“Jesus said…”

The Supreme Court’s decision regarding gay marriage shouldn’t have been as shocking for Christians as it seems to have been. Why should we be surprised when the world acts like the world? What has bothered me this week is not so much the gay marriage ruling but the number of various biblical interpretations thrown out there with the postmodern attitude: “All interpretations are right and justified.” It’s the mindset that interpretation is in the eye of the beholder, and that’s OK. I’m not talking about unbelievers who use Scripture against Christians. I don’t put any stock into what they say because a person cannot understand the Scriptures without the Spirit. How can I say that, you may ask? Let’s take a look at 1 Corinthians 2 (NASB):

“And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.

Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; but just as it is written,

‘Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard,

And which have not entered the heart of man,

All that God has prepared for those who love Him.’

For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.

But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.” (Bold print added for emphasis)

An unbeliever may seem knowledgeable about spiritual matters and talk about Scripture all day long, but unless he or she has the Spirit, his or her words are meaningless.

Back to my original point, what has bothered me are various interpretations given by people who claim to be Christians. How can people who claim to have the same Spirit (which people are indeed doing if they call themselves Christians) proclaim opposing biblical interpretations and divide the church even further? Is the Spirit of God divided or confused? Of course not! So the only answer is that there’s something wrong with the church.

I read an article the other day called “I’m gay, liberal, open-minded–and a convert to Christianity.” I read the article not because I thought I’d agree with the author, but I was more curious about how he was going to justify his choices. The content made my blood boil. Here’s a few excerpts from Jonathan Elliott (author) with bold print for emphasis:

“But last October, I – a 33-year-old, progressive, openly gay man who spent much of my twenties as a crusading atheist and curious agnostic – was baptized and confirmed in the church. I’m unafraid to proclaim myself a disciple of Jesus Christ.” – He is open about his homosexuality and his proclaimed Christianity. The church has placed its stamp of approval upon him.

I’m still the person I was before I became a Christian, and a baptism isn’t a brainwashing. This change in my life didn’t turn me into a raging nutball – at least, I’m no more of one than I ever was.” – So are other Christians transformed into raging nutballs? Supposedly accepting Christ and being baptized didn’t change him. There’s apparently no need for change. How many of you Christians would say that you are the same person before coming to Christ and have had no conviction to change or repent?

He was diagnosed with diabetes in 2010: “I joined a support group for other newly diagnosed folks, and the therapy involved with this was rooted in a belief in a higher power. Initially, I resisted wholeheartedly. I’d been raised without any faith experience, and to even open up to the possibilities of God was a frightening and conflict-ridden concept. But ongoing discussions with this group made me realize that I was angry at what had happened to me – specifically, angry at God. And that meant I believed.” – It’s not until he feels angry towards God that he believes. OK, so even if this is how someone starts believing in God, you would think that there would be some sort of interest in learning more about Him, right?

“I spent the next two years bouncing back and forth between nearly 20 congregations of different denominations, serial first dates with church communities. And while I often found comfort and positivity, none felt like home. Sometimes I’d engage a pastor during the post-service coffee hour and find a bit of theology I couldn’t agree with; other times, I didn’t feel wholly welcomed.” – Searching for the right theology, which is…?

“Then, in 2013, I took a job as communications director for the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey.” [Elliott] “found that the church had the openness, diversity and the clear sense of tradition I sought. It was also strongly inclusive of the LGBTQ community, and welcomed both women and men as clergy members.” – Not sure what the “tradition” part means for him, but it seems that he found a place which supported his lifestyle. He didn’t have to change.

“Our priest preaches sermons that incorporate everything from transgender rights to the theological leanings of Dr. Who.” – What? And how is this preaching exactly?

And though the fundamentalists scream loudest, there are progressive and inclusive new forms of church springing up around the country, like Capital City Church in DC. Christian businesses like Elevation Burger use faith as part of their culture to inform great products and practices, without aspersions or judgment (take that, Hobby Lobby and Chik-Fil-A).” – Again, welcoming division within the so-called church.

“I acknowledge that Christianity is often countermanded and corrupted for heinous and spiteful things. But I refuse to accept that as the status quo. At the end of the day, I’m a Christian because faith, and our openness to God and to one another, make us stronger and more willing to engage the world as it unfolds and changes around us.”

Not once is Christ mentioned. There is no talk of salvation or Scripture. But the concepts of openness and finding the right fit rise to the surface. There’s no need to change; just be open to God and one another. How is this Scriptural? Does this not bother anyone else? Either the world hears (supposed) condemnation from the church or full acceptance of behavior, which is more politically correct. How has the church arrived to this point? I believe the issue tends to derive from biblical interpretation and the church’s unwillingness to distinguish good from bad fruit.

When discussing biblical interpretation for modern issues, a number of arguments start with “Jesus is in the New Testament, and He says…” Somehow the Old Testament gets tossed aside or is spoken of as barbaric. What most people forget or have not realized is that Jesus is still under the old covenant before His death and resurrection. Sure, someone wrote up a page that said “New Testament” and placed it before the Gospels, but it’s not until after Jesus dies and resurrects that the new covenant begins. A covenant cannot be established unless blood is spilled, and in this case, Christ’s blood (Heb. 9:13-18). So when people try to argue that Jesus is changing the Law with His teachings, they argue in ignorance. How can He uphold the Law and change it at the same time? What is more, why would He violate His own character since God does not change? There is either a lack of understanding or the unbelief that Jesus is God. John testifies to Jesus’ beginning with God (John 1). Jesus Himself testifies that He was before Abraham (John 8:58), and declares in John 17:5, “Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” Since Jesus is God, why would He oppose His own instructions?

As I’ve argued before, would not Christ, who has always been with and part of the Father, understand the Law perfectly? Would not, then, His teachings reflect the intended motivations behind the Law rather than change the Law itself? It is true that we (Christians) are no longer bound by the Law since Christ is the fulfillment of the Law, yet Jesus makes it clear that the Law is not abolished even now: “Do not think I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” If the Law is the tutor which leads us to Christ (Gal. 5:23); if the Law and the Prophets are witnesses to the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ (Rom. 3:21-22); if Jesus is One with the Lawgiver; and if He is under the Law while He teaches, how is it Christians argue that Jesus opposes the Law?

Many people want to see Jesus as a social justice campaigner, reaching out to the lowest of the low because they’re oppressed. They declare that He changed the role of women. That He simply loved people for who they were no matter what. That He condemned the rich men. Well, if that’s the case I must be reading a different gospel. Because I see Jesus as the holy Son of God who spoke to the self-righteous, rich, and lowly alike. He ate with and taught all of them. Many of the self-righteous, like the Pharisees, ridiculed Him and sought His death. They should have known the truth and taught the sheep, but instead they acted like wolves. Their own arrogance and desire for power and riches from the world drove them away from the Messiah they were supposedly waiting for. Some rich people, Jew and Gentile alike, sought Jesus for wisdom, truth, and healing, and those who had faith received what they asked for. For others, the cost of following Jesus was too high. Jesus interacted with the lowly and outcasts because they didn’t know the truth. They were sheep without a shepherd, the lost and spiritually sick. Those who were supposed to teach them had no understanding even with all of their knowledge, who burdened them with their own additions to the Law and man-made traditions. So Jesus taught them, and many came to believe in Him. And despite what many people are spouting nowadays, they changed because of the truth they came to know. Zaccheus (a rich, tax collector) no longer stole from people, but gave half of his possessions to the poor and vowed to return four-fold to those he defrauded (all of this given from his heart, not compulsion). Mary Magdalene was no longer possessed by demons but served the Lord (some scholars propose that she is also the sinful woman who wiped Jesus’ feet with her hair in Luke 7:36-50; John 11:2 seems to support this). Jesus told the woman who was caught in adultery to “Go and sin no more.” He also told that to others whom He healed. The power of God was manifested so that they would believe, but they were instructed to no longer live in sin. Many of Jesus’ disciples who heard the teaching, “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him (John 6:56),” decided to turn away from following Jesus. Scripture explains they left because of their unbelief (John 6:53-66). Jesus came to bring life to anyone who would heed His words of truth and follow the Father’s will. Salvation is a gift for all, poor and rich, Jew and Gentile alike. This is what Paul means when he writes, “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise” (Gal. 3:27-29). Anyone who claims this to be about social justice or equality is a fool. Such a person takes this teaching out of context which is talking about faith. Any of us who have made the commitment to follow Christ and carry out this commitment are one in Him. We are the body of Christ with each member serving its own God-given purpose so that the body may function properly.

Anyone who says that no change is necessary as a Christian is a liar and not a believer. This goes beyond the discussion of homosexuality. It’s about all sin. If I’m aware of sin in my life, and I do not repent and change, I remain in sin before God. If Israel received wrath from God while He continued to fulfill His promises to th