What I want you to know. Which is everything.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Life's Instruction Book

The issue concerning the Harbour has reopened some thoughts and feelings that I've had in the past concerning the finity and absoluteness of God and his Word and how that specifically applies to Christianity.

Wendy Bailey, one of the two people at the center of the SBTC/Harbour controversy, wrote a very helpful and inspiring message in her blog today. You can read it and some quotes from a Christianity Today article by Brian McLauren here, on her blog

Greggo (that's not his real name, but I don't really know his real name since I only know him through his blog) also posted some quotes that speak to the issue of definite answers and the difference between being steadfast and stubborn. Here they are:

"It is our fascination with fixed and ultimate answers - dogma - that can so easily end the search for Mystery. When answers remove ambiguity and settle all vulnerabilities, those answers become dangerous, and we slip off the path of the seeker. When we use answers to put the Ultimate in a finite box, as if it can be described and contained, stagnation and arrogance result. When we believe we have final answers to all questions, we are no longer open to the experience of life and God. At these times, we are more invested in certainty than in the happenings of the present moment. These two dangers - stagnation and arrogance - will block our vision of God. Our search is hindered or abandoned all together."
-Dave Fleming

"It's a much safer world if the world is full of answers, particularly if I believe that my [religious] tradition has all the answers. If that is my view, then there in no reason to talk to anyone else from another tradition or viewpoint."
-Wayne Teasdale

People like myself who were raised going to a conservative, evangelical church have always been raised with the idea that sin as described in the Bible, homosexuality included, is black and white. It is wrong and those who live their lives never asking for forgiveness from those sins will not go to Heaven, but Hell. (My own sect of Christianity also firmly believing that complete immersion as baptism is not only a part of salvation but a requirement for salvation.) I've already found from others' blogs, even on this blog, that most of those who were raised in a similar way to my own still feel very much the way they did as they were growing up, and refuse to rethink it or give any leeway because the Bible says it and if the Bible says it then it must be so. There is no grey area or discussion about it. I've even heard of the Bible described as "Life's Instruction Book."

I've never bought into the "instruction book" philosophy. First of all, the more people you talk to the more you realize that almost no two people completely agree on what the Bible specifically says in most places. Even those who claim to be literal interpreters can't always agree on scripture. No one has these kind of arguments about how to interpret an automobile owners manual or instructions on how to put together a bookshelf. That's lead me to believe that there is a certain amount of searching to be done. Searching is done by reading and studying. But, not just reading, but reading between the lines, taking things into context and using other knowledge to draw understanding from the Bible.

The question of "is homosexuality wrong?" perplexes some, I know, because it is written down, right there in black and white. Why even the discussion, right? However, like the quote by Teasdale, above, states, "It's a much safer world if the world is full of answers." The Bible as "Life's Instruction Book" makes us feel safe in the same way we feel more confident if we have the instructions on how to build a bookshelf. The thing is, if we figure out how to build the shelf on our own, we'll probably have a better idea on how it was put together.


Jason said...

When it comes to LBGT and the Bible, Walter Wink wrote a brilliant, scripturally-based article on the matter. He takes a very critical look at the Bible and what it really says about homosexuality. He addresses every passage on the matter that I could think of, and he gives a very viable interpretation. In fact, I'm surprised that his article isn't used more often as an argument to defend diversity of sexual orientation in the church. For a long time I struggled with what my heart said about LBGT issues in the church (I found it hard to believe that God would condemn people who's only "sin" was loving someone of the same sex) and what my head believed the Bible said about the matter (it's wrong; end of story). Wink's article and others like it really helped me reconcile those two beliefs. I have also come to the conclusion that much of the Bible is imbedded in a particular culture in a particular time. That does not mean that it isn't divinly inspired. Rather, it means that we should understand what certain passages mean for us in this time, realizing that it may have meant something different in a different time and place.

Here is the article.

Kyle said...

Apperently the Goose Creek CISD doesn't want me to read what Mr. Wink wrote about homosexuality and the Bible. I'll check it out when I get home.

It seems that you had many of the same thoughts conflicts on the matter as I have had growing up. Maybe it's our upbringing, or maybe it's our genes.

Kyle said...

By this time you probably already realized that I just went ahead and made my response to the Jan. 23 comment of Anonymous into a post for Jan. 26.