My best friend and I occasionally spar in friendly debate surrounding the Bible and it always boils down to one thing, that he believes the Bible is the absolute irrefutable truth of God, while I believe it has some truths, a number of great stories and lessons, and a whole lot of misconstrued words that came from man.
My biggest issue with the Bible continues to be how people for over two millennia have used it for their own gain, interpreting its words to suit their agenda, all while saying it’s under the guise of God because it’s in the Bible. But you know what’s in the Bible, in the New Testament in fact, is a bunch of words from a guy name Paul, who was inspired by Christ, but wasn’t God or Jesus. He was a man who had his own biases, issues, problems, and the like. And yet his words today continue to be considered as from God himself just because they are in the Bible and were inspired by God. Look, I’ve been inspired by God and have definitely felt the presence of God leading me at times in my life. But those words of inspiration won’t and should never be in any book that’s considered the word of God because they’re coming from my own interpretation of them, just like Paul’s was.
While I truly appreciate Apostle Paul for his dedication to spread the love of Christ, Paul was human and had his own flaws in life. He believed that women should be submissive to men, rather than ever being their equal and he also turned a blind eye to slavery, essentially accepting it as part of the customs of the time. But over time, religious scholars have refuted all this and said that both were signs of the times back then and are no longer applicable today, which I’m exceptionally thankful for because women should be equal to men, and slavery itself is such a terrible and wrongful practice. Yet, countless religious people still say homosexuality is a sin even though religious scholars have shown that the same sex practices Paul was referring to had nothing to do with one man or one woman deeply loving a same-sex other. Rather, Paul was speaking about pedophilia, adultery, orgies, and dominance, but that continues to be overlooked and discounted again and again. So, why is it ok to interpret Biblical passages about women and slavery in a healthier way today, but not homosexuality amongst other things? Why are some passages justified as erroneous today while others aren’t?
Well the common argument that comes up here next always seems to point back to Leviticus where it says a man should not lie with man as a man lies with a woman. But if you go that route in an argument, then you need to remember in Leviticus it’s not ok to eat shellfish or wear leather on one’s shoes, and plenty more. So, if we all are supposed to obey those laws in Leviticus, we might as well start heading to hell right now because none of us are practicing any of them with any sort of regularity or consistency.
The fact is organized religion has and always will be built upon fear and fear drives the acceptance or denial of various things, calling one thing a sin, while another acceptable. Men were afraid of losing their power to women at one point in time just as much as they were afraid of other races becoming more in power. So, suppression was born out of this, which ironically, my best friend would have fallen into way back when in Biblical times, because he is black and most likely would have been made a slave then. It’s precisely how the terrible institution of slavery came into our country and did such horrendous things to people, all in the name of God and the Bible, and for a time it was totally acceptable. But now it’s not. And thank God!
I believe religion fears homosexuality for similar reasons. The fear that if homosexuality isn’t a sin, that everyone would just reduce themselves to their lust-based desires, that no one would procreate, and so on. I beg to differ for the several decades long relationships I’ve known of others living lovingly and monogamously that I can’t imagine God not blessing, especially because of the unconditional love they share for each other. My best friend has never experienced that type of same-sex love nor been in a multi-year long relationship with anyone monogamously. I believe that if he had, he might be able to see this quite differently. I can totally see my best friend right now reading this, crossing his arms, and finding every possible way to refute all of this by scripture, maybe even suggesting that the Devil is influencing me right now as I write this. I know him that well and love him dearly, but this is the very problem I have with religion, where some type of fear leads to judgement, and judgment eventually leading to division, separation, hatred, and worse.
While my best friend and I may never agree on our interpretation of the Bible, I’ve come to believe that doesn’t matter. Because the only thing that does matter to me now is the very thing that Christ cared about the most, which was for all of us to love each other and God unconditionally, and letting God be the one to communicate within us as to what is right for us and what is not. Thankfully, my best friend and I do a great job here accepting each other for our differences in this area, even though we might have friendly debates from time to time.
So, while my best friend and I may always disagree on what the Bible represents for us, when it comes right down to it, I’m thankful we both agree and see that the love of Christ is what keeps us bonded together after almost 24 years now, and that says something, especially when he sees the Bible as the absolute irrefutable truth of God, when I most assuredly don’t!
Peace, love light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson