Friday, March 14, 2014

My Bible is Rated R

I think I offended some of my Facebook friends a while back.  We had been studying the book of Galatians at my home church, talking about it in my Bible study and coincidentally, I was preaching on grace at a church I was subbing in and much of my scripture came from the book of Galatians.  With all this Galatians study, one day it hit me...the only reason the book of Galatians was written was because a bunch of new Christians were worried about what their penises should look like!  If you start at Galatians 1:1 and read it straight through like a letter would have been written, by the middle of Galatians 2 it becomes obvious that the original letter to Paul was about whether or not Christian men needed to have their foreskins cut off (aka circumcision).  It is Paul answering the question, "Foreskin or no foreskin?"  I put a post on Facebook about that and how cool it was that God used such a ridiculous letter from the people of Galatia and through it, gave Paul an opportunity to write one of the best treatises on grace found in the Bible!

Well, some people thought it was blasphemy to even think that holy people like the early Christians would be concerned about their penises or that God would allow anything about something so "dirty and unmentionable" as a penis to be in the Bible.

Sometimes it really upsets me when I know I've offended someone.  Other times, I just laugh and go on.  This time was definitely a "laugh and go on" time.

Some people forget that even though the Bible is our holy book, God-breathed and inspired, it still is a book about fallen people interacting with a Holy God.  None of the Bible was directly given to us from God word for word, such as the Book of Mormon or the Qur'an.  Even the visions and conversations with God that people had and wrote about still came through their perceptions and ability to explain it.

Now don't get me wrong.  I'm not saying that the Bible shouldn't be taken literally because flawed human beings wrote it.  I'm don't mean to go down that path at all.  But what I am saying is we have to remember that the people in the Bible were just like us, our friends, our family, and even the random guy down the street with a Confederate flag who sits on his porch and smokes and drinks Bud Light all day (I live in the country...I have interesting neighbors).

I think about my husband and when he came to Christ.  If we were back in Galatia at the time this letter was written I can only imagine what my husband would have said to someone who tried to tell him he needed to be circumcised to follow Christ.  "You want to do what to my what?????  What on earth does that have to do with following Jesus???  Why are you sick weirdos so concerned about my junk???"  His concern would not be over traditional Jewish law.  He would have been worried about the guy at the church that wants to take a knife to his manhood.

Now imagine not just one guy freaking out over this.  Imagine a whole church full of new converts who are revolting against how the church leadership wants to handle this.  In order to put this matter to rest once and for all, the church leadership gets together and decides to write a letter to Paul to get his word on this, because this foolish mob who doesn't want to get their foreskins chopped off may not listen to their church leaders, but surely they would listen to Paul.  Little did they realize that Paul's letter wouldn't be a harshly worded tome addressed to the new converts, but it would instead be a harshly worded tome directed at them for leading their flock astray!

This isn't the only time we see ridiculously earthly and what many would consider inappropriate issues making their way into the Bible.

-King David...great man of God, but the guy was a pervert.  He liked to spy naked women while they were bathing.  It would be like a peeping tom looking in your bathroom window today.  He was a fallen person interacting with a Holy God.
-Ezekiel 23...God used the story of two really screwed up prostitutes to describe the fall of His chosen people.  He could have used any example to compare it to, but He chose this particularly lewd account (read Ezekiel 23:20...every teen age boy has looked it up).
-After Noah was done with the ark, he planted a vineyard.  When the wine was ready, he got drunk and fell asleep naked in his tent.  If that wasn't bad enough, Ham, his youngest son, went and told his brothers that his dad was naked and it's implied that he either made fun of him or wanted to fool with him or something else mean spirited.  Nothing like scheming to play a prank on a naked drunk guy.

I could go on and on.

Why do so many people pretend that the people of God were perfectly holy and obedient?  God obviously knows they weren't perfect.  Why do so many people feel like they need the Bible to be rated PG when it clearly is rated R or some parts even NC-17?

I think we really do a disservice to scripture when we try to pretty it up and ignore the raw humanness of it.  We tend to be inspired by the people of the Bible by putting them up on pedestals instead of being inspired by them because they are simple people just like us whom God used in great ways.  That empowers us to walk close with Him and do great things for His kingdom too, while remembering that our God is a God of grace and the people He favors highly screwed up all the time, just like we do.  And the worst part of prettying it up is that it makes God's word less relevant in today's world for the people who need it most.  Someone addicted to porn may not see themselves in the Bible if it wasn't for the part about King David spying on Bathsheba.  The person committed murder may feel as though there is no hope for them to do any good for God's kingdom unless they get to see how even though Moses killed a man, God still chose him to lead His people out of Egypt.

Bibles that are rated PG are for people who are rated PG.  And I've never met a person whose life was rated any better than R.  Don't fool yourself that even though it is God's word, the Bible is rated any better either.

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