What happens when you insult the Bible accurately?

I grew up in a fundamentalist Christian family, deep in the heart of the Bible belt. I was an altar boy, the kind of kid who prayed while he walked home from school.

When I was nine or ten years old, I got out of being thrashed silly on the playground by lecturing another kid — the biggest kid I’d ever seen in my life — about Jesus Christ.

I’m not making this up. The bully later approached me when nobody else was looking and asked, in an awed voice, if I really believed all that stuff about God.  I gave him an earful.

I have long been a close and diligent reader of the Bible.  I rank it not only as one of the most profound books on my shelf, but also one of the most beautiful.

Which is why my ears perked up when Dan Savage, one of the most prominent gay rights activists in the country, sparked a furor by talking trash about the Good Book.

Speaking to a group of young people recently, Savage argued that it’s time to discount Biblical teachings about homosexuality, in the same way that we casually discount so much else that’s in Scripture.  Here’s what he said:

“We can learn to ignore the bull%#$ in the Bible about gay people. The same way, the same way we have learned to ignore the bull#$* in the Bible about shellfish, about slavery, about dinner, about farming, about menstruation, about virginity, about masturbation. We ignore bull@#@ in the Bible about all sorts of things.”

Savage’s comments have been described as anti-Christian bigotry and as a form of hate speech.

On first listen, they slot neatly into the take-no-prisoners culture war that rages in America, fitting somewhere between the war on Christmas and the effort to ban gay marriage in North Carolina.

But as someone who reads and thinks and grapples with the Bible a lot, I think it’s important to point out that on the basic facts, Savage is absolutely correct.

The Bible contains a lot of profound wisdom, but it also articulates moral points of view about slavery, about women, about human sexuality, about science, and about mundane things like diet and daily ritual that most of us would find shocking today.

The problem, of course, is that so few Christians actually read the Bible.  And when they do, they often digest it in tiny, out-of-context Bible verses, each carefully packaged with a modern, fuzzy-minded exegesis.

We used to be made of tougher stock.  In 1843, the philosopher Soren Kierkegaard grappled at length with the story of Abraham’s decision to murder his own child at the behest of a God so jealous that He wanted proof of Abraham’s loyalty.

Kierkegaard confronted the creepiness and the moral nausea that the story conjures up today, titling his own book “Fear and Trembling.”

These days, the folks in the pews rarely wrestle with the deep quandaries, the ugly bits, the parts of the Bible that to modern eyes seem flatly unacceptable.

Take, by way of example, the idea of “traditional” marriage.  The truth is that a healthy marriage, as we understand it today, is completely unlike the Biblical version.

The Old Testament casually accepts polygamy, absolute patriarchal dominance, the treatment of women within marriage as property, and the beating of children with “a rod.”

And consider the Bible’s treatment of rape, one of the crimes we now see as among the most brutal.

“If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay her father fifty shekels of silver,” commands the book of Deuteronomy.

Then there’s this additional prescription.  The rapist “must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.”

Yikes. The point here isn’t that the Bible is crummy or bad. It’s not.  It’s just really complicated.

And Savage is correct in that gays and lesbians are in an almost unique position in our society, in that they are still being asked to live by strict Biblical teachings. Indeed, many conservative Christians want those teachings codified in secular law.

Savage made his point, well, savagely.  One can question him, even condemn him, on style points. He’s been crudely provocative before and will be again.

But he is also asking a fair and even a vital question.  If we insist that the gay community be judged by a Gospel that most of us never read, are we willing to do the same?

Will we submit ourselves to state and Federal laws that would punish us brutally for adultery or premarital sex?  Should we accept a Constitutional ban on divorce, in the way that many Christians want a ban on same-sex marriage?

Would we — and in the context of religious teachings, this is no small thing — be willing to have the government intervene to restrict our sinful diets, or restructure our sinful sabbath-defying schedules?

Are we willing to see a clear and unambiguous primacy of men over women enshrined in secular law?

The bottom line is this:  The Bible was written as a moral and spiritual guide, and some of its teachings are timeless and universal.

But it was also scripted as a worldly teaching, laying out laws and edicts that were highly specific to a time and a place and a culture that existed roughly two thousand years ago.

Yes, those laws include a firm condemnation of homosexuality.  But they also condemn many of the habits, customs and lifestyles that we all take for granted.

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112 Comments on “What happens when you insult the Bible accurately?”

  1. mervel says:

    But Christians live by the teachings in the New Testament from Christ who is the reason and center of the bible. Christian believe that the bible starts and ends at the Cross. In addition we actually do have something called theology which by the guiding hand of the Holy Spirit helps us understand scripture. Jumping around scripture particularly between the Old and New Testaments shows a unique ignorance of scripture and Christian teachings itself or is just intentionally misleading.

    To this guys point; of course he should ignore the bible,why would we care if he ignores the bible or not? Without faith the bible is nothing, as St. Paul said if Christ did not rise from the dead, then this is all a bunch of bunk anyway and we are the most pitiful of all (paraphrase). So if you don’t start by having faith in Christ as a risen crucified savior, who cares?

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  2. mervel says:

    The bible was NOT written as moral and spiritual guide, that is not its purpose. That statement in itself makes me question the teachings you did get about what the Bible really is. There are much better and more comprehensive and well thought out moral guides than the bible.

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  3. scratchy says:

    “Yikes. The point here isn’t that the Bible is crummy or bad. It’s not.”

    I disagree. It, in large part, is, especially the Old Testament. If Christians dont think the Old Testamant is relevant, why include it in the Bible.

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  4. brian mann says:

    mervel –

    two points.

    first, of COURSE the Bible is a moral and spiritual teaching. a fundamental concept of Christianity is that we are beings of free will, who should be guided to faith, in large measure by the Gospel.

    secondly, you can’t have it both ways. one can’t say that the Bible should be used to shape our secular laws because of specific passages (i.e. Leviticus’s condemnation of homosexuality) and then zing those who point out that other equally important passages in the Bible are being ignored.

    –brian, ncpr

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  5. Paul says:

    My moral guide tells me to not do things that hurt other people for no good reason. The bible was written a very long time ago. If there was a good reason for this I can’t imagine what it might have been, nor does it matter today.

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  6. By “anti-Christian” bigotry, what they really accuse Savage of doing is telling the truth about the Bible, not the “politically correct” version.

    The Bible should be a guide, not a shackle. Unless we want to follow the al-Qaeda/Taliban model of a society… which I don’t.

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  7. mervel says:

    The bible has one purpose, the Revelation of the Gospel of Christ, certainly those who have faith in Christ as God; will follow the message of Christ and try to follow His teachings and for them it is certainly the defining moral guide of their life. But it is not some generic moral guide for all. So in that sense savage has a very good point.

    In 2000 years of Christian teachings and theology about what the bible teaches Christians, outside of some recent movements such as the 7th day adventists, no serious strains of Christian thought have claimed that all Levitical Laws apply. So to jump around without context within scripture between the Old and New testament makes no sense.

    For example for Christians the calling to celebrate sex only within marriage between a man and women are from Christ and from the New Testament not Leviticus. Christians don’t intentionally ignore our own teachings. Certainly we do ignore them however, that is called sin and we are all sinful. I think a better tact for Savage would be to simply say that he is not Christian and certainly not bound by what is taught in Christian scripture anymore than I am bound by Islamic Law.

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  8. mervel says:

    I mean who is Savage talking to? We can learn to ignore the Bull***t, what does that mean? I would assume a non-Christian has already done that. Because if they have not, then they should listen to the Holy Spirit, who is indeed speaking to them.

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  9. Paul says:

    “The bible has one purpose, the Revelation of the Gospel of Christ, certainly those who have faith in Christ as God”

    Not the Hebrew bible. The Christian bible has two books you seem to be defining the new testament as the bible that is not accurate even for Christians.

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  10. mervel says:

    No Christians believe that the entire bible Old and New leads to one thing, the Revelation of Christ. Certainly it is all important for a Christian I agree, but the entire POINT for a Christian of the Old and New Testament is the Revelation of Christ and His teachings, which Christians should try to follow.

    But once again WHO is Savage talking to when he is saying ignore the BullS***? Is he that much of an ass to be telling Christians what to believe?

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  11. mervel says:

    The teachings of Christ are “shocking” as Brain points out, but not for the reasons he believes.

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  12. Pete Klein says:

    Leave Savage alone. When you attack his opinions, you are doing the same thing he is doing – just voicing an opinion.
    When it comes to any and all discussion about religion (belief and non belief), you are entering waters where “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”

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  13. mervel says:

    No that only applies to abortion Pete.

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  14. Peter Hahn says:

    The “old testament” was written down 500 years before Christ was born and reflects the Jewish culture and values of that time. There are a lot of behavioral rules there that don’t really make sense today. That was the point that Savage was making and the fact is that most people today would agree. Additionally, there is the translation problem where we don’t really know exactly what some of those rules referred to.

    Certainly most Christians have somehow avoided Kosher dietary requirements. I don’t know how that happened historically- some of you may. Pete Klein has a point though about discussions of religion. If we are talking about religious beliefs than there really isn’t much to say. The issue, I thought, was whether Savage was trashing the Bible, which (other than using the word BS) he doesn’t seem to be doing.

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  15. Jim Bullard says:

    Not only do Christians today not read the Bible, they don’t even know what it is. For starters it isn’t one book. It is an collection of writings, Jewish myth, genealogy, law and poetry in the Old Testament and post crucifixion theology in the New Testament, that were gathered and codified as Christian by the Council of Nicea in 325 AD in order to consolidate the multitude of variant Christian beliefs into one religion.

    It was a politically motivated decision. The Emperor Constantine (himself not a Christian until his deathbed) made “Christianity” the official religion of his empire as a means of control, called the council and ordered the bishops of the various sects to come up with one state religion, in other words make it secular law. In the process the bishops threw out a lot of writings that they couldn’t make fit into the resulting dogma.

    Modern Christianity is largely Paulism rather than being based on the teachings of the itinerant Jewish Rabbi we call Jesus which was not his actual name. Jesus is a translation from a Greek name which was a translation from his Aramaic name, most likely Yeshua, which is more like Joshua than Jesus. Paul believed, as Mervel says he does, that it is all about a crucified savior. That is reinforced in the Nicean and Apostle’s Creeds which say “I believe” in miraculous birth, death & Resurrection but do not mention belief in a single thing Jesus/Yeshua taught or did in his lifetime. Belief in the risen savior is enough according to Paul thus freeing us from circumcision and all those nuisance dietary laws.

    Oddly though, as Savage brutally observes, Christian believers still resort to that political anthology we call the Bible to justify their hatred and persecution of those they disagree with for justification. Perhaps if Christianity had actually been founded on the teachings of Jesus/Yeshua they might give more credence to his admonitions to “love your neighbor”, “turn the other cheek”, “cast the plank from your own eye’ and to generally forgive others. Instead we have Constantine’s state religion set up as a means of social control over others and Christians down through history have and still try to make their (distorted) beliefs into secular law. I believe Yeshua would be horrified.

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  16. hermit thrush says:

    Is he that much of an ass to be telling Christians what to believe?

    he’s no more of an ass than those who tell him whom he can and can’t marry.

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  17. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    I guess a lot of people have never heard or read anything from Dan Savage before.
    His comments don’t seem particularly provocative and he limited himself to only one “dirty word” used a few times.

    I consider Savage to be one of the great moral leaders of our time. I could compare him to any number of evangelical preachers who have been caught in illicit sexual affairs and living lavish lifestyles at the expense of their churches.

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  18. scratchy says:

    Jim Bullard:

    Your comment was one of the most insightful things I’ve read in a long time.

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  19. Jim Bullard says:

    To understand what the Bible is really saying, it is important not only to read passages in context, but also to understand the context in history of the Bible itself. Constantine had a dream in which he lead his troops to victory under the sign of a cross. He was a superstitious guy (not uncommon, Roman emperors read bird entrails to decipher the future) and had crosses affixed to his standards before the next battle and won. Because the Christians used a cross as their symbol so he decided that he should make it the state religion. Problem? There wasn’t one “Christianity”. There were many dozens of widely varying Christianities. So Constantine called together all the leaders of the disparate groups and told them to sort it out to one set of beliefs. Prior to then the Christians had been persecuted but if they succeeded in consolidating into one religion they would become “official” complete with state support. That’s not to say there aren’t worthwhile things in the Bible but failing to understand that the writings hark back to oral tradition, span a period of at least a couple thousand years and were assembled into a single volume by men who claimed to be “inspired by God” but were under the direction (and promise of reward) of an emperor can (and does) lead to some pretty wild misinterpretation.

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  20. oa says:

    I believe Mervel got pwned by Jim Bullard on this whole theology thing.
    Good post, Brian.

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  21. Ken Hall says:

    How does one insult a book? My concept of an insult requires a critter with the capability of rationalizing thought processes so as to perceive demeaning words or gestures. I do not see a book capable of recognizing insult.

    In the course of my nigh onto 70 years of observing humans I have come to numerous conclusions, about same, which are diametrically opposed to many conventional beliefs. Beliefs are one of the subsets of human culture and to me the crux of most of the problems afflicting human kind. Culture encompasses our traditions and customs that govern our behavior and beliefs, transmitted from human to human via learning. As we likely all realize learning is passed primarily from the mature to the young thereby locking in a significant portion of the traditions and beliefs of the elders into the psyches of the young. As details the elderly wish to pass on are undoubtedly affected by the life experiences of same, the traditions and beliefs of group, clan, tribe, city or state members mutate over time.

    Probably it has been noticed that most if not all belief systems are inextricably entwined with religion. The likelihood is that we can thank Cro-Magnon for this state of affairs as he, being our closest hominid relative is us, along with Neanderthal were probably the first of Earth’s fauna to realize that death is an end game and become fearful of it as such. This fear opened up a new and lucrative employment niche for practitioners of shamanism some 30-100 thousand years ago. Shamanism, which continues to exist to the present, was likely the genesis of organized religions, of which Christianity is obviously one of the major variants, some 8-12 thousand years ago. That shamanism is a universal human invention can be observed in that evidence of it, past and present, has been found in virtually every culturally diverse human group on Earth.

    That there are billions of humans who subscribe to a deity directed rendition of the holy writs is sensible to me only in light of the pack mentality which contributed to our survival and eventual overwhelming presence on the Earth. As critters of packs we evolved to be critters of villages, cities, states and countries and to bend to the will of the leaders of these super packs who enlisted the shamans, turned clergy, to aid them through the use of premises of pain and salvation. Prior to the invention of the printing press copies of said writs were laboriously hand scribed by whom else, members of the clergy. How convenient if one wants to add his own interpretation to the written word.

    I second mervel ‘s contention that “the bible was NOT written as moral and spiritual guide”; however, I disagree that it was written for the “Revelation of the Gospel of Christ”. It is one of a number of such documents conjured up to strike fear into the hearts/minds of the common man and titillate him/her with a potential end game salvation in the form of an eternity of bliss as long as they are good little boys and girls and do as the reigning 1%ers demand of them in the here and now. I reckon, when it comes to human psychology there really is not much new under the Sun.

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  22. George Nagle says:

    The first formal Christian listing of the books of the Bible was in 382 in a council held in Rome under Damasus. I can find no reference to it as a subject for the council of Nicea in 325.

    The four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) and the 13 letters of Paul were widely accepted about 130 and between 170 and 220 were placed on the same footing as the Old Testament.

    Except for the Revelation of John, about which there was significant hesitation, the books of the New Testament came to be accepted with little or no controversy.

    Karen Armstrong’s “The Bible A Biography” (2007) lucidly describes how different thinkers interpreted Holy Scripture differently over the centuries. It’s a good read for a general audience.

    N. T. Wright devotes over a hundred pages to basic philiosophical, epistomological issues at the beginning of “The New Testament and the People of God” (1992). Only when a writer is clear about his presuppositions, as is Wright, are can we evaluate what he says with confidence. Wright has written many books, but this one is not intended for general readers.

    I’m now re-reading Augustine’s “Confessions,” and see how he first dismissed much of the Bible as an inferior guide to living. It was years before he came to a richer, deeper understanding of the Old Testament in part through the teaching of Ambrose.

    Authors such as Armstrong, Wright, and Augustine remind us that to take the Bible seriously is to take the effort to understand it as best we can knowing that our own insights need to be tested against those of others.

    Where a person takes that effort I’m more willing to listen carefully to him or her. Where they appear to be facile and superficial, shooting from the hip, I’m not interested.

    I forget who said, Proust in long, and life is short. Well, Biblical squabbles are many, and life is short.

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  23. Terence says:

    None of us here are competent to establish how exactly the Bible came to exist in its present form — we can only repeat bits from other scholars that seem to back up whatever case we want to make. However, we are ALL competent to react as common-sense members of the public when other people ask us to change laws or restrict the rights of others based on that Bible.

    So I’d like to return to Brian’s major point, which is the most interesting: whether the self-appointed guardians of biblical morality are being inconsistent.

    It’s extraordinary that so many people get hot and bothered about same-sex marriage, yet don’t bat an eye at divorce. Or concentrate on the bits about sex while ignoring the strict commandments about caring for the poor.

    The impression of this non-believer is that the loudest and most indignant champions of the Bible are using it to justify their own pet peeves — while utterly ignoring anything that might cause them inconvenience.

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  24. brian mann says:

    George –

    I think it’s fair for people who are being asked to live by the Bible’s strictures (homosexuals, for example) to challenge interpretations and authority even if they’re not Biblical scholars.

    One particularly problematic thing that keeps happening in the modern debate is that some Christians keep saying akin to “We want the wider society to live by laws based on our interpretation of this Holy Book, but we don’t think the wider society is qualified to have a conversation about the Holy Book or its interpretation.”

    Finally, I think one of the things I could have said much more pointedly in the essay is that I think Christians who believe that the Bible should be a significant influence over secular law in the US have a moral obligation to read the Book first…

    –Brian, NCPR

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  25. JDM says:

    My take on the Bible, in the context of this discussion, is that it is not a set of moral codes that translate into secular law.

    I think the Bible should have influence on law makers, and those who believe in the God of the Bible, can process the teachings and make laws.

    Brian, you should remember from your Bible-taught upbringing, that the words in the Bible have to be mixed with the Holy Spirit living in the heart of the believer. Without the Holy Spirit, the Bible is just words.

    I would suspect that many observations here are sans Holy Spirit.

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  26. Paul says:

    “I think the Bible should have influence on law makers”

    Do you mean it should or might have some influence on the lawmakers that follow that particular religion?

    JDM, you don’t mean that it should have some influence on them all in general do you?

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  27. Jim Bullard says:

    My bad George. You are correct that the formalization of the Bible’s contents came later. My point was that the theology, the dogma if you want to use a more negatively loaded word, which was the basis for the choices of which writings to include and which to exclude/ban/destroy was decided at the Council of Nicea and that the decision was politically motivated.

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  28. Susanno says:

    To follow on the comments of Rev. Nagle, I recommend Jennifer Wright Knust’s book, “Unprotected Texts: The Bible’s Surprising Contradictions about Sex and Desire”. Rev. Knust is a Baptist pastor and Biblical scholar, and this book is a detailed, scholarly examination of many aspects of sex, love, marriage, procreation, and human nature, in relation to the Bible’s writings. She points out that, in studying the Bible, it is important to recognize when we have beliefs of our own which we seek to validate. To quote one bit: “Whatever we wish for …probably can be found somewhere in the Bible… We …make decisions about what we will believe and what we will affirm.”. I think anyone who wants to wrestle with Biblical teachings about sex could draw a lot of insight from this book, whether or not the reader ultimately agrees with Knust’s interpretations.

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  29. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Isn’t our system of law based on the Magna Carta; The Great Charter of the Liberties of England, and of the Liberties of the Forest?

    Wasn’t the Magna Carta a means of getting away from some of the ideas based on Biblical teaching?

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  30. JDM says:

    Paul: “JDM, you don’t mean that it should have some influence on them all in general do you?”

    I don’t think it can have much influence without the help of the Holy Spirit. I kind of qualified it before, although the construct of my sentence was a little weak. I will try again.

    Those who name the name Jesus as their God should allow the Bible to have influence on their decisions (that goes for men and women in every profession, by the way).

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  31. Kathy says:

    Jesus said he came to fulfill the Law not abolish it – and it is fulfilled in one word: love.

    The old contract was made null and void. The new contract stands.

    The OT is a record of history and we can glean from it. Since it is the word of God and regarded as holy, the OT surely has meaning and brings help, strength, and comfort today (ie; Psalms).

    Don’t we refer back to American History? Our own personal history? The OT has merit in those terms.

    Also, the OT corresponds to NT teaching. Jesus referred back to the OT when teaching the “new and better covenant”.

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  32. OnewifeVetNewt says:

    Nice to get everyone here’s religious laundry hung, I guess.

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  33. Peter Hahn says:

    On the other hand… we believe in freedom of religion. Anyone or any sect is free to interpret any religious text any way they want. They can ignore all the rules but the ones they like and change their dogma as often as they see fit (or are moved by revelation).

    The problem, of course, is that invariably most will believe that their beliefs should be enshrined in secular law. Its a natural consequence of believing something. Im not sure if there is a good way to deal with this other than “democracy” but you get situations like in North Carolina where 60% vote to constitutionally ban gay marriage.

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  34. Kathy says:

    Regarding this article, God is compassionate and merciful. He knew we could not keep the letter of the law. That is why Jesus’ sacrifice.

    Homosexuality and abortion are at the top of many Christian’s “lists” of sin. It’s not on mine in terms of pointing those out in some self-righteous way. The Bible lists some things God hates, including pride, lying, and causing strife. Christians should be just as vigilant with this.

    Romans 1 (NT) does address homosexuality.

    26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

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  35. PNElba says:

    “But Christians live by the teachings in the New Testament from Christ who is the reason and center of the bible.”

    I wish the above statement was true. The world would be a much better place. I see little love from outspoken Christians today.

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  36. Matt says:

    The old testament is no long relevant, the new testament is becoming less relevant. Its time for a New new testament.

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  37. Kathy says:

    PNElba, I agree.

    The whole NT is “it’s not about you” – but about others. Jesus was the supreme example of laying down his life – for others. Christians are to be an expression of that.

    Two commandments are given: love God and love your neighbor as yourself. When the disciples asked who is my neighbor, he gave the illustration of the Good Samaritan.

    JDM spoke about the Holy Spirit. It’s not our job to convict, condemn, or judge. If we live according to the kind of love Jesus spoke about, (defined in 1 Corinthians 13), we are bringing hope and restoration to people. After that, hands off.

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  38. Pete Klein says:

    I find all of the above posts interesting and for the most part reasonable.
    But the problem I see here not being mentioned is how to recognize the various religious beliefs without falling into the trap of promoting one while persecuting others.
    We hold as an ideal and by law the separation of church and state. This happened because many who first came here came from countries where they were persecuted for their beliefs. Some, when they got here, decided it was time to put the shoe on the other foot and persecute those who had persecuted them. This is what we must avoid.
    Gay marriage and abortion are just the latest examples of trying to use secular law to enforce religious beliefs.
    Some have tried to use religious beliefs to force people into “giving to the poor.” I see little difference between this and efforts to prevent gay marriage and abortions. These issues are not the same as laws against murder, rape and robbery. No one, absolutely no one, wants to be murdered, raped or robbed. Murderers don’t want to be killed. Rapist don’t want to be raped and robbers don’t want to be robbed. And it doesn’t matter whether they subscribe to any religion or none at all.
    When you have 100% agreement on what should be illegal, you have a case for a good secular law. When you have a situation where someone says, “But God said,” you have a case where one person’s beliefs (religion) is trying to trump another person’s belief (religion or non religion) by using the brute force of state secular law.

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  39. PNElba says:

    Some have tried to use religious beliefs to force people into “giving to the poor.”

    An example of this please. Do you mean pointing out bible passages, such as those below, to some “Christians” is “forcing them” into giving to the poor?

    “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.” Matthew 25:35

    “All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.” Galatians 2:10

    and my favorite:

    “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3:17-18

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  40. JDM says:

    PNElba: That reminds me…. It’s amazing how well versed in the Bible Obama became to defend his tax policy.

    “For me as a Christian, it also coincides with Jesus’s teaching that for unto whom much is given, much shall be required,” Obama said, quoting the Gospel of Luke.


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  41. JDM says:

    To stay on topic of this thread, and to stay on Obama…

    Obama, the president with I.Q. supposedly of 160, or was is 190? can’t quite figure out his position on gay marriage.

    I thought for sure this genius in the Oval Office would be able to discern the Bible on this issue as well as he did the tax issue.

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  42. PNElba says:

    JDM –

    I’m sure you are ready with some New Testament quotes that show that “Christians” have no obligation to support the poor.

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  43. JDM says:


    Jesus witnessed the Jewish leaders making all kinds of whoopla over their “generous” gifts. Then, a widow came and dropped in two mites. It was “all she had”.

    Jesus said she had given more than those who called attention to their gift, because she did it for the invisible kingdom, not the kingdom of this world.

    Moral: the rich are not called to give to the poor. All are called to give of themselves.

    Ref: Luke 21:1-3

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  44. JDM says:

    And to save one more iteration:

    “All are called to give of themselves.” That includes the rich giving, because “to whom much is given, much is required”.

    That includes the poor giving, “It is more blessed to give than to receive”.

    It involves “giving”, period.

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  45. Kathy says:

    I see two conversations here.

    One is OT vs. NT. The other is how religion relates to government/country.

    Regarding the latter, there is a scripture that comes to mind. One is Proverbs 14:

    “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.”

    I recently read about the Victorian Age and Queen Victoria’s benevolence. She was determined to rule with qualities that are found in the scripture. England flourished during this era. It is recorded that a chief from one of the African colonies visited with Queen Victoria and asked the secret of her country’s greatness. She gave the chief a Bible and said, “Here is the secret of England’s greatness.”

    This is one of many, many examples in history of a nation prospering. Opponents of the Bible may not like it, but the history is there.

    There is a principle of sowing and reaping that we all live by, regardless if we believe in God or not. People everywhere of all faiths operate with principles that are based on the Bible.

    Whenever a government forces religion (e.g. Constantine, Church of England) it isn’t going to work.

    But, the principles of Biblical living can be implemented without forcing it on the people.

    As I’ve stated in other threads, the facts are there. The Founders, without imposing religion, derived scriptural principles and were not ashamed to use the name of God in their meetings and writings when they laid the foundation of our country.

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  46. PNElba says:

    JDM –

    I knew you could do it!!! I guess I just didn’t correctly interpret the quotes I pointed out because the “holy spirit” was not in my heart.

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  47. JDM says:

    PNElba: I couldn’t have said it better.

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  48. Peter Hahn says:

    “All are called to give of themselves.” That includes the rich giving, because “to whom much is given, much is required”.

    isn’t that Obama’s point about the rich paying a little more in taxes?

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  49. Peter says:

    The Bible is a lot of things: part creation mythology, part history, part poetry, part fiction (The book of Job), part moral teaching, part political tract (against the Roman Empire), part rationalization of religious rules & hierarchy.
    I absolutely agree more should take the time (not in one sitting of course) to read the book, and even read one or more other holy books for perspective.
    Your comments Brian, and many of the follow-up comments offer excellent insight as well.
    Personally, I’d have to say that Dan Savage makes a valid point – and his recent essay in the “Returning to the Scene of the Crime” episode of This American Life is worth a listen. Read before a live audience, Mr. Savage gives some interesting additional background to his feelings on religion – the lapsed Catholic now finding some solace in a return to faith on his own terms, following the death of his mother.

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  50. JDM says:

    I wonder if President Obama will try to apply a Biblical answer to his gay marriage dilemma.

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