I wish I could have been as articulate as Kevin Daugherty during the thousands of arguments I’ve been in, supporting these views in opposition to others relying on scripture to justify oppression.
Filed under Ethics and Morality
Tagged as Bible, Christianity, compassion, ethics, faith, justice, LGBT, love, peace, religion
OK, I just read Kevin Daugherty’s post and I’m disappointed. I agree with everything he said, but he established the general case…and then stopped. Mistranslation? Good. What passage? What is a better translation? Oh well. It was worth visiting just to find out that there are MennoNerds.
I’ve written previous posts, admittedly a couple of years ago, on the specifics of lousy translation regarding some of the “clobber verses” from the Bible. Since you were nice enough to drop by and contribute, here’s one:
Verses from Romans are often used. Paul wrote in Greek. The Greek words (as you probably know, since that culture had a different attitude toward homosexuality at the time) are very specific in gender. None of the words written by Paul can be applied to females. Apparently, only male homosexuals are the problem.
Then there’s the problem of culture clash. Paul was a learned person for his era, but he wasn’t a writer of speculative fiction. He would have had a hard time imagining lifetime same-sex partners living openly, protected by law, raising children.
Then there’s the problem of how to define “inspired”. Some Christians think that means “all books are equal”. If all the books are equal (in weight of regard and truth) then it sets up conflicts, because there are thousands of contradictions set up by that precondition.
I wrote before about the guiding principle between every Biblical translation into English since the 1850. It’s “functional equivalence”. Functional equivalence means you get to substitute pronouns, words, even whole phrases, if you think readers in your time and place wouldn’t understand and be able to comprehend the attitudes behind the original words and phrasing. Every person who speaks more than one current language (I also speak Spanish and some German and Welsh) knows that makes some things hard to translate. If you just published the transliteration (actual words) you would have to add a page of notes for every verse, and ordinary readers (non-linguists) refuse to read the Bible that way.
So if you don’t read old Greek, ancient Hebrew and Aramaic, there’s little chance you’ve ever actually read the Bible at all. Yet Christians all over the world think they absolutely KNOW what it says, and can act accordingly.
My main point in this overlong reply, is that you have to go back to the core philosophy and ethics of Christianity to support your argument. The mere reliance on “this is what it says” doesn’t cut it with me. Either that, or start whipping out your college credentials. My wife has an MA in Theology, so I inherited an awesome library by marrying her, but I still have to ask her a ton of questions. It’s useful to have a scholar at home.
False prophets abound towards the end of the age. The Bible is clear that homosexuality it is a sin that God hates. It is sad that people are trying to teach these people they will not be judged harshly like all other sinners without repentence and turning away from the lifestyle.
Well, you’re entitled to your opinion. I obviously don’t share it. A God of harsh judgements isn’t one I can have any respect for.
Respected. That’s what tolerance is about.
Hey Mikey, since you have frequented my blog, I thought I’d stop by and see what you and yours are all about. I have had a hard time trying to peg you down. Sometimes you seem to agree with me, sometimes oppose. In any case, here I am. Thought I’d check this one out. Listen, did you read my article concerning this very topic? Interpretation is not needed. The bible is exceedingly clear. One need not ‘clobber’ anyone. All sex outside of marriage is wrong. Not just homosexual sex. Jesus defined marriage clearly. It is the reason a man leaves his family – to marry a woman in marriage. They are to become one. The bible uses marriage as a symbol of the covenant between God and man as well. Jesus is depicted over and over again as the groom who will come for his bride. God portrays himself as the husband and Israel as the unfaithful wife who prostitutes herself. This symbol of the male/female marriage is essential to the symbol of God/Man union. At no time is God ever unintentional throughout the bible. On the contrary, he is meticulous. One only has to read how exacting his measurements are for his temple to be to see how very precise a God he is. One only has to observe the precision of DNA splitting to see how very precise a God he is. God does nothing without purpose and design. This male/female bond being used so repeatedly throughout the bible as the ultimate and most intimate symbol representing God’s relationship between Him and us is purposeful. Even sex between a man and a woman and the offspring or ‘fruit’ that we bear is representative of our spiritual union with him and the spiritual ‘fruit’ that we bear. Leave it to the imp, satan, to twist what is lovely and turn it into the masculine. To turn it into something that literally doesn’t fit right. Or if it does fit, it can’t result in fruit. And it literally is fit into a foul location! Or to turn it into two feminine that literally can’t fit together at all without false equipment! lol. Do you not see the symbolic change here? But even if all this didn’t exist, Jesus made it clear with his statement. Marriage is between a man and woman. Only the most perverse mental gymnastics could make that mean anything else. The bible makes it clear that sex outside of marriage is wrong. Jesus said marriage is between a man and a woman. Therefore, by use of deductive and logical reasoning, homosexual sex is outside of marriage and thus, wrong. So is adultery and heterosexual sex outside of marriage. It is all wrong.
Yes, you’ve expressed a consistent stand for orthodox Christians of any variety. I am not an orthodox Christian, so sometimes we will agree on religious matters, and sometimes not.
Jesus spoke specifically against divorce and adultery, according to the Gospels, (writings from people a hundred years later or more who never knew Jesus personally) but did not offer an explicit opinion about either homosexuals, or whether they ought to be able to marry if in a monogamous relationship. So to me, we get to decide that for ourselves. I never automatically accept the stance of a church either for or against stuff not expressed or addressed openly in The Bible.
I’m a radically inclusive type of Christian, so to me there are many ways to interpret The Bible, not just one, and scripture must be equally balanced against tradition and reason.
I’m not sure which posts you read, but I sincerely thank you for reading and commenting!
As a Pagan, this article (the original) just reinforces my firm belief that Christ has very little to do with modern Christianity. Granted, I’m not a biblical scholar, nor do I spend much time trying to interpret the scripture. That being said, “Judge not” seems pretty unambiguous.
Christ was pretty clear when He taught that sin was between God and the sinner. “Love God, and love each other” again seems pretty cut and dry.
Agreed. Thanks for reading and contributing to the discussion!
Hi STMcIntyre, when you say ‘modern Christianity’ I think you might be trying to slither out of all kinds of sins. Also, you use the phrase, ‘judge not’ incorrectly. You say it is ‘unambiguous’ for your own sake. If Jesus meant it in the way you would like to believe then how could we ever help our brother remove the speck from his eye after we had removed the log from our own? How could we be the ‘watchman at the gate’ as God commanded Ezekiel? How could we do as Paul commanded and approach a person who was sinning in our church? When Christ spoke of judgment, he meant not to stand above them, as if we didn’t sin ourselves. As we were more moral, more righteous and look down upon them. But if we can determine the difference between right and wrong, then how can we ever make any decisions? How can we ever know who needs Christ or who needs to leave our church? Obviously, we need ‘discernment’. What Jesus said is not an open door for people to do whatever they like and for Christians to stand mute on the sidelines. That would simply make us irresponsible. Lots of Christians would LOVE that meaning. They would love nothing better than to hang around with other Christians and avoid the world at all costs. Being hated by the world is frightening, believe me. Going out and trying to tell people to repent so that they won’t die after they die is something we do out of love- we get beat up for it. It isn’t fun. If we believed that was Christ’s meaning, our life would be a cake walk. We would just have happy little parties at church and let the whole world just go to hell. But where would be the love in that if we believed all the people were literally going to die when they died?
oops. Mikey, fix my sentence up there. I meant ‘But if we can’t determine the difference…”
I just leave the correction as you offer it. I’m always making typos or failing to say exactly what I mean. eh, no big deal…
Now I get it. You read a post I didn’t write. I re-blogged it because his way of putting the issue seemed to be great food for thought, not because I agree with every single thing in it. I agree most with his points about translations, and why we might not be able to trust them.
lol I promise to read an article YOU wrote too. If you have one in particular that you think I might like, just drop me a line and I will come read it. Susan
As to translations, that is one of the things that I happen to find the most miraculous about the bible. The meaning can’t be lost in translation. God is much too clever to speak in literal terms. He uses stories, poems, history, metaphor, metaphor over metaphor, prophecy, etc to give his meaning. Prose will indeed go bad over time as surely as food will rot. The bible, despite that truth, has not changed in the 5,000 year span of its basic existence. That is remarkable. The Dead Sea scrolls have confirmed this for us. Since mankind has been able to write, the bible has existed in some form. And it hasn’t changed. It is the most reliable historical document in existence. There was a time when historians doubted this. The Dead Sea Scrolls came out and smashed their arguments. If the bible is to be called ‘unreliable’ as a historical document, then every other historical document must fall down like dominoes as none of them comes close to meeting the academic standards of ‘reliability’ as closely as the bible does. God’s promise that not a penstroke shall change has proven true. Yet another miracle of the bible. If this book were anything other than the book of God/Christ, the entire world would fall down in worship. It has proven itself over and over and over again. It stands up and meets the intellectual and logical challenge without any dispute whatsoever from any genius of man. Only those who insist on living in lah lah land can dispute its marvel.
That being said, the bible, written by so many writer over thousands of years, consistently uses non-prose in order to convey deep meaningful messages that mankind has then deciphered into entire libraries of meanings. It is exactly like the purest of all perfumes that can be used to create billions of gallons of eu de parum with just one drop. That is how cleverly it has been written. It is a literary miracle. I always laugh when people talk about the bible as a book of fairy tales. They are either complete nincompoops or they are simply lacking in IQ points. No one who has ever taken the time to read it can fault it for simplicity. It is a remarkable, unbelievable, unmatched work. And the miracle of being written by individuals, who could not have known one another and thus could not have conspired with one another, makes it even more remarkable. They are separated by huge distances, lifespans and even cultures. Yet, they write consistently. This should get the true intellectual excited if nothing else does. When I see the intelligentsia snub their noses at something this remarkable historically, I know they have engaged their EMOTIONS, not their intellect (if ever they possessed such a thing in the first place.) It is remarkable unto itself. Because it is not to be understood via its prose, it withstands mere translation. Thus, arguments over translation become very moot. That is why the bible can be understood in every language easily. The meaning of the bible is given through examples and stories. It rises above mere prose. It tells the story of Man and God in a way that supersedes language. That is why I won’t listen to Christians who go around trying to say that people must understand Hebrew, Aramaic and ancient Greek to ‘truly’ understand the bible. What hogwash. They are just snobbish wannabes and need a good spanking. Anyway, have a good day! p.s. I do hope you find Christ, Mikey. He most certainly lives. His gift to you is very real. He is not a beggar and if you have turned away in intellectual pride too many times, it is possible that he has closed your ears so that you will no longer hear. But that doesn’t mean you can no longer come to him. He lives. How do I know? Because he speaks to me (again, feel free to call me crazy, I don’t mind) and fills me with an unspeakable joy and purpose. Do you have that? No, you don’t. Every human is born with a giant hole in their hearts. They try to fill it. Usually with a partner. How disappointed they are when they discover that no one can make them ‘happy’. No, life must have meaning and it can’t be found on earth. We are born to DO something. We were born for PURPOSE. And you, my dear, also have purpose. And our meeting is not coincidental. God puts people into my life so that I may serve out my purpose- to tell them about him. Don’t die, Mike. Why die, God asked? He takes no pleasure in your death. So why choose it? You are exactly like a man who is slowly starving to death. Your thirst and hunger are torturing you. Your mind and thoughts are craven and come back empty every time. And you don’t know why. You seek for answers but they never satisfy. Your passions go out but fail to come back with meaning. It all withers and fades. And that nagging voice keeps saying, ‘meaningless, meaningless’. That is at the heart of all humanity- why rich people fill their veins with drugs to snuff out their realities, why people switch up their partners, why people drive too fast, why they become angry activists and want to smash windows. It is all in the pressing need to make a difference or to feel something. Anything. Because that clock just keeps ticking and our lives just keep getting spent. Toward what? Death? Why? We all wonder these things. No other ‘religion’ (I use the quotes on purpose because Christ is not a religion but a reality) answers these questions. Nor do they try. They simply offer up some rules to follow. If some attempt to offer answers, they fail intellectually. Christ answers with perfect logic that resounds perfectly with not only the soul, but the logic seeking need of the human mind. One is not left thinking, “Gee, that makes no sense at all.” One is left saying, “It’s completely logical only I refused to hear it. I don’t know why, either.” And you will come to understand that the only reason you couldn’t hear it was that satan was clouding your judgment. Emotion and disdain and pride kept you from using your logic, even though you pride yourself on those things. In any case, Mikey, I do hope you come to Christ. He is there for anyone who truly calls on him. It is easier for some than others. But if you truly seek life and don’t wish to die when you die, humble yourself and cry out to him in the dark, he will have mercy on you and forgive you for your sins. He will forgive your pride and all that you have done. And he will transform you into someone else. And you will know what I and so many others know: PURPOSE and JOY that passes all understanding.
I’m happy the Bible comes across as consistent to you, Susan. I do think there’s such a thing as unity of message, and perhaps that’s what you are experiencing. The different styles of different authors is clear to me, but I don’t dislike it. Since it comes across as alternate narrators to me, I’m not bothered by inconsistencies in the order of events within the Gospels (for example), and I don’t expect ancient peoples to get the science right on things like eclipses or the structure of the solar system or how long evolution takes.
I’m not an atheist either, but I’m more comfortable living with doubt and mystery than some. I don’t assume I have the capacity to either “know” God personally (like a BFF), or explain the phenomenon properly to others. I’ve had experiences I consider holy, but I regard them as private. I haven’t got words to do them justice. But most of the time I’m focused on living more compassionately in the present moment. All the after death stuff will happen when it happens, and I don’t expend energy on what I will be able to observe directly at a later date.
I was complimented that you had any curiosity about reading my work, but I can’t guess what would speak to you. I trust browsing. Use the categories on the right side! Thanks again for visiting.
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