in the New Testament scriptures are validated by the other authors and books (2 Peter 1:16-21).  The books that have not been accepted (The Gospel of Thomas and the like) have been avoided because the information they attain in neither relevant nor reliable.  When does Jesus, Paul, or Peter refer to the Gospel of Thomas; or when does the Gospel of Thomas refer to the other books within the New Testament? Just because a famous person’s name is signed to the bottom of a letter/book, doesn’t mean that it is reliable information.  I can write my own book about Jesus, bury it somewhere over in the Holy Land, have them dig it up and profess it be added to the scriptures.  Does it make it reliable?  No.  The spiritual weight of the letter/book holds more value than who really wrote it.  Thomas’s work contradicts what the other books say.  But now we’re getting off topic and loosing our focus.  Again, there is plenty of information about the “Bible process” out there, like Milne’s book; so I highly recommend checking them out.

The process of acquiring the Bible was not a quick-easy process, but rather a long and daunting process.  Quoting from E. Harrison (no relation) from his book Introduction to the New Testament, he writes, “The councils certified the canon (both Old and New) that was already widely acknowledged in the Church.  The councils gave public and united testimony to that which the Church has long known, used and cherished as its authoritative guide” (p. 103).

In understanding how we got the Bible, one also needs to understand (and believe) that the writers of the Bible (Moses, Samuel, the prophets, the apostles, Paul, etc) were fully inspired by God to do so. Yes, man is not perfect and the ability to mess up is very likely. But you also need to believe and trust that God, who is perfect, orderly, and doesn’t mess up, gave the correct information to these people and made sure that all was written correctly – even down to the translators of today’s Bibles, like the NIV, Message, NASB, etc. Hebrews 11:1 says that “faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see“. I have never seen God stretch out His hand and write the words found in the Bible, nor have I ever seen translators translate the Bible. But I have talked with one man who did translate part of the New Testament (for the NIV, Dr. Wes Gerig) and I respect and agree with his theology. More over, and this is even more important than my friends testimony, I am certain and believe firmly that God’s Word is/was “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16) … again, refer to what 2 Peter 1:16-21 says:

We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eye witnesses of His majesty … Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

I believe that God’s Word is inerrant and infallible, because I have tested it and have had it prove me wrong time and time again throughout my life. I have seen the power of God found within the pages of His Word; and I have seen the glory of God come alive through the reading, studying, and understanding of His Word. I believe God’s Word is valid and true because I have found it to be reliable through my own story, trials, and triumphs. You may have a different story, but either way, your story cannot refute my own. Only God can refute our stories; so I pray that He enlightens us to the Truth – His Truth, and not our own.

Secondly, what does the Bible say about homosexuality? Accepting that the Bible is true, and that God’s Word is without error, one then should also believe that what GOD has said about homosexuality is also true: the practice of homosexuality is a sin.

I want to interject a brief caution here, before going any further.  The Bible speaks out against gay relationships (the practice of homosexuality), it does not speak out again someone who struggles with / has attractions to the same-sex.  There is a difference, and for far too long, the Church has been ignoring this difference.  Genesis 19, Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, Romans 1:26-27, 1 Timothy 1:9-10, and 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 speak out against men having sex with men (Romans includes women).  These verses call out the action as sin, not the temptation/desire.  Last time I checked, it wasn’t a sin to be tempted; rather it becomes a sin when we act upon our temptations (1 Corinthians 10:13, James 1:12-16) – which is applied to anything anyone does that goes against the standards of God.

This post is speaking about how the Bible views gay sexual relationships (the practice of homosexuality).  I am not attacking the person.

As already mentioned, there are 6 main verses (which I call the Big 6) that speak out against the practice of homosexuality.  Our church has recently been discussing this issue actually, and during one of the meetings a lady within our church made this valid point: why is homosexuality the only sin in the entire Bible that’s been misinterpreted? Out of all the other sins and things mentioned in the Bible, why is homosexuality the only word that is misunderstood? How can this be so?  A valid point.

She is speaking in regards to claims, mostly from those who accept a pro-gay theology of scripture, which state that God has created people to be gay (just as they are) and therefore the Bible does not speak out against anyone living an active gay life.  The pro-gay theology has mostly grown out of the fact that the Church has used scripture as weapons against gay people, instead of using them as “words of love and redemption”.  As Troy Perry (founder of the largest gay Church, Metropolitan Community Church) once observed, the Church has no one to blame but themselves for causing such opposition.

Because such opposition has occurred, because the Church has done more damage than good in this area, I want to take a moment and express my sincere apology to all of those who’ve been hurt by passages of scripture (like the Big 6) spoken through ungraceful and unmerciful mouths.  Scripture was never meant to wound people; rather it was meant to bring people closer to God, not drive them further from Him. I’m sorry it has done such to so many people.

I am not apologizing for the Truth of God’s Word, rather I am apologizing for the ways in which it was presented and heard.

For me, in my conviction that the Bible is God’s “life-book” for our lives, I can’t overlook what God has said about the practice of homosexuality – just like I can’t overlook what God has said about any sin or lifestyle that doesn’t coincide with His standards . I do not support the pro-gay theology that is beginning to rise in popularity all over the place. I do not support the claims/ideas that God’s Word is wrong in regards to the issue of homosexuality. I do not support or believe that God has contradicted Himself is banning gay relationships one minute and allowing them the next.

I do believe that God clearly states that the practice of homosexuality is wrong, and that God’s desire for mankind is to have healthy heterosexual relationships with the opposite sex (be it a married life or a celibate life). I believe fully in the scripture 1 Corinthians 6:11, in which God offers hope and freedom to those who want it. Those who struggle with same-sex attractions are able, I believe, through God’s grace and power, to live heterosexual lives through marriage or a celibate life; and that the practice of an active gay lifestyle is wrong. I don’t believe, nor do I believe the Bible states this, that homosexuality equals a married heterosexual life. Rather, the point of walking away from a gay identity is for the person to walk into God’s Identity and Wholeness. Had GOD not told me to get married, I wouldn’t be married right now (I am thankful that I am married, don’t get me wrong). But the point of my wholeness isn’t marriage, nor is it to be a straight stud; rather the point of my wholeness is Jesus. Just as everyone’s point of wholeness is Jesus.

The Bible is clear in challenging us to move from a selfish lifestyle to a life that is God-focused. Time and time again, God calls us forth from our old way of life, from a life that is broken, to a life that is new and whole which is found only within Him (John 15). This applies to the adulterous spouse, to the liar, to the gambler, to the drunkard, to the idol worshiper, to the practicing homosexual, to the devious straight person. God’s call on mankind’s life is holiness and wholeness. This call sheds no discrimination on sexual preference or sexual orientation; all people – straight, gay, bisexual, transgendered – are commanded to follow such a standard.

This is the Bible’s view concerning the practice of homosexuality (gay relationships) and for those who struggle with gay desires (again, no different from anyone elses choice of sin). To believe whats written here, though, you must first believe the previous question’s answer: is the Bible reliable and accurate.

So far we’ve talked about how while claiming a gay identity may or may not be inborn, a person still makes a conscious choice to act upon their gay desires/attractions. Secondly, the Bible is a reliable source when it comes to its stance on gay relationships/sexual relationships, as well as every other issue one faces in life. We talked about how God does state that acting upon gay desires is a sin (though not the person struggling), and that God offers freedom and wholeness, in the identity and person of Jesus, for any who call upon Him.

This all leads into another heated debate: the issues of ex-gay ministries.

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One response to “Questioning the Bible

  1. Shawn, WOW!

    What a powerful testimony. God bless you and your work. We need people like you “in such a time as this.”

    Again, God bless you, brother in Christ!
    Tim

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