Weekly Ponderings

Here are some blogs and articles that made me think. Inclusion does not equal a full endorsement of everything in each post. To read the posts in their entirety click on the title beneath each excerpt. Most of the parts in bold print are parts I chose to emphasize.

You may have the most intellectually sound theology, but if it’s not delivered with love, respect, and kindness — it’s worthless.

The practical application of your love is just as important as the theology behind it. Our faith is evidenced by how we treat others. Does the reality of your life reflect the theory behind your spiritual beliefs?

We should never give up on theology, academic study, or the pursuit of understanding God, the Bible, and the history and traditions of the church, but these things should inspire us to emulate Christ — to selflessly, sacrificially, and holistically love others. Theology should reinforce our motivation for doing things to make the world a better place — not serve as platforms to berate, criticize, and attack others.

But too often, we’re guilty of failing to practically apply our beliefs in tangible ways that actually help others. In the end, this is what matters most to the world around us: that we simply love as Christ loved.”

When Christians Love Theology More Than People By Stephen Mattson

“Let’s be clear about what is really happening when we hear the “I just go by what the Bible says” types of statements. What’s really being said is: “I just go by what I have been taught, by what others have thought or written about these passages, and all that is still further interpreted and understood through my own personal, cultural, educational, family, geographical, social background and history.”

Remember, the Bible doesn’t “say” anything until someone articulates what they think it is saying. The last time I checked, the Bible did not literally and audibly just start speaking in English to me as I read it. We are the readers. We must do the hard work of hermeneutics, of interpreting, which is both an art and science. Furthermore, we should always be aware that our interpretations could be wrong. We might completely miss what the author wanted us to hear or understand. Instead of claiming that we are speaking for God or just “going by what the Bible clearly teaches,” we need to be humble and admit that we are trying to interpret and understand as best we can–and that it is us who is speaking.

Why is this important? One need only look to the issue of slavery or the way women have been treated historically to point out how wrong the church has at times found itself when it comes to interpreting the Bible. Are there issues in our present day where the church could be making the same interpretive mistakes?

“I Just Go by What the Bible Says” and Other Ridiculous Things Pastors Say by Darrell Lackey

Lonely practice was exactly as it sounds—practicing being lonely

I learned that day that the big moments of life are only fun when you’ve got someone to celebrate them with.

Celebrating alone is utterly vapid, lifeless, gray.

Humans fear being invisible almost more than anything. And feeling like that in the epicenter of a massive celebration is a very unique kind of human pain. To celebrate life’s big moments is to be invisible in those moments.

Imagine being invisible at a wedding . . .

or a graduation . . .

or a birthday party . . .

or an awards show . . .

or a New Year’s Eve party . . .

Oh sure . . . you’re present. You’re visible . . . but you’re unseen. Single people feel visible but unseen quite often. And the presence of strangers just isn’t all that comforting. It only makes the pain worse.

I got a little taste of that pain on that crisp autumn evening in Tuscaloosa. I got a little taste of my future.”

Episode 24 Lonely Practice by Brett Trapp

“This is not about inclusion. This is a matter of life and death.

By making their children stick to their own expectations and standards for them — whether they really think their gay child is going to hell or honestly are just ashamed of them — parents are asking their kids to change something inherent, something that son or daughter can’t change. No matter how much they pray or plead. It’s just not happening.

And the message that sends is absolutely devastating. It tells our kids (young, teens or adults) that they are broken, not okay, for whatever reason.
It’s plain wrong. And it can be tragic.

The suicide statistics for LGBTQI youth is alarming — 40% of gay youth contemplate suicide, 50% of transgender youth – 4 to 5 times the rate for their straight peers. And gay youth who come from highly rejecting families are 8.4 times as likely to have attempted suicide as gay peers who reported no or low levels of family rejection…

Family… we are supposed to love and support each other no matter what. If our own family won’t do that, how does that impact our confidence that anyone else can?

Would You Rather Have a Gay Child or a Dead Child?  by Susan Cottrell

Passages in Scripture do exhort us to flee from temptation, and there are certainly women who have had inappropriate relationships with married men. So, I understand the desire to fiercely protect something as precious as a marriage.

But the Bible exhorts us to live in the freedom of Christ. I don’t believe that treating women as if they are affairs-waiting-to-happen is living in freedom, nor is it faithful to our shared identity as co-heirs before God. God gives us self-control so that we may exercise it for his glory, not as an excuse to cut ourselves off from half the body.

Additionally, most women are not looking to seduce every man they encounter, and most men are not interested in having sex with every woman they encounter…

Billy Graham’s rule protects men from scandals, but it does only that. It does not promote the heart accountability that actually overcomes sexual sin. It protects men’s reputations, but it restricts women in the process. Women already face prejudice, stereotypes, and adversity in the workplace and in the church. Billy Graham’s rule does not empower them or promote healthy partnerships between men and women…

We should apply discretionary wisdom on a case-by-case basis rather than embracing a rule that makes many women feel dangerous and excluded…

But a better model for sexual integrity is possible. Men should not be treated as sexual beasts incapable of restraint nor should women be reduced to objects of men’s lust or sources of temptation. We are to hold each other in high esteem, not suspicion.

As Christians, we are no longer bound to legalism. Our model for sexual integrity should not be rooted in fear. It should not add additional burdens to the shoulders of women nor should it be grounded in gender stereotypes. Rather, it should promote the individual, relational, and communal wholeness that belongs to all believers.”

Why Christians Can Do Better Than The “Billy Graham Rule” by Tina Osterhouse




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