Christian Misgivings - Mothering Forums

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Author Topic: Christian misgivings
bonita
Member posted 05-11-2001 12:26 AM
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I am at a place right now where I am very confused spiritually. For all of my life, I have considered myself a Christian. Recently, however, I've started to confront some of the issues I have with the religion. A lot of the Old Testament is, in my opinion, horrible. Most of it, really. So I have a problem when people use it to judge one another. As in, picking and choosing, you know? I long for spirituality in my life, and I'm wondering if I can still be a Christian and think the way I do.
*Like homosexuality - I do not think that anyone would ever go to Hell for merely loving someone of the "wrong" gender, and I don't know how to reconcile that belief with the one I typically encounter at church or from other Christians.

*Hell - the entire concept of it. I don't understand how a loving god could send someone to Hell.

*Sexism - Christianity seems to be saturated with it. Obey your husband. God is always called He. A man saves the entire world. The rib from Adam. Eve is the evil mother of sin. Can you be a feminist and a Christian?

*The entire Old Testament - I find it abhorrent. Is it just a story or according to the religion, are we supposed to draw lessons from it?

*Sex in general - why is it a sin to have premarital sex? Why so much shame attached to it?

This is not a "diss" on Christianity, exactly, I want to be able to return to it. I just want to know if I can. Is there a "flavor" of Christianity that allows me to think this way, or are my beliefs just not going to work with it?




aussie
Member posted 05-11-2001 02:27 AM
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Bonita you and me both.. I have looked around a lot but not found a way to be a Christian. The Quakers seem to come close but I hear in practice it's not necessarily so.
Having grown up Roman Catholic and feeling totally not at home there I don't feel i can pick up the spirituality of another culture as many friends have - culturally I am an irish-flavour catholic australian and cannot be other than that! like putting on a sari might be comfortable but really I grew up in jeans and a t-shirt.
I'll be delighted if anyone can come up with the "flavour"of Christianity that tastes right to me.
[This message has been edited by aussie (edited 05-11-2001).]



Becca
Moderator posted 05-11-2001 06:42 AM
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Hi Bonita,
It sounds like you are doing a lot of soul searching right now.
Sometimes it's helpful to focus on the things you DO believe rather than what you don't. If the teachings of Jesus have real meaning for you, then let them be your guide rather the the other stuff. I tend to believe that the stronger we become in our individual beliefs; whether or not they fit in with any particular religion or denomination; the more we draw like minded people to us, and the more we are drawn to them.
Read, think, love - you'll find what you're looking for eventually
Blessings, Becca


Mom x 3
Member posted 05-11-2001 08:37 AM
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Bonita, I can really understand what you are saying! I have many of the same issues and have been "stuck" for way too long. I have been trying to sort out what was weird about my church or family that may have influenced my experience with Christianity. And does it have to be an "all or nothing" deal?
Can I use the example of Christ's life rather than the church's social flavor to make my decisions?
I feel there is a "bigger picture" and yet I struggle with letting go of something that was so much a part of my early years. It's a good question you asked, "can we feel this way and still be a christian"?
Being a parent makes you look at were you are and what you are going to teach your children. Thanks for this post, I look forward to sharing this journey with all of you! Blessings, Jill


Yammer
Moderator posted 05-11-2001 08:54 AM
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Can one pick and choose what to believe and what to value?
If you believe in God, then believe in God. The Bible may be God's word, but that word was filtered through the sensibilities of its authors -- Bronze Age nomads. I think it would be too much to expect the book to be wholly coherent, let alone culturally appropriate for all time.

I'm not a Christian, but I respect that belief. It seems to have much to commend it. A philosophy of love and forgiveness, the protective community of worshippers, the spiritual "safety net" that relieves the fear of death, and much more. It would be a shame to lose all of that.

Perhaps you could do some congregation-shopping. There are modern-thinking Christians around. At my university, the campus chaplain was a lesbian and feminist writer. She was Anglican; I think that is Episcopalian in the States.




madison
Member posted 05-11-2001 10:58 AM
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Hi, I hope you aren't thinking - oh, geez, what is a Buddhist lesbian going to say about this? Don't be afraid!
I have a strong Christian background. I was raised presbyterian as a child and became one of the "fundamentalist, holy roller, charismatic" type Christians in high school. I was involved very intimately with two Christian ministries throughout my college years and for a few years beyond - Young Life, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.

I love theology and discussing exactly the issues you are struggling with, because I've been where you are, I've asked the same questions (especially around the time I came out and was shaken that my "assumptions" about the way things were didn't mean it was "true")!

I have described my spiritual journey as going from the lushness & fruitfulness of new faith, to the desert of spiritual dry spells, and I now consider myself a Christian-in-exile who practices many of the tenents of Buddhism. I do consider myself a non-theistic Christian still. Even the Dalai Lama suggests people generally stay within their own religion while experiencing the best other religions have to offer, to keep their basic worldveiw intact while coming to truth.

To any Jewish people reading this, please keep in mind the moment in history where our religions split and allow the divergence for the sake of discussion

At the beginning of my journey into exile (from the majority of "Christian" beliefs into more a mystical/feminine Christian belief system), it helped me to keep in mind that what we commonly call the Old Testament was completely made obsolete by Jesus's life and words. He made everything new. The old rules do not apply anymore. So the rules that the Israelites had about who they could and could NOT associate with no longer apply (i.e. the ill, the menstruating women, the diseased, the foreigners etc). Toss the old Testament thinking out.

With Hell, frankly I've had a hard time reconciling that concept to my current belief system. However, from a Christian perspective I really liked how C.S. Lewis described hell as the absence of anything that would make life worthwhile (love, a relationship with God, forgiveness etc). I can't remember which book it was (he wrote too many), but it described a man living in a house by himself (in "hell"), who hated himself very much (since love is from God, he had none left with himself in hell), hated his neighbors (he moved as soon as he could see the lights of a neighbor's house at night) etc. Hell for C.S. Lewis was described as being completely alone & forsaken as a social human being.

Yes, there is ALOT of sexism in the Bible. It was written by men, for men. Women weren't important enough to write about generally (unless they served their men well), and women weren't expected to read. Why bother? Meanwhile, please remember all those invisible women had lives, had feelings, had love, had their OWN history happening *concurrently* with everything you see written down. They weren't any less intellegent or less human than you and I. Just invisible. Use your imagination to consider their lives and contributions.

Regarding sex, IMHO the main reason it's been defined as forbidden, sinful, shameful is because we as women are so POWERFUL. We create life. Without us this peopled planet cannot exist and continue. WE are the creators with God. Men have traditionally hated this basic fact of biology, and have controlled who/what/when/where/how to keep women under control. And because in general they are bigger & stronger than us, their plan worked for millenium - until the advent of birth control. And even now that is STILL a huge struggle. And for the many women, they've gone along with the "plan". They either didn't have a choice or didn't know they had a choice. Strength = Power throughout most of history.
Recognizing these facts for me really liberated me from that patriarchial thinking, though it did distance me from my Christian friends' thinking on the subject.

The homosexuality thing is another entire issue, a LONG one, that I can really enjoy getting into. Are you sure you're up for that? I'd need a few days to find my resources, I'm in the beginning stages of moving and have started packing up my books!

Oh, there's so much more to discuss....



claridad
Member posted 05-11-2001 11:12 AM
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Madison...I grew up Presbyterian in So. Cal and involved in Campus Crusade in H.S. and Intervarsity in college. Small world! Now I am also often at odds with my religious background but find myself most comfortable with the Episcopal church mostly because they are up on social issues and tolerant and accepting of all. I also had a woman rector/pastor who while on the job directing our church received training in Taoism which I think is a great philosophy. I also side with the Dalai Lama. I do consider myself a christian though, and don't feel that I have to give up any of my desire to learn and grow from other teachers/philosophies. Many christians would disagree with me, but that is o.k. I have reconciled this over time and am very comfortable with my spiritual life now. Thanks to a great ex-catholic currently episcopal priest I met in college who helped me see that there is so much to learn in this life and God is so much bigger than the box we often put him in. I just don't see life black and white anymore and religion either.
This is a great new forum. I am exited to be posting here!



shelly1610
Member posted 05-11-2001 08:35 PM
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So I am not alone
I'm with you all. I believe in God, but do not agree with most of the bible. Although I've never been a religious person I have visited quite a few christian chruches, everything from catholic to free will baptist. Never really fit in.
The whole part about damning homosexuals and obey the man really bothers me.
And the bible can really be misinturpted.
Christian are always preching "judge not lest you be judged" but in the next breath tell you what your doing wrong....
Of course I mean no offense to anyone.
Just glad to find people questioning their spirtuality.
me too
Shelly


Reikimom
Member posted 05-12-2001 04:26 PM
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Personally, I don't trust anyone who's 100% in agreement with the bible or any particular religion. You shouldn't be either, otherwise you're not putting much thought into your spiritual life.
The Bible didn't just plunk down from heaven. It was written by real people in real communities. Some people were really happy and wrote about all God has done for them. Others were way pissed because an army just stomped all over them and why does God hate them so much? The Bible is a story of people who were trying to figure things out just like we are.

The storytellers of the bible all had an agenda. There was a reason for every story to be told. Some facts were embellished, some were glossed over and some were left out completely. So don't take it literally. Symbolism is very powerful and that's where the bible just explodes with meaning.

Question Everything.

If you find a rule, doctrine or belief that makes no sense, track down it's origin, then you'll find it's true meaning. Then you'll have the freedom to intelligently accept or reject it. Until then, you're just reacting to it, which brings no peace.

Good luck in your search.



motherdownunder
Member posted 05-14-2001 03:21 AM
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A lot of people feel this way bc modern christianity is not in accord with the teachings of Christ. The stories of Christ were parables, told that way so that only the people ready to understand them would understand them. They were written for the culture and time that existed when the actual person of Christ lived on the Earth. They were never intended to be taken literally. Of course a fully realized man such as Jesus, full of love for all people, would not tell you things like "an eye for an eye".
When you take away the power issues (such as the Catholic refusal of women priests), and the things that are particular to a culture, you'll find that all the world's religions are based on the same thing. Jesus, Buddha, Krisha, Allah, etc. were all preaching the same thing.
Make yourselves familiar with what these people were really saying, put this into practice in your own lives, and then you may find that you are comfortable choosing a church community in which to practice it.

I notice that "obeying men" keeps coming up. It takes on a whole new light if you learn that the man is supposed to represent the laws of the universe and guide the woman only from truth. I know that in my heart, I would be happy (and relieved) to have a man telling me what to do if I really believed that he knew best and was representing and interpreting God/truth/universe. The reason the man does this is bc he's supposed to have a "universal" view taking in everthing in a 500 year span, while the woman needs to be able to concentrate on the small details of daily living to raise children.



Onaleia
Member posted 05-14-2001 04:08 AM
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I have found the answers to these questions within the teachings of an organized Christian church, and yet while my church encourages me to share what I have learned with others who may be seeking, I find it difficult to overcome 12 years of public school programming: "don't talk about religion."
The people on these boards are wonderfully respectful and careful of others' beliefs and feelings: I rejoice that this is so.

I would be willing to post a website where you might find the answers I have found, if you are interested and if you feel it is appropriate. (You=a consensus of the readers of this thread.) I do not wish to disrupt.



[email protected]
Member posted 05-14-2001 05:35 AM
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Hello everyone.I love reading your answers!For me,I think the movie Out on a Limb started me on a search for truth.As a 9 or 10 year old ,I read all I could on reincarnation,my mom was supportive .When I saw that movie I went to an Edgar Cayce meeting & met great people & books.There is a series regarding the Old Testament #3 books,they helped me realize a lot of the symbolic meanings to it.He talked about there being a symbolic,literal,& spiritual meaning to most everything in the Bible.Lots to get into here.Keep up the good posts.


DebraBaker
Member posted 05-14-2001 07:47 AM
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I am a Christian with a Jewish background.
I have honestly struggled with several mentioned issues.
Here's my thoughts.

The "OT" Much of the "OT" is history. G-d didn't edit what really happened. What really happened was often violent and disturbing.

Children (mostly the "Rod Verses") The Bible doesn't command us to spank our children. Christian male teachers have perverted the scriptures to suggest that we must spank in order to parent bibically (I just had this debate with someone last night)

Women, Most of those "submit" verses were severely mistranslated during King James times. The people entrusted to preserve the Bible and hand it down to us have misrepresented G-d to people. The culture has been consistantly anti-woman (for much of the reasons cited by Madison in my opinion, we're strong and powerful and they're afraid so they put us down......ironic, huh?

Hell, This one really bothers me. I believe everyone gets a chance to get into heaven. I don't understand what happens to some people but they seemingly never had a chance if accepting Jesus really *is* the only way and I must hold onto the faith that G-d wouldn't condemn anyone to hell just because they never had a chance. Lame, yes but it's the best I have.

Homosexuality....I'm really looking foward to whatever Sierra's serving up soon....there are verses that seem to condemn homosexuality. Because I'm straight I've never bothered much with them because they don't apply to me and it isn't my place to give anyone else grief for their own business. How do I handle gays as a Christian? The golden rule, folks, I try to live it!!!

Christianity is all about love, forgiveness, and a close bond with G-d. A bunch of self-serving pompous a-hole western men have perverted (excuse the pun) it to serve their own purposes.

Debra Baker



Becca
Moderator posted 05-14-2001 08:20 AM
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I love you kick a$$ christian mommas
Blessings, Becca


queentofu
Member posted 05-14-2001 11:17 AM
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I'm no bible scholar at all but I have my guesses....
I think the whole sex is sinful shameful etc...was perhaps in response to recognizing that people were spreading diseases via sex and they didn't know how to prevent it other than making people afraid to do it in the first place

Plus, the whole inheritance thing, they wanted to make sure they knew what men the babies came from (it was obvious what women they came from) in order to pass wealth along in a less disputed matter than guessing paternity

the taboo on homosexuality is perhaps in response to large numbers of people in a group dying from various diseases and the religiously powerful leaders wanted to make sure to increase the flock numbers, this would also go hand in hand with prohibiting birth control, sort of a built in membership increasing self persvation plan, like Amway!



lisamarie
Member posted 05-14-2001 12:03 PM
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DebraBaker...you said it very well!


Onaleia
Member posted 05-14-2001 02:28 PM
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Extra-marital sex is sinful because sex is sacred, not because sex is sinful. God created the institution of marriage for the purpose of perfecting His children, and the power of procreation for the purpose of creating bodies for the rest of his spirit children who are waiting for their turn on earth. Children grow best in a two-parent family who are working together to honor each other, their children, and their Creator. This is not to put down anyone who isn't living this ideal; we all do our best with the circumstances given us. This is just the "why" to why the bible teaches against extra-marital sex (and incidentally, homosexuality).


moondancer
Member posted 05-14-2001 09:24 PM
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Well, here goes...this is how I see it:
hell--God has given us a choice b/c we are not robots we have free will. So in order to be with God in eternity (b/c our souls are eternal) we must choose God. Heaven is the place he has created for those who choose him and hell is for those who reject him--knowingly, willingly, in yo' face JC rejection. All who call on his name will be saved.
I don't believe you'll go to hell for premarital sex, homosexual sex or taking drugs or lying to your mother. I believe you go to hell for rejecting the son he sent as a sacrifice. In the same breath you do not go to heaven for any good works that you do b/c it is through Grace that we are saved not by works lest anyone should boast. So the religion part of faith is usually about performance and ritual and is not what your salvation is based upon.

Old Testament scripture is the culmination of a human race gone awry and pointing to the need for a savior. I had a major struggle with the OT as a previous bi-feminist until I understood the context in which these books were written. The rule that really pissed me off was where the girl who was raped was to be stoned for bringing shame upon her family.

But see the depravity of humans that we would even violate eachother in this way to begin with? we need someone to save us b/c humanity is wicked. Just look at incest and pedaphiles and then tell me we as humans are basically okay or the ravages of war, men like Hitler and the atrocities commited in the concentration camps. We are capable of such horror and that envelope gets pushed farther and farther. Children shooting children.

No other *religion* extends free Grace to us. Other belief systems are about what we can do to reach a higher state. I know I am a scum-puppy who could work her whole life jumping through the hoops of *religion* in order to reach the *top*. All I simply had to do was believe, confess, repent and live. Simply that. The rest is man-made and all about power and control under the guise of christianity. Please don't confuse the two. There is religion=oppression and there is relationship=freedom. So when you see discrepancies with folks who call themselves christians and then oppress and judge and hate and reject these are who Jesus called the Pharisees, just know that Jesus separated himself from them too.

New Testament sexism is more of a reflection on the culture than on the saviour Jesus. If you really study Jesus you will see that he alone raised the status of women to their rightful place. Unfortunately so much of the Bible is taken out of context of the culture and it's day and when it's put back in it really packs a punch. but many of us read it with cultural ignorance and we react and then reject.

Homosexuality is defined as sin as is gossip, drunkenness, gluttony, adultery...but I never see Jesus rejecting anyone therefore nor will I. I have committed each of these sins in my life but he still loves me. I am a work in progress.

Nuff said.

sign me a Jesus Freak






DebraBaker
Member posted 05-15-2001 06:34 AM
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About the sex thing....again cultural rather than genuine Christianity.
I teach my children to wait until marriage and not have sex outside of marriage.

I explain *why*. Look at it, if everyone waited and kept sex inside marriage we wouldn't have diseases (half of the aids cases wouldn't exist) we wouldn't have teenaged pregnancies.

I don't think of G-d as this uptight old man who doesn't want us to enjoy sex (if that was the case it would feel so good!!) but He, in HIs wisdom) knows the potential for grief when sex is outside marriage.

Like I tell my daughter, "why give it up if he isn't willing to commit to you, you're more worthy than all of that!"

D.Baker



nursing mother
Member posted 05-15-2001 06:08 PM
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Moondancer, well said, none of us are without sin.


moondancer
Member posted 05-15-2001 07:13 PM
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oops--I never committed adultery. What I meant was that I have committed many of these sins as defined in the Bible. Now fornication...yeah but never as a married chick. Oh my.


nursing mother
Member posted 05-16-2001 01:20 PM
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No, I never thought you meant "that" I was just reminded of the story of the women caught in adutery and the pharisees wanted to stone her and Jesus said "He who has never sinned cast the first stone?" Jesus doesn"t categorize sin, gossip and cheating are just as bad as "sexual sin" or murder in His eyes, we all need forgiveness.


moondancer
Member posted 05-16-2001 08:50 PM
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amen sister on the forgiveness. I am thankful every day for that one.


Mama2Mary
Member posted 05-16-2001 09:33 PM
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This is all very interesting to me. I think the thing that needs to be remembered is that the Old Testament is not a guideline for how men should act. A lot of it is showing how sinful men were/are and how they need forgiveness.
As far as submitting to our husbands, that was hard for me to handle until I began reading a book called "The Fruit of Her Hands". It is an awesome book that talks about the awesome women in the Bible (btw, I don't think the Bible is sexist...look at all the awesome, powerful women in there...I named my daughter after two of them, Mary Elizabeth) and how they "submitted" to their husbands. The thing is that before the whole submission verse the Bible tells men to love their wives as Christ loved the church. Um, didn't He like *die* for the church? So that means that your husband must be willing to sacrifice all for you. Submitting does not mean giving up self. It simply means respecting. If you have yourself a good man, then this shouldn't be hard at all.

As far as hell, I agree that it is for those who turn their backs on God. I don't really want to get into that now...but, it does make sense to me.

Another thing to remember is that Christ came to fulfill the old covenant...that would be the Old Testament. I don't like the OT much either, but there are some awesome books. Speaking of sex, have you read Song of Solomon...it's pornographic! The thing to remember is that we are forgiven. If we ask for forgiveness (and btw, you don't need a priest to forgive you...He's always there) He will give it. I have found great solice in being a Christian. I find it freeing. It is so amazing that God loves us so much!!! I feel Him with me and I totally dig Him.

I do agree that there are a number of "Christians" out there that give the Bible a bad name. But, I encourage you to look into the Word and not at people. Study for yourself, call upon Him, rest in Him...He's pretty awesome.

Oh, and Amen Sister Moondancer!!!

[This message has been edited by Mama2Mary (edited 05-16-2001).]



boobybooby
Member posted 05-16-2001 09:45 PM
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Mama2Mary,
I love that name Mary, for so many reasons. Obviously the meaning it has to Christians, and, it was also my dear grandmothers name.
You have said some really wonderful and truthfull things, thank you!



bonita
Member posted 05-21-2001 12:36 AM
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Wow! I haven't looked at this topic for a week or so. I had no idea there were so many replies. Thank you all for answering. Any other thoughts? I really love to hear them.



lilyka
Member posted 05-22-2001 06:21 PM
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Moondancer said everything so well. I just wanted to expand one thing relating to the whole sexism issue.
Sexism was part of the culture. Jesus didn't come to make great social change. It wasn't his mission and people were pissed about it even then. They simply couldn't believe that this was the messiah because all he did was sit around on hillsides and talk about sheep, salt and candels. He wasn't a savior conquering the enemy that they thought he out to be. I am sure there were probably women saying " That can't be the messiah. He would surely be doing more for us to help our social status" But this wasn't His goal. His goal was to bear the sins of the world and die for them so that everyone, man women jew and gentile could have everlasting life through Christ. He didn't free the slaves, he didn't free the Jews from Rome and he didn't empower women. He tought everyone that this situation was temporary and soon enough they would be free through Him.

As for the verse in Ephesians about Wives submitting to your husbands, most people qupte that without taking the rest of the passage into consideration. (I am paraphrasing due to children running around trashing the house)

"All Christians should submit to one another out of reverance for Christ." So men are submiting to women, women to men children to parents and parents to kids. In Christ we are equal and shoud have everyones best intrest in heart.

"Men are to love the wives as Christ loves the church" Lets start by assuming we agree that Christ dies for our sins and hge is good guy. Husbands are to sacrifice, die, bare the punishment for our wrongs, not judge, forgive unconditionally, be gentle and loving with wives even when we try thier paitence, protect us., pray for us, teach us and more. Think of every way Christ loves his children. This is what are husbands are ask to do and all we have to do is submit which if both husband and wife are followers of Christ we should already be doing anyway.

Think of this verse in light of the story about the combs, the hair and the watch and chain. A man has a watch and wants a chain for it, his wife has beautiful hair and wants a beautiful comb for it but no one has any money. So, the wife cuts her hair to buy hubby chain, and hubby sells his watch to buy wife combs. Both sacrificed something they wanted to give the other what they wanted.

Same goes for the children/parents and slave/owner parts. children and slaves submit and parents/owners don't be jerks.

Sorry to ramble on so but I feel very strongly abou this. I actually wrote a twenty page paper on it for my New Tesment Exegisis when I was in college (I was a Bible student. It was an intresting journey)and if anyone is intrested in reading the paper or my refrences for it I would be happy to let you provided I can find it. I feel very strongly that people read way to much into these verses (says the girl who rambled on and on about what she read into it )and it irritates me.

Thanks for letting me ramble, I hope I haven't confused you further. My point was, Christ didn't come to end the opression of women (although I don't feel he contributed to it in any way, think about the woman getting stoned, mary and Martha and the woman who washed his feet, the girl he raised froom the dead, the women with bleeding problems) or anyone else. He just had a different agenda from start to finish. He wasn't there to liberate women, he was there to liberate souls.

Again sorry to ramble on so.

Sandra

[This message has been edited by lilyka (edited 05-22-2001).]



Floridafam
Member posted 05-22-2001 08:20 PM
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Also, just wanted to add that Jesus saw women as worthwhile and so did God even in the OT, Deborah was one of the judges. The women in the OT who hid the spies in Jerico, found favor in God's eyes. Also, Jesus teaches us against racism, as in the women at the well. She was a women and a Samaritan. The relationship between the Jews and Samaritans was shall I say very strained. Yet, he wanted a relationship with her to give her water so she would thirst no more. He brought a new level to women.
Also, the Bible is clear about homosexuality, but it never says having the tendency or desires are sin just the act.
And He beckons us all to rest in Him, no matter where we are,what we are doing, or where we've been. And how do I treat someone who is homosexual, like a friend, like I would want to be treated. I had a very dear friend who was a lesbian. I loved her very much, still do.

I have seen so many prayers answered in my lifetime and so much evidence that the Bible is the truth and Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life.
I'm so convinced that I'd lay my life down for my wonderful, merciful, Savior.

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