“We Ought to Get the Bible Straight” (A Quickening Quote)
Today I received an email that linked to an article where the author more or less ‘went off’ on evangelicals for getting the Bible wrong about abortion and homosexuality. For this week’s ‘Quickening Quotes’ I want to quote the author of the article and then do my best to offer somewhat of a response.
Here’s why: Evangelical Christians MUST think hard and critically and biblically and compassionately on these issues. Because I pastor a local church – I feel it is my responsibility to help those entrusted to my care to think through any and all accusations with as much biblical wisdom and insight as possible. The claims that Christians are wrong about same sex marriage and abortion are growing. We must know how to deal with these things correctly and gently; with both truth AND love.
I am not going to mention any names or link to any sites. My purpose here is not to ‘fight back’ or ‘provoke’ an argument. I don’t EVER want this blog to be a ‘bully pulpit’ or a place for arguing. My purpose here is to help evangelical followers of Jesus (mainly members of FBC El Dorado) think rightly about these critical matters.
The author of the article sent to me today was upset over many so called evangelical Christians who make a big deal about the two issues of abortion and homosexuality. He believes evangelicals are guilty of twisting the Scriptures to make a case for having a Republican President. He argues that in recent American history, people have ‘used God’ for their side – Democrat or Republican. In the case of evangelicals wanting Mitt Romney in office, according to the writer, they use the God they want to get him in the Oval office – not the God of the Bible.
The author laid out his purpose and defense as follows: “Here is my basic proposition: Bible-believing Christians who want to base their politics on the Bible ought to get the Bible straight, which is to say (a) correct and (b) directly from the page, rather than filtered through the spin of the GOP. To this end, I would like to challenge them to look at an amazing website, part of ‘The Official King James Bible Online,’ which lists each and every word in that translation of the Bible in order of popularity.”
Using this ‘grid,’ the author says the words ‘abortion’ nor ‘homosexuality’ are found in the Bible. He does admit to there being references to these issues, but their uses definitely are not “central” based on their “popularity.” Concerning other political issues pertinent to Presidential elections, he says “war,” “peace,” “economics,” “rich and poor,” “prison” and “prisoners,” and “Israel” are used many more times than references to same sex marriage and abortion. He purports that true Bible believing Christians should be much more concerned about things the Bible is actually concerned with.
His conclusion: “I have no problem with evangelical Christians voting for Romney. My complaint arises when they say they are doing so because the Bible commands them to vote for the candidate who is opposed to abortion rights and opposes same-sex marriage. The Bible itself is relatively unconcerned with these matters. It is far more concerned with questions of poverty and wealth, war and peace, and (need I add?) theology.If you think otherwise, it’s not the Bible speaking. It’s the political operative at the bottom of the well.”
To put it simply, this particular writer believes that since the Bible mentions “war” and “peace” and “Israel” (among others) much more than it references homosexuality or abortion – then Christians who spend all of their time arguing against these things are wasting their time and getting it all wrong. In his opinion, “The Bible itself is relatively unconcerned with these matters.”
How are Christians to respond to this? Is he right? Have many evangelicals been wrong about the Bible’s emphasis on these things? Read the writer’s conclusion again. Those are strong words. If he is right, then many, if not most (myself included), evangelicals need to do some serious reevaluating. According to the article, I wasted my and the congregation’s time over the last two Sundays.
I offer several suggestions as to how we can respond/think about these things in biblical, wise, and loving way:
1. Popularity of words in the Bible does not necessarily make subjects more or less important.
Just because the Bible uses some words more than others does not make those words or concepts more important. I’ve banked my life on the doctrine of the Trinity. The word ‘Trinity’ is never found in the Bible. But I believe there is One God and that He exists in Three Persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Similarly, I just happen to believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the main storyline of the Bible. I am certain, however, numerous other words are used more than Gospel. Simply because the Bible uses some words more than others does not mean it is ‘relatively unconcerned’ about various issues or doctrines.
2. The beginning and the end of the Bible is about marriage.
Family is the foundation of any society. God created Adam and Eve in the Garden. They were to be fruitful and multiply and be a family. Why? One reason is because this is how God designed it and how a solid society works. God created husband and wife before He did the church, government, etc. A second reason is because – in the heart and mind of God – marriage between a man and woman is to picture the relationship between Jesus and His Church (See Ephesians 5:22-33) – often referred to as His “Bride.” Thus the last book of the Bible – Revelation – concludes with Jesus coming for His Bride (the church).
Though homosexuality may not be mentioned much – the obvious purpose of God is for marriage to be between a man and woman who carry out God-given roles to reflect a greater reality. Bottom line: biblical marriage is a major storyline reflecting THE MAJOR STORYLINE of the Bible.
3. Babies being born matter BIG TIME biblically.
Have you ever wondered why Satan hates babies and why he has been so successful at having them killed in their mother’s womb? Because in Genesis 3:15 after Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden, God told the serpent (Satan) that a baby would come from Eve’s offspring that would crush him. We know it to be Jesus. As a result of that promise, Satan didn’t want to see ANY baby be born. He didn’t then and doesn’t now. Babies coming out of a mother’s womb haunts Satan; it reminds him of what has happened as well as his coming doom.
The Bible may not mention the word ‘abortion’ but it is very much concerned with babies being born. For followers of Jesus, it is constant reminder of LIFE [Every life in a mother’s womb is sacred (Genesis 1:26-27)]. For the evil one – a reminder of his certain doom. Bottom line: babies being born and babies being killed are major story lines that reflect THE MAJOR STORYLINE of the Bible – baby Jesus comes for mankind to destroy the works of the enemy.
4. The other issues mentioned do matter.
Nobody is saying that they don’t matter. They do. In fact, I agree with the author that evangelicals should spend MORE time talking about these things. However, based on a brief sketch of what I believe the Bible teaches from start to finish about marriage and the sanctity of life, I believe it is right and biblical to be so preoccupied with these issues.
5. Christians really do need to be careful not to make the Bible say what they want it to say.
I agree with the author in the fact that evangelicals are notorious ‘Bible spinners’ (my phrase, not his). We are really ‘good’ at making it say what we want it to say. We must be careful never to take our agenda to the Bible. The Bible must set the agenda for us. Not the other way around. I encourage all followers of Jesus to have positions that would be the same if the convictions of the Parties were reversed. If Democrats are more ‘pro-life’ in 12 years – would you still hold to the same biblical premise? I hope so. If Republicans embraced same-sex marriage – would you still believe like you do?
The author has a strong point: “we ought to get the Bible straight.” I agree.