Many have looked and commented (on here and Facebook) about last week’s Newsweek article and my post about it. And as promised, here’s my response to Lisa Miller’s article: Our Mutual Joy.
First, let me start off with a quote from one of my college professors, Dr. Wes Gerig: The Bible does not support everything it reports. Let that soak in for a bit, and think about it.
The Bible does not support everything it reports.
GOD does not contradict HIMSELF … just because man sins, and seems to get away with it at times, man’s actions do not justify GOD’S spoken Word. GOD justifies HIMSELF. Even if man were to remain silent and ignore what has been written and spoken, GOD would still be justified through HIS Word and presence.
In saying that, let me go through Miller’s article paragraph by paragraph. In the first paragraph, I would put across the top of it the above disclaimer – not everything the Bible reports does it support. Case in point, as Miller notes, is the relationship Abraham had with Sarah and her servant. Just because this man of GOD, which he was, fell to sin and lust, does not mean that GOD approved of his actions. There was still consequences to be paid; just as is seen within the lives of Jacob, David and Solomon – amidst others. As for the New Testament, Miller asserts that JESUS spoke ill of marriage, but where? Yes JESUS calls us to leave ‘family and friends’ for HIS work, but this is talking about putting CHRIST first in our lives – before all things, including family and friends. HE was not speaking against marriage … cause that would contradict one of the first commandments from GOD in Genesis 1 and 2. In fact Paul also doesn’t speak out against marriage, as Miller again suggests. Yes, he says it’s easier to do the LORD’S work when you’re single, as opposed to being married, but that doesn’t mean Christians should nix marriage altogether. Secondly, to suggest that Paul’s only reason for people getting married was to escape ‘burning with passion’ is cold and incorrect. This is where we need to understand the context of what’s being said – the Corinthian church was sexually immoral, having sex with everyone (and everything), and Paul was instructing them to get married instead of allowing their bodies to engage in sexual sin.
Again, GOD’S Word does not contradict itself. If Paul, and CHRIST, were against marriage (or had an ill view of marriage) then explain why Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3 talk about ‘rules for Christian marriages/households’? Also, why were some of the other apostles married too (Matthew 8:14, 1 Corinthians 9:5, Romans 16)? And to answer Miller’s question at the end of this paragraph (would any married couple turn to the Bible on how to do marriage) … yes, people would and do. In fact more than you might think.
In another paragraph (4th), Miller notes that while the Bible does talk about love and family, “neither explicitly defines marriage as between one man and one woman”. Again, I would refer her (and you) to the above contexts that talk about marriage. All reference marriage as being between one man and one woman. Check out 1 Timothy 3:2 … Matthew 19:5-6 – Genesis 2:24 … and others. Also, I would like to note that whenever JESUS talks about lust that a man has, it’s always lust towards a woman. If homosexuality was accepted by CHRIST back then, then surely somewhere HE would have referenced to it in some manner, especially when HE talked about marriage, divorce, and lusting after others. But HE didn’t. Because HE knew, as well as the other writers did, that the practice of homosexuality was against GOD’S Word – period.
Later in that paragraph, she states that no-one in the right mind would follow marriage advice in the Bible – but, again, I beg to differ. If you’re marriage is one that has GOD at the center of it, then the Bible is your ‘play-by-play’ book for all occasions and situations. I can understand it not being relevant (or confusing) for those who do not have a CHRIST-centered marriage.
I do agree with Miller that there is a difference between Civil Unions and Marriages within a Church – one is governmental and one is a religious ‘sacrament’. In my opinion, I believe that all marriages should be Christian and done within the Church. But I do raise this question: if two unbelievers are getting married, why is having a ‘religious’ ceremony so important anyways? If you don’t believe in GOD, then why stand before HIM and pronounce your vows of marriage to each other (and HIM)? Doesn’t make sense. If the state wants to recognize ‘civil unions’, we can’t stop them. But, as Christians and defenders of the faith, we can stop ‘un-justified’ marriages from happening within the Church. In my opinion, once you bring GOD into the equation, you better be prepared to take all of HIM instead of the parts of HIM … you smell what I’m cooking?
The whole marriage debate – over civil and religious – will be another post … soon.
In the 5th and 10th paragraph, Miller notes that the Bible, and even the writers themselves, had no clue what our culture would be like today. Which is true. She goes on to say that since this is the case, the message of the Bible needs to be updated. Which is not true. Scripture says that the “the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of the LORD stands forever” (Isaiah 40:6-8, 1 Peter 1:24), which means that though this world changes over the years the Word of the LORD does not change – what HE said will stand forever. Yes, GOD’S revelation continues to be revealed, but again, GOD’S Word does not contradict itself – especially if both testaments speak out against the same thing. We are the ones that have removed it’s relevancy from life; we are the ones who have dismissed it was a work of fiction; we are the ones who have taken hold of GOD and forced HIM to be something that HE’S not. I guarantee that if we were to live out HIS Word, and repent of our selfishness, we would not only find a better world to live in, but also that HIS Word does hold face value within our lives.
In the 6th paragraph, the writer mentions that Ozzie and Harriet are not in the New Testament – meaning that there are no real great examples of married couples. Ok, I would somewhat agree with that, but then again, I’m not sure either. But I will say this, Will & Grace aren’t in the New Testament either.
Again in this paragraph, it is suggested that JESUS, in Luke 14:25-27, is against marriage because HE calls followers to leave family behind in order to follow HIM. But again, this is a misunderstanding of what CHRIST is actually saying: calling HIS followers to sheer obedience, not putting anything else before their relationship with HIM – including family, friends, wealth, etc. JESUS is against these things, but HE is against them being before HIM in our lives (see also Luke 18:28-30). Also in Matthew 22, JESUS states that there will be no marriage in heaven, which Miller brings up also in this paragraph. My question is, why would there be a need for marriage in heaven anyways? It’s the afterlife – a new beginning – there’s no reason for marriage.
She also mentions that JESUS never mentions homosexuality – which is correct. But then I go back to my previous question, why didn’t HE mention it? If it was something that GOD created to exist, surely CHRIST would have acknowledged it – I mean, HE was GOD after all. Following this thought, in the 8th paragraph Miller states that according to the Anchor Bible Dictionary, “nowhere in the Bible do its authors refer to sex between women”; but according to Romans 1:26, the Bible does speak about women trading natural lusts for unnatural ones, just like the men did.
In the 9th paragraph, Miller writes that Paul was in fact hard on homosexuals, but that because of new-progressive scholarship, Paul wasn’t talking about gays and lesbians as we know them today. My question is this: what makes these new-progressive scholars superior to the old-time scholars? Don’t you think that these new views are slanted, in order to fit the agenda’s of today’s culture? Though that could also be asked of the old-time scholars, I guess. Still, if the new theological studies go against GOD’S ‘theology’, then there’s something wrong: either GOD is or they are.
Romans 1 gives a great description of us all – since we are all sinners. We are a creation that worships other created things, instead of our Creator. Paul (more so, GOD) has called us out on our idolatry; and rightly so. We are an idolatrous people – we always will be. GOD demands our worship … 100%, undignified, and unwavering.
Miller brings her article to an end by talking about truth. But as the saying goes, what is truth? Who defines it / what defines it? She talks about all of us being GOD’S children. But we’re not if we don’t acknowledge that HE is our Father. Miller uses Galatians 3:28 to say that since there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, that both ‘straight’ and ‘gay’ are equal too. But GOD was speaking about those who are IN CHRIST – meaning Christians – HE wasn’t talking about non-Christians. Again, she notes that married couples grow closer to GOD, saying that’s what marriage is about and that’s what we all should have a right to do. But not every married couple grows closer to GOD, because many don’t believe in HIM or even acknowledge HIS presence within their lives / marriage.
For me, the bottom line in this whole issue is this: GOD. What does GOD say? What’s your relationship towards GOD? How do you live out your relationship with HIM? How do you respond to what HE has said/written? Etc. If ones view of GOD is skewed, then everything else about HIM will be skewed. One can’t have a high view of GOD and a changeable view of HIS Word. To do that is to not have a high view of HIM – cause HIS Word is apart of HIM. As I’ve said before, either you take HIM at face value or you don’t.
Yes, Christians need lessons on how to relate to gays and lesbians. Yes, GOD offers unconditional love to those who want it. But one must accept it in order to receive it, and one must be willing to follow HIS way in order to grow it. GOD isn’t Santa Claus and HE isn’t a genie in a bottle. GOD is the Creator of Heaven and Earth, the King of kings, LORD of lords, and the Almighty of all others … it’s up to you (your free will) to accept that or to reject that.