Tuesday, March 18, 2008

As a Bible College graduate, why can't you see that Homosexuality is a sin?


One of my blog buddies Scott, left an interesting comment on my "Ellen DeGeneres Calls State Representative Sally Kern" post.

Here is part of his comment-

"I'm sorry, but I disagree. Maybe the Representative went a little far, but I fully believe the essence of what she was saying. The Bible is VERY clear that homosexuality is a sin. I am confused how you DON'T see it that way if you've been to Bible College. Of course I don't think it is any worse of a sin than anything else that God considers sin. I was a drunk for 6 years; I believe that when I was sinning in that manner, it was just as offensive to God as if I had been gay. Personally, I don't see why it is a sin, but I am going to go with the Bible on this. It is not MY place to judge, but if the Bible is the inspired Word of God, how can we overlook the passages that say being gay is detestable in the Lord's eyes?"
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Well Scott, you got my synapses firing with that comment. I don't know how long you have been a Christian, or what denomination you are. But I will try to answer you in what I believe is the best way for you, and for anyone who may be reading this.

The Bible might be written in black and white, but it is difficult to interpret. The Bible is 66 books written by about 40 authors over a period about 1500 years. It was written in a different time, county, language, and very different customs. Studying the Bible, and being familiar with these differences are imperative to the understanding of it.

Years ago, I made a serious study of homosexuality. I had been listening to much to others, which confused me because I heard dogmatic teaching both pro, and con. Ministers seemed to vehemently believe that they were correct, and determined to prove others wrong. I was searching for the truth, and was getting no where. So I decided to make a study for myself. I knew that it would be tedious work, numerous hours, but took on the task.

First I wrote down the main scriptures that I thought had to do with homosexuality. It was awhile back. I used books not a computer. I read each passage, chapter, and became familiar with them. I read the main verses in 6 different Bible versions writing them all down. That was interesting in itself. For example. In 1 Corinthians 6:9 the Greek word Malakos is translated- effeminate (KJV), male prostitute (NIV), is a pervert (Promise) and homosexuals (Living Bible). So which one was it?

I had to find out what was meant by going back to the original language of the Bible, Old Testament Hebrew, New Testament Greek. I'm not a Greek, or Hebrew scholar so need to use some very good study books. I used The New Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of Bible, W.E. Vine Expository Dictionary both Old and New Testament, and Nelsons Expository Dictionary of the Old Testament by Unger, and White. What I found was fascinating. For example the word Sodomite in my American dictionary means male homosexual, but the definition in the original language is very different.

During a study of the history, I realized that in some cases the main theme was prostitutes who worshiped idols by having sex, (including homosexual sex). This is sometimes refereed to as shrine prostitution, or religious prostitution. Excerpt from Today's Handbook of Bible Times and Customs by William L. Coleman - "The pagan religious that surrounded and contaminated Israel's history frequently practiced some form of cult prostitution, usually centered on the theme of fertility. . . One means of pleasing the fertility gods was to engage in sex with the female or male prostitutes available at the temple. As bizarre as this may sound, the practice was common; it endured into New Testament times and frequently was assimilated into the worship of Jehovah "

The key in understanding the Bible is to make a serious study for yourself, trying to keep an open mind, open heart, and with prayer.

I have several books on how to study the Bible. Unfortunately I don't have one very good book. Therefore, I will compare them, and show you several recommends. The majority of these recommendations are widely accepted. You may be able to find many of these books over the internet.

The study books emphasis that before you study a book of the Bible, read a summery about it. (Bible study guides). You should know 1. Who- Who is writing the book, and who is it being written to. 2. Location. 3. Main Events 4. Major Ideas 5. When it was written.

BIBLE STUDY TOOLS-

It's good to have at least one in each category. You can fine may of these tools listed in the "On-line Bible Study Tools" section below. (If this section seems overwhelming go to the bottom and read the "Shortcut Version of Bible Study Tools.")

Study Bibles

Scofield Reference Bible, Ryrie Study Bible, NIV Study Bible, Life Application Bible.

Bible Handbooks

Eerdmans, plus Bruce & Stan's Guide to the Bible, are my personal favorites. Halley's, Unger's.

Concordance

Strong's Concordance, Young's Concordance, Cruden's Concordance.

Bible Dictionary

New Compact Bible Dictionary by Bryant, New Bible Dictionary by Douglas, Unger's Bible Dictionary.

Commentaries

Unger's, Jameson Faucett Brown, Matthew Henry, Wycliffe

Bible Manors and Customs

Eerdman's Family Encyclopedia, Haper's Encyclopedia of Bible Life, Manners and Customs of Bible Lands.

Meaning of Words, (no knowledge of Greek or Hebrew necessary.)

As stated before in my study - Strong's and Nelson's. Vine's (old and new testament). Vine died before he could finish his book on the Old Testament, it's excellent, but incomplete. That's why I bought Nelson's, to supplement. Nelson's is a gem, my favorite. It's best to use all these books, or the equivalent because this study is heavy on original language. If I had to choose only one I would chose Strong's. It's complete. It has both Old and New Testament, and is wildly accepted. However, I find having a second set, with the authors comments, improves my understanding.

METHODS OF BIBLE STUDY

How to study the Bible - A good comprehensive teaching. An excellent website!

The Eight Rules of Bible Interpretation - Good practical tips to always keep in mind.


ONLINE BIBLE STUDY TOOLS

Top 4 On-line Bible Search

Bible Toolbox

Bible.org

The Unbound Bible

crosswalk.com

Bonus- rbc Ministries - Good devotionals

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SHORTCUT VERSION OF BIBLE STUDY TOOLS
(Bible Study, a less comprehensive method.)

It's good to read "The Eight Rules of Bible Interpretation" and keep them in mind when studying. Go to crosswalk.com . Use the search tools to find the scriptures that you want to study. Read several Bible translations.
You can read various references like dictionaries, commentaries, concordances, etc. BiBlos.com may be a better site for a word study.

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If you want to make a lighter, or everyday, Bible study about something, then you don't need as many Bible study tools. (See link- How to study the Bible, second paragraph) But if you want to really dig into the meat of the word, especially difficult portions of scripture, then I would advise using more Bible study tools, as I have listed. I had a pastor who used to repeatedly say, "In order to understand the Bible you need to know the 1.) Context, and keep it in context 2.) History 3) Original Language." He didn't mean that you need to be fluent in Greek, and Hebrew, but have the study tools to find out what actually was being said. If you look at the link "The Eight Rules of Bible Interpretation", it has those three elements included, and are good rules to keep in mind.

THE FINAL WORD by Rev. Dr. Kathlyn James
"The only way we will arrive at a consensus on how this question should be answered is by taking time, over the coming year, to examine ourselves, study the Bible, think, read, pray, listen, and share our diverse life experiences with each other, asking together what God is calling this congregation to do and be."

Some Bible study material was from- How to Study the Bible and Enjoy It by skip Heitzig, How to Study The Bible For Yourself by Tim LaHaye, and Guide To Understanding Your Bible by Josh McDowell. Mr. McDowell has a huge list of Bible study book helps in the back of his book. Many that I was not able to mention. The list that I gave was basic, not comprehensive.

Disclaimer: Even though I have posted many online links, and mentioned many books that does not mean that I agree with everything said in those books, or links.


Related Post: What I believe about Homosexuality and the Bible

6 comments:

Scott said...

Hmmm... very interesting. Thank you for putting that together. And you are right. The best way is to study it myself.

I got saved at 14. But, as I mentioned with the boozin', I struggle with sin. And I would best define myself as a Baptist, though any Protestant denomination would work.

caroldee said...

Hope you have a great EASTER WEEKEND! : )

Awake In Rochester said...

Hi Scott,

I added to this post already. One thing that I added was a paragraph towards the end. If I find more good links, or info I will add to it. Hope it gives you some ideas.

I'm use to studying off-line, but may use the links myself for lighter online studies.

Have a good Easter!

Awake In Rochester said...

Hi Caroldee,

I remember when I was young. All the women in my family including myself, use to wear dresses and hats (Easter bonnets.) I have an old photo of it. Everyone looked so funny, but happy. It use to be a major holiday for us. Those were the good old days.

Have a great Easter!

S'onnie said...

this was interesting to read, growing up in a church, I was always taught certain things were "wrong" and certain things were "right". I now find it very hard at times to correlate what i was taught with some of the things I do/feel. To the point where I don't go to church or have much religous input into my life.

ps hope you don't mind me visiting your blog

Awake In Rochester said...

Hello S'onnie,

Welcome to my blog.

Unfortunately many people have been turned off to Church and/or God due to judgmental ministers. I find that sometimes they don't realize that some of their congregation is gay. Or at least they preach like it.

I hope that you find your way back to God. He does love you, and wants a relationship with you. Perhaps Easter would be a good time to reach out to him.