Bible Interpretation in the Modern World

via Matthew Vines – Why the Bible Shouldn’t Be Used to Condemn Gay….

One of the biggest struggles inside and outside of Christianity, is the interpretation of the Bible.  Every sect of Christianity has its own favored ‘version’ of interpretation.  Even when it comes down to looking at the original word in Greek or Hebrew, there are differences of translation and interpretation.  And given that written Hebrew relies on dots and other symbols to include vowels, there could be some question if the word was translated correctly in the first place.

That’s part of the reason why different sects choose specific translations of the Bible.  They tend to pick the translation that most closely aligns with their doctrine.

This particular Christian man has done a reasonably deep study of the appropriate passages (although, I believe there are other passages in both the Old and New Testaments that also weigh in on this matter).

But, it’s all still just based on interpretation.  Some Christians may well believe or can be persuaded to believe that what he says is the correct translation of these specific passages.

I do agree with him on one point.  When dealing with a translation of an ancient text, you MUST take into account the cultural context of the text.

However, I strongly disagree with one of his claims in regards to the cultural context of the Bible.  He claims that almost all homosexual activity in the ancient world was older male/young male, with the older man also having a wife.  This concept allows for there to be a “different” reason for the Biblical writers to have an issue with homosexuality – i.e. lust-fullness and adultery.

I do agree that male homosexuality was fully acceptable to the Greeks and Romans. But, I disagree that it was primarily of a type that would be considered molestation in our current context.  I’m not denying that that kind of relationship did not happen in the ancient world, I simply don’t see any historical proof that makes homosexuality primarily a molestation relationship.  There is art that shows this kind of relationship, but there is a lot of depictions of all sorts of relationships from the era.  And you can see discussions of “peer companions” (i.e. homosexual relationships between equal partners) in many of the Greek and Latin philosopher writings.

The reality in this situation is that each person has to deal with their conscience in their own way.  They are the ones who have to justify their choices when they come face to face with the Divine.

Personally, I think the verses that are most important in this case are:

  • Matthew 7:1-6:

    “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

    “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

    “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

  • Mark 12:13-17

    Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words. They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know that you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not? Should we pay or shouldn’t we?”

    But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. “Why are you trying to trap me?” he asked. “Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”

    “Caesar’s,” they replied.

    Then Jesus said to them, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”

    And they were amazed at him.

  • Mark 12:28-34

    One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

    “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’g There is no commandment greater than these.”

    “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

    When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.

  • Mark 12:38-40

    As he taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.”

  • Luke 9:23-26

    Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

The sad thing to this is that I’m sure there are quite a few Christians out there that will quote Shakespeare by saying, “Even the Devil can quote Scripture.” (found in the Merchant of Venice) implying that I must be taking the above out of context.

People, I studied the Bible for YEARS as a believer.  I didn’t become Wiccan until I was in my 20s.  I know DAMNED well that the Bible must be studied in context.  Not just in context with the rest of the BIble, but in context to the culture of the time.  I’m not taking ANY of these out of context.

The reality is that in the BIble (if you believe it is the inspired Word of God) it states VERY clearly in many different ways that you CANNOT and SHOULD not force anyone else to walk the path you do.  In fact, as seen above, it states that doing so is “casting pearls before swine.”  Everyone’s choices are between themselves and the Divine.  You CANNOT and SHOULD not judge others for their sins, but love them.

The hate and vitriol I am seeing (and have seen all of my life) does NOT reflect the BIble I was taught, and *I* was raised in an extremely conservative form of Lutheranism.  To tell you just how conservative, Michelle Bachman was part of this same group before she considered it to be “too controversial” for a politician such as herself.

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