Tag Archives: sin

Homosexuality and the Bible

homosexuality

St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland. Circa 1191.

It remains unclear as to why this is such a volatile subject today. Scripture is clearly against homosexuality. It has not changed since its writing a millennium ago, and it will be the same centuries from now. There is no gray area. It is specific and it is clear. It’s discussed in both Old [Leviticus 20:13, Genesis 19:5, Leviticus 18:22], and New Testaments [Romans 1:26-27, 1 Timothy 1:10]. If someone doesn’t believe or follow scriptural teachings, they can simply elect to ignore it [Revelation 22:11].

Yet, this very subject sends many in the Western world into a frenzy of unbridled and unhinged hatred, bordering insanity, and far too many Christians into apology. The only thing Christians should apologize for is allowing the modern world to dictate what their belief should be.

For a movement, such as the pro-gay movement, which is supposed to be all about liberation and empowerment, it is apparently peopled by those so fragile and delicate as to be offended by others simply stating they don’t understand it, or they support “traditional marriage.” It is ridiculous that so much of society is so dependent upon permission from others for their own lifestyles. It is likewise absurd that so many adults are really so easily offended (by anyone perceived as remotely anti-gay), when we sexualize our children as soon as they enter school. The bizarrely disproportioned priorities are just one symptom of a highly secularized society.

It’s apparently permissible for scripture to take a firm stance against heterosexual fornication and adultery [Leviticus 18:20, Deuteronomy 22:22, 1 Corinthians 5:1, Proverbs 6:32, Exodus 20:14, 1 Corinthians 7:1-40], but if you happen to engage in such behavior with someone of the same gender, it’s somehow supposed to be different. Modern society is a fine display of the wavering, the lukewarm, and often the foolish.

Homosexuality during biblical times was not widely practiced, which is why it doesn’t have a great deal of attention. It’s often just included with most other behavior forms considered “sexual deviancy.” While practiced since ancient times, it was always rare until modern times. The Native Americans of the Southeastern United States had no word for or concept of sodomy until Europeans came. Despite laws against homosexuality in America from its early days, no notable events happened until around 1903 when a bathhouse raid was conducted in New York City.

Popular culture wants to mainstream the practice for a number of reasons. The most obvious being that “pro-gay” is a boon for both businesses and politicians. Businesses see a number of financial and PR benefits for making such declarations. A variety of sources has reported on the blatant commercialization of homosexuality for some time. This article from NBC business in 2012, Insight Business, and this doesn’t count the tremendous number of “pro-gay” and “anti-gay” content out there featuring businesses that do or don’t support gay marriage.

It harkens back to the 1960s when so many stores ran “now serving colored,” signs. Companies that come out as “pro-gay” It should be a shame for our society to return to such exploitative tactics. Politicians know voters are divided on the issue and it’s a common ruse to distract from much more pressing matters.

As with many aspects of life, and certainly most of what scripture cautions us against, homosexuality is a high-risk lifestyle [http://www.cdc.gov/lgbthealth/]. Scripture certainly doesn’t stop with homosexuality, it also speaks against incest [Leviticus 20:12, 1 Corinthians 5:1, Deuteronomy 27:20-23 ], polygamy [Leviticus 20:14, Deuteronomy 17:17, 1 Corinthians 7:2, 1 Kings 11:3, Matthew 19:4-6, Leviticus 18:18], prostitution [Deuteronomy 23:17-18, Leviticus 19:29, 1 Corinthians 6:15, Proverbs 23:27-28], and child abuse [Luke 17:2, Mark 9:42, Ephesians 6:4].

Heterosexual failings are no better or worse than homosexual failings, which is often lost today. Adultery and fornication both go against laws God made and both are unnatural institutions. Is homosexuality an abomination according to scripture? Yes, it is.

“If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” -Leviticus 20:13

It should also be stressed that is not the only abomination in the bible:

“There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.” -Proverbs 6:16-19

 

 

The Devil’s… Music?

music

Christ Cathedral Church in Oxford, England. Circa 1200.

Ascribing music with morality, either good or bad, has followed us from the ancient world. Ever since war drums, pipes, and other instruments were played to signal war, man has struggled with music forms he considered “evil.” To the realist, music is nothing more than notes played in a specific rhythm. To the idealist, music is beauty and grace that envelopes us.

First, what does scripture say about music?

“Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!” -Psalm 95:1

“Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody!” -Psalm 98:5

“And whenever the harmful spirit from God was upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand. So Saul was refreshed and was well, and the harmful spirit departed from him.” -1 Samuel 16:23

“I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.” -Psalm 13:6

“They sing to the tambourine and the lyre and rejoice to the sound of the pipe.” -Job 21:12

Nowhere does is say what the music should sound like, but one thing is certain. Music is associated with happiness, jubilation, and even exorcism in 1 Samuel. So, how does music become “evil” in the modern world?

First, it should be reiterated that “evil” music is not a modern invention at all. For centuries, the violin was considered the devil’s instrument. In history, Nero was said to play the fiddle while Rome burned. He didn’t, but the emotion violin music incited was met with fear and terror, much like electric guitars in the Twentieth Century.

Music only becomes dark when humans manipulate it in such a way. Most people who declare a music form “evil” only do so to forms they don’t like anyway. It’s much easier to declare freeform jazz to be evil, when you aren’t a fan. Perhaps the better statement is that what we see as “dark” is only in our mind in the majority of music. Of course, this is not to say there are no Satanic or evil songs, for there are artists today who openly and vocally declare their music is deliberately created to be “evil.” Those are excluded from this conversation.

Someone else may not have that perception of a song at all. What you may see as chaotic and oppressive, another person may see as liberating or empowering. We likewise can’t go by lyrics because the lyrics are virtually inaudible in much of the music out there.

Rock and heavy metal received the brunt of this lambast during the 1980s, to the delight of record companies. They truly went above and beyond to promote and perpetuate the public fear. Many Christians believed they were performing a public service by highlighting the lyrics that glorified drugs and promiscuity. What they didn’t do, since most didn’t listen to rock anyway, is point out the equal (or worse) negative connotations found in the music they actually listened to, easily found in pop or country. Songs here are used for reference, not necessarily to condemn the artists. For example, here’s a look at country music:

“Heaven’s just a sin away oh oh just a sin away. Heaven help me when I say I think I’m giving in.” -Kendalls

“On a mission to make something happen. Feel like Delilah lookin’ for Samson. Do a little mattress dancin’. That’s right I said mattress dancin’.” -Dixie Chicks

“Cowboys are frequently secretly fond of each other. What did you think those saddles and boots was about? There’s many a cowboy who don’t understand the way that he feels towards his brother. Inside every cowboy there’s a lady who’d love to slip out.” –Willie Nelson

“Give me weed instead of roses. Bring me whiskey instead of wine.” -Ashley Monroe

The lyrics just in the songs referenced above cover everything from sex to drugs. Again, these examples are used, not to condemn the artists, but to point out that no musical genre outside of inspirational can say it does not condone or celebrate what is against scripture.

Even bluegrass, as genteel and harmless as it’s regarded, can’t shrug off moral reproach with songs that glorify a number of evils, from murder to alcohol abuse.

Christians would have been better served to consider the situation, as opposed to shoveling out judgment. While the “Satanic Panic,” was a boon to the recording industry, it did great harm to Christianity as a whole. It is tangible proof that good intentions are meaningless without substance. The practice of Christian websites today of rehashing those old scare tactics are likewise detrimental to the faith.

Conclusion

God does not give us a spirit of fear and we have to question the source of anyone promoting fear. We can’t judge someone’s salvation because he or she is a musician, or any other artist, and it’s not our place to do so. We do not know where God has placed them or for what purpose, and that is none of our business. We don’t have that authority.

We can point out what’s offensive, cite the reasons why, and allow others to come to their own opinion. Above all, we should thoroughly research what we believe to be offensive before taking any action. It’s currently unknown how many people have been eternally lost because a well-meaning Christian rushed to judgment and pushed them farther from Christ. We should sum up the majority of the music controversies by saying, if you don’t like it, don’t listen to it. If you don’t want your kids to hear it, don’t let them listen.

 

 

The Human Animal… Without the Animal

animal

St. Mary’s Abbey, York, England. Circa 1055 AD.

One of the most common realms of misinformation today deals with human relationships. Primarily, society’s willful and hilarious idea that humans are naturally promiscuous. It would be amusing were it centuries ago, but this is something currently in popular culture. What’s even worse, this has even permeated the ranks of our academia. What does it say about our modern, sophisticated society? Not what we would like, and certainly nothing modern or sophisticated.

 

Natural Truths

We know tobacco is hazardous to our health. It has been blamed with respiratory and cardiovascular afflictions for over a century. Even chewing tobacco has been linked with a variety of oral cancers and gum diseases. As a result, we discourage and often prohibit tobacco use.

We are aware that obesity is a direct result of overeating or a poor diet. Obesity leads to high blood pressure, diabetes, and even some forms of cancer. We encourage one another to eat wholesome foods and consume fatty or rich foods in moderation. We know exercise is also necessary to maintain health. As a result, we have an entire subculture focused on healthy lifestyles.

We have no problem discussing the health risks associated with alcohol. It impairs judgment and is commonly fatal when combined with driving or heavy machinery. Alcohol usage leads to liver disease, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.

Nature has also equipped the human body with immediate, natural deterrents against excess in these areas. Overeating results in lethargy, nausea, or even vomiting. Excessive tobacco use results in persistent coughing and dry throat. Alcohol abuse results in a “hangover” or the feelings of extreme sickness the morning after the indulgence. Our culture has no problem in agreeing with nature on these issues, and scripture does as well.

Our issue is that the society willfully and ignorantly ignores logic and reason when it comes to sex. We want the human body to be promiscuous even when nature repeatedly proves no such capacity exists. We have ignored social data, statistics, crime rates, health rates, and all manner of scientific evidence to the contrary. Of course, popular culture blames “religious constructs” or “social tradition” for what is just natural: monogamy.

 

Truth of Modern Myth

We can’t consume foods like animals without severe illness or death. Dogs can devour decomposing carcasses without harm. Pigs can live in their own fecal material and never become ill, whereas humans can contract a variety of horrific diseases like cholera and typhoid with even microscopic contact. Humans are not able to walk around without some kind of covering, as we don’t have fur, hide, or an exoskeleton. Yet, we are supposed to have sexual relationships like animals, which is completely unsupported outside the human mind.

It should be no more controversial or provocative than the health statements listed above, yet it is. It is uncertain if the ignorance is deliberate or genuine. Nature throws terminal, incurable STDs at us every time we find a cure for the last. For example, syphilis struck fear into the hearts of humanity for centuries, and with good reason. Just a couple of decades after we found a cure for syphilis, humanity suffered with the emergence of HIV/AIDS. Animals do not have that worry.

Humans require eighteen years to raise their offspring. In the animal world, that’s several lifetimes over for the majority of animals. Animal offspring seldom need two parents, yet our science has proven children flourish best with two parents. Likewise, animal offspring aren’t permanently damaged from a traumatic childhood. Millions of adults across the world are currently dealing with damage inflicted upon them in childhood. This doesn’t even take into consideration the psychological damage bad relationships have on fellow adults or the struggle men and women experience in the course of one marriage, involving only two adults.

It begs the question as to why our society is so enslaved to one of the human body’s basic functions. That is the extent of the act. Alone, sex is no more educational or meaningful than any other basic body function. A meaningful experience must involve love, and to be morally acceptable, it must be within the bonds of marriage.

The fact is our society is hypersexed to the point of dysfunction. No amount of flesh is enough. Television and movies need to reveal more and more of the actors’ bodies than plot. We’ve convinced ourselves that humans need to sexually experiment to “grow,” despite overwhelming evidence of how careless sexual activity causes irreparable damage in many ways. We fabricate countless myths, misconceptions, and outright lies to justify the insatiable hunger. Promiscuity is “natural” because some man did it 1,000 years ago, yet we omit the fact that many women of those times were forced via arranged marriages and slavery. Sadly, many adults today look to those purveyors of perversity to support their current lifestyle.

When doctors are recommending parents vaccinate their children against an STD (Human papillomavirus), there is something amiss. Promiscuity is linked to a variety of cancers in men and women, HIV/AIDS, unwanted pregnancy, psychological problems, sexual dysfunction, and non-fatal STDs (although some remain incurable). In extreme situations, people have sexually abused their bodies to the point that they no longer have a normal libido and require external sources just to become excited.

 

In Scripture

So, didn’t the men referenced in the Old Testament have many wives? Yes, they did. This crutch is often utilized by many in an attempt to morally justify their own appetites. We also see the horrible lives and horrific events suffered by those in Old Testament days because of disobedience. This is what scripture states:

“And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, ‘Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?’ He answered, ‘Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”-Matthew 19:3–6

It is important to note the numeric terms used: one husband and one wife. Not one husband and four or five wives, or vice versa.

“However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” -Ephesians 5:33

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. You shall not set your desire on your neighbor’s house or land, his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” -Deuteronomy 5:21

A man can’t love two women, or a woman two men, without compromising what scripture supports. It does not say four or five shall become one flesh, just two.

Women were property across the globe during Old Testament days. They were things to accumulate, like cars or houses. They were status symbols to validate a man’s wealth. It is astounding that we call ourselves “sophisticated” or even “intelligent” and attempt to promote the same dehumanizing beliefs used millennia ago.

 

Conviction

conviction

Glastonbury Abbey in Somerset, England. The old structure was founded in the 7th Century.

This term is most common for its legal ramifications. In simple terms, a conviction is a successful prosecution in a court of law. When you are convicted, the court has decided you are indeed guilty for the crime you’ve been accused of committing.

In spiritual terms, “conviction” carries much of the same meaning. This is used to describe an innate sense of guilt or culpability. Both non-believers, and former believers, can endure these feelings of guilt or negativity when reminded of their current spiritual state.

Many seemingly intelligent people go into irrational fits of rage when faced with anything religious, be it a message or simply a religious icon. One thing is certain, any glimpse or hint of the spiritual sends them into an outright panic. Many of these same individuals can develop what appears to be outright hysteria just from glimpsing a plaque of the Ten Commandments.

One recent example of this is the irrational and unwarranted backlash is regarding a film titled God’s Not Dead.

Note: This is not a film review and does not contain spoilers (but many of the reviews do). Likewise, it is not an endorsement for the film which none at the Scholar of Christ has viewed. It is cited exclusively because of the tone and animosity in the reviews at the IMDB website.

The reviews are perfect examples of rampant spiritual conviction.

First and foremost, the title is God’s Not Dead, which alone implies the film will be about the belief in God. This also implies it is written by those who believe in God. We can read such a title, and know with relative certainty it will be a spiritual movie related to Christianity, as the title does not use Allah, Vishnu, or Buddha. We do not assume it is a film about terrorists, natural disasters, secret agents, fraternity exploits, ghosts, vampires, or the drama surrounding lost loves. Evidently, the title said something altogether different for many of those viewers.

The irate reviews are typical, citing everything from, “they’re using a straw man argument,” to “it’s religious propaganda!” It is no surprise at all because desperate people (who’ve taken Debate 101) usually try to throw around miscellaneous logical fallacy accusations to the point that any opposition is unable to reply in any way. This is, in essence, a “cheating” technique used to silence opposition.

This is to be expected when people face a “God” who is not the modern, celebrity version. Those in the secular world today want God to be a politically correct conformist.  Religion is a hobby, not practiced for any other reason than to make one feel good about oneself. They don’t want to acknowledge any faith that might have commandments or guidelines. Many people today don’t even like to read God’s word, instead they envision a god who bends and bows to their arbitrary whims.

Christians have been portrayed as everything from stupid, to downright evil, for decades, and yet when a movie emerges that reverses the roles, many go ballistic for no other reason than the production has broken the status quo. They were convicted by watching the film, and their often-bizarre reaction is proof. In most of the reviews, the usual movie qualities aren’t reviewed at all. Not the acting, writing, script, effects, setting, or production, it was simply the message that went against the grain of what is typical.

What is Evil?

evil

Bayeux Cathedral in Normandy, France. Constructed around 1077.

Evil is a subject most people don’t like to consider, but it’s a valid concern in the Christian life. Much of popular culture in the world around us regards any attention to the presence of evil as somehow detrimental. An awareness of evil is “antiquated” or the product of fear. Do such inattention, indifference, and apathy render the negativity harmless? Or does it actually allow the force to gain strength and spread?

 

Context

Our entire universe is a compilation of opposites. For light, there is darkness. Gravity surrounds objects, while the vast emptiness of space lacks any gravitational pull. Since we do have so many positive elements to the universe, kindness, selflessness, and empathy, it’s only logical for there to be an opposite, which would be the force of evil.

When a government detects a threat, they investigate. It doesn’t matter what type of threat it is, a simple verbal “bomb threat” will be investigated and pursued as aggressively and as thoroughly as an actual explosion. Does this make that government one of cowardice for maintaining a proactive position? Would such a government be unreasonable or “hysterical” for seeking intelligence on an adversary? Not at all.

The same principal applies to people and such forces as evil. In the theater of battle, you fight an enemy with knowledge and strategy just as much as any physical force or brute strength. The Christian’s fight may not be against a flesh-and-blood adversary, but it is indeed a battle.

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” -Ephesians 6:12

Just as the lines separating good and evil have become blurred through time, we see the lines blurred in modern media. The only way to fight evil is via Christianity, but Christianity has become the villainous force, as seen in so many films and television series. There’s no such thing as “evil,” just religious fanaticism.

We can blame modern society for such a shift, but in reality, it’s to be expected. A typical serial killer enjoys the fear and panic he creates, but he doesn’t actually want to be apprehended. A serial theif may enjoy thwarting modern commercial or residential security systems, but doesn’t want to be jailed. Similarly, evil does not want to be noticed. It prefers subtly and reinforces the notion that humans are the only source of evil in the universe. It reassures that there is no such thing as a devil, demons, or negativity beyond the human element. It can’t spread and infect among those who anticipate it, or who see what it is.

 

What is Evil?

In our vastly secular Western world, the concept of evil beings or their destruction may seem like fodder for a cheesy film. Unfortunately, this contemporary notion leaves a sizable portion of the population simply vulnerable to such forces.

Evil is not cartoon red devils or staged theatrics from horror films. It isn’t even human defiance or excess, although both can play a part. Evil is destruction, confusion, chaos, and fear. Above even those qualities, it is insatiable, a parasitic infection that will stop at nothing to locate new hosts to destroy.

There are vengeful spirits in many parts of Asia called “hungry ghosts.” They are said to be the spirits of the departed who died in extreme want of food, money, or something else. According to their lore, these spiritual beings have lost all sense of earthly reason or whatever humanity they once held. Now, they exist only to consume. The consumption, however, is never-ending, just as sin and evil. Both are never-ending hungers and both only have the capacity to spread. Why does evil target humans? Because angels aren’t in the flesh, although evil does tempt angels as it did during Lot’s time*. Angelic beings are not subject to the same weaknesses creatures are who live in the flesh.

* “And they called to Lot, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.'” -Genesis 19:5

Evil can only spread because it can’t be fulfilled, satiated, or appeased. It will never know contentment or gratification. It can only spread its malcontent to as many as possible.

 

Conclusion:

Evil is a spiritual parasite that can only be warded off via awareness and knowledge. In opposition to popular assumption, Christians do not fear evil and have no reason to. They’re simply more aware of it. Awareness does not give negativity power, ignorance does. Ignoring evil doesn’t remove its power any more than ignoring a virus removes its capacity to infect. The evil in the world existed long before any of us were born and has had no regard for what we did or didn’t believe at any point.

Lastly, evil is not about the individual. The human race has an arrogant and self-centered perception of evil. It’s a force that wants you to embrace sin, not solely because it’s immoral or against scripture, but because the embrace will destroy others through your actions or choices.

For example, the force would want a man in a bar to overindulge, but not just to get him intoxicated. Because he’s driving home and will hit a minivan filled with people. The tragedy resulting from that collision will follow the van occupants for the rest of their lives, as well as land the drunkard in prison. In this scenario, a number of lives have already been terminally devastated by a single form of sin that only lasted a few hours.

It would want a wife to engage in an extramarital affair, not solely because it’s immoral, but because it would destroy her spouse and children. Her children will grow up in a broken home and suffer the traumatic effects of that instability for decades. Two out of three will see chronic divorces in adulthood and one of the three will become a substance abuser.

There’s very little we do, in regards to sin, that will not affect others, and often it’s many others. Evil is indeed a parasite, but it holds very little threat to those who know its purpose and its presence.