I want to be up front with you: this post is primarily intended for fellow Christians. However, as this post deals with a spirit or tendency in all humans, it may well prove as or even more useful for those who do not share my faith. So I offer it to all for whatever they get from it, individually.
I recently had the displeasure of participating in what was – at least for me – a regrettable but necessary discussion about what Scripture says and what it does not, and how we can tell the difference. But the whole time I was having this debate about Scripture, I was thinking how the same person who was debating me would have been saying the exact opposite had the discussion been about the Constitution and original intent. And that is when it struck me: the debate was the same – in spirit. It was about how we, as humans, can’t help but place ourselves at the center of everything we consider important because, essentially, this is what “interpretation” is all about: making something that is clearly defined and fixed into something that is ambiguous and moldable for the specific purpose of imposing our desire onto it.
I’ll start with the Constitution. Our founders – the men who wrote and ratified the document – said that the Constitution was intended to be enforced according to the understanding at the time it was ratified. This assertion is very clear and can be found in the records on the debates, the private letters of the men involved and the Constitution, itself. It is why the Constitution provides two methods for amending it; so that it can be changed with the times. However, with the rise of what we know today as the Progressive movement came a new ‘interpretation’ of the Constitution. Today, our courts and the majority of of the rest of our government structure think of the Constitution as ‘a living document.’ In short, this means that the Constitution can be ‘interpreted’ to mean whatever the people of the time want it to mean. Sadly, this really means that it means whatever those in power need it to mean, which – in turn – means that the Constitution means nothing. For, if the meaning of the law can be changed with nothing more than a new ‘interpretation,’ then it has no meaning at all, and thus, is not and can never be law. And that is the intended purpose of the ‘living document’ doctrine: to sweep away the fixed nature of the Constitution so those who make the laws are free to do whatever they wish without restraint.
Sadly, many Christians seem to hold this same view of Scripture. They have embraced the living document way of looking at God’s word. Now, while this may make them feel better about living the life they live, it will not help them come judgment day. For, you see, whereas we may be able to force such a distorted way of looking at the U.S. Constitution on others, we cannot force a change of God’s word onto God. His Will will prevail.
The discussion I had before Christmas dealt with what Scripture has to say about homosexuality, and at least two very dangerous ideas were asserted by those calling themselves Christians. The first was the assertion that Christ said homosexuality is acceptable to God. Matthew 19:12 was cited in support of this claim, and that the word ‘eunuch’ was used because the Greeks did not have a word for homosexual. What’s more, the same person said that only Christ’s words are relevant to the Christian faith. I want to start my correction of this apostasy right there: without the reliability of God’s prophets, then our faith is in vain as we cannot know Christ is the Son of God. We only know this because of prophecy, and the prophets were God’s servants and must be listened to still today. However, even if we place Christ’s words as the only words that count, then we must accept those of His apostles, especially those of Peter and Paul. Christ told Peter that he was the rock upon which the Church would be built, and Peter assents to the teachings of Paul in his letters. Therefore, as the chosen one of Christ, we are indirectly told to listen to the teachings of Paul, and Paul clearly tells us that those who persist in an immoral lifestyle – which specifically included homosexuality – would “in no way inherit the Kingdom of God.” This means that Matthew 19:12 has nothing to do with homosexuality as, if it does, it would make Christ into a liar – which he is not. Finally, the Greeks did have words for homosexuals, so ‘eunuch’ is not a euphemism in this passage, and Matthew 19:10-11 make it painfully clear that Christ is talking about those who cannot or chose not to marry.
The second mistake I encountered in this discussion was the assertion that, if we do not judge, we will not be judged in return. This is not what Scripture says! In fact, Scripture says exactly the opposite. It says all will be judged – even the saved. It’s just that, in the case of the saved, the verdict of ‘acquitted’ has already been rendered. The penalty – our penalty – was paid in full by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. But the famous passage about the speck in our neighbor’s eye vs. the plank in our own was cited in support of the idea that we will not be judged – so long as we do not judge ourselves (Matt 7:1-6). Too few ever read that entire section, because it actually tells us to learn how to judge rightly, and that to judge rightly requires that we first deal with ourselves. Furthermore, this passage does not deal with judgment in the sense of who is saved and who is not; it is talking about judgment in the sense of being discerning about the actions of others. Scripture repeatedly tells us we are to perform this form of judgment. In fact, the Apostle, Paul, commands it, and not only that, but he commands that those who refuse to repent be put out of the company of the brotherhood.
Too few – including Christians – actually understand that we humans are incapable of not judging others. We do it all the time without ever realizing it. This is part of what the Law was intended to teach us: that – no matter how hard we try – we are not capable of obeying the Law. The Law is a form of works, just as “do not judge and you will not be judged” is the result of a work: our individual effort not to judge. Salvation does not come by works; it comes by faith and faith alone. This is why, Christ told us to judge rightly. If we learn to judge rightly and with mercy and compassion, then we will be judged in the same way. In other words, this passage is not telling us we are not to be discerning about the life other people live, but to have mercy and compassion in our discernment. But make no mistake about this: Scripture does tell us we are to be discerning, and that is where the fruits of our faith come into the equation.
If we are truly saved, then the Holy Spirit will be in us, and if the Holy Spirit is in us, then we cannot help but show it by the fruits of our faith. What we do and say and how we do and say it will testify that we belong to God. However, if we persist in a life of sin, such as the things Paul lists in his letters (sexual immorality, swindling, thievery, lying, homosexuality, etc), then there is a chance that we were not saved. If your conscience bothers you while living in rebellion, that could indicate that you may be a prodigal and your guilt is the correction of the Holy Spirit. On the other hand, if you feel no guilt, or if you persist so long that you no longer feel guilt, then Scripture says you are in danger of going to hell. Salvation is not a license to sin, but the ability to chose not to sin.
The attempt to soften the teachings of Scripture is not new, but it has a strong connection to the Progressive movement in this nation. The above examples are just two of the many ways our ‘PC’ culture has found its way into the teachings of the Church. The problem is that these assertions rest on a complete twisting of Scripture, accompanied by totally ignoring the rest of Scripture. In the case of homosexuality, Scripture is clear. It is an abomination to God. However, this does not mean that a homosexual cannot be saved or that they cannot go to heaven. This is one of the parts that the worldly ignore but which Christians must continue to stress. Homosexuality is no different from any other sin. Christ told us that, except for blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, all sins are equal in the eyes of God. So, if a sinner repents and accepts Christ as their Lord and Savior, they will be saved. This applies to homosexuals, too. The key is repentance. If you are truly repentant, then you turn away from sin. That means you do exactly what Christ told the adulteress in the “Let he who is without sin throw the first stone” parable: He told her to go and sin no more. This is the part where people get crossed up concerning homosexuality. To continue in the lifestyle means you are not repentant, and Scripture says this means you risk going to hell.
In the end, this is about allegiance and obedience. If you have a true allegiance to the principles and ideals espoused by our Constitution, then you are more likely to be obedient to the letter of the Constitution. This means you are more likely to believe in the doctrine of original intent. However, if your allegiance is more for yourself and your own desires, then you are more likely to support the living document doctrine. And while neither of these is dangerous to your soul where the Constitution is concerned, one of them is deadly to your soul where Scripture is concerned. Either Scripture means what it says and we bend ourselves to obey it, or Scripture means nothing and we can mold it to suit our personal desires. One can save you, the other will surely damn you. Please, choose wisely when you decide which of the two you will use in reading the Scripture for yourself.