Bible “basher” questioned

THIS excerpt from The West Wing makes a point or two worth considering.

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60 thoughts on “Bible “basher” questioned

  1. I read this at the weekend and God told me to wait; that the opening would come soon to put it on the blog:

    LESBIAN PROFESSOR CHALLENGED BY PERSONAL RESEARCH
    – Challenge July 2013

    Wanting to advance her research post, Rosaria began looking into the Religious Right and the root of hatred against queers like herself.

    “I cared about morality, justice, and compassion,” she says. “Fervent for the world views of Freud, Hegel, Marx, and Darwin, I strove to stand with the disempowered.” She knew that in doing so she would need to confront the Bible head-on. “I launched my first attack on the unholy trinity of Jesus, Republican politics, and patriarchy, in the form of an article in the local newspaper about Promise Keepers,” she says. The article generated such a huge response that she kept two conspicuous boxes on her desk: one for hate mail and one for fan mail. Then one day a letter arrived that seemed to defy her filing system. As she skimmed through, she was surprised to find a kind and inquiring letter from Ken Smith, the pastor of the Syracuse Reformed Presbyterian Church. Rather than the mocking, taunting or arguing tone she was accustomed to, she recalls that his letter asked her to defend the presuppositions that undergirded it.

    At first, she threw the letter away, but his questions continued to plague her mind. Wanting to research his views, she responded to his dinner invitation. That would be the beginning of a deep and unexpected friendship.

    They often discussed sexuality and politics but Rosaria says Ken and his wife Floy did not act as if these conversations were polluting them. “They did not treat me like a blank slate. When we ate together, Ken prayed in a way I had never heard before. His prayers were intimate and vulnerable. He repented of his sin in front of me. He thanked God for all things. Ken’s God was holy and firm, yet full of mercy,” she says.

    She read the Bible from beginning to end numerous times in that first year of meeting Ken but continued to fight the idea that it was inspired by God. “I tried to toss the Bible and all of its teachings in the trash — I really tried,” she says. “But I kept reading it… [for research] to refute the religious right.

    “The Bible got to be bigger inside me than I. I fought against it with all my might. Then, one Sunday morning, I rose from the bed of my lesbian lover, and an hour later sat in a pew at the Syracuse Reformed Presbyterian Church.”

    Rosaria remembers feeling awkward and exposed with her butch haircut but she kept reminding herself that she had come to confront God, not fit in.

    “The image that came in like waves, of me and everyone I loved suffering in hell, vomited into my consciousness and gripped me in its teeth,” she says. “I fought with everything I had. I did not want this. I did not ask for this. I counted the costs. And I did not like the math on the other side of the equal sign.”

    One Sunday Ken preached a compelling sermon on Jesus’ words in John chapter 7, verse 17: “Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.”

    “This verse exposed the quicksand in which my feet were stuck,” she says. “I was a thinker. I was paid to read books and write about them. I expected that in all areas of life, understanding came before obedience. And I wanted God to show me, on my terms, why homosexuality was a sin. I wanted to be the judge, not the one being judged.”

    Rosaria wrestled with whether she really wanted to understand or instead argue with God over His view on homosexuality. Praying throughout the night that God would give her the willingness to obey before she understood, she woke up feeling different. Looking at herself through the lens of the Bible she wondered, “Has this all been a case of mistaken identity?”
    “If Jesus could split the world asunder, divide marrow from soul, could He make my true identity prevail? Who am I? Who will God have me to be?”

    One Sunday, after years of resistance, Rosaria confessed what she knew was true: she was not responsible to herself alone, but, as she says, “The Bible had authority over my life and therefore had the responsibility and entitlement to interrogate me.”

    She prayed to accept Jesus as Lord over her life and made a commitment to live a life that would be pleasing to Him.

    “I was a broken mess. Conversion was a train wreck. I did not want to lose everything that I loved. But the voice of God sang an optimistic love song in the rubble of my world. I weakly believed that if Jesus could conquer death, He could make right my world.”

    In the book she later wrote about her story, titled: The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor’s Journey Into Christian Faith, Rosaria says she “lost everything but the dog.” After the relationship and academic turmoil that resulted from her decision to turn away from the life she had been living, Rosaria has since settled down happily with a loving husband and children.

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      • Rosaria says,

        “I started reading the Bible in earnest regularly, with pen in hand and notebook in lap. I read the way a glutton devours. Slowly and over time the Bible started to take on a life and meaning that startled me. Some of my well-worn paradigms just no longer stuck. I had to at least ponder the hermeneutical claim that this Book is different from all the others because it was inspired by a Holy God and inherently true and trustworthy. And this led me to go through the presuppositional truth claims just to check the math of the logic here, and the logic claims go like this:

        1. If this Book was written by men who were inspired by the Holy Spirit then its admonitions about sin were not applied cultural phobia, which is what I had thought they were. Why? Because God’s goodness, unrestrained by time, anticipates and guards against the ill-treatment of a people group.

        2. If God is the Creator of all things, if the Bible has His seal of truth and power, then the Bible had the right to interrogate my life and culture, not the other way around.

        Even as a post-modern reader I understood the idea that authority can only depend on that which is higher than itself. Who is higher than God I wondered?”

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      • You’re right Monica. She is well worth listening to. I’m at the halfway mark at the moment, and even though it is quite lengthy, have not lost interest, not once.

        A powerful, understanding and compassionate speaker.

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      • Thanks for taking the time to listen to Rosaria’s testimony Kathleen,

        and for your input here.

        Would you believe God has used her testimony to set me free too? No, I’m not a Lesbian, but listening to something she said made me realise that I am not a glutton either. It set me free. Praise God!

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      • I read this today and it makes sense.

        Humility is not about knowing where you belong in a social setting. Nor does it mean ignoring your skills or putting yourself down – that’s false humility.

        Humility has to do with knowing who you are before God. It involves an honest assessment and recognition of our skills, abilities, weaknesses, and even position, and using them for the glory of the Kingdom of God. Humility implies placing God, and God’s will first. It has nothing to do with your status in society. It has everything to do with who you are before God.

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      • Indeed:- ” Slowly and over time the Bible started to take on a life and meaning that startled me.”
        ….as with any other long-running soap-opera.

        The question is: Why are soap-operas do seductive?
        ….and what type of person do they seduce?

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      • “Reinforced confirmation bias can be powerful.”

        No Stu,

        That’s not why I like her testimony.

        Her amazing story; her honest search for truth and the resultant transformation of a heart that is truly given over to God, is such a profound witness to me. She has opened my eyes to spiritual truths and her testimony has encouraged and yes, even empowered me, to overcome the areas of my life where I struggle with sin. If she can walk away from her personhood, her identity and sexual self—it’s like a death isn’t it, well that is POWERFUL!!! That his HUGE. And so, if she, with God’s profound grace, can do what I and others consider to be impossible, literally die to self and overcome what she has, then in the light of Dr. Rosaria Butterfield’s glorious triumph, my own perceived powerlessness and struggle with sin is shown up to be a lie and a farce. Her triumph over sin has exposed the root cause of my defeat; my bondage to sin. It’s not that I can’t overcome, it’s because I won’t!

        It’s a powerful testimony for those who have ears to hear.

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      • So Stu, you don’t believe this lady’s testimony?

        Is that your personally reinforced confirmation bias at work?

        What makes you right and Monica wrong?

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      • Monica and Kathleen – I’ll respond to both of you here. It’s not about whether I am right or whether Monica is. It’s about the cogency of the argument(s) and the evidence brought to bear. It’s confirmation bias because you both start with a premise (homosexuality is a sin because the bible says so) and then look for evidence to support the conclusion you have already made. It’s reinforced because you back each other up, but add nothing substantial when you do so.

        Do I believe Rosaria’s testimony? That’s not the issue. The issue is whether I accept that homosexuality is a sin or not. I’d have to accept that there is such a thing as “sin” in the first place.

        Kathleen goes on to quote Hank Hanegraaf’s article which fallaciously attributes “historical context” to things like slavery and shellfish consumption, as if an omnimax entity would need to concern himself with this level of detail to implement a creation plan. Let me re-(para) phrase the key element of his argument (see first sentence, second para under “Sabbath”): “…America is a democratic republic not a theocracy; thus homosexuality may have had serious ramifications in ancient Israel, but it not a warrant for denying people marriage equality today.”

        And do I have to go into the “insidious” (to use his term) nature of Hanegraaf’s fallacious appeal to psychology and medicine where he suggests that well known STDs are particular to homosexuality?

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      • Look Stu,

        I know what confirmation bias is.

        Do you think I am going to promote a teaching that claims homosexual sex is not a sin? How absurd!

        Sin is sin is sin, whether you, Bryan or anyone else say so or not.

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      • “I know what confirmation bias is.” Good for you, but it’s whether you recognise when you do it that’s the point. BTW, as stated, I was responding to both you and Kathleen in my post.

        “Do you think I am going to promote a teaching that claims homosexual sex is not a sin? How absurd!” When did I ask you to promote anything?

        “Sin is sin is sin, whether you, Bryan or anyone else say so or not.” Hard to know exactly how to respond to this one, but it sure reads like “only my opinion counts”.

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      • Which makes your one word response to me below disengenuous Bryan. It was a two part question after all.

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      • No Stu, you asked Is homosexuality a sin simply because the bible says so? I answered No. If you asked me if I believed homosexuality was a sin I would honestly and simply answer I don’t know for sure. I’m grappling with that one.

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      • Bryan, I understand and respect that you and other Christians have to grapple with the issue. I just think the nuanced response you just gave was more honest than the original “no”, and that my first question “what do you believe” gave you the opportunity to provide this response in the first place.

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      • God bless Dreamweaver for bringing this up.

        Bryan,

        This is the first time I’ve ever suggested this Scripture to anyone else. Usually God gives it to me and only me it seems. I guess I need to keep being reminded, but thanks to Rosaria’s testimony, and Dreamweaver’s faithfulness, I FINALLY get it! YAAY! 😉

        But, I’ve got to share it with you too Bro. If you feel to, please seek God as to what He is trying to show you.

        Proverbs 3:5-6

        5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
        And lean not on your own understanding;
        In all your ways acknowledge Him,
        And He shall direct your paths.

        Love you, Mon

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      • Stu, nobody has any proof. Monica and I base our beliefs on the Bible. Many other people base their beliefs on personal feelings and opinions. There is no biological, substantive proof.

        Besides the Bible, I take into consideration that the body’s sexual organs are primarily made for reproduction. Clinically then, I would say that two people of the same sex are not meant for a sexual relationship.

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      • Stu, I don’t quite understand what your saying here “as if an omnimax entity would need to concern himself with this level of detail to implement a creation plan”

        Is the Bible not detailed?
        Did God not put every effort into explaining to us, what He wants from us?
        Are you saying he just whipped everything up and let us go on our way?

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      • “Stu, nobody has proof.” Kathleen, what proof was I asking for?
        “Many other people base their beliefs on personal beliefs and feelings”. Which of course says nothing about the merits of those feeling and opinions, nor the conclusions reached from them.
        (Paraphrasing here) “Sexual organs primarily for reproduction therefore no same sex sexual relationship”. This is a non-sequitur. Happy to explain why.
        “I don’t understand what you’re saying here”. An omnimax entity refers to an omnipotent, omniscient omibenevolent god.
        “…God made…every effort…” Clearly not given his alleged abilities and the confusion amongst his alleged creations.
        “Are you saying he just whipped everything up…” Where did I imply this?

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      • Kathleen, can you provide some context? Are you asking if I have any supernatural beliefs? Noting of course that you haven’t actually responded to anything in my previous post.

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      • You really are hard work.

        You don’t believe that homosexuality is a sin.
        You don’t believe in sin.
        You don’t believe we should voice our opinion because it is based on the Bible.
        You don’t state what it is that you base your opinion on.

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      • “You really are hard work.” I’ve heard that before. 😉 But I stick to the point and focus my comments accordingly.
        “You don’t believe that homosexuality is a sin. You don’t believe in sin.” True that.
        “You don’t believe we should voice our opinion because it is based on the Bible.” I never said that, and it is utterly false. I just think your opinion should be immune from criticism because it is based on the Bible.
        “You don’t state what it is that you base your opinion on.” Yes, I did. See the third sentence of my post addressed to Monica and yourself at 10.33 this morning.

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      • Since you are good at asking questions of others here are some Questions for you. Are you gay Stu? Are you an atheist? Any atheist with the courage of his convictions should die and let himself be buried without fuss. After all, why make much ceremonial ado about a body that has just passed into Nothing? But in practice, even atheists have a hankering for music and a few well-chosen words. Funny that.

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      • Hi Fiona. “Are you gay Stu? Are you an atheist?” No and yes. Happy to clarify further. Unsure why you see how my funeral arrangements apply to any of the above. Please note I haven’t asked you any questions.

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      • “It’s good to know what your world view is and how it colours your thinking.” Yet you haven’t identified my “world view” or how “it colours” anything I’ve said on this blog.

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      • You revealed your own world view as a proclaimed atheist Stu. And the way it colours your judgement is obvious. How strange it is that you don’t recognise that

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      • Cameron it’s interesting that you think you can determine what my “world view” is because I identify as an atheist and have engaged in a conversation on a particular topic. If Fiona had asked “are you black, are you Baptist” would what “colours” my world view be “obvious” to you?

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      • I’ve been accused of nit-picking from time to time, but can’t see the point of haggling over this topic.
        eg. ” I’m grappling with that one.”
        Why?
        If you’re not ‘One’ why would its ‘sinfulness’ matter to you?
        Of you are ‘One’ then you’ve obviously decided it’s not a ‘sin’ ~ or else, if you think it is, decided to be a sinner (which, apparently, we all are anyway! ~ and just as well!…… REAL sinfulness would lie in depriving god of a job…….or even a reason to exist….wouldn’t it? 😉

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      • Hi Fiona,

        i cant see why a committed atheist should necessarily want to be buried with no comment or fuss or whatever. Sure, he would be taking it for granted that his body would have no concern about the matter. But with his conviction that he has only the one life, he would want his relatives and friends to share a final farewell to him together. Then they could happily recall his friendship and his contributions to their lives as well as to society.

        Rian.

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      • THAT’S: (“I take into consideration that the body’s sexual organs are primarily made for reproduction.”)
        ….very catholic of you, Kathleen.
        Contradicts Genesis though.
        ….and leaves open the question of arms and legs. 😉

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      • …..er, false premise, Fiona:- “even atheists have a hankering for music and a few well-chosen words.”
        As an atheist I can tell you that’s the last thing for which I’d hanker ~ I’d rather be silently, privately recognised for having used every resource at my disposal as effectively as possible, and not having wasted them or myself .

        In an odd way that might even be seen as a religous ambition, I think, though the rednecked Fundies among whom I used to live freaked out when I suggested that, rather than wasting resources on a funeral at all I should be properly butchered, cooked in a piquant cat sauce and served to the unfortunate inmates at an animal shelter..

        Failing that, and if I can pick my time, I intend to prop myself against a tree on a mountain-top offering great views and surrounded by what some might, in awe, call ‘god’s creation’ with a CD player and great speakers preloaded with selections from Mozart, Bellini, Verdi, Beethoven, and perhaps some Neil Diamond and a few others.

        ….and as the sun neared the horizon begin to work my way through a case (or two, to be on the safe side!) of Virgin Hills Red.

        Then I’d spend the night communing with the stars and the eternity from which I’d arrived and to which I was returning (y’couldn’t imagine their effect from a mountain-top).

        ….and when the moment was ‘right’ I’d load a CD of Wagner ‘heroics’ and a shotgun, and wait for the first brilliant, atmosphere-magnified shafts of sunlight to crash over the horizon..

        …….and go to god before the worst possible hangover in all creation hit! 😉

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  2. I haven’t seen this show and I’m a little confused about what points you are illustrating through the clip. Could you explain what’s going on for me?

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    • This.is about knowing why we believe what we believe. The scene comes from the .TV Series The West Wing – where President Bartlet takes a Christian talk show host to task over her position on homosexuality by throwing some challenging Old Testament dilemmas her way.

      According to the President, she’s being quite selective in the things she chooses to believe

      This is not .so much a discussion about homosexuality .as about why people believe what they believe. That’s the main reason I piublished it.

      It perhaps illustrates where much disagreement comes in between Christians.and between Christiians and non Christians.

      .

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      • So basically you’re alluding to what the bible says about being prepared to defend the faith in 1 Peter 3:15 “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you.” I like that Christian apologetics is coming out onto the scene. Your right, anyone concerned about believing in Jesus because they now view it as a liability needs to realize that this school of thought is out there ready to tackle the confusion thrown out there by atheists. Can’t wait to see more Christians take a serious look at the scripture and put a reason behind why God is real and why the world and man needs Him.

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      • Yeahbut….. Whilst homosexuality is only a ‘hook’, it DOES become the issue ~ and ever further-removed from the real question, the ‘solution’ to which becomes inveresly simpler.

        Said ‘disagreements’ never ’emerge’ from such variances: they emerge from an evolution-installed instinct to set up an ‘opposition’ in order to establish status: hence privilege hence access to the best tarts…etc.
        (Note, incidentally, that said tarts are the LEAST interested in such disagreements, and certainly the LEAST ferocious in defence of ‘opinions’ ~ their own or that of another. Their status is decided otherwise.
        (eg. how successfully this approach works:- “..hee-hee! you can talk me into ANYthing….so long as it’s what I want….or think I want…or can be persuaded to want….or …”)

        As pointed out previously:- god created evil because without it he’d have no meaning, and therefore no existence. (Why you lot don’t use that reality to get a better deal is beyond me! 🙂 )
        And ironically demonstrates that god is indeed a male. A female god would do things entirely differently:- they’d benchmark ‘evildoers’ as being those least able to keep up with the last trends in sinfulness! 😉

        Eve wasn’t chosen to succumb by chance!

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  3. Martin Sheen is incorrect in his comparison.

    “Let’s be clear. Even a cursory reading of the Bible would tell you it never says slavery is a “natural condition”. Never. Not once.”

    “We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me. (NIV11)”

    http://matthiasmedia.com/briefing/2013/09/pm-verbals-the-bible/

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    • Indeed?….”“Let’s be clear. Even a cursory reading of the Bible would tell you it never says slavery is a “natural condition”. Never. Not once.”
      How about slavery to your “Lord and Master”?
      You know, the one upon whom you’re entirely dependent for your daily bread, for your life on a moment-to-moment basis, and the ‘salvation’ of your very ‘soul’
      If it walks like a duck…….

      and is convincing, such a slave-master accumulates huge flocks of subservient gooses.

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    • I think this is getting a little confused. It was Kevin Rudd who said the Bible sees slavery as a natural condition, not Martin Sheen..

      Just for clarification. this is what Martin Sheen said in The West Wing:

      “.I wanted to ask you a couple of questions while I had you here. I’m interested in selling my youngest daughter into slavery as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. She’s a Georgetown sophomore, speaks fluent Italian, always cleared the table when it was her turn. What would a good price for her be?

      While thinking about that, can I ask another? My Chief of Staff Leo McGarry insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly says he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or is it okay to call the police?

      Here’s one that’s really important ’cause we’ve got a lot of sports fans in this town: Touching the skin of a dead pig makes one unclean. Leviticus 11:7. If they promise to wear gloves, can the Washington Redskins still play football? Can Notre Dame? Can West Point?

      Does the whole town really have to be together to stone my brother John for planting different crops side by side?

      Can I burn my mother in a small family gathering for wearing garments made from two different threads?”

      .

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      • Glad to hear that Bryan (I’m going to assume that you dont think it is a sin at all). Its a shame a couple of regulars to this blog cant see the hypocrisy of the whole biblical inerrancy thing.

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      • Oh never mind Stu,

        I feel sorry for you too. 😉

        “The method of the New Testament authors (and Jesus as well) when dealing with spiritual truth was to appeal to the Scriptures as the final rule of authority. Take the temptation of Christ in Matthew 4 as an example. The Devil tempted Jesus, yet Jesus used the authority of scripture, not tradition, nor even His own divine power, as the source of authority and refutation. To Jesus, the Scriptures were enough and sufficient. If there is any place in the New Testament where the idea of extra-biblical revelation or tradition could have been used, Jesus’ temptation would have been a great place to present it. But Jesus does no such thing. His practice was to appeal to scripture. Should we do any less having seen his inspired and perfect example? Since the Bible is the final authority, we should look to it as the final authenticating and inerrant source of all spiritual truth.”

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      • Yes Mon.
        Except, of course (““The method of the New Testament authors (and Jesus as well) when dealing with spiritual truth was to appeal to the Scriptures as the final rule of authority. “.)
        …….in Matthew 5 and a few other places.

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    • I should have said that both Mr. Rudd and Mr. Sheen’s character…

      This man words it better than I ever could.

      “In his diatribe, President Bartlet tries to show that if we accept the Scriptures as the authority on the moral invalidity of homosexuality, we must also apply to ourselves in contemporary America everything Moses required of ancient Israel; but upholding every one of Moses’ laws, when fleshed out with particular examples, seems absurd. The tacit but obvious conclusion is that the outdated Scriptures provide no authoritative or relevant guidance for our lives today in the post-Christian, postmodern world. The TV president’s reasoning, however, is fallacious in two main ways. First, he fails to read the Mosaic texts in light of their proper historical context, especially in relation to their fulfillment in Jesus Christ, so as to miss a fundamental teaching of Scripture that some biblical laws are enduring universal moral principles while others are injunctions reserved for application within a particular historical context. Second, he commits one or more fatal factual errors in every premise of his argument.”

      -The distinction between clean and unclean animals symbolized the distinction between that which was holy and that which was unholy within the context of a theocracy. As we have already noted, however, the ceremonial symbolism of the law was fulfilled in Christ, who makes the unclean clean. As Scripture thus declares, we are not to “call anything impure that God has made clean” (Acts 10:15).9

      The president’s final attempt to invalidate Dr. Laura’s appeal to Scripture as an authority on the moral status of homosexuality involves the biblical injunction against seeding “different crops side by side” and sewing garments together “from two different threads.”

      Scripture simply uses the object lessons of seeding crops and sewing clothes to illustrate the spiritual and social distinctions between the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of light. The mixing of different things was associated with the syncretistic pagan practices that Israel was to avoid. Scripture thus provides myriad illustrations to underscore the principle of undivided loyalty. In Deuteronomy, for example, the Israelites were commanded not to plow with an ox and a donkey yoked together (22:10). Paul, writing to the Corinthians, uses this common sense principle to underscore the fact that as a donkey and an ox do not work together synergistically in the process of plowing, so too a believer and an unbeliever do not harmonize well in the process of living. Paul thus says, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?” (2 Cor. 6:14–15).

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  4. If the ‘President’s’ point is simply that the doctor should not use the Bible as a hateful weapon against people, then I agree with him.

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    • And it can be used as a hateful weapon against others. It’s wonderful to see the greater use now being made of it to encourage tolerance and love, whether you believe it’s God’s personal word for you or not.

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      • Tolerance and love does not mean changing the Bible’s meaning. A sin is still a sin, but it needs to be dealt with in love.

        In Monica’s video, the Pastor didn’t berate the woman, calling her unholy, an abomination. Nor did he try to convert her with inviting her to church etc. He just befriended her with love. She then read the Bible, allowed it to enter her heart and God changed her.

        Obviously that can happen, whether people choose to accept it or not.

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      • Using the Bible as a weapon against non-believers is wrong.
        Being disrespectful to the Bible and it’s followers is also wrong.

        I reacted to Martin Sheen because I felt his character through the writer Sorkin, was being condescening and a bully. Revenge is wrong.

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  5. Is sexuality a sin? Depends on how it’s used, I would think.
    Is homosexuality a sin? Ditto.
    Is anything a sin? Maybe ditto too!
    🙂

    Like

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