This week we discussed what the Bible says about being gay. Our conversation started with an case study of Christina and Johanna. Both grew up in the church, through middle school they were great friends and would often tease each other about boyfriends. Christina noticed that Johanna stopped coming to church about halfway through their junior year. Johanna passed it off with being too busy and not having the time. One night while they were out grabbing some dinner together Johanna told Christina "I think I'm gay." Christina didn't know how to respond, she was confused and never would have guessed Johanna was gay. Johanna explained that this was why she had stopped coming to church saying, "I know God doesn't approve of me anymore." Christina wondered, Is it wrong to be gay and Christian? What does the Bible say about that?
Obviously, this topic is one of the most complicated we could be talking about in this study. With the amount of polarizing statements in the media it can be frustrating and hard to decipher how to respond as Christians.
In the book UnChristian one of the major reasons young people abandon the church and their faith is because Christians are perceived as "anti-gay." Teenagers are aware of the postures people take regarding this topic.
Are people born basically good? Or are people born with selfishness that can lead to evil? These questions kicked off our discussion for the evening and made us think about the need for a God who is for us in the midst of our own sin and selfishness.
We centered around Jesus' claim to be "the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." In a world where we are a constantly aware of the many different religious beliefs we are surrounded by, how do we understand these words by Jesus?
A Word To Know: Religious Pluralism is the belief that all religions are equally valid. Religious pluralists believe that even though some religions might contradict each other, each holds a part of the eternal truth of the Divine.
We looked at some of the world religions and their view of Jesus, some think he was a prophet, was human but became god, and other thought he was a liar claiming to be the savior. Only Christianity claims Jesus was both God and human and came to bring humans back to right relationship with God. We talked about the idea that all religions lead to God and the ideology that religion is a moral system designed to make us good people conflicts with the Bible's claim that we are all tainted by sin and need rescuing. This rescue comes in the form of Jesus Christ.
Take a look at the image below. When we say that all paths lead to God, we are making a statement that all religions in effect bring us to the same God, this is religious pluralism. Are there good things in other religions, absolutely. Loving others, helping those in need, these are good things. But when we state that all religions lead to God, we are saying that the God of Christianity is the same as the God of Islam and Hinduism, which is not the God described in the Bible. The second pictures places this in perspective. We are talking about distinctly different gods, on different mountains with different paths.
Our study from Sunday night looked at two areas of gender leadership:
1. How does scripture view men and women with regard to leadership in the church?
2. How does scripture view men and women with regard to leadership in a family unit?
We opened our discussion with a story about a congregation calling a new pastor and some of the discussion of the pastor being a female. One of the congregation members brought up 1 Timothy 2:11-14.
11 Women should learn quietly and submissively. 12 I do not let women teach men or have authority over them.[a] Let them listen quietly. 13 For God made Adam first, and afterward he made Eve. 14 And it was not Adam who was deceived by Satan. The woman was deceived, and sin was the result. (NLT)
From this point, we had some really good discussion on how context should play a part of how we read Bible verses for our own application today. Some scholars have stated that this verse should be read in the original context, where the author was writing specifically to Timothy and the people in Ephesus, but it is not necessarily meant for all places and all times.
Other scholars and leaders believe the author's words rise above a particular context and apply across cultures and centuries, much like the words of Jesus throughout the gospels.
What is this?
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