Your Opinion: Reading Scripture and reaching conclusions
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
There are important historical facts about the Bible that readers should know before reaching conclusions. The selected Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) were put in writing many centuries after the events they record. They were translated into Greek (the Septuagint) c. 200 B.C.E. The selected New Testament (NT) writings were not chosen until the end of the fourth century A.D. so NT references to Scripture are referring to the OT.
Thus when Jesus instructs the Pharisees and disciples he too is quoting OT. For example, when he tells them to love their neighbor as themselves (Lk. 10:27) he is referring to Lev. 19:18. And when he replies to the Pharisees (Matt. 19:8) on the subject of divorce he explains that times have changed since Moses permitted divorce because of their hardened hearts. (See the Gospel of Matthew to read many examples of Jesus citing different understandings of OT laws.)
Also remember that at the time, Jesus was talking to Jews not to Christians, and as time passed Christians writers wrote from different perspectives.
While I confess that I do not have an infallible understanding of God and the Bible and still have much to learn, I find myself continuing to reach different conclusions than I once held. A case in point is my change in understanding of homosexuality.
The OT has long lists of abominations that carry a death penalty. (For example, see Lev. 29: 9-16 27) Homosexuality is one, along with cursing one’s parents, several kinds of adultery, bestiality, and wizardry.
Other examples are in Exodus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy and include owners of killer-oxens, working on the Sabbath, murder, several kinds of rape and idolatry. All of these seem to have equal standing, no one is worse than another. This being the case, why do we currently treat homosexuals differently than other offenders on the list?
Personally, I confess that I believe that some Scriptures are more important to me than others. I choose to rely on Luke 10:25-37 (love your neighbor) and 1 John 4:7-8, 16) God is love and those who do not love do not know God.) I believe that times have changed and love trumps hate.
It would be wrong for me to use OT Scriptures to justify mistreatment of others.
While I often fail to live up to loving others as I should, I choose love over hate and I am willing to take the consequences of my choice.