Old Testament Sexual Regulations

As I read through the Old Testament I can’t help being surprised by the sexual regulations of the Hebrew people. I also can’t help thinking, I’m sure glad I didn’t live back then!

Here is some of what I discovered:

If a father gave his daughter for marriage and claimed she was a virgin, but the new husband claimed she turned out not to be a virgin, the girl’s parents had to produce a bed cloth with blood on it (from the consummation) to prove her virginity. If they could not, the daughter would be stoned to death at the door of her father’s house.
Presumably, the bride was killed and not her father since it was possible he didn’t know.

There was no virginity test for men; however, if it was discovered that a man slept with a virgin, he then had to pay the bride price to her father and marry her. If the father disapproved of the man, he could forbid the marriage but still collect the bride price. If a father knew his daughter was not a virgin, he would have to tell this to suitors and he would charge a lower bride price since few men would want to marry her. (As in many other cultures, virgins were prized. When the Hebrew army destroyed the Midianites, they killed all of the men, boys, and married women but kept the virgins.)

It was illegal for a father to force his daughter into prostitution; however, it was not illegal for a Hebrew woman who had been widowed or divorced to become a prostitute (unless she was the daughter of a priest) or for a Hebrew man to sleep with a prostitute. (It was forbidden for Hebrew men or women to become temple prostitutes.)

Hebrew men could sleep with their female slaves since they owned them, but if a Hebrew man slept with a slave who had been acquired for another man, he would be punished for the offense, but not killed since it was a slave.

Sleeping with a married or betrothed (free) woman would result in death for both the man and the woman. If a betrothed woman were raped in the city, both the woman and the rapist would be put to death unless the woman cried out for help. If it happened in the countryside, only the man would be put to death since there would be no one around to hear the cry and rescue the woman.

Old Testament law forbade incest, bestiality, and homoerotic sex but not polygamy.

Coveting vs. Wanting

My neighbor has nice things and I want nice things too–is that coveting?
By Keith Rawlinson
Volunteer Budget Counselor

Thou shalt not covet.

I think that just about every adult American has heard of the ten commandments found in the book of Exodus in the Holy Bible. Exodus 20:17 says that we shall not covet. From time to time, I deal with people in counseling who misunderstand this verse. Many people seem to think that this commandment means that it is wrong to want things that people around you have. Well, its not necessarily true. It is all right to want things that people around you have–it is not all right to covet. That takes us to the core of the issue: what does it mean to covet? Please keep in mind that this discussion is my own opinion on the matter, but scripture and life in general seem to support me.

What coveting does not mean.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary gives us two definitions for the word covet:

1 : to wish for earnestly.
2 : to desire what belongs to another inordinately or culpably.

The first definition, to wish for earnestly, is where most people get off track. Earnestly means: strongly or with great emotion. Thus, many people think that if you see something that belongs to your neighbor, or anyone else for that matter, and you want the same for yourself very, very badly, you are then coveting. Can this really be what God had in mind? If you see a couple with a strong, loving marriage and you want that with your spouse, is that coveting? If you know someone who has worked hard and become successful, and you want to do the same, is that coveting? Here’s a good one: if an unsaved person sees a Christian who has peace in his life from a close relationship with Christ, is it coveting if the unsaved person wants the same for himself? Of course not! All of the situations I just presented are good things; therefore, that first definition of covet can’t be what God had in mind.

What coveting does mean…

To read the article in its entirety, click here: http://eclecticsite.com/coveting.html

Obeying & Disobeying God

Why do Christians obey God?

Obedience to God is sometimes motivated solely by fear and duty. And while this sort of motivation isn’t wrong, it does demonstrate a lack of knowledge and trust in God. As our knowledge and trust grow, we find that our primary motivation for obedience becomes gratitude. And as it grows even more, our primary motivation is the realization that obeying God is always in our long-term best interest.*

Those who realize obeying God is always in their long-term best interest will be the most successful with putting to death the deeds of the flesh and living a life characterized by holiness and righteousness.

With fear & duty, gratitude, and the knowledge that obedience is always in our long-term best interest motivating us to be righteous, why do we still sin?

Continue reading

Any Wesleyan Presbyterians out there?

I used to consider myself an Arminian, but about 5 years ago I moved into the Molinist camp; as a result, I find that I have a new appreciation for Reformed preaching.

It seems to me, Reformed pastors like John Piper, Tim Keller, John McArthur, and Kevin DeYoung take exegesis and biblical scholarship more seriously than than most Arminian pastors I have listened to.

While I see Arminians as generally more loving, I think they are more prone to eisegesis and more likely to be influenced by mysticism.

I think both camps struggle with balance when it comes to God’s sovereignty and human free will, but minimizing human free will as the Reformed do seems less sacrilegious than minimizing God’s sovereignty as Arminians tend to do.

So, I’m a bit of an anomaly. I currently attend a wonderful non-denominational church in the Bible belt, but I sometimes feel that a dose of Presbyterian preaching every now and then is good for my soul. The fact that I disagree with Presbyterians on all 5 of the points of Calvinism (TULIP) makes this truly ironic and amusing! 😉

Advice for Christian Singles

It’s always dangerous for a married person to write anything about struggles associated with being single, but I’m going to take a stab at it for a few reasons: One, I think a lot of advice being given by Christian leaders to Christian singles is ridiculous. Two, I was 28 when I got married so I do know something about this subject. And three, my kids are getting older so this topic is something that I have to think about again.

The specific struggle I’m going to address is dealing with sexual desires. Here’s the problem:

a. God designed humans so the sex drive kicks in for most people around the age of 12.
b. In our culture, most people first get married in their mid to late 20’s.
c. Sex before marriage is forbidden.

So what should we tell Christian singles?

Well, the apostle Paul’s advice was “get married,” but that’s easier said than done. Especially if you are a bit picky and want to marry a godly person that you are attracted to. (I hope this is the case!) There are a lot of people who would like to get married and can’t find a suitable/interested partner. And there are others who are “burn[ing] with passion,” but they’d really like to finish their education before getting married.

So, again, what should we tell Christian singles?

Christian websites and books give conflicting advice, but here are some of their recommendations:

  • Tell them to just say “No.” The Holy Spirit will give them the power they need to resist the temptation to have sex. (Saying a pledge and wearing a purity ring will help remind them to say “no” when they are feeling weak.)
  • Tell them about STD’s and pregnancy and let them know that sleeping with someone before marriage will probably ruin their life and could kill them.
  • Remind them that they are Christians and sexual sin is about the very worst sin in God’s eyes since unlike other sins, sexual immorality is a sin against your own body, which belongs to the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:18-19).
  • Tell them that if they develop a strong enough love for God by praying, reading their Bibles, and going to church, they will find that He will satisfy all of their desires.
  • Tell them to ask God in prayer to remove or at least lessen their sex drive.
  • Remind them that Christ was treated brutally and then died for them, so remaining a virgin isn’t really asking that much.
  • Tell them that virginity is one of the most precious gifts God entrusted us with, and it can only be given once so it must be reserved for the one person God intended it for.
  • Remind them that God sees everything, and tell them disobeying God will disappoint Him (and possibly make Him angry). And if this sin is ever found out, it will also disappoint their parents, people in the church, and their friends.
  • Tell them that sex before marriage will negatively impact their future marriage (if they get married).
  • Tell them to pray for strength and wisdom, to avoid, as best they can, things that cause them to be sexually aroused and, if necessary, to masturbate when the tension becomes unbearable.

So now we’ve reached the end of the blog where I’m supposed to give my sage advice. Ready? What should Christian leaders tell singles struggling with their God-given sexual desires?

I don’t really know.

I think some of the advice above is decent and I think some of it is stupid. And while I firmly believe sex should only be with the person you will spend your life with as husband and wife, I do know this is an extremely difficult issue and silly Christian platitudes aren’t helpful.

What do you think?

War Room Pt. 2

About 3 weeks ago, I wrote a short post sharing my impression of the movie War Room. But something has been nagging me about the movie since seeing it; I just couldn’t put my finger on it. I left the theater thinking something just didn’t make sense.

Well it just occurred to me: In the movie plot, it was the knowledge that his wife was praying for him that caused the husband to repent. He walked into her cleared out closet and saw her prayer requests on the wall, and after reading them, he felt remorse.

If a movie about the power of prayer is going to hinge on a husband seeing a note written by his wife, why didn’t she just write down her feelings in a letter or email and send it to him?

Now you could certainly argue that the wife never would have written the prayer lists if God hadn’t changed her heart through the course of prayer. And I think that’s true, but the implication throughout the movie was that you should pray and not attempt to resolve the problems in your life because that would be getting in God’s way.

Although their marriage was falling apart, the wife never approached her husband to talk about her concerns because she was told by Miss Clara to stay out of God’s way.

I have three problems with this philosophy:

  1. It’s not biblical.
  2. It fails to recognize God’s sovereignty by assuming we could get in God’s way and prevent him from achieving his purposes.
  3. Although it sounds spiritual, it actually promotes spiritual immaturity since it causes believers to think that their problem will all disappear if they just pray. (I realize God could remove all of our problems after we pray, but this is not how God typically operates.)

I suspect after the making of Fireproof, someone close to the Kendrick brothers said, “Fireproof was all about reconciling a broken relationship by doing good things, but shouldn’t prayer have been emphasized over good works?”

Although both Fireproof and War Room deal with the same topic, I’d choose Fireproof over this new movie.. Even though the acting and writing in Fireproof was painful at times, the theology was less problematic.

Hell & Heartbreak

The thought of evildoers going to hell doesn’t always break our hearts. In fact, the thought of certain evildoers going to hell can bring a sense of justice, satisfaction, and sometimes even pleasure.

Why is this?

I believe it is because we do not have their life stories. We have not walked in their shoes and felt what they have felt. As a result, our ignorance, coupled with our innate sense of justice, causes us to simply see them as evildoers.

People are much more than their actions…

Lovin’ ain’t easy, but it’s right.

It’s always been about loving God and loving others.

And it’s never been easy.

Throughout history we have gravitated toward rule following to show God that we love him. We do this because as hard as rule following can be, it’s much easier than obeying God’s command to love others. Loving others is messy and difficult, and it requires sacrifice.

God has reminded his people through various prophets that rules are important, but love for others needs to be the priority. And this message has been repeatedly ignored.

So God sent his son.

Just like many of the prophets who preceded him, Jesus told us that we had let the pendulum swing way too far toward rule keeping. He also reiterated that keeping rules while failing to love others didn’t impress God. In fact, it displeased him.

He said, “I’ll teach you and I’ll show you how to please my father,” and he did. He said, “Forget about the rules. Love God by loving others. If you focus on loving, the rules will take care of themselves.” He said, “It won’t be easy for you. But your father in heaven is patient and understanding, and he will send his Spirit to help you.” He said, “Persevere. Pray for strength and wisdom, and encourage and pray for each other. But please, persevere.” Then Jesus left with a promise to return one day for the faithful.

Once again we gravitate toward rule following to show God that we love him. We do this because as hard as rule following can be, it’s much easier than obeying God’s command to love others. Loving others is messy and difficult, and it requires sacrifice.

Note: I used artistic license (not direct speech) to sum up some of my favorite teachings of Jesus.

Moses’s Wives

Moses’s first wife, Zipporah, was given to him by her father Jethro, the priest of Midian. The Midianites were descendants of Abraham and Keturah’s son Midian. Midianites worshipped the false god Baal. (“Baal” means “Lord.”)

Moses had two sons with Zipporah and they traveled with him to Egypt. While en route, Zipporah was forced to circumcise one of her sons. Disgusted with this religious ritual, Zipporah threw the bloody foreskin at her husband’s feet and called Moses a “bridegroom of blood.” Some time after this, Moses sent her and his sons back to Midian.

Later, Jethro heard about the Hebrew’s exodus from Egypt and their victory over the Amalekites (descendants of Esau) in battle, so he traveled from Midian to Rephidim to return his daughter and grandchildren to Moses.

We are not told if Moses was pleased to see his wife and children again (although he treated Jethro with great respect during the visit), but we do know that Moses would later command the destruction of the Midianites. (The Bible seems to say Midianites needed to be wiped out because Midianite women, influenced by the prophet Balam, were coming into the camp and having sex with the men of Israel and inviting them to worship Baal.) Moses told the soldiers to kill every male (man and child) and to kill every Midianite woman who had had sexual relations. It is not clear whether or not this included Zipporah.

Before the Midianites were wiped out, we are told Moses took another wife, a Cushite. (Cushites were descendants of Noah’s grandson Cush. “Cush” is commonly translated as “Ethiopia” and it’s likely many Ethiopians left Egypt with the Hebrews.) Miriam and Aaron spoke against their brother as a result of this marriage and questioned whether or not he deserved to keep his position of leadership.

Some refer to Miriam and Aaron’s actions as blatant racism since Moses’s new wife was a dark-skinned Ethiopian, but their objection likely had little to do with her skin color. Instead their objection was likely rooted in the fact that Moses chose a wife from outside the line of Abraham.

Should pacifists in danger dial 911?

Christian pacifists believe Christ’s teaching on loving enemies calls for non-violence to the point of laying down one’s life if necessary. They say Christians should not engage in professions that could require them to injure or possibly kill others, such as police or military. This being the case, it seems a consistent Christian pacifist would desire all military and police forces to be disbanded.

This makes me wonder if Christian pacifists are thankful or disappointed that others are protecting them. It seems it would be hypocritical and unloving for pacifists to get any level of satisfaction or take any pleasure in the freedom obtained through the sacrifice of those who protect.

Biblical Slavery

In the Pentateuch (the first 5 books of the Old Testament) we read that God gave a code of law to the Hebrew people and within this code was a system of slavery that God established for his people.

If you want to know what Old Testament slavery was like and for some reason you don’t want to read through the Bible to find out, I recommend visiting a few apologetics’ websites and a few atheists’ websites. The apologetics’ websites typically cherry pick certain verses to show how the slavery practiced by the Hebrews was better than that practiced by other ancient Near East cultures. The atheists’ websites typically cherry pick certain verses to show how the slavery practiced by the Hebrews was worse than that practiced by other ancient Near East cultures.

For example, apologetics’ websites will say that Hebrew slaves were by and large fellow Hebrews who sold themselves into slavery until their debts were paid off. (Exodus 21:2-3)

This ignores the fact, which is highlighted on atheists’ sites, that Hebrew fathers could choose to sell their daughters as slaves and also many slaves were foreigners. (Exodus 21:7, Leviticus 25:39-46)

Apologetics’ websites will say that slavery never lasted more than 6 years since slaves were set free on the seventh year, which was a jubilee year. (Exodus 21:2, Deuteronomy 15:12)

While this was true for Hebrew men and women who sold themselves into slavery, atheists’ websites point out the fact that girls sold into slavery by their fathers and foreign slaves were slaves for life. In addition, masters would buy girls to give as wives to their male Hebrew slaves since children produced in these marriages belonged to the master and were slaves for life. This created a dilemma for the male Hebrew slaves when it came time for them to go free: They could either obtain their freedom and walk away from their wives and children or agree to become slaves forever in order to stay with their wives and children. (Exodus 21:7, Leviticus 25:39-46, Exodus 21:4-7)

Apologetics’ websites will say that slaves were treated relatively well. They were ensured one day of rest each week (Sabbath) and if their master damaged an eye or knocked out a tooth while beating them, he would have to give them their freedom. (Exodus 20:8-10, Exodus 21:26-27)

Atheists’ websites will point out that although this was true, slaves were considered the property of their masters, and masters could beat their slaves at will. A master would only be punished if he beat a slave so brutally that the slave died within two days of the beating. (Exodus 21:20-21)

Apologetics’ websites also point out that some of the slaves were foreign virgins mercifully taken in battle by Hebrew soldiers. (Numbers 31:1-18)

But atheists’ sites question whether or not this practice was in fact merciful. The young virgins, after witnessing the slaughter of their families, were claimed by Hebrew soldiers as slave wives. (The Hebrew soldiers would spare the lives of girls they found attractive.) The soldiers would shave the girls’ heads, trim their nails, and destroy the girls’ foreign clothes to signify a complete break from their pasts, and then after giving them a full month to mourn, they would have sex with them. If after having sex with them the soldiers found them to be unsatisfying, they were to let them go free. (Deuteronomy 21:11-14)

Note: Slavery, which is found in both the Old Testament and New Testament, is never condemned by God, his prophets, his priests, or the apostles; however, God’s people are instructed in both testaments to treat their slaves well.

Although the Bible never condemns slavery, 21st century Jews and Christians unanimously oppose slavery and view it as immoral; this, of course, makes these passages from the Pentateuch all the more problematic…

War Room

My church gave out tickets for this film, so I took my teenage daughter and son to see it. And since our family owns all four of the Kendrick brothers’ movies that were produced under Sherwood Pictures–Flywheel (2003), Facing the Giants (2006), Fireproof (2008), and Courageous (2011)–we were excited to see their new offering.

Here’s my impression of the Kendrick brothers latest film, War Room, and a few observations.

Overall, the acting was very good. Priscilla Shirer played Elizabeth Jordan, a successful real estate agent whose marriage is crumbling. T.C. Stallings plays Tony Jordan, a successful pharmaceutical salesman whose selfishness causes his wife and daughter to feel unloved and neglected. Karen Abercrombie plays Miss Clara, an elderly saint who desires to pass on what she has learned about prayer to those who are younger in the faith. Young Alena Pitts who plays the daughter, Danielle Jordan, does a decent job as well. At times the dialogue between characters sounded more like the careful teaching you would hear from a pulpit than natural conversation, but overall the script was pretty good.

The movie deals with family relationship issues that most people can connect with, so the sad scenes will likely evoke the emotional response and connection the filmmakers were striving for. (They had me blinking back tears.) The comedy was hit and miss, overall not bad, but the running gag about Elizabeth Jordan’s foot odor got old.

While this film lacks the excitement of the Kendrick brothers’ previous films, it does have better acting and better writing. And while it will probably only appeal to a Christian audience, I believe it will also achieve its purpose, which is to remind Christians that prayer should be a priority since God can do what we cannot.


Strong complementarian theme: Husbands are to lead, and wives are to submit.

Pentecostal themes: Casting the devil out of your house; saying the name of Jesus to keep yourself safe when you are in danger; ending your prayers with the words “in Jesus name” to make them work; “sensing” that certain rooms were used for prayer.

Theological issues: The Bible never says the devil has seen hell (Hades) so it makes little sense to tell the devil to “go back to hell.” The movie plot implies that good things happen to godly people and bad things happen to ungodly people. (This was the conviction of Job’s friends as well.)

Seeming contradiction: The movie establishes early on that prayers should be said in privacy—in an inner room, Matthew 6:6—and throughout the film we see characters taking this passage very literally and praying in closed closets; however, at the end of the film as a triumphant music score plays in the background, there are displays of public prayer including athletes praying in the center of the field and students praying around a flag pole.

Christian political theme: The images near the end of the film of students praying in the classroom and around the American flag will appeal to those in the Christian Right who constantly post Facebook memes declaring that prayer should be put back in the classroom and students should be forced to say the Pledge of Allegiance.

View the trailer here.

If you really like the movie, you can stock up on War Room merchandise here: http://warroommovieresources.com/

They have the War Room book, soundtrack, original score, Bible Study, teen Bible study, a book about how to pray, a woman’s guide to prayer, children’s books on prayer, wall décor and wall plaques, prayer journal, prayer cards, prayer pad/sticky notes, flip calendar, greeting cards, apparel, and mugs.

Liberal Red-letter Christians!

Have you ever had fellow Christians look at you incredulously when you tell them you don’t follow Old Testament laws such as tithing and Sabbath observance? Have you seen their mouths drop when you say that you are not under the 10 commandments?

I think it’s humorous when those who accept the New Testament proclamation that we are no longer under the law are viewed as “liberals.” We are referred to derogatorily by fundamentalists as “Red-letter Christians” or “functional Marcionites.”*

Continue reading

America’s Holocaust

Godwin’s Law states that when debates progress and become heated, sooner or later one side will likely start using words like “Hitler” & “Nazi Germany” to characterize their opponent or their opponent’s position. A corollary to this law is that the side that resorts to this hyperbole automatically loses.

I have found this to be true and try hard to avoid doing this in discussions and debates. But when talking about the practices of Planned Parenthood that have recently come to light, I do not believe Godwin’s Law applies.

How can anyone who is at all familiar with Holocaust history not immediately think of Dr. Josef Mengele and the cruel and barbaric “medical” experiments he performed on live subjects when they read about Planned Parenthood employees cutting open the face of a baby whose heart is beating so that they can harvest a healthy intact brain?

My heart goes out to the women who were lied to and are right now going through hell as they wonder if their baby is one that was dissected so that its body parts could be sold to the highest bidder.

God help us all…

Evolution, Creationism, Other?

Gallup polls from the 1980s showed over 40% of American adults believed in a young earth; however, those numbers have been steadily decreasing.

Although Ken Ham, an outspoken Young Earth advocate, says, “It is vital to believe in six literal days for many reasons. Foremost is that allowing these days to be long periods of time undermines the foundations of the message of the Cross,” many Christians disagree.

Here is a list of well known Christians who have either embraced Old Earth or have at least said they believe it’s possible that the earth is millions or billions of years old:

Continue reading

Faith Meltdown

Keith Drury’s Faith Meltdown Story:

When I was a child faith matters were all wrapped up in one huge bundle with all of equal value. I learned, “Christians don’t smoke and drink” and “Christians believe in the virgin birth and resurrection” and “Christians go to Sunday school and Sunday evening service.” I was too young to make any distinction between smoking, the resurrection and Sunday school attendance—they all were in the “Christian bundle” and of equal value for judging who was a Christian or not. I assumed people who drank beer or denied the resurrection or didn’t have a Sunday evening service weren’t Christians—at least not “real” Christians (later termed “Born again Christians”). As a child I made no distinction between levels of faith and practice and simply lumped them all together in one huge bundle. It is simply how a child views things.

This single-bundle approach was really messy. I was raised in the Pilgrim Holiness Church a small denomination in the “holiness movement” that had all kind of rules and expectations. I am not sure if they actually told me all these things, but I could deduce from the behavior of all the people in church what Christians (at least “real” Christians) did and didn’t do. For instance Christians didn’t go to the movies. None. I remember sneaking off to see The Longest Day in high school and hoping that Jesus wouldn’t return before I escaped the drive-in movie. You may laugh now at that—but the feelings were real. I knew no Christian anywhere in my world who had ever gone to a movie after they became a Christian. As far as I knew, I was the only one. I just assumed this lifestyle was a clear definition of a “real” Christian so when I defied it I wasn’t sure for a while if I’d left the kingdom of God. But it was more than attending movies I couldn’t do as a “Christian boy.” I couldn’t go bowling either because it was worldly. I couldn’t dance because it was sexual. I couldn’t bounce a ball on Sunday because it was the Lord’s Day. I couldn’t wear shorts because it was “lascivious.” In fact I wasn’t allowed to participate at all in “mixed bathing” (which was going swimming with the opposite sex). (Since shorts were lascivious you don’t need an explanation for why we couldn’t go swimming with girls.) When I was ten years old I had never met a Christian woman who wore jewelry—any jewelry—earrings, finger rings or even wedding rings. None. (I even knew the verses by heart in 1 Peter that condemning a woman’s wearing gold and silver or plaiting their hair.) Speaking of hair I do not believe as a child I had ever met a Christian woman with “bobbed hair” –I just assumed all real Christian women would realize their hair was given to them by God as their glory and they should never cut it. Same with slacks—the first Christian woman I saw wearing “pants” was my junior high Sunday school teacher—on her farm. I assumed she was “not where she ought to be spiritually” when I uncovered her secret one Sunday afternoon.

This all sounds like I was raised in a cult. In a way I was, but not really. We may have been a “sect” but we were not a cult—we were an orthodox Christian denomination that followed many of John Wesley’s teachings (including his views on dress, jewelry, and the theater). In fact any person reading this who was raised in the 1950’s in almost any denomination will remember some of these lifestyle expectations. And you may also remember that as a child you simply lumped all these things together into one big bundle with church doctrine and everything else and you held them all with equal value as I did.

Then I discovered some things are written in pencil.

To read the article in its entirety, click here: http://www.drurywriting.com/keith/faith.meltdown.story.htm

Was Jesus infallible?

Let’s start with a definition:

Adj: not capable of being wrong or making mistakes : not fallible

Was Jesus incapable of being wrong or making a mistake?

Did Jesus miraculously know the skills of carpentry or did Joseph teach him? Did he ever miss the nail head when he swung the hammer? Did he ever cut a plank too short?

Continue reading

Would you kill a baby if God asked you to?

Would you kill a baby if God asked you to?

Before dismissing this as a stupid question, remember that the Bible records several instances where God commanded entire city populations to be slaughtered and 1 Samuel 15:3 even specifies “nursing infants.”

King David said the man who grabs enemy babies and smashes them against the rocks is blessed. (Psalms 137:9) Continue reading

Shut Up, I Can’t Hear God!

You don’t have to send the kids outside, take the battery out of the ticking clock, and hold your breath to hear God speak.There is no noise on earth that can prevent you from hearing the voice of God if God decides to talk to you.

Yahweh has never suffered from laryngitis!

The idea that you have to “empty your mind,” “quiet your soul,” or “become spiritually mature enough to tune into God’s frequency,” comes from Eastern religions and medieval mysticism.

Christians need to be like the Bereans who examined the scriptures so that they could reject false teachings.

Polygamy and the Bible

According to the Pentateuch, God declared that a man should marry his sister-in-law and have children with her if the man’s brother died. He also said that a man may have slave wives, either purchased or captured in battle, and if he found one of his wives displeasing, he could sell her. (If she were Hebrew, he could not sell her to foreigners). Concubines (slave-girls or prisoners who were taken as sexual partners) were often referred to as wives.* The Bible says that a man was obligated to respect the marriage rights of each of his wives.

Some of the better known figures in the Bible with multiple wives were Abraham, Jacob, Esau, Saul, David, Solomon, Gideon, and probably Moses (Numbers 12:1).

Debates over gay marriage often lead to the following statement: “If gay marriage is legalized, what’s to keep polygamy from being legalized. The biblical definition of marriage is the best definition!”

While I agree with the logic behind the first sentence, I’ll be slow to agree with the second sentence. Are we talking Adam & Eve or David & Michal, Ahinoam, Abigail, Maacah, Haggith, Abital, Eglah, Bathsheba…?
*Saul’s wife’s name was Ahinoam (1 Samuel 14:50) and his concubine was named Rizpah (2 Samuel 3:7), but the prophet Nathan said God gave Saul’s wives to David (2 Samuel 12:8).
Keturah was referred to as one of Abraham’s concubine in Genesis 25:6 but as his wife in Genesis 25:1.

How I (currently) view the Holy Spirit

The Hebrews were a peculiar people who believed in only one god. And Yahweh, unlike pagan gods, didn’t have any children. Now the Hebrew people did speak of God’s spirit, but they thought of this Holy Spirit as the active power of Yahweh, not as a member of a trinity. So when Jesus came on the scene in the first century, it wasn’t easy for Jews to transition from their conception of God to God in 3 persons. And two thousand years later people are still trying to wrap their minds around it!

I can somewhat understand God the Father as a person in the trinity. I view him as an unembodied, omniscient mind. And it seems that from the Father proceed the Word (logos) and the Breath (pneuma).

Continue reading

Dealing with tricky biblical texts…

Marcion of Sinope (85-160) rejected the Old Testament because he believed the God it portrayed lacked the moral goodness of Jesus and therefore could not have been Jesus’ father.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) used a pen knife to cut verses from his Bible that he thought portrayed Jesus inaccurately.

Nowadays, doing what Marcion or Thomas Jefferson did will get you labeled a heretic faster than you can say jumping jack flash. So what do Christians do with those portions of scripture that seem to contradict the majority of scripture? Continue reading