(Home-My Story)....... True, Tragic and Unnecessary Gay Youth Suicide Stories...................... (Español)
PART 2 (page 16 of 34)
How Should We Read and Understand The Bible?
And How Does The Holy Spirit Come Into Play
Reading The Bible More Metaphorically and Less Literally
Most Christians don’t form their views; they inherit them, either from their family or from the doctrine of the church that they attend. In the case of the Fundamentalist, those who teach them seldom interpret the Bible; they are content to “let the Bible speak for itself” - you know the “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.” mentality. So the surface reading of the scriptures is left as the final meaning rather than as the starting point for understanding. It’s as though the Bible should be read the same way we read the morning paper, without taking into consideration that some 2,000-3,000 years separate us from the original documents. (1)
About 100 years
after the Protestant Reformation, Lutheran Johann[es Andreas] Quenstedt (1617-88) wrote that
the books of the Bible “...in their original text are the infallible truth and
are free from every error...”From that time forward fundamentalists,
conservatives and evangelicals (the late Rev. Jerry Falwell said a
fundamentalist is “an evangelical who is angry about something”) have tended to
interpret the Bible literally, saying it is without error. They often cite 2
Timothy 3:16: “All scripture is inspired by God...” However they forget that
“all scripture” to which Timothy was referring would have been Jewish scriptures
since Christian writings at that time were not yet considered scripture.
Here to read the entire article by The Rev. Steve Brown which this
paragraph is taken from. (2)
If You Are Going To Take The Bible Seriously, You Can’t Take It Literally
And what the Bible reads may not be what it says and means for us today. (1) In understanding the scriptures we always must subject them to a "serious contextual analysis that takes into consideration the limits of authorial understanding, the literary form and intent of a given passage, and the difference between culturally-conditioned opinion and the underlying eternal truths being expressed through that opinion." And doing this exhaustive study "does not mean that we are presumptuously setting ourselves 'above' scripture - passing judgment in our human frailty and sinfulness upon that Word of God." Fundamentalists "grossly misapprehend" the nature of how we go about understanding the Bible by saying that "either the Scriptures are the Word of God and therefore absolutely, literally true in every detail, or they are not literally true in every respect and therefore cannot be the Word of the God who is Truth." "It means, rather, that we are willing to recognize (and give ourselves over to) the sometimes elusive, always interactive process by which the Holy Spirit reveals God's self and will to us." (3a) Click Here to read "Worshiping God and not the Bible."
As my former Pastor, the Reverend Dr. Laurence Keene [Mission Hills Christian Church-(Disciples of Christ)], said in the documentary, For The Bible Tells Me So. "I have a soft spot in my heart for literalists because I used to be one. However, when someone says to me, 'This is what the Bible says,' my response to them is, 'No, that’s what the Bible reads.' It is the struggle to understand context and language and culture and custom that helps us to understand the meaning of what it is saying." And as retired Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu puts it in the same documentary. “The Bible is the word of God through the word of human beings, speaking in the idiom of their time. And the richness of the Bible comes from the fact that we don't take it as literally [as if] it was dictated by God.”
The Importance of the Holy Bible versus the Holy Spirit
But firstly and lastly, whenever there is a disagreement about the meaning of scripture among people of faith it is imperative that we look to the Holy Spirit in deep and focused prayer as the final guide and arbiter of God’s Word and its meaning for us today and not the literal words in the Bible. John 14:16,17 [New Living Translation] - reads and says “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. . . As I go into in more detail on page 8, it is a form of idolatry to consider the imperfect Bible of more importance than the perfect Holy Spirit, i.e. God. Whenever anything other than God is made absolute, the result is idolatry. And as I have mentioned elsewhere on this site, some of these words have been mistranslated from the original Hebrew or Greek because of prejudices and ignorance taken from the society in which these translators lived or frozen in time as to their interpretation and application without consideration of the cultural context of the time they were written as was mentioned above. And I like the way Rev. Dr. Keene put it in a e-mail to me recently, "I am in favor of the Bible being a 'living' document (not locked in history) where one is guided by the Holy Spirit which helps one to free oneself from the prejudices and short-sightedness of utterances from the distant past." (See Footnote B on page 30 or click here).
Note from Gary Lynn:
I also like the way that Bishop John Shelby Spong puts it all in perspective on page 163 & 164 of his book, "Living in Sin - A Bishop Rethinks Human Sexuality:
Faith is not an exact science. There are no changeless eternal creeds or Bibles. There is only the changeless Eternal Truth of God. The moment that truth is articulated or codified it becomes finite, limited, and in the end falsifying. Living with the eternal Word of God has about it the nature of being on a journey. The Bible is something like a travelogue. It moves from the Garden of Eden to the Eternal City by way of Ur, Egypt, Canaan, Babylon, Corinth, and Rome. The people of the covenant were traveling people. Tracing the adventures of our spiritual mothers and fathers shows us important landmarks for our own journeys. We learn from those faith stories how previous generations have walked. They inform us of the terrain that we must cover, dangerous pitfalls to avoid, the way stations of respite, and the occasions to celebrate. Their stories light and make the paths to be chosen, but they do not and must not bind our course to the maps of yesterday. . . . . . [Therefore] the sexual values of today's religious system must reflect today's understanding of life, [not yesterdays].
Those of us who have literalized the word of God, confining its creative power to a mold that accommodates only yesterday's wisdom, will not be able to adjust. In time that inability will force our faith to be rocked relentlessly until it is shattered and replaced either by a hysterical anti-intellectual retreat into an unreal world or by the despair of nothingness. On the other hand, those of us who know that the dynamic Word of God cannot be bounded will be able to change and grow, bringing to that Word our new questions, our new experiences, our new insights, [and] our new perceptions of that Eternal Truth. The living Word of God will then be heard again, speaking in new accents, calling us to embrace new possibilities.
What is happening now in the sexual revolution. . . . will happen again and again in other areas, as we live into our scary and exciting future. God's Word is the Word beyond the words of Scripture, beyond the formulations of tradition, beyond the human attempt to capture or to literalize. It is rather the Word that by the grace of God is perceived as Spirit beyond letter.
Reading the Bible in the literal sense leads us into proof-texting, which means that anybody can refer to specific Bible verses or texts to back up or prove a belief or practice without taking into account the historic and cultural context in which it was written. This means that not only is the Scripture considered the Word of God, but also every part of it is the Word of God in and of itself—irrespective of context. This sets the stage for the idea that if we lift a verse out of the Bible, it is true in its own right and can be used to prove a doctrine or a practice.
The Historical Results of Proof-Texting
Whoa! And let's now stop and remember what exactly are the results of proof texting; proof texts, have been used at various times in Christian history to justify slavery, polygamy, genocidal warfare against indigenous peoples, the oppression of women, South African apartheid and a host of other evils including the subject under discussion on this website, homophobia, or at the very least, treating homosexuals as sinful second-class citizens and inferior. In other words throughout history, people who have called themselves Christians have been using the Bible to justify their own bigotry and hate by cherry picking the scriptures. Somehow they lost sight of the only two commandments and criteria that hold true for all our actions as followers of Christ for all time: "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind" and you must "love your neighbor as yourself." (Matthew 22:37-39) And according to author Tom Horner in Jonathan Loved David: . . . human beings "are to love God, to be sure," writes Norman Pittenger, "but their loving God is expressed practically and immediately in a loving relationship with other human beings." For Pittenger, this relationship may be a homosexual as well as a heterosexual one. What is really important is the quality of the relationship, not its method of expression. (3b)
Another Reason For Not
Taking The Bible Literally - Punctuation Marks
Did Not Exist In Ancient Languages
Another rarely mentioned fact - but a very profound reality - is that punctuation marks do not exist in ancient languages. The use of italics, semi-colons, periods, commas, etc. would not appear in usage as grammar until the 1400's [Aldus Pius Manutius (1449/1450–1515) and his grandson, both printers, are credited with introducing a standardized system of punctuation to the world]- meaning all punctuation in translations of the Bible is [or could be] arbitrary. Take for example the Jesus quote "Verily I say unto you this day you shall be with me in Paradise": Protestants place punctuation to make the phrase "Verily I say unto you, this day you shall be with me in Paradise." while Catholics place punctuation to make the phrase "Verily I say unto you this day, you shall be with me in Paradise." The differing placement of the comma in just this one sentence is monumental. Jesus is talking to a condemned thief who is either going to Paradise that day with Jesus (the first phrase) or going to Paradise someday (the second phrase). The debate over this one comma in this single sentence has lasted for centuries and created the Catholic notion of Purgatory, while Protestants have no such stopover in their version of an afterlife. This one comma (not to mention the entire arbitrary punctuation placed into the Bible) demonstrates the massive subjectivity of ancient texts. See for yourself. Remove and introduce punctuation throughout translations of ancient texts and you will soon realize the meaning is all in the way you place, or do not place, commas, periods, colons, dashes, exclamation marks, question marks, and semi-colons - all elements of grammar introduced into the text more than a thousand years after the original writings. (The above paragraph is taken from http://www.gaylibrary.com/area/GLbelief.htm
The Bible Taken Literally Can Be Like A Cookie Cutter
With Very Sharp and Hurtful Edges
[A] woman has two sisters and a brother who have chosen the family religion as their vocation. "God save us from people who have a religion based on a book," she told me. "I came out to my family before I left our country and they ran to their book right away and said, 'Oh, no, no, no. You cannot be this. Look here in our book. You cannot be that way.' I asked them who wrote the book and they told me 'God did.' What can you do? I say that they believe in a cookie cutter with sharp edges and I will not submit to the cutting. Their cookie-cutter book is more important to them than I am. They pray all the time for me to change. So I live thousands of miles away and we write letters about the weather." (3c)
But in the end we know that God is Love, that He is not cruel and that He accepts us all exactly as He has created us. He never intended that His message in the Bible be used to bring about self-hatred, suicide (20) and the physical and mental abuse in the lives of the 10% or less of His children who just happen to be attracted to members of their own sex.
. . . . . . . . . . . .
(1) Taken from an interview with Rev. Steve Kindle who is the Executive Director of Clergy United for the Equality of Homosexuals. Click here to read more.
(2) The Rev. Steve Brown is the pastor emeritus of the Family of Christ Presbyterian Church of Greeley, Colorado.
(3a) Holben, L. R. What Christians Think about Homosexuality - Six Representative Viewpoints, North Richland Hills, Texas, BIBAL Press, 1999, page 128, 155 and 156.
(3b) Horner, Tom, "Jonathan Loved David: Homosexuality in Biblical Times", Philadelphia, The Westminister Press, 1978, page 107
(3c) Clark, Don, Ph.D., "Loving
Someone Gay" (Fourth Edition), Berkeley, Celestial Arts, 2005, page 186.
(4) Borg, Marcus J., "Reading The Bible Again for the First Time: Taking The Bible Seriously But Not Literally", HarperOne, 2002, pages 40 and 41.
(5) Origen, De Principiis IV.1, in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979, reprint of the 1885 edition), pp. 360-73. (Borg's footnote)
(6) Borg, Marcus J., "Reading The Bible Again for the First Time: Taking The Bible Seriously But Not Literally", HarperOne, 2002, pages 42-44.
(7) Origen, De Principiis, 4.1.16 Translation is mine [Borg]; parenthetical material added. For an older English translation, see The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979, reprint of 1885 edition) vol. 4, p. 365. Origen also says that the Bible contains "countless instances of a similar kind that were recorded as having occurred, but which did not literally take place." Even "the gospels themselves are filled with the same kind of narratives." Origen also strongly affirms that he sees much of the Bible as historical. (Borg's footnote)
(8) Borg, Marcus J., "Reading The Bible Again for the First Time: Taking The Bible Seriously But Not Literally", HarperOne, 2002, pages 70 and 71.
(9) Mark 6:45-52, Matt. 14:22-33, John 6:15-21. The synoptics (but not John ) also have a second "sea" story: the stilling of the storm in Mark 4:35-41 = Matt. 8:23-27 = Luke 8:22-25. In this story, Jesus is with the disciples in the boat, but asleep. When a storm comes up and the boat is in danger of sinking, they call out to him, "Do you not care if we are perishing?" He then stills the storm. (Borg's footnote)
(10) Matt. 14:28-31; the full story in Matthew is found in 14:22-33. (Borg's footnote)
(11) Ps. 89:9, 95, 5. (Borg's footnote)
(12) Job 38:8, 11. (Borg's footnote)
(13) Ps. 107:25-29. (Borg's footnote)
(14) Borg, Marcus J., "Reading The Bible Again for the First Time: Taking The Bible Seriously But Not Literally", HarperOne, 2002, pages 206-209.
(15) John 14:6 (Borg's footnote)
(16) "Way" or "path," as noted in the previous chapter, is a central image in the Jewish wisdom tradition. It is also a central image in Mark (as well as the other synoptics), as argued in this chapter: to follow Jesus is to follow him on his way. (Borg's footnote)
(17) The death of Jesus is anticipated already in John's inaugural scene, the wedding at Cana; "my hour" in v. 4 refers to Jesus' death. (Borg's footnote)
(18) John 14:6. (Borg's footnote)
(19) Borg, Marcus J., "Reading The Bible Again for the First Time: Taking The Bible Seriously But Not Literally", HarperOne, 2002, pages 215-218.
(20) Click Here and Here to see the detailed results of over 100 studies showing that homosexual, bisexual and transgender youth and young adults consistently are about from 2 to 14 times more likely to attempt suicide when compared to their heterosexual peers. And here is an example of just one of these studies: Results of the 2007 Youth Risk Behavior Survey of Massachusetts High School Students (Click Here to see it) showed that students who described themselves as gay, lesbian, or bisexual were significantly more likely than their heterosexual peers to report attacks, suicide attempts and drug and alcohol use. When compared to heterosexual peers, this group was:
● Over four times more likely to have attempted suicide in the past year
● Over three times more likely to miss school in the past month because of feeling unsafe
● Over four times more likely to have been injured or threatened with a weapon at school
A Gay Teen Short Story ♂♂
Church is so confusing for Zack. His new pastor preaches nothing but hate and condemnation of gays and lesbians, but no matter how carefully he reads his Bible, he can’t find where it says God hates him. Will things change when Zach's boyfriend Billy suggests that they all go to his church instead? Click Here or on the icon to read the story.
for Page 17 -
We All Live by The Same Rules -Two People of the Same Sex Can
Live in a Committed,
Relationship with the Blessing of God
The Homophobic Agenda
below to go to:
The Anti-Gay Religious Right's Really Cruel and Idiotic Argument
Their Message to a Gay Person is: Be alone. Live alone. Die alone.
Click for Homosexuality is neither a Choice nor a Sin - Table of contents
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