GUEST COLUMN: God’s sure Word in an unsure world

May 30, 2012

Yes, the Gospel’s call is open to all. The invitation to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as savior has no qualifiers. It should not be withheld from anyone. The Apostle Paul reminded his readers in his letter to Rome that God’s love through Jesus Christ was demonstrated to us even when we were still sinners (Romans 5:8).

But I don’t agree that, after thousands of years of studying and teaching certain Scripture passages on homosexual behavior, the Church has now been found to be misguided and confused on its interpretation. Even if such a finding took place after “decades of work by laity, clergy, theologians and biblical scholars” — as the Rev. Cramer claimed — what makes this group the authority?

What new insights or methodologies did they employ to correct the simplicity and directness of this portion of God’s Word?

“Do not practice homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman. It is a detestable sin” (Leviticus 18:22, NLT).

Or to exact the nuances of this passage?

“That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved” (Romans 1:26-27, NLT).

I don’t think you need a doctorate in theology (nor decades of deliberation) to understand what those Scripture verses are stating.

Now let’s be honest. The Word of God hasn’t changed. Biblical scholars haven’t developed new linguistic methods of interpreting Scripture. New truths haven’t been uncovered that finally correct erroneous beliefs of ill-informed Christians.

If anything has changed, it’s society. Many of us have decided that the Bible is no longer relevant as a life guide or rule of faith. Feelings or impressions are more authentic than the Word of God. So, if I feel something is right, but the Bible does not support my feelings, I’ll choose my feelings over Scripture.

This is nothing new. Choosing how one feels over what God has said began in the Garden of Eden. It was there that God gave Adam and Eve clear instructions as to what they could and could not eat. But temptation in the form of a serpent turned Eve’s mind and heart away from God’s clear command. She choose to doubt what God had said and instead followed her own desires. Well, the rest is history.

And that’s where we find ourselves today as we face society’s growing acceptance of the “gay” lifestyle. Nice people, great friends, and even evidences of the “fruit of the Spirit” from “gay” Christians do not overturn the clear directives of God’s Word.

The Apostle Paul, recounting the historical unfaithfulness of God’s chosen people, the Jews, wrote this to the church in Rome: “True, some of them were unfaithful; but just because they were unfaithful, does that mean God will be unfaithful? Of course not! Even if everyone else is a liar, God is true ...” (Romans 3:4a).

So, call me old fashioned, but I will believe the Word of God over the feelings of others and even my own. It’s the standard upon which all Christians find guidance, comfort, assurance, sound teaching and even rebuke. It is the only sure thing in an unsure world.

— By the Rev. Ray Paget, pastor of Grand Haven Community Baptist Church.
 

Comments

ghmomma

Are you kidding me? You quote leviticus to condemn homosexuality and fail to mention all the other condemnations that book mentions? Why is it that we do not have to focus on ALL the sins mentioned in leviticus?? (And no, I can't name all of them, but I do know that there are alot of bizzare things forbidden in this book besides homosexuality).......and finally, no one has to believe the way you do. Quit trying to cram it down our throats. If you are that narrow minded then by all means, stay away from gay people. Don't preside over gay marriages. Don't accept gay people as human beings......BUT DON'T EXPECT ALL OF US TO FEEL THE SAME WAY.

ghmomma
Jimvh

This continuing conversation had me going back to my Bible so I could read each passage along with its surrounding text.

I can certainly see how Rev Jared and his colleagues came to their conclusion to not judge when you continue to read on in Romans: "Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgement on another you condemn yourself, because you the judge, are doing the same things. (Romans 2:1-2, NRSV)

I can also see how Rev Ray and his history of colleagues came to their conclusions based on his arguments above.

Finally, I can also understand ghmomma's frustration. I read through Leviticus and found several interesting tidbits. I now know that Leviticus 10-14 is where the Jehovah Witness likely determined their prohibition of blood transfusions. I also found the passages about unclean foods (Leviticus 11) that to my surprise not only included pork (Judaism and Islam), but also ostrich, the hare (rabbit) or anything from the sea that does not have scales or fins (scallops, oysters, crab, etc). I won't even go into the passages about child birth, bodily discharges, lepers, sacrifices or the proper way to make offerings for grain, well-being or sins.

All three make compelling arguments and all three have a right to be heard equally.

It's pretty obvious to the non-reverends of us that the Bible is interpreted differently by various religions and differently by individuals even within the same religion. I think that is fantastic. The differences we all exhibit show us each to be unique yet co-exist. Isn't our ability to co-exist (not place judgement) after all one of the greatest gifts of all? Let's not waste it on something as biased as sexual orientation.

Jim Van Heule
Just another sinner

jvc

In her radio show, Dr Laura Schlesinger has said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22, and cannot be condoned under any circumstance. The following response was posted on the internet and is best regarded as an essay clearly meant for a wider audience than just Dr Laura. It is a general reminder that many belief systems pick and choose their way through biblical teachings in determining what is "right" and "wrong". Authorship has been attributed to several, but remains unconfirmed.

Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination... End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God's Laws and how to follow them.

1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighbouring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but
not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of Menstrual uncleanliness - Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is, my neighbours. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

5. I have a neighbour who insists on working on the Sabbath.Exodus 35:2. Clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination - Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this? Are there 'degrees' of abomination?

7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle- room here?

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16.Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I am confident you can help.

Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

Your adoring fan.

jvc
ghmomma

I've read that before, and forgot all about it......It's perfect. Thank you.

sirhansalot

You funny

jvc

Dear Rev. Paget,

My former post was in no way intended as a personal attack on you.

jdrobins

Having moved away from Grand Haven after graduation, I love finding time in my day to come to this website and be amused by the fact the local paper even prints anything religiously this bigoted or oriented. It is truly hilarious. Such bigger problems than who's invisible friend said what and why that should be applied to everyone.

Michael Johnson

And yet we see once again how selective quoting of the Bible proves that all Biblical interpretation is subjective and dependent upon our own personal biases and prejudices. Let me make it simple:
1. You cannot claim what is stated in the Bible is the absolute Word of God unless you intend to follow every single tenet laid out in the Bible by the letter.
2. If you cannot or will not do that, then by your own admission, you can choose which dictates of the Bible you interpret as the Word of God and which you do not.
3. This means the Word of God is subject to YOUR interpretation - which implies believing that you know the mind of God, i.e. what He wants. Which is a sin of the most serious kind.
4. If every single thing in the Bible is NOT the Word of God, then there is no objective way to know what is and what isn't - then it becomes a book written by human beings - fallible, prejudiced, and sinful, and there is no way to know what God really wants without falling prey to the sin listed above in number 3.
5. If there is no way to objectively know what is human statement and what is God's "Word," then all such concerns are ultimately decided by individuals and cannot be imposed upon other individuals.
6. If you intend such beliefs to be imposed on others through legislative means at the government level, the only way to enforce such beliefs, you are a fundamental extremist in favor of a theocracy, and by definition you do not believe in an individual's right to his or her own faith.

How true...you really don't need a doctorate in theology to figure this stuff out. It is simple common sense and critical analysis. However, while we are at it, I would also suggest this:

“…and the swine, though it divides the hoof, having cloven hooves, yet does not chew the cud, is unclean to you.” (Leviticus 11:7.) - if this is the Word of God, I trust Rev. Paget does not eat meat. Ever. Unless he chooses to believe this is NOT the Word of God. In which case his argument falls apart.

“Do not wear material woven of two kinds of material.” (Lev. 19:19.) - if this is the Word of God, I trust Rev. Paget does not wear clothing made of combinations of fabric. Ever. Unless he chooses to ignore the Word of God in this case. In which case his argument is invalidated.

“Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard.” (Lev. 19:27.) - if this is the Word of God, I trust Rev. Paget has strict instructions for his barber when he goes in for a trim. Unless, of course, he doesn't. Which invalidates his argument.

“For everyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death.” (Lev. 20:9.) - if this is the Word of God, well...I cannot speculate, I suppose, on how Rev. Paget deals with this without invalidating his argument.

“But all in the seas or in the rivers that do not have fins and scales, all that move in the water or any living thing which is in the water, they are an abomination to you.” (Lev.11:10)
“They [shellfish] shall be an abomination to you; you shall not eat their flesh, but you shall regard their carcasses as an abomination.” (Lev. 11:11)
“Whatever in the water does not have fins or scales; that shall be an abomination to you.” (Lev. 11:12)

I guess that's it for the seafood portion of our menus, folks.

Bottom line: if you can selectively choose what constitutes the "Word of God" that absolutely and cannot be transgressed against, then it is ALL morally subjective, and no authority can be claimed except what resides in our own, personal systems of right and wrong. Individuals have a right to believe whatever they wish, but do not be intellectually dishonest and claim that a single subjective and biased interpretation should govern the fates of many. Perhaps our world would be better served by a kingdom of conscience rather than a Kingdom of Heaven.

sobe

Priceless, thank you.

sirhansalot

What book are you guys talking about?

my2cents

You can't fault Pastor Paget for telling us the TRUTH, it is his calling to do so. If you disagree with him, that's your right. God allows us choices. But there are consequences for bad choices. (As is all things, not just this topic)
Keep speaking the truth Pastor! God isn't through with us yet!

soip

Oh my gosh people!!! God surely must be smacking his head at the blatant ignorance of His people! What some of you commenters are failing to realize is that while, yes the Leviticus laws condemn homosexuality among some other sins that we may find silly now in this day, true christians are now covered in Grace through Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for us, that took away the need for sacrifices and other such things that just don't apply to us today.....but one thing holds true and well into the new testament as wrong and still to this day very "SINFUL" and unnatural, which is homosexuality!!

1 Corinthians 6:9-11, 9 "Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice HOMOSEXUALITY, 10 or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. 11 Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."

1 Timothy 1:8-11, 8 "We know that the law is good when used correctly. 9 For the law was not intended for people who do what is right. It is for people who are lawless and rebellious, who are ungodly and sinful, who consider nothing sacred and defile what is holy, who kill their father or mother or commit other murders. 10 The law is for people who are sexually immoral, or who practice HOMOSEXUALITY, or are slave traders, liars, promise breakers, or who do anything else that contradicts the wholesome teaching 11 that comes from the glorious Good News entrusted to me by our blessed God."
The Bible is not just some book written by a bunch of men. It is God-breathed and should NOT be taken lightly!

2 Timothy 3:16-17, 16 "All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work."

God is unchanging, His word is unchanging, and people need to wisen up before its too late!! All I can say is THANK YOU Rev. Ray Paget for continuing to spread God's TRUE word among all those who have waivered in their faith and are spreading false teachings, which is all predicted for the end times! Prayers being lifted up for all.

hendson900

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truth

Just FYI, if you are interested in learning more about Mr. Cramer's personal life, go to Amazon "wish list" section: http://www.amazon.com/gp/registr... and search: Jared C Cramer in the "find someones list" (before he deletes it). Here you will find a personal photo of his face, and his "wish list" request for various bottles of booze, bullets and violent, wicked "kill em'" video games.

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