by Mike Edwards
Jesus-followers in the first century had a radical impact in their world and centuries to come. They were driven by the belief according to eye witnesses that Jesus of Nazareth came back from the dead days after being horrifically crucified on the Cross. Today we must personally decide on such an event based on historical reliability. Other than this belief, it would seem their impact was due to the way they lived out Jesus’ message to love one another as they wished to be loved. I am convinced changes in at least the below beliefs thus actions by all God-followers would make a difference in Christianity’s influence!
Even the Bible tells us the Word of God isn’t a Book but flesh in the body of Jesus (Jn. 1:1–14), whose Spirit now lives in us (Jn. 14:16–17). A supposed, inspired Bible or Quran has led to claims that we best can know God according to “biblical truths.” The term “biblical truths” is misleading because differing biblical interpretations exist for many moral issues. Such views of a Book has led to much violence justified in the name of God. See here.
All agree an imperfect unloving God is not worth believing in. It’s intuitive to think a Creator would love us in the same way we wished to be loved by our parents. God’s image is surely a perfect, loving Parent! Universal moral outrage over murder, lying, stealing, etc. hint that moral knowledge isn’t hidden. We must be careful though claiming matters important to us are moral such as immigration, taxes, etc. Uncertainty not certainty about God, unless talking about beheading infidels, protects against imposing beliefs on others in God’s name. Openness encourages evaluating with others what a loving God would truly be like.
What would you believe about God and gays if you didn’t have a Bible? It is a fair question. The majority of people born into this world didn’t possess a copy of the Bible or even heard of Jesus. I doubt a Creator would only communicate through such means. Besides, many may not be aware that biblical scholars who respect the Bible believe Scriptures don’t condemn gay monogamous relationships. See here.
Could a loving God possibly condemn gays when they can no more choose who they are attracted to than straights can? If you are a straight man, don’t you naturally have to fight not looking at naked women than men? Ask gays their battle! Who chooses to be gay when one has to hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility? Science isn’t conclusive why we have desires for the same or opposite sex, but if you think there is a .0001% possibility that science proves sexual orientation isn’t a choice, would why we judge rather than love? It’s a myth that sexual choices are always the result of some trauma or rebellion in our lives.
I am not sure why any fair-minded person would think women can’t fulfill the same roles as men unless believing a Book about God teaches otherwise. I doubt Paul, a main writer of the New Testament, was a bias against women. See here. Most agree not allowing equal roles because of skin color is immoral. Choosing who should lead the company based on gender is obviously bigotry. The most qualified or gifted should surely lead the company. Why not in church? Men in authority over women whether in public or private life is conducive for domestic abuse and the other atrocities women face at the hands of men. Give me an inch and I am tempted to take a mile!
A loving God wouldn’t only let Christians into heaven when the majority of people born into this world died without knowledge of Jesus the Christ. Besides, one’s religion or rebellion against a certain religion is often based on the family born into whether it is Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, etc. Is God a God of chance? No human or spiritual parent brings children into the world requiring that one’s eternal destination is based on circumstances out of one’s control.
Terrorists believe you must be of a certain religion or be killed. If our Creator believed this way, why hasn’t God controlled evil here on earth by dashing to pieces those who don’t accept God’s ways? An infallible Book would not be so dangerous if extremists acknowledged literature is subject to interpretation, thus their interpretation cannot be proclaimed as “certainty” in God’s name. It is true bad and good religion must be distinguished, but the Bible mustn’t be used to claim all must convert to Christianity to be accepted by God.
Focus on life here on earth rather than after death
Even the Bible records that when Jesus was asked by a religious expert how to have eternal life, He simply said to love God and your neighbor (Lk.10:25–37). Loving God is loving others to the fullest. Jesus’ focus wasn’t on quantity of life after death but about a life worth living here on earth. Jesus sought to save us from destructive decisions here on earth. God seeks to encourage us to pursue heavenly than worldly ways. God seeks to empower us to be the unselfish people we deep down desire to be. Jesus sought changes of the heart for the good of the world.
A focus on the present than future makes even more sense when realizing that the traditional understanding of Hell doesn’t exist. A loving God wouldn’t torture anyone forever since such pain serves no lasting purpose. Humans wouldn’t even create such a place for their enemies. Such a place may be only imagined because of a Book. God couldn’t be a hellish/sadistic torturer! See here.
Your image of God matters!
Our understanding of God can determine the depth of our relationship with God and how we might treat others. If God really created Hell, we may think we should emulate God in our attempts to judge and punish. If God condemns gays, we will condemn gays out of devotion to God. If we believe God thinks men have authority over women in some positions, that will filter down to your wives, daughters, and friends and stifle their gifts. Imagine what you believe a perfect God is like in your life and the lives of others you interact with. You may be right.
Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like He can be contacted by email at: email@example.com