Monday, December 17, 2007

Does the Bible apply today?

We are all aware of the language barrier inherent in discussing both the Tanakh (Hebrew) and the New Testament (Koine Greek.) While we have lexicons and dictionaries, and other contemporary works—what we don’t have is a 8th Century BCE Israelite or a 1st Century CE Judean to explain the individual words themselves within their culture. We can do an antiseptic translation, stating “yowm” means “day” or “division of time” or “period” yet the argument will rage as to whether the “yowm” of Genesis 1 are 24-hour periods, or eons of time.

Or the word ”theopneuostos” of 2 Tim. 3:16. We can see the word is a combination of “God” (theo) and “wind” or “breath” (pneuostos) but since it is not utilized in other literature, not even anywhere else in the Bible, we can only surmise as to the author’s intention of this unique, made-up word. It has been translated as “inspired by God” or “God-breathed;” the exact nuance is ultimately unknown. And yet this is a foundational claim of someone who holds to the divine nature of the Bible!

This point was forcefully made to me in my first semester of Spanish class. If you have ever taken a language class—they make you pick a Spanish name, hopefully one close to your own. For those of us who haven’t a close name to translate—we were able to pick our own. Being me, I choose “Burrito” to be funny. All semester I was called “Burrito” by my fellow classmates and the professor (who had a sense of humor, luckily.)

We learned in Spanish, you add an “-ito” to a word to make it cutesy, or childish. Similar to the English equivalent of adding “-y” to words such as “doll” to become “dolly” or “horse” to become “horsey.” “Muchacho” (young boy) would become “muchachito.” The professor turned to me and dead-panned, “And since Burro means ‘Ass’ then Burrito would mean Little…” The students laughed, getting the joke.

In order to appreciate what he was saying, one would have to understand the implementation of “-ito” in the Spanish language, what a “Burrito” normally is, and that “Ass” can mean a four-legged pack animal…or something else.

While we can sterilely translate the words, can we translate the meaning behind the words? How many times have we typed some comment on-line, and someone else takes it completely unlike we anticipated? How many times have we bemoaned that sarcasm and wryness do not translate well in the written word? The Bible was not written with smilies to provide further information. A “;-)” behind a Proverb to clue us in to whimsy involved.

Take Mark 15:39 where the centurion watches Jesus die, and says, ”Truly this man was the son of God.” Many people interpret this to be a straightforward confession of Jesus’ reality. But is that the author’s intent? What if the author wrote it mockingly? As if the centurion, seeing Jesus humiliated and killed, said, “Oh sure. This was the son of God. And I am the King of Spain. Ha ha ha ha.” (Note the priests were just calling Jesus “Christ, the King of Israel in verse 32, yet we do not consider those words a confession of faith.)

We simply don’t know. We can speculate. We can view the context and hypothesize. But in the end, it is a matter of weighing alternative speculations, in which we can only hope one theory is more persuasive than another.

Worse, the Bible was written to a culture and society we know very little about—and what we do paints a picture very unlike our own. Take Marriage. In the Tanakh, polygamy is treated cavalierly. The greatest limitation is that Kings should not have too many wives. Deut. 17:17. The stories of romance are noted for their being an exception. Wives and marriage were a means to an end, and love was not considered a necessary part of that means.

By First Century Judea, marriage was a means to gain honor or join houses in the society. “Love” had nothing to do with it—it was an arrangement made by the families for the parents’ mutual benefit. The wife was always considered a bit of an outsider; never quite part of the new family. She was expected to obtain her emotional support and relationships through other female friends and her children—not her husband!

In our culture, we look at marriage as the instituting of a new home. At that time, it was looked at as assimilating the female into the male’s family. There was no “new home” but a continuation of the old.

We occasionally hear, at weddings and such, how a couple will become “one flesh” and this means a joining of heart, spirit, mind, personhood, blah, blah, blah. Poppycock. “One flesh” to the authors who utilized the term considered it to mean sex. 1 Cor. 6:16. Oh, you can glamorize it, and extrapolate meaning out of it—but that isn’t what the authors intended when they wrote it.

Which causes me to wonder—given the language barrier, the translation difficulties, our lack of knowledge and the social differences—does the Bible apply today? How much are Christians taking a 2000+ year old book and trying to shoehorn it into a prescription for today? And how well does it fit?

We recently had a discussion regarding Jesus’ words of not worrying about what a person would eat or drink, or be clothed in. Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will take care of itself. Matt. 6:25-34. To the audience of Matthew’s time, their sole concern as peasants would have been basic survival. They were no thoughts of slowly accumulating a fortune. There were thoughts of obtaining enough food to survive another year.

How applicable is that today? Most of us have closets of clothes. Pantries of food. Refrigerators and second freezers bulging with enough food to last for weeks. Are we worried about tomorrow’s food? Nope—we are worried about our son’s college fund. Our retirement package. Does Matt 6 still apply in the age of bank accounts and IRA’s?

Is 1 Tim. 2:9 still good law? Are Christians claiming women should not wear gold and pearls? Or is that 2000 years behind the times? Full and fair warning: If one provides some crack about not taking 1 Tim. 2:9 literally, and we should look at the principle of the thing, I will question why Rom. 1:26-27 should not likewise be taken “in principle” rather than literal.

When is the last time any of us went to the butcher to get some meat sacrificed to idols? 1 Cor. 8:4. Or worried about women having their head covered when they pray? 1 Cor. 11:5. Who goes to church to be cured of an illness? James 5:14

Not long ago, in many conservative circles drinking alcohol was a sin. In the Bible Belt of America, there are “dry” counties—no sale of alcohol, which is still reminiscent of the general feeling of prohibition. Yet in the society of the New Testament, alcohol was a common drink. Most Jews drank about 1 liter a day. Is the Bible out-dated?

Slavery existed both in Canaan and First Century Judea. The Bible tacitly endorses slavery by providing instructions both for the masters of slaves and slaves themselves. Eph. 6:5-9. 1 Peter 2:18-20. Should the Biblical principle of slavery be re-introduced? Or have we grown wiser than the Bible?

And what I see is instead of following the precepts laid out; Christians allegorize what is contained therein to some modern application. Slavery? Oh, no—we will give a sermon on employers/employees using these passages. Meat for idols? Oh, no—we will give a talk on how one can’t listen to Christian rock-n-roll ‘cause it will lead others to listen to actual rock-n-roll (Which leads to dancing and orgasmic sex. All bad.)

Women can wear gold and pearls—that’s just fine! The principle of the thing is that they need to be “modest” about it.

They are already doing it! They already understand what was fine and good 2000 years ago just doesn’t fly today. “Sell what you have and give to the poor” (Matt. 19:21-22) 2000 years over its expiration date; doesn’t apply today! “Give to anyone who asks” (Luke 6:30) Well! This is the 21st Century—they didn’t have homeless people crowding the streets like we do today. That verse doesn’t apply, either!

Even Christians are proclaiming what the Bible actually says is not what it actually means in our day and age. ‘Cause things are different. At what point do we realize applying a book compiled of other books written from 800 BCE to 130 CE in 2007 CE is not going to work?


  1. So are you looking to start another comment war? ;)

    This would be an interesting tie-in to trust, though. Can we really ever say that someone is trusting the Bible? Because what it ultimately comes down is that the person is trusting his or her interpretation of the Bible, which would in turn lead to the person trusting his/her own facilities to determine the truth. You're trusting that you read it right, that you understand the Holy Spirit correctly and so forth. In a weird way, it might almost be like elevating oneself, because your viewpoint is the right one.

    So when different interpretations are compared, it would be me taking someone else's, and weighing it against my interpretation to determine the truth, and whether the other person understands correctly. I would use my viewpoint to accept or discard this other viewpoint.

    I think it might be difficult to be humble under this system, especially if discussing the concept of Truth, because your interpretation is superior to the others, since it's the criteria you're using to evaluate. There is the chance that the other interpreation might pursuade me, yes. But is that likely?

    Maybe the most humble person of all is the agnostic, because they're not applying an interpretation to anything.

  2. The definitive philosophical treatise on interpretation is Stanislaw Lem's 1968 novel, His Master's Voice.

  3. Every verse in Scripture has a direct modern parallel. The scroll is the computer, the Sodomites are the pornographers, the false teachers with appetites are the prosperity gospel pimps, Lot's daughters mirror our social engineering fiascos and prostitutes are still prostitutes to name a few. The sinful nature of man described in the Bible is spot on today. And of course God is still God. The Bible applies as much today as it ever did.

  4. And donkeys are now Hyundais and concubines are now vibrators and kings are now Congressmen and Israel is now America and eating shrimp is now lesbian sex?

    Jim, that sounds utterly ludicrous. Have you run this theory by your pastor (the one who lies to you)?

  5. “Being me, I choose “Burrito” to be funny” (Dagoods)

    Oddly enough, I have a friend from Columbia that I call that (kind of an inside joke about him being Mexican when we both know he is not).

    “does the Bible apply today? How much are Christians taking a 2000+ year old book and trying to shoehorn it into a prescription for today? And how well does it fit?” (Dagoods)

    I think the bible apply’s today – if we are dealing with values, teachings, and ideas.

    But isn’t that the beauty of faith – it is not meant to be static (it has become this in the world) – it is meant to grow, change, and become something that lives (ie: via us). That’s my take on it – but then again – I am not part of a mainstream faith system (and that system rubs me the wrong way).

    “Does Matt 6 still apply in the age of bank accounts and IRA’s?” (Dagoods)

    Yes, just as much as in those days. What if things revert back to a time where more trust is needed in finding our daily livelihood? The oil crisis is something that is coming – maybe the idea we might fall into localized communities will happen again and growing food (or hunting) become a neccesity. But I do agree – the idea’s within that section do seem to reflect a community that lives vastly different than us as of now. But even with that said – maybe all the accumulation of things can also be seen as a provision of God – and the onus is on us to share it properly.

    I wish I could say more Dagoods…but to be honest – there is a lot in there to deal with and one comment box would not do justice. Some of this we have hashed over before I can say I don’t agree with ½ of the things you said about the bible – for some – that simple of a foundation is more than you can imagine.

  6. OneSmallStep,

    There is more truth than jest in the idea of a “comment war.” It is how I learn. Law School commonly employs the Socratic Method which typically results in having students battle each other on propositions. While I may seem to be stubbornly refusing to budge on an issue, it is simply who I am in testing the strength of another’s position. I am often, in the background, assessing and weighing and looking up links to either confirm or fail to confirm the position of another.

    I learn best by a group of people exchanging ideas. Weird, eh? *grin*

    OneSmallStep: In a weird way, it might almost be like elevating oneself, because your viewpoint is the right one.

    And this is where the use of the Bible becomes dangerous, in my opinion. It is one thing to have the opinion homosexuality (for example) is wrong. To understand that this is just an opinion. But when one interprets the Bible to come from a God, and to claim a God says it is wrong—we have a whole different ballgame. Now the person no longer has an opinion—they have a Creator-ordained mandate to absolutely declare it as immoral.

    It is interesting to listen to Conservative preachers on the radio, with a barely-hidden smirk say, “I think women are very proficient and intelligent and capable and can be doctors and lawyers and CEO’s and even Presidents. BUT the Bible says women cannot be Preachers. As much as it tears my heart out—we have to follow what the Bible says.” And then they create their He-man Woman Haters Club, with the sign, “No Girls Allowed.”

    And the way to elevate one is to declare one’s own interpretation as “orthodox” and any conflicting interpretation as “misguided” or worse: “heresy.”

    Yet one person’s heresy (*cough, cough* “Martin Luther”) is another’s orthodoxy and vice versa.

  7. Jim Jordan,

    flycandler makes the a very good point. (And ya gotta admit the “concubine/vibrator” was funny!) How you determine which particular group is allegorized to our current culture.

    I was particularly stunned you compared “sodomite” to pornographers. The Greek word, arsenokoites is another word we are not certain of its meaning. See Here Yet many translations defer it to a male committing a homosexual act in the two places it is mentioned. 1 Cor. 6:9 & 1 Tim. 1:10.

    I would have thought a person who believed homosexuality was a sin would never modify this word to something other than a prohibition against homosexuality. Are you saying these verses no longer apply to homosexuality, just like “scrolls” now apply to “computers”?

    And why “pornographers”? Why not “those who view pornography?” Just like we talked about strippers only existing because of demand, pornographers only exists because of demand. Shouldn’t we cut it off at the source? If I declare arsenokoites of the First Century are pornography participants of the 21st century—what makes my interpretation more or less likely than your own?

    ‘Course if we dared say “pornography participants” cannot inherit the kingdom of God—heaven will be a VERY female dominated place, eh?

  8. Flycandler,
    "And donkeys are now Hyundais and concubines are now vibrators and kings are now Congressmen and Israel is now America and eating shrimp is now lesbian sex?"

    omg, LOL, that was really funny.


    I'm really glad you wrote this. I was just thinking along this line this morning, wishing you'd write something about this. I was thinking about the language differences, translation, cultural context, nuance, etc.. In my conservative Baptist Bible college we were always told the "original languages of the bible were Greek and Hebrew and some Chaldean."

    I am hung up thinking about the Greek "New" testament. Would that really have been the original language spoken that many of these books/letters purportedly record? Wouldn't rabbi Jesus have spoken Hebrew? How about the "lost sheep of the house of Israel" to whom Jesus came? Did Jeusus speak Greek to them? If not, there's a further complication of having at least part of the "New testament" being transalated from a original Hebrew language to Greek, not unlike the Septuagint.

    I've been slogging my way through the Dead Sea Scrolls, a 2000 year old library written in Hebrew. So I find it hard to fathom that, even if I could get around all the myriad of other objections about the origin of the gospels for instance, that the "Greek" would be the "original" language in which the words recorded were spoken.

    So then many of the books of the "New testament" were written in Greek by unlearned (read: illiterate) Jewish men?

  9. To quote my own pastor, "I take the Bible seriously, but not literally."

    I agree with onesmallstep (and probably the majority of modern Christians) that the truly important parts of the Bible have little to do with who begat whom or who was smoting whom. Rather, the most important message, taken from the entire book in context, is this: there is a God who cares about you. You, in turn, should go out into the world and love God and love your neighbor.

    That oversimplifies it terribly, and it doesn't address some very challenging statements within that Bible (particularly the genocide stuff). To shift into neo-orthodoxy for a second, we have to look at those statements through the lens of Jesus Christ and his life, work and teaching. Instead of religious war, we are called to love our enemies and turn the other cheek. Instead of following arcane rules for the sake of the rules, we should be willing to acknowledge our own weaknesses and be willing to challenge rules when they get in the way of loving our neighbor. Can we as Christians ignore the rest of the Bible? Not really. It may not be possible to reconcile the God that ordered the annihilation of innocent women and children and the God that manifested himself in human form to tell us to love our enemies. We may have to be content with the mystery.

  10. Most Jews drank about 1 liter a day. Is the Bible out-dated?

    Of course, a common response to this (pulled completely out of the ass), is that the wine that Jesus and his followers drank was actually "new wine", which was essentially grape juice, not-at-all or barely fermented. Mwa-ha-ha-ha! :D

    Kinda makes you wonder why the Bible would bother with all the warnings against, and descriptions of, drunkenness, in that case....

  11. FLY, a fine piece of twisted logic.

    And donkeys are now Hyundais
    and concubines are now vibrators
    Not the right analogy.
    and kings are now Congressmen
    and Israel is now America
    Inserting extreme right-wing loopy theologies where it was not inferred.

    and eating shrimp is now lesbian sex?
    Oops, I had shrimp for dinner last night. Obviously, this doesn't work.

    Each generation has the responsibility to relate the current age to the truths in the Bible. Its what my pastor and all pastors are supposed to do on Sunday mornings.

    How you could think that is a ludicrous thought is ludicrous itself.

    "Pornography cult" would have been a better word than "pornographer". Sodom is a picture of what happens when a society becomes saturated with sex to the point that the rights of others are reduced or ignored in favor of the supremacy of sexual gratification. Remember that Lot offered up his virgin daughters to the mob. He wouldn't have done that if they were strictly homosexual. They were most likely bisexual.

  12. Okay, fine, Jim. Instead of vibrators, substitute blow-up dolls.

    Trust me, I know about "clobber verses". I hear that my being gay is a sin because "the Bible says it's an abomination". Well, that is from Leviticus and deals with a very particular act between two men. Lesbians are not covered, unless we use your logic. We just find another passage that uses the term "abomination" and hey presto! Instant hate justification!

    The substitution of "America" for "Israel" is frighteningly not an extreme viewpoint. American exceptionalism has its roots in reconstructionist theology and has been a theme in American history. It ranges from "God Bless America" to the loopy Manifest Destiny doctrine that justified stealing land from American Indians, starting unprovoked wars with Mexico and Spain, etc., because God willed the American people to "civilize" the continent. This cannot be overemphasized: Jesus and God are not Americans and neither should be the Church universal.

    As far as your pastor's "responsibility" to warp the original texts of the Bible to fit modern situations, I suggest you read your own church's Book of Order in regards to what the purpose of worship is.

    And I will say something that will horrify you: Not every verse in the Bible is necessarily relevant to daily life in the 21st century.

  13. Jim Jordan,

    You do understand the word “sodomite” is NOT in the original writing, correct? That the word is an English word derived from Sodomy, and the perceived homosexual sin which occurred there. The original word you would like to equate to the pornography cult is arsenokoites. Humorously, many Christians utilize this word as an indictment against homosexuality, and even though you hold homosexuality as a sin, you think it is more appropriate to pornography in general.

    Are you saying homosexuality is an inappropriate use of this word, and the correct application is pornography? And what does that mean, “will not inherit the kingdom of God”? Are you saying anyone who views pornography will not be saved? Or are you now planning on re-interpreting “inherit the kingdom of heaven” to mean something else?

    See, once we start down this path of re-interpreting words, we completely lose any method of determining where to start, where to stop, and what those words are interpreted as.

    Oh, and by the way, the sin of Sodom, as interpreted by those more contemporary to the story was “Pride, fullness of food, abundance of idleness and failure to help the poor and needy.” Ezekiel 16:49. Does that sound like a society consumed with sex; or a society consumed with consumerism?

    And Lot offering up his daughters, whether the mob was hetero-, bi- or homo- is sick. Your Bible makes no claim his actions were reprehensible. Looking back at a fire—THAT the Bible claims is worthy of death. Offering up your daughters to be raped and killed--*shrug* the Bible gives little concern.

  14. Flycandler,

    Don’t forget eating ostrich is ALSO an abomination. Lev. 11:16. Where are the sermons about that?

  15. Also, why are the "literalists" so worked up over teaching evolution when there is an even more abominable thing being taught?

    In our sinful, secular schools, children are taught that bats are mammals, not birds!


    "These you shall regard as destestable among the birds. They shall not be eaten; they are an abomination: the eagle, the vulture, the osprey, the buzzard, the kite of any kind, every raven of every kind, the ostrich, the nighthawk, the sea gull, the hawk of any kind, the little owl, the cormorant, the great owl, the water hen, the stork, the heron of any kind, the hoopoe, and the bat" --Lev 13-9 (NRSV)

    These so-called "scientists" have the nerve to point out that bats give live birth to their young and nurse them and have sweat glands. They do not have feathers, neither do they lay eggs.

    BUT THE BIBLE SAYS THEY'RE BIRDS! How can we let this injustice stand?

  16. Dagoods,

    And Lot offering up his daughters, whether the mob was hetero-, bi- or homo- is sick. Your Bible makes no claim his actions were reprehensible.

    Gee, did it have to? Have you ever considered that some things are so obvious they needn't be said. Is a skeptic an intellectual in a wheel-chair needing to be spoon-fed?

    Looking back at a fire—THAT the Bible claims is worthy of death.

    Worthy of death? Ok, angel says don't look back or you'll be "swept away" (Verse 17) what ever that means. She looked back, she died. As Clint Eastwood would, "Worthy ain't got nothing to do with it".

    Offering up your daughters to be raped and killed--*shrug* the Bible gives little concern.

    Here's where the modern parallel is to frightening. We here all day long from non-Christians that we are "indoctrinating our children" by raising them up to be mindful of biblical values. But let your daughters loose in a public school or to watch anything they want on TV and chances are you'll pay a price for the same kind of cultural toxicity described in Genesis 19. You'll be following in Lot's footsteps.

    Lot's daughters were the only shred of uprightness left to poor Lot and he was offering them to a horny mob. That is what the toxic culture does. It chips away at good people and if they are not careful will find parts of their life flying away, out of control.

    Rampant disrespect for others and general perverseness is what Sodom was destroyed for, not homosexuality per se. In the original Hebrew it says that all the people were in on the plan to have sex with Lot's guests, this would include the women as well.

    The scene with Lot's daughters is another great lesson. The daughters have no faith that they will ever meet a man since the hood's been destroyed. So they get Lot drunk and sleep with him. The resulting sons will grow up to be patriarchs of future tribes that cause tons of havoc and grief.

    So much for Lot's daughters' social engineering. Both boys grew up to be jackasses, hurting those around them. The Moabites and Ammonites, their descendants, followed suit.

  17. I have to say - Flycandler - you could literally be a comedian with some of those comments - I am a fan of humor. I also think you are a fairly good portrayal of a living faith in modern times - and I enjoy your wirintgs.

    Sorry Dagoods and BB (and Micah) if I have been coming off a little harsh lately - no good reason for it - just wanted to say I am sorry.

  18. Well, muchas gracias, societyvs. I does aims to please. I do think that one of the most important things in life is to be able to laugh at one's self sometimes.
    Jim, as discussed here, the "sin of Sodom" had nothing to do with sex, according to both Ezekiel and Jesus himself. If nothing else, Lot is treated favorably for being willing to sacrifice his daughters to save the angels. Similarly, the parallel story in Judges 19 appears, in which the men of Gibeah want to have sex with the Levite, but the old man offers his own virgin daughter and the Levite's concubine, and the men went on to "wantonly rape her, and abused her all through the night" to the point where she died the next morning. The primary complaint the Levite brings to the other tribes is that the Benjaminites violated the rules of hospitality and protection of guests that are so crucial to a desert culture.

  19. Jim, as discussed here, the "sin of Sodom" had nothing to do with sex

    Uh-huh. OK.

    Similarly, the parallel story in Judges 19 appears, in which the men of Gibeah want to have sex with the Levite, but the old man offers his own virgin daughter and the Levite's concubine, and the men went on to "wantonly rape her, and abused her all through the night" to the point where she died the next morning.

    Yeah, no sex there. What was I thinking.

  20. Sorry Dagoods and BB (and Micah) if I have been coming off a little harsh lately - no good reason for it - just wanted to say I am sorry.

    Likewise, SocietyVs; I fear I too have been more caustic in my last few comments then I generally like to be, also without particular cause. At least you had the grace to apologize first. :)

  21. Jim, I didn't say there was no sex involved in the stories.

    My point is that JESUS HIMSELF says that the sin of Sodom, what they got the whole hellfire-brimstone treatment for, had nothing to do with the sex.

    Are you saying that Jesus lied now?

  22. Flycandler**My point is that JESUS HIMSELF says that the sin of Sodom, what they got the whole hellfire-brimstone treatment for, had nothing to do with the sex.

    Are you saying that Jesus lied now?

    Jesus on Sodom.

    Check out the link, Fly. Nowhere does Jesus say that the punishment of Sodom had nothing to do with sexual sin. Sexual sin was part of the corruption rampant in Sodom (or was the horny mob acting normally?). What Jesus says is that the Sodomites would have embraced Him more readily than Capernaum, showing how corrupt the Capernaumites were. Your claim is unfounded.

    I wouldn't put words in your savior's mouth.

  23. Yeah, I gotta side with Jim on this one. Just because Ezekiel says Sodom's sin was complacency and arrogance, doesn't mean that this was Sodom's exclusive sin. Indeed, Ezekiel himself rather strongly hints, just one verse prior, that their sins covered more than these.

    From a Biblical perspective, it wouldn't be unreasonable to understand Ezekiel as saying that Sodom's sin of arrogance and lack of concern for the needy was the reason God "handed them over" to the more exotic sins, so he'd have an excuse to destroy them. That'd be so like God (Rom 1:24).

  24. So the stated reason for the destruction of Sodom was not the reason for the destruction of Sodom?

    No wonder atheists think we're muddled.

  25. No, Fly. On this one, atheists think you are muddled. Sexual sin was part of Sodom's "sinventory" (hey, I like that!). But, contrary to Reverend Phelps, homosexuality was not nearly as central as the hateful preacher would like to think. In Genesis 18 the angel of the Lord said that it was being judged because of the cries they've received from the victims of the wicked townspeople. How more contemporary can you get?

    Read Genesis 18 again:

    17 Then the LORD said, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? 18 Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. 19 For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him."
    20 Then the LORD said, "The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous 21 that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know."

    Re-read it carefully. On its face, the Sodom judgment looks like a "fire and brimstone" story exclusively. I believe its giving us a lot of parallels to our culture today.

  26. Jim, sex is not mentioned anywhere in Genesis 18 (other than perhaps Sarah's laugh, but that's part of a different story). You're muddling the order of the narrative. The presumed attempted rape of the angels doesn't happen until chapter 19 AFTER the section you quoted. Again, Ezekiel stated clearly and Jesus echoed that the sin that pushed God over the edge, that made God want to punish Sodom and Gomorrah, had little or nothing to do with sex. It had everything to do with greed and violation of the laws of hospitality. Modern Christians tend to focus on reversing the order of the narrative to make it all about sex, as it makes them less uncomfortable. It's much easier to look down one's nose at the people of Sodom when their punishment results from their being a bunch of homosexuals. It's much harder when the reason for their punishment is something that all of us are guilty of on a regular basis.

    This also brings up Dagoods' initial point, if not a recurring theme: how do we reconcile this angry, petulant God with the All Loving God of the New Testament, who turns back into the angry, petulant God again in time for the Revelation?

  27. Fly**sex is not mentioned anywhere in Genesis 18

    That was part of my point, but the fact that rape and lasciviousness was a part of Sodom's sin is irrefutable. You are applying a different rule; silence equals negation.

    But I agree with you that it was not all about sex. These were a heartless pagan people. Therefore to say it was all about sex is wrong. And to say it was not about sex at all is ALSO wrong. It couldn't be more plain.

    Actually, Dagoods' initial point was, I think.....something like...let me see...oh, yeah..."Does the Bible apply today?" Yes, that was it! :-)

    Merry Christmas to all the atheists, BTW. Enjoy. Watching two Christians dispute the Bible amongst themselves on an atheist website is this year's present.

  28. Fly was upset that I missed this question:
    how do we reconcile this angry, petulant God with the All Loving God of the New Testament, who turns back into the angry, petulant God again in time for the Revelation?

    This is not complicated. I have known several judges in my life. Each is or was a great guy, kind, generous, etc. Only I understand that they weren't pushovers when someone came before the court. Is that schizophrenia or were they doing what they're supposed to, which is hold people accountable?

    God is a great guy to hang out with in both the OT and the NT, but when He holds us to account He is the judge. Bummer, isn't it?

  29. So now God is a schizophrenic?

    Or is it possible, just possible, Jim, that you are projecting your own (human) personality onto God?

  30. So now God is a schizophrenic?

    Hello, McFly...candler!

    Never mind.

  31. We don't sacrifice meat to idols- our idols are self-indulgence, money, “whatever makes you happy”

    We do not live by faith that God will provide, we feel like we can do it ourselves and don’t think twice.

    We call ourselves Christians but we have no idea what that means (you will be known by your love)

    We justify our actions because “I want to and it feels right” (a pedophile could say the same thing)

    Many of the teachings you point out are from the old Testament. God designed a monogamous marriage (Adam and Eve), man perverted it. Christ redefined marriage as monogamous in the New Testament. Christ was the first to point out women's rights.

    If you want to debate these things, then please take a moment to see how true Christ following pastors of today associate these stories. James MacDonald, Chuck Swindoll, etc. It would blow your mind.

    You either have faith or you don't. 24 years I believed in God. One day I came to the realization that I would watch my parents die and no person could always be there for another. I broke down and out of desperation asked God take that away. My life changed immediately. I now pray all the time, I SEE responses. I would give my life tomorrow for Christ and to save even one soul. Now I know why you must have faith first. The proof is in the pudding as the saying goes.

    I don’t say this to put you on the defensive. I see brilliant beautiful souls that have not quite seen the miracle and I wish I could share it with you. I used to use sarcasm to answer everything, then I found something genuine. This life is a battle for souls and as one person put it; we all have eternal life, it’s a matter of where we spend it.