August 16, 2016 at 3:17 am #17957
Your Deeply Held Religious Beliefs Arenât Found In The Bible
Brother Lawrence Damien CoS
Awhile back an Oregon bakery was found guilty of discrimnation Â and forced to pay $135,000 in emotional damages for refusing to make a wedding cake for a gay couple because it violated their deeply held religious beliefs. The same argument was used by Kim Davis in refusing to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples because it violated her deeply held beliefs against gay marriage. Using the same argument a New Mexico photographer refused to photograph a gay wedding. It has been used to try and keep Catholic hospitals and health services from having to either perform or provide coverage in their health insurance plans for their women workers to get contraceptives, abortions etc again in the name of religious freedom and that providing such services woud violate their deeply held religious beliefs.
For awhile now everytime I hear the phrase âdeeply held religious beliefâ I want to cringe and I become very uneasy. Why is this I wonder? Is it because I am gay? Is it because I believe in Freedom of Religion for all including myself to worship as I choose? Perhaps it because I believe and support same sex marriage and my right to marry the person of my choice? Is it because I believe I am a Christian following Christ as he leads me and resent the inference that because Iâm Gay and a Liberal politically that I am responible for bringing down judgment on my country I love and that I am going to hell because Iâm Gay? However none of those really answered the question for me of why I felt as I did ever I heard the phrase âdeeply held religious convictionsâ. Then today I came across an article and bingo I understood why that phase bothered me because the âdeeply held religious convictionsâ they are trying to defend are nowhere to be found in the Bible and have no roots in it to justify their position.
Many of these Christians like to cite Romans 1:32 claiming that God will not only judge people who sin, but also thoseÂ also who simply approve of their sin. A couple of things to note here.
First nowhere in the BibleÂ is there anything that says selling someone a product in the course of a legal business deal shows approval of the buyers lifestyle or behavior. Absolutely nothing!
Secondly it is not what the scripture says or is talking about. In fact it is taken out of context and twisted to make it say something is doesnât say and support something that is was never intended to support. Lets have a look at what it actually says in context.
âFurthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know Godâs righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.ââ Romans 1:28-32 NIV
Here we see God punishes those who sin and who approve of those who sin like them.
The Apostle Paul in the next chapter continues on with this thought saying
âYou, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that Godâs judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape Godâs judgment?ââ Romans 2:1-3 NIV
To get this in context so we can all understand what is happening here lets have a look at who Paul is writing to.He is writing to Jews who are living in Rome. They are convinced that they are saved and their salvation assured because they were circimcised and had the revelation of the law. The result they went around judging their Gentile brothers and turning their noses up at them everytime they stumbled.
Paul calls out the JewsÂ by informing them that their knowledge of the law and their self rigteous attitude wonât save them because they are engaging in the same acts of depravity that condemns the Gentiles. He reveals to them something that shatters their preconcieved notion of safety which is that God will eventually judge every person on earth according to their deeds without partiality. Thus Romans 1 is in part about hypocritical judgment and not âpassive approvalâ.
We also need to look at the words of Jesus. In his Sermon on the Mount Jesus Â mandates love for our enemies. In this sermom he has the following to say:
âYou have heard that it was said, âEye for eye, and tooth for tooth.â But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.ââ Matthew 5:38-42 NIV
So then if giving someone something that they ask for shows approval for their sin, then Jesus just commanded his followers to approve or rape, extortion, abuse, kidnapping, child molestation if someone asked you to do any of those things. Obliviously Jesus has something else in mind.
If we understand this correctly I believe that we will see that this scripture goes beyond than just selling someone something for profit or doing something because someone asks you to. Jesus is talking here I believe about giving freely to people whose actions we wouldnât approve of Â by goingÂ above and beyond what they ask for!
The Apostle echoes the sentiment of Jesus perfectly
âIf your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.ââ Romans 12:20 NIV
So then Christian, donât want to take a picture of a gay wedding or sell a wedding cake Â to a gay couple because of your deeply held religious beliefs? Fine just know that you have just taken a step to far exceeding the words of Jesus and St. Paul and nowhere in the Bible has it ever supported your position. Â So please donât use Christ or the Bible to try support your beliefs as neither do.
I have some food for thought for us to chew on. Where does this all end? Can a furniture store refuse to sell a bed to a gay couple because they might sleep together in it? Can a banker deny a gay couple a loan to buy a house because theyâll live together in it? Would the baker make a wedding cake for a man who just walked out on his wife and kids to marry his âloverâ? Does someone have the right to refuse to serve a Jew, Catholic, a black or a Muslim because they donât like them?
In closing this I would remind us that we are commanded by Jesus to love even those with whom we disagree and to bless them and do good to them. My âdeeply held religious beliefâ is Jesus meant what he said. Therefore if He didnât say it and itâs not in the Bible then I donât have to believe it and I donât. Â Any comments or thoughts always welcomed
Brother Lawrence Damien CoS
August 16, 2016 at 10:47 am #17959
I think the posting draws something very clear for me. The words of Paul or perhaps the emphasis of Paul would be a better way of saying it differs from Christ’s words. Christ is much less judgmental than is Paul.
Perhaps I have shared here that during the 1980s my family attended a Missionary Church of Canada denomination start-up. The pastor was also the Principal of the local Bible College. I found him to be much more like Christ but there was a heavy emphasis on Paul’s letters. Then someone wrote a letter to the Editor of the daily newspaper in which he argued there was something wrong with the Missionary Church of Canada – he called it the Paulian Church, and thus did not qualify as a Christian Church.
Ever since, I have hesitated when talking of Paul’s letters. I look at Paul’s dislike for sex (although accepting it within the context of marriage), his judgment, etc. Now one thing I learned from that Pastor/Principal was that many of Paul’s letters have to be read in context as they were sent to Churches that had very different cultural and circumstantial factors that led Paul to say many of the things he did but which were not intended to be generalized to all circumstances or cultures.
I was pleased that you recognized that to understand the letter to the Romans, one has to recognize the history and culture of Rome.
What it comes down to for me is that Christ’s “love they neighbour/enemy” and turn the other cheek has significantly more meaning that Paul’s judgment.
August 16, 2016 at 12:43 pm #17981
Dear Brother DJ
You and I would be in total agreement. The problem many tend to Paul as one big book of Paul which it is not now ever was intended to be. He writes to seven different churches addressing problems peculiar to each of those churches individually. They were intended Â for the churches they were addressed to and that’s it. There was no intent of establishing a standard for all churches for all times and that is where we get into trouble when we try to apply Paul to situations in the 21st century that they were never intended to cover. If we take Paul’s writings in the context of the times in which they were written and what was happening then Paul’s letter make perfectly good sense for that time. However they don’t make sense in the 21st century because the times have changed, issues are different and we are facing situations that Paul could have never imagined.
Therefore we need the Spirit of Jesus to lead us into all truth and to show us how to apply the teachings of the Bible to our times and make them relevant to those of us living today. We need that Spirit to help us recognize the changes that have happened since Jesus and the apostles last walked onour planet alive. Same for the early church fathers. They are helpful in helping us to know what the early apostles and church believed and the beginnings of our faith. However they didn’t live in the 21st century nor did they face the battles and situations that we face today. If they had I suspect they might have totally different views of things than they did when they were living here on earth.
We don’t need a new gospel the one we have is perfect and needs nothing added to or taken away from it. What we need is to be able to hear the voice of the Spirit of Jesus and follow that. That Spirit I believe will deliver us from bondage and legalism (Paulist church) into freedom and liberty promised to all believers. It is a continual call to go higher that we are currently until the day we cross over and see Jesus face to face. It is a calling to let the Spirit of Christ refine us and make us more like Him until only He shines from us. It is to allow the Spirit of Jesus to make us the hands, and feet of Jesus to others and a voice for Jesus to speak though to touch the hearts of others and draw them to Himself. If we can do that in love and obedience then we will fulfill the will of God for our lives and at the end of our journey be welcomed by Jesus with open arms and a hearty congratulations for a job well done. Your thoughts are always appreciated
Brother Lawrence Damien CoS
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