Our culture has changed drastically recently, with many traditionally held beliefs now being questioned and overturned, even to the point where those who still hold true to those beliefs are seen as morally wrong. The most obvious area where this has occurred is in the realm of sexuality, beginning with the sexual revolution years ago and leading to the influential LGBTQ movement today. There has been progression from sex being seen by our culture as a sacred act reserved for a man and a woman in the covenant of marriage, to teens being mocked if they haven’t had sex by the time they graduate high school, or earlier. Not only did the normalization of sexual relationships outside of marriage take hold in our society, but the created order of sex being between a man and woman is now rejected. Actually, the very lines and definitions that divide men and women are now questioned, but that’s another blog for another time.
Many in the LGBTQ movement claimed gay marriage wouldn’t lead to any other traditionally cultural taboo being embraced. They claimed there would be no slippery slope when the definition of marriage was opened and changed to include same sex marriage – but they were wrong. At this rate, the movement will not stop with the legalization of same sex marriage, but will continue to overthrow traditional, biblical standards and embrace relationships which are sinful and contrary to God’s plan. The arguments used to justify gay marriage – the often repeated “love is love” – can be used to justify other sinful relationships, too. If the definition of marriage, given by God, is removed as authoritative, why stop with gay marriage? If our argument is simply “love is love”, why is love limited to two people? Actually, many people have been asking this question for years, and have been pushing for legalization of non-monogamous marriages. Muslims in Italy right now are pushing for polygamy, men being allowed to marry multiple women (which many Muslims believe the Qur’an allows), and their legal argument is if homosexuality can be legal based on “love is love”, why can’t polygamy?
When God and objective moral standards are removed from the equation, why stop with homosexuality? Why not allow all types of “love”? In the past years, the American acceptance of polygamy has doubled, which can (in part) be attributed to the normalization of polygamous relationships in the media. Shows such as “Sister Wives” sparked the interest of millions of Americans, some of which asked the simple question, “Why can’t we marry more than one person?” The question is a valid one if our laws are simply based on our feelings. If “love is love” and objective standards are removed, polygamy would be a natural progression. Actually, why stop with one man and three women? Why not one man married to two women and two men, and why can’t these men also be married to other women? If absolute authorities are removed as the standard, such as the Word of God and morality as defined by God, why not? Love is love.
Actually, if love is love, why can’t someone marry him or herself? After all, our culture is obsessed with loving ourselves and being selfish and “me” focused, so why not allow people to marry themselves? Sologamy is the name given to self-marriage, and several people around the world have already taken part in these wedding ceremonies. Why not make it legal in America and give those people tax benefits? Why two? Why not one person married to him or herself, or five people together? Why is two the magic number?
The question is easily answered when God’s plan and purpose in creation and His Word are taken into account. However, when God and absolute authorities are thrown out the window, then who cares, love is love, isn’t it? Be prepared, just as the sexual revolution didn’t end with the normalization of casual, pre-marital sex, it won’t end with the legalization of gay marriage either.
Years ago, I came across a chart arguing that same sex marriage was not biblically wrong. The chart was shared by many of my Facebook friends, and by both Christians and non-Christians. My heart was saddened to see many of my Christian friends sharing the chart, not grasping the horrendous errors it espoused. After noticing similar charts show up again on my news feed recently, I determined that a response is in order. I encourage everyone to take a moment and familiarize yourself with the chart below, which I’ll address over a series of blogs in order to provide more depth than a single blog can.
The writer(s) of this chart are either ignorant of theology, doctrine, and Scripture (and logic), or are purposefully using fallacious arguments and twisted representations of Scripture to win people to their side, which no correct position would need. Let’s answer the question, “Why is homosexuality sinful?” and “Should gays should be allowed to marry?”
Our discussion will start with, “Because the Old Testament said so!”, and the inevitable response of, “The O.T. also says it’s sinful to eat shell-fish, to wear clothes woven with different fabrics, and to eat pork” and, “Should we still live by the O.T. laws?”
The creators of this chart are trying to remove the Old Testament as an authority today because several verses make it quite clear homosexuality is sinful:
Leviticus 18:22: “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.”
Leviticus 20:13: If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination.
While many try to discount these verses with a context change, they have failed (on every level) to justify those grammatical/contextual changes. The chart above doesn’t take that approach, but instead makes the sweeping implication that all Old Testament commands are irrelevant today, after all, many Christians eat bacon, which is banned by the Old Testament, right? Why is it okay to ignore those rules but not the homosexual rules? Haven’t all those rules expired? No.
The writers of the chart have either ignored or completely misunderstood basic Old Testament theology and the different types of laws given in the Old Testament. Why is it okay to eat pork but not murder? (Both are said to be wrong in the Old Testament.) Because the law dealing with pork is not the moral law given in the Old Testament, but a law specifically for Israel which was fulfilled by Jesus Christ. Many laws were given to the nation of Israel to define their culture, or to guide the sacrifices during the O.T. time frame.
The cultural laws were meant to keep Israel separate from the pagan nations surrounding them. God knew if they mingled with the pagan nations, those nations would lead Israel away from Him. In fact, every time Israel ignored God’s command to stay separate from the other nations, those nations did lead them away from God. The cultural laws, and the laws governing sacrifice during the O.T., are no longer applicable to Christians today, because Christ has provided the ultimate sacrifice. Actually, the New Testament reveals this over and over, explaining the differences between these laws in several places, such as the book of Hebrews and Peter’s vision in Acts 10. However, there is another law given in the O.T. which is never overturned, which never expires, and is re-emphasized by Jesus and every writer of the N.T.: the moral law of God.
God’s moral law does not change, because it comes from the nature of God Himself, who is eternal and unchanging. Again, these laws are reiterated in the N.T., just as homosexuality being sinful is reiterated in the N.T., showing it was part of the moral law. In fact, if we look at the passages above in Leviticus, they are clearly defining moral behavior, and therefore never expire. The same passage which says homosexuality is sinful (Leviticus 18) also gives the moral law against incest. The passage in Leviticus 20:13 is clearly moral, too. Beginning in verse nine, God gives moral laws, such as not cursing your parents, not committing adultery, not lying with your father’s wife or your daughter-in-law, and, finally, in verse 15, the passage condemns beastiality. Is the author suggesting these laws have all expired? Is committing adultery now allowed by God? Or other sexual abominations such as beastiality? Clearly not.
The Old Testament is clear: homosexuality is sinful. Should we live by all the laws of the Old Testament? No, not at all, but no Christian was suggesting that anyway. This argument gives a false dilemma by claiming you either follow all the laws or none of the laws, which isn’t the case. The cultural and sacrificial laws expired with the coming of Jesus Christ, but the moral law is only reinforced by Jesus and will never change. So do I still think homosexuality is sinful because the Old Testament says so? Yes, I do. Does that make me a “sexist, chauvinistic, judgmental, xeno-phobic” person? No, it doesn’t. It simply means I love homosexuals enough to tell them the truth, even if many people will spew hatred in my direction for doing so.
David Hume once said: “Were a stranger to drop suddenly into this world, I would show him as specimen of its ills, a hospital full of diseases, a prison crowded with malefactors and debtors, a field of battle strewn with carcasses, a fleet floundering in the ocean, a nation languishing under tyranny, famine, or pestilence. Honestly, I don’t see how you can possibly square with an ultimate purpose of love.”
The question of evil and suffering has plagued the philosophical debate over the existence of God for thousands of years. Many see a deep incompatibility between the all-loving and all-powerful God of Scripture and the world of pain and suffering they observe. The argument goes something like this: If God is all-loving, He would desire to stop evil, and if God were all-powerful (both of which the Bible claims), He would have the power to stop evil. Therefore, since evil exists, the God of Scripture doesn’t. Many great answers have been given to this objection, from free will to justice. These answers have shown that there is no contradiction between Scripture and the world, but instead of regurgitating those typical (and good) responses, I’d like to take another approach for a moment.
Many agree that free will answers why evil and suffering exist, but the next question is often ,“If God knew Adam and Eve would sin and cause death and suffering, why create them in the first place? Why create a world that He knew would end up in pain and suffering?” When Hume looks at the world, He cannot reconcile God’s ultimate plan of love with his observations, but I want to submit to you that suffering and pain is the only way for God to make the greatest act of love. Scripture says:
John 15:13: “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”
The greatest love that someone can express to another is to die in their place, to sacrifice themselves for the well-being of another. Sacrificial love is the greatest expression of love, because sacrifice involves pain and suffering of some sort. Dying for someone requires pain and sacrifice of your life. Giving finances when you’re struggling requires extra work to make up the difference. Donating a kidney is a frightening surgery and painful recovery, yet these sacrificial actions express the greatest love.
Why then, would God look down the timeline of history, know that mankind would sin and cause suffering and pain, and still create the world? God knew that in the midst of that pain and suffering, in the midst of the evil brought about by man’s free will and sinful choices, God could show His greatest expression of love towards us by dying on the cross to save us and bring us back into a relationship with Him. Pain and suffering make the greatest expression of love – sacrificial love – a reality, which is why the Bible says:
Romans 5:8: “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
A God who is by nature love, would desire to express the greatest love possible to His children, and that love is possible because He created mankind, knowing we would sin, and knowing that our sin would give Him the perfect opportunity to love us beyond measure. Love is not only the purpose of the cross, it’s the plan and reason for creation. My prayer is that the world will see the love that pain made possible, and the gospel in which this greatest love was expressed to the world by its Creator.
In this blog I want to explore a few aspects of dualism that I believe could lend great support to the teaching and truth found in the Bible. Keep in mind that these ideas are early in development and will require much more thought to prove them either true or false.
To begin, we need to define our terms, the first one being dualism.
Dualism states that things are defined by their opposite (and by extension you must have knowledge or experience of both sides of a dualistic thing in order to understand the other side.)
We see this with many examples in our dualistic world. You cannot understand light without understanding what dark is. You cannot understand high without understanding low. You cannot understand love without understanding hate, etc. Now understand that you don’t have to know both aspects in order for one to be real. For example, imagine a hypothetical situation where someone is raised in a way that he never experiences darkness (there is always light). Dualism does not cease to exist, it’s just unknowable to him until he experiences both sides. Our first argument for the Bible from dualism will come from this idea: that while you don’t have to experience both sides (light and dark) for either to be true, you do have to experience both sides in order to understand one side.
Our next observation when dealing with Dualism is the necessity for it to be applied to itself. You cannot say that everything (including ideas or abstract notions) is defined by its opposite, and then exempt that statement from its own implications. If everything is defined by its opposite, why is a world that follows the laws of dualism not included? The opposite of a dualistic world or reality would be a non -dualistic world or reality, one that is not bound by the laws of dualism.
Using these two notions we can support multiple aspects of Biblical teaching:
1. We understand what Dualism is. We understand that our world functions by the rules of dualism, that things can be defined by their opposite. But according to dualism the only way to understand something is by also understanding its opposite. We again will reiterate that dualism itself as a philosophy that must be subjected to its own rules, and if there is a dualistic reality, there must also be a non-dualistic reality. But this is where we are left with the question that if we must know the opposite in order to understand a thing, how do we know that this world is dualistic? The only way to understand dualism would be to understand non-dualism, but how is it possible to understand non-dualism in a dualistic world? The Bible gives us a satisfactory answer to this question. The Bible says that we are all made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), that there is an aspect of humanity that is like God. Romans 1:18-25 says that everyone actually knows God, but many suppress that truth in unrighteousness. How does this solve the problem? God is by definition non-dualistic. Within the being of God, within his nature, there is only one side of the spectrum – not good and evil, just good. If we are made in his image (and with the knowledge of him) that would explain how we can understand dualism in this world.
The next Biblical implication would be the existence of a non-dualistic world as a counterpart to our dualistic world. The Biblical model for heaven would fit this non-dualistic description, where there is no more sorrow (although joy exists) there is no more pain (although pleasure is there), etc. In a non-dualistic world things are not defined by their opposite, but by themselves. Granted, that is hard for us to understand in our dualistic world, but our lack of understanding doesn’t prove it wrong. Surely the opposite of things being defined by their opposite would be things defined by themselves, and since we understand things being defined by their opposite, that means we again must have an understanding of things that are defined by themselves (like God, when he swears by himself in the Old Testament).
Some could object and say that a problem biblically will come about with the doctrine of this dualistic world being destroyed and passing away as Revelation talks about, but that isn’t true. Non-dualism (heaven, God, etc.) does not need dualism in order to survive and exist and be known. Only this dualistic world needs God in order to be known and understood. Non-dualism does just fine without dualism. By definition, it’s non-dualistic and therefore does not need its opposite to be defined.
Another area I still need to develop (although all these areas still need further developing) is the apparent dualism of heaven and hell, and how that plays into everything.
There has been no objection raised more often to the Christian teachings and doctrine of God than the issue of suffering and evil. Everyone has wondered why bad things happen, why people must suffer, but very few have the correct understanding of what Scripture says on the topic. This isn’t a question unique to Christianity though, every worldview, every philosophy, every religion must provide an answer to this question, and I think you’ll find the true biblical answer is far different from what others will say.
Now I cannot guarantee you will like the biblical answer to the question, but my goal is not so much to say what you want to hear, but to speak the truth of the Word. The question is typically asked as, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Why is it that good people have to suffer in this world? Why do innocent people starve to death all around the world each day? How could an all-loving God allow such things to happen? Now keep in mind, the question is always asked about innocent, good people, never has anyone (to my knowledge) asked: “Why did God let Hitler have such a rough ending to his life?” No one cares that Hitler suffered and ended up committing suicide. Everyone’s okay with that, because Hitler was a nasty individual who very few people see as being good. But Hitler aside, why do bad things happen to good people? How does the Bible answer that question? The answer goes something like this: bad things do not happen to good people. Pretty simple isn’t it? Here’s what the Bible says:
Romans 3:10: “As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one.”
Jeremiah 17:9: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”
When we look at the Biblical description of mankind, humans, it’s pretty clear that humans are wicked, that we are unrighteous, and that we are not good. THAT is the state of mankind, which means when you ask the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people”, you are assuming something that is contrary to what Scripture has told us. You are assuming people are good, which is biblically wrong. No one is good, we are all sinners and deserve to be judged by God and spend eternity separated from Him in hell, which means we are asking the wrong question.
The question should be “Why do good things happen to bad people?” After all, we are all sinners and deserve nothing good, yet God (despite our circumstance) has allowed us to experience love, beauty, peace, joy, etc. God has given us a free gift of salvation (which we don’t deserve) and a promise of eternity with Him. But the question is, why? The answer is also quite simple: the Bible says that God is love, that He loves us so much He came to die for our sins and provide a way for us to spend eternity with Him. But once again, this isn’t something we deserve, it’s a free gift that he has given us out of His love.
The Bible tells us that everything God made was “very good” (Genesis 1:31). There was no suffering or pain in God’s original plan until man decided to rebel against Him. We decided to sin, we decided to bring evil, suffering, and pain into this world by our actions. The Bible says that ALL have sinned (except Jesus Christ) and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We all deserve bad things because of our sin and rebellion toward God. There is only one example of bad things happening to a good person – and He suffered them for you.
The only person who hasn’t sinned, who deserved no suffering (Jesus Christ) is the one who came and suffered on a cross so that we could be saved from the punishment we all deserve. If we repent and put our faith in Christ we also have the promise that suffering will not go on forever, that there will be an end to whatever pain we may find ourselves in. Revelation 21:4: “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
But that’s still not the end, God went even further. God not only provides a way out of our suffering, but He uses the bad things that happen for good if we will trust Him! Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” It doesn’t mean everything is going to be good that happens; things happen in this life that hurt and cause us pain because we live in a world full of sin, but God has promised to use those things for good in the end. The question (“Why do bad things happen to good people?”) is raised to question the love of God, but when properly examined in the light of Scripture, it shows just how much God loves us.