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Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Said No One Ever

I live in a very hot place. I was walking downtown the other day and came across a set of "graffiti" -- technically, actual printed signs stuck to the sidewalk -- ridiculing the heat of the place. Like the picture of an oven and the caption, "But it's a dry heat." Then there was the one a little farther on with a dried skull of a steer in the desert and the caption, "'I love running in this heat,' said no one ever." It's a popular meme these days. "'I really wanna marry the guy who whistled at me from his car,' said no one ever." "'No, thanks! I have enough clothes,' said no woman ever." "'If you want to find out about it, just Bing it,' said no one ever." "'I have to say my driver's license picture is the best one I've got,' said no one ever." You get the idea.

I'm wondering if there shouldn't be a Christian version. "'When the Bible talks about forbidding sex between same-sex people, it's only referring to religious rites,' said no one ever." "'Same-sex couples can be married just like opposite sex couples,' said no one ever." "'The Bible is full of myths, legends, and errors,' said no one ever." You know, in regard to the history of Christianity. I mean, sure, lots of people are saying these things now, but on what basis? Prior to the recent assault on God's Word even by people who claim to love God's Word, no believers said these things.

Why are these things so? Why do people claim to love the Bible while denying what it says? Why do self-identified Christians come up with brand new interpretations of certain passages -- interpretations that deny the historical, longstanding, and rational understanding of the texts? I'm not talking about the hard-to-grasp, the questionable, the hard-to-be-100%-certain passages. I'm talking about the absolutely clear ones, like Jesus's "Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate" (Matt 19:4-6). "Oh, no," they'll tell me, "that doesn't mean that Jesus defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman." Only in today's world can anyone conclude that. No one ever thought other than that prior to this "new interpretation." Like Paul's abundantly clear, "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Cor 6:9-10). "See, you're misunderstanding that. It's referring to religious rites" or "abusive relationships, not committed ones" ... said no one ever prior to the 21st century. So they deny the Master who bought them.

You can read for yourself, "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one" (Rom 3:10-12). The meaning is not unclear. But you will hear folk who "love the Bible" tell you, "That's just hyperbole" by which they mean "Everyone has some righteousness, no one is worthless, and everyone does good." Now, if the text says "No one does good; not even one" and they understand that to mean "Everyone does good," that's not hyperbole (an exaggeration for effect); it's a lie. "Good is everywhere, so I'll say, 'No one does good' so you'll understand." Simple, absolute contradiction. And that is simply one example

When "enlightened believers" understand "Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord" (Eph 5:22) to mean "No, wives should not submit to their husbands as to the Lord or anyone else," it's not enlightenment; it's contradiction. When "careful lovers of the Word" understand "The head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God" (1 Cor 11:3) to mean "There is no biblical hierarchy," it 's not enlightenment; it's contradiction. In this way, "I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet" (1 Tim 2:12) can be understood as "Women are certainly permitted to teach and exercise authority over men" without batting an eye. Faithful believers can read that God "works all things according to the counsel of His will" and understand it to mean that lots of things happen outside of the counsel of His will. Easy as pie. And we do it all while claiming, "I love God and His Word."

I read an account of a man who claimed he loved his wife so much that he had to kill her. I thought, "I hope no one ever loves me that much." I see what people who "love the Word" do to the Word and think, "That is a strange definition of 'love the Word'" when they take it and mangle it and twist it in new and innovative ways that no one ever did so that it now means the exact opposite of what it ever did before or could mean in any normal use and call it "loving God's Word." It's all very strange to me. But I'm told I'm the crazy one because I prefer to see what it says and try to conform myself to it. Go figure.

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