Warning: As I typed this post, it got very long-winded.
God does, indeed, work in strange ways. The sermon in church this morning was on the same topic as my previous post: that the mark of true wisdom is not being stubborn, but being willing to listen, and have your mind changed. Of course, the sermon was more on the idea that, as a Christian, one should be willing to be corrected by the Scriptures; if you believe something, and you read something in the Bible which disagrees, you should be willing to listen to what the Bible is saying, and be ready to change your mind. But he also mentioned that one needs to listen to others, to truly be wise.
Some examples, from the book of Proverbs, on true wisdom coming from listening:
Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still;
teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning. (Proverbs 9:9)
Pride only breeds quarrels,
but wisdom is found in those who take advice. (Proverbs 13:10)
Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
but he who hates correction is stupid. (Proverbs 12:1)
He gave a lot more examples than that, but this will do.
The way of a fool seems right to him,
but a wise man listens to advice. (Proverbs 12:15)
So anyway, as mentioned in a comment on my previous post, my friend indeed posted his scathing opinion on the subject of religion. As he mentions, it’s on religion in general, not a particular religion. From reading the post, I would say he’s talking more about “organized religion”—for example, he isn’t talking about Christianity per se, but what Christianity has become, in the churches that call themselves Christian. Ditto for Islam, or Judaism, or whatever. In fact, I asked him about it:
Are you there?
James Mack says:
I read your blog post. (And, by the way, I’m not going to "respond" to it, and have a big "blog conversation/argument" about it. But I am going to mention it... hehe)
James Mack says:
Woudl it be fair to say that you’re referring more to "organized religion" - i.e., what "churches" have made religion into, rather than speaking about actual "religions", as in "what Christianity is SUPPOSED to be", or "what Judaism is SUPPOSED to be"?
James Mack says:
I’ll allow that
James Mack says:
"our god made their god" lol
BTW, do you mind if I post THIS conversation, in my blog?
(I know, I know, this is getting out of control already... hehe)
As you might have noticed in the conversation, the purpose of this post is not to argue the point with him (or anyone else). In fact, taken in the light that he’s talking about organized religion, I agree with much of his post; not the whole thing, but much of it. I did, however, want to talk about the difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament, in the Christian Bible. Again, this isn’t a direct response to James’ post, but it was inspired by something that he said:
(I added the links to the Bible verses online, in case you want to check up on his references. But they’re all correct, and used in context. He’s not the type to make mistakes like that.)
When it’s used for convenience. You can’t just use part of it, you have to use ALL of it. If homosexuality is an abomination because of the way you have interpreted the book of Leviticus (Lev. 18:22) then please have no contact women while they are in their period (Lev.15: 19-24), don’t trim the hair around your temples (Lev. 19:27) or play with an authentic football (Lev. 11:6-8). I’m pretty sure the sins aren’t ranked anywhere either. Tis God, not David Letterman.
I’m sure everyone reading this post knows this, but just in case, here’s the deal on the Old and New Testaments in the Christian Bible: The books that we call the “Old Testament” were originally written for the Jews. (The nation of Israel, and, later on when the countries split up, Judea.) The Jews were considered God’s “chosen people”, but they were also a nation. (In fact, the nation of Israel was a “theocracy”—in other words, they had a king, but the true ruler of Israel was supposed to be God.) So, in the Old Testament, in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, there are a number of laws set out for the people—613, in fact—but those laws cover three areas: Spiritual laws, such as “love the LORD your God with all your heart” and “love thy neighbour as thyself”; Religious laws, such as “if you commit this sin, you have to make this sacrifice”; and federal laws, such as “if a person steals, s/he must pay back this amount”. (In fact, when you consider that those laws were all of the laws for their country, 613 isn’t really that many.)
However, Christians believe that when Jesus came, things changed. This is where the New Testament comes in; the books in the New Testament are about Jesus, and how he changed things. Of course the federal laws no longer apply, since the nation for which those laws was written no longer exists—instead, I obey the laws in Canada, because I’m a Canadian. The religious laws no longer apply either for the Christian; for example, Christians no longer need to make sacrifices when they sin, because Jesus has been sacrificed once and for all—so any of the laws about sacrificing X animals when you commit Y sins are no longer applicable. The “unclean animals” that the Jews were not allowed to eat is another example; Jesus declared all foods clean in Mark 7:17–23, doing away with that particular religious law.
The laws outlined in the Old Testament still have value for the Christian, because reading them gives one a sense of the holiness of God; sin is a serious business, and God can’t be approached lightly. However, they no longer apply directly to the Christian, because the coming of Jesus changed it all.
All of that being said, I agree with James’ point, if not the examples: For example, if you believe that homosexuality is wrong, because of Leviticus 18:22—also in 1 Corinthians 6:9–11, a New Testament book—then you also have to believe that sex before marriage is wrong—whether you’re straight or gay. And, as James correctly points out, the one sin isn’t worse than the other; you won’t find anything in the Bible that indicates that homosexual sex is any better or worse than premarital sex. In fact, in the 1 Corinthians passage, the writer lists adultery, stealing, being a “drunkard”, and even greediness all on equal terms with homosexuality. (The next time someone starts talking about homosexuality, as them how they feel about greediness.)
As a Christian, I may not have to keep the hair around my temples long, but I do have to obey all of Christianity’s teachings, not just the ones I like. (The spiritual laws I mentioned, about loving God with all your heart, and loving your neighbour more than you love yourself, definitely apply; Jesus declared them to be the most important of all of the laws given to the Jews.)