Archive for September, 2015

Out with the Old Testament and in with the New?

September 10, 2015

Part of this whole conversation on Gay Marriage and the position of the Religious Right is how do Christians view and interpret the Old Testament. Some point to passages in Leviticus and scream that this shows how clearly God is against homosexual acts, while others demand to know why those same protesters are not for the deaths of those who curse their parents, refusing to eat pork and shellfish, or still wear clothes made of more than one fiber. These are all laws also found in Leviticus and other OT books.

So why does the vocal Evangelical section hold onto some verses but not others? I think the better question is, why is this the only time we quote the book of Leviticus? Jesus quotes Leviticus as much as he does any other book in the Torah, so why is this the only time Christians quote a book that was obviously so important to Jesus?

This is another one of those difficult issues that I cannot do justice in a short blog post, but I will try my best to boil it down to the most basic of points.

I think it stems from two basic, simple points: 1. The majority of Christians today are not Jewish. Christians believe that with the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Christ the covenant with God found in the Law of Moses has, to put it simply, been retired, and we now live under the covenant of the Cross. The early Church, as recorded in Scripture, decided that those believers who were Jewish should still follow the OT law, but the Gentiles, including myself, were exempt from a vast majority of the OT laws concerning holiness and cleanliness, of which Leviticus belongs. This account is recorded in Acts 15. Paul will also continue this theology in many of his writings, the most direct that I can think of is Galatians 3-5.

Again, a great more can be written about this subject, but my intent is to keep this blog short considering the subject. This decision by the Early Church leads me to my second point. 2. As non-Jews, most Christians don’t understand the importance and context of Leviticus, or a great majority of the Old Testament for that matter.

The Law of Moses was designed for God’s people to stand out from all people surrounding them at the time. Many of the laws about food and clothing are placed so that the Israelites would live lives in contrast to those of the people around them. This includes the laws concerning sexual purity. Much of this gets lost and forgotten when an angry protester is shouting out Bible verses at people and then threatening them with Hell for them not following passages from a book that they don’t believe in.

Sadly, we only use a couple of verses out of one book when we want to tell a broken world about how broken it is. Something here, in the larger context of the story of God, seems terribly out of place. Jesus certainly held Leviticus in higher regard, and clearly studied all of the Law, yet the Church at large only uses it when we need to condemn others. Bad form, indeed.

I will not tackle my opinion of homosexuality in this blog post, but I will instead leave a short critique for boths sides of the debate. Neither side is having a conversation about the subject. They are instead like two whining children, shouting at each other and calling each other names. Neither side will find peace and acceptance until we learn to love one another and speak to people respectfully and with dignity…you know, like Jesus did.

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Would Jesus run for president?

September 8, 2015

In recent history I have seen a lot in the media and online concerning homosexuality, the definition of marriage, the decisions of the Supreme Court, and how the Federal Government enforces those laws. I’m thinking specifically of the case of Kim Davis, the KY clerk officer who is currently in prison for not issuing marriage licenses to homosexual couples. All of these issues come together and provoke a great many questions, not just of a religious nature, but of the role of government in our society and how one can resist the government if and when the need arises.

This is by no means an easy subject; I give here only my own opinions based on my own convictions. I don’t like name-calling or unnecessary labeling simply to fill the space with words. Here, I will do my best to only express my own thoughts as respectfully as I can. I do so as a Christian, a follower of Jesus trying to emulate what I see from his life in my own life today.

First off, I love people. All people. Whether white, black, yellow, red, brown, straight, gay, transgendered, christian, muslim, atheist, satanist, fat, short, tall, thin, nerdy, geeky, jock, whatever. I believe that, as a follower of Jesus, I am called to walk in his footsteps and love everyone equally without finding fault. It is important to note, however, that the love Jesus had for his fellow humanity did not stop him from calling out people who needed to be called out, whether for their pride, arrogance, lack of understanding, sexual immorality, etc. Jesus loved people, but he loved them too much to leave them in their brokenness.

This is also NOT the only thing Jesus did during his short ministry. He did not spend all of his time pointing out the imperfections of his fellow man; I am not sure he would have had much of a following if that were the only thing he did.

I say that to say that I believe there are times when we should speak with love into the lives of others to help direct them onto a better path. A key factor in this process is relationship. We often leave out and neglect the fact that Jesus always starts his ministry with people on a personal level, then moves into helping pull them out of their brokenness only after he has loved them for who they are. Jesus shows us that you can, in fact, love someone and disagree with their lifestyle.

In short, there is a time and a place for those conversations.

I don’t expect people who aren’t believers of Jesus to act as though they are. I don’t expect people who don’t give any credit to the Bible to act as though it is the word of God. That would be foolish.

I do expect Christians to act like Christians. I expect people who claim to love Jesus to not picket the private residence of the judge who put Mrs. David in jail. I expect those same “Christians” to NOT call people hateful names, tell people that they are going to Hell and will suffer forever, or to cry and scream when a non-Christian world acts as though it isn’t Christian. All of which, by the way, I never see Jesus doing in any record of his life. More often than not, Jesus is dispersing angry mobs as best he can, as often as he can.

I’ll be writing some more with thoughts along the lines of this subject, but I merely want to begin this dialogue by repeating what Jesus once told his followers. “A new commandment I give to you, love one another; just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35

I don’t think Jesus meant this just for his disciples that were present there with him, and I don’t think he meant only for believers who interacted with people in the Church. I think he meant this for all of his followers when interacting with all people.

Thnks fr th Mmrs

September 8, 2015

So…it’s been such a long time since I have blogged about anything. My last post was way back in 2011, more than 4 years ago, and, I must admit, having some trouble remembering my log-in password for Word Press.

A lot has happened in the many days since my last post. To tell you the short version, I graduated with my M.div from Lipscomb University, received my second degree black belt in Okinawan karate, I married an awesome woman, and lastly, my wife and I moved back to my home in south Georgia. I currently work two different jobs; I am the youth minister at Avalon United Methodist Church and I am an instructor at Brunson Martial Arts, both in Albany, GA. My wife is the curator of the Albany Museum of Art and we are in the midst of repainting the inside of our house. Life is so very good right now.

I want to blog again, but this time I want to do it more consistently. I’m sure the variety of topics will be broad, sometimes I’ll be covering martial arts, sometimes covering news events, sometimes my adventures in ministry, and so on. I fully expect to also write on my own personal views on certain hot-button topics. I encourage dialogue always, however, I do not endorse hate speech, slander, name-calling, or other immature expressions of communication. So please feel free to leave comments, but do so respectfully.

I have included a picture of my wife and I. This picture is about two years old, but it is still one of my favorites. I find it helpful to have a picture of the person speaking (or blogging) to help picture the dialogue mentally.

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