Category Archives: religion

Thumping Bible Thumpers

Thumping

HARM

Here’s an image I saw recently, when a friend shared it on Facebook. At first glance, it may seem to be intended to convey the simple message that it’s wrong to commit hateful acts towards people because they are homosexual. I would agree with that and I suspect that’s all my friend was trying to say with her Facebook post. However, closer examination reveals more complexity to the ideas presented by this illustration, ideas that result in the whole of the communication being more harmful than helpful.

SCRIPTURAL CONTEXT

Let’s begin our closer examination with a look at the Scripture quoted, Romans 13:10. One thing you have to watch out for when Scripture is quoted is that it can be taken out of context, often to support a specific agenda. To put this verse into context, it’s necessary to first remember that the Book of Romans was a letter written by the Apostle Paul to the church in Rome. As with most letters, both then and now, they aren’t written with each verse presenting an individual idea. Rather they are written with a number of verses that knit together to express views on a specific topic. “Love Your Neighbor” is the subheading typically used for what Paul is addressing with this section of his letter. His complete thought here is:

Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Romans 13:8-10

As you can see, before Paul says, “Love does no harm to a neighbor”, he gives some examples of how you can fail to show love and selfishly do harm to a neighbor. That is, by breaking God’s commandments. In other words, sinning against your neighbor. And, you’ll note that the first of the examples he gives is a sexual sin. But none of that is represented in the illustration. Perhaps that reflects the fact that the Facebook post my friend shared was from The Christian Left via Episcopal Church Memes. Although The Christian Left denies it, they do have a widely held reputation as a group that cherry-picks the Bible. Likewise, The Episcopal Church tends to not recognize the divine inspiration and authority of the Bible. In both cases, this has contributed to their acceptance of homosexual behavior. I don’t think it’s much of jump, then, to come to the conclusion that this is the agenda behind their taking this Scripture out of context. Continue reading

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Filed under ageism, Bible, Christians, Homosexuality, race, religion, Sin

All Are Precious In His Sight

Barbara Boyle's 3B Class - Warren Elementary - 1955-56

LIVE IN HARMONY

This past week, I got to spend a little time with a First Grade Teacher who is also one of my very favorite people. She was teaching our class to join her class in singing and signing a song called The World Is A Rainbow. This was in preparation for an assembly that, I assumed, was related to the upcoming Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Although it would be an oversimplification (and somewhat outdated) for me to say that her purpose in this was to teach racial harmony, that was certainly a part of what she had in mind.

My first lesson in racial harmony came when I was First-Grade-aged or younger and it took place in church, not in school. Then, the song we sang was entitled Jesus Loves The Little Children. As I thought of these differences in experiences between the kids of today and the kids of my day, that led me to consider the ramifications.

ALL THE CHILDREN OF THE WORLD?! Continue reading

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Stand By Me at the Glassy Sea

Ron CoxRonald Ray Cox, a friend from the time of my birth, passed from life on Earth to life in eternity at about 8:32 a.m. (EST), October 19, 2013. Knowing that, it’s likely for you to think that I’m writing this to honor my friend and to tell you wonderful stories from a relationship that stretched out over nearly 70 years. Though I do want to honor my old friend, since there was a gap in our relationship from the time we finished college until about five months prior to Ron’s passing, when he was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer, I don’t have those nearly 70 years’ worth of stories to share. Thankfully, I do have the story to share of how I was blessed in reconnecting with Ron at the end of his life and getting to witness how he and his Wife, Kim, embraced God and each other through their final season together.

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Where Do Today’s Pilgrims Go Next?

Thanksgiving Day is celebrated in the U.S. on the fourth Thursday in November. Although sources can be found (e.g. Wikipedia) stating that Thanksgiving is “considered secular” and “can be traced to harvest festivals … celebrated … since ancient times”, that ignores an overwhelming abundance of evidence to the contrary. It’s certainly contradictory to what I was taught in my home, in my church, in my school and in my entire community; growing up in the U.S. And, its absolutely inconsistent with what’s in my heart, as I celebrate Thanksgiving … to give thanks to God for all that He blesses me with.

That “overwhelming abundance of evidence” starts with the foundational event for our Thanksgiving Day … the Pilgrims of Plymouth, MA, setting apart a day to celebrate their first harvest, in 1621. As to whether or not this celebration could be “considered secular”, you only need to consider who the Pilgrims were. These were people, originating in England, who didn’t accept the “divine right” of King James I and who were determined to honor only God, as their King. They ended up in Plymouth as the result of fleeing King James’ persecution. You can bet that the Pilgrims saw Thanksgiving as a Holiday (meaning Holy Day), set aside to express their thanks to God.

During the American Revolution, the Continental Congress appointed Thanksgiving days every year. In 1777, their declaration started by saying:

“FOR AS MUCH as it is the indispensable Duty of all Men to adore the superintending Providence of Almighty God; to acknowledge with Gratitude their Obligation to him for Benefits received … (full text).”

You know, that doesn’t sound so “secular” to me.

The first Thanksgiving Day in the United States was designated by President George Washington, in 1789. His proclamation began with:

“Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits … (full text).”

That doesn’t sound very nuanced either, that its aim is Spiritual.

And, in 1863, during the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln set forth a proclamation, establishing the Thanksgiving Day we continue to observe. Lincoln opened his decree by stating:

“The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.” (full text)

The Spiritual intent is pretty hard to miss in that too.

So, where does this perception come from that Thanksgiving is “considered secular”? And, though its not what is taught in my home or in my church, why is it now commonly accepted in our schools and our communities? Even in the school where my Wife works, instead of celebrating Thanksgiving, they have a “Peace Meal”. What’s going on?

Sadly, I think what’s going on is similar to what was going on with the Pilgrims. Remember, Pilgrims were the people who were determined to honor only God, as their King. They ended up here as a result of being persecuted for this. Considering that the persecution was so intense that it finally drove them out of their homeland, I assume they were experiencing this persecution everywhere they went … in their communities, in their schools, in their churches and even in their homes. King James is long gone and it may seem melodramatic to refer to it as persecution but there’s no denying that the changes I’ve seen in our communities and our schools has been driven by those who don’t want to acknowledge God, in any way, let alone as their King. An added irony here is that its not uncommon for those taking this position to also be working to make America more like Europe … the very environment the Pilgrims fled. Considering this, how long will it be before they succeed at having their way in our churches and homes too?

Sooner or later, this reality must be confronted. I suggest that we begin by looking in the mirror to see that the Pilgrims are still here. I can’t say for sure that my European ancestors came here for the same reason as the Pilgrims but I, too, am determined to honor God as my King. So, even without the buckle hat, I recognize, I’m a Pilgrim too. However, I have no Mayflower to board and no New World to flee to. So, where do I, as one of today’s Pilgrims go next? For me, the answer is simple and it comes from the persecutor’s least favorite source … God’s Word (ironically, the King James version) … “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” – Joshua 24:15. Meaning, I’m not going anywhere. For me, Thanksgiving Day will remain set apart to give thanks to God and I will honor only Him, as my King.

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