Sinful Culture vs. Holy Bible

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or Why the crafty serpent is winning the argument again

Two of the most hotly contested topics in the church today are homosexuality, and the role of men and women in the church. The two issues have two things in common. Firstly, they arguably cause more disagreement and controversy than any other topic within Evangelical and wider Protestant circles. Secondly, on both of these issues, pastors, lay people and theologians are essentially reinterpreting what scripture says. It’s the second of these two that I will focus on here.

My focus is how Christians are reinterpreting scripture, though homosexuality and gender roles will be used as illustrations of how it is occurring. Readers may disagree with me on those issues, but that merely serves as an illustration of the controversy surrounding them. In attempting to make sense of the biblical texts which speak of these issues, you hear people say things like, “Oh, but that text is for that particular church at that particular time.” Scholars are translating the original Greek in entirely new ways, showing that Paul didn’t really mean that homosexual practice is sinful when he wrote Romans (see , for example). Paul also couldn’t have meant that women are not to teach the bible when he wrote to Timothy (see ). Even if he did, they might say, it doesn’t apply to us today. In other words, people are starting to say that Paul didn’t really mean what we’ve always thought.It is important to point out, though, that these two hotly contested topics weren’t really hot or contested in the church until about 50 years ago. In fact, the raising of these issues to such controversial levels within the church correlates nicely with the sexual and feminist revolutions, and the broader acceptance of homosexual practice in the West.

These controversies have been brought on by cultural shifts in Western society. I don’t believe for a second that God is saying anything new about these issues – his Word will remain long after the collapse of our civilization. His decrees are the same today, as they were in Billy Graham’s heyday, as they were in John Knox’s day, as they were when Saul became Paul. If something is stated as a universal truth by God through his appointed apostles and prophets, then it stays universal and true. It doesn’t matter what we think about it. Our opinions do not matter, and do not alter God’s truth.

So, why is it that large parts of the church accept women elders, preachers and senior pastors? Why are entire denominations softening their stance (to put it lightly) on homosexuality? Why is it that scholars and pastors are only now beginning to understand certain passages of scripture in a way which no other generation of church leaders and scholars have ever done before? The reason is simple, and the answer is the same for each question: because we have stopped listening to God, and started listening to our culture. We have begun to listen to the crafty serpent again, who in asked Eve one of the most rebellious questions of all time: “Did God actually say that?”

People don’t suddenly begin to understand what scripture teaches on these issues in an entirely new way, and by chance it matches up with the broader trend and direction of the culture around us. The leader of the Australian Greens and your local pastor see eye-to-eye on homosexuality, not because they’re both carefully reading Leviticus, but because they’re both listening to our sinful culture. As Christians, we need to carefully choose what will be the authority in our lives – the eternal Word of God, or the broken world around us.

26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips,

who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. 11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.

3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”

2 thoughts on “Sinful Culture vs. Holy Bible”

  1. I agree completely Simon. To raise a slightly different, but related issue, I have thought recently about the reason the BUV have given me as justification for women senior pastors. They didn’t even argue it from the Bible! They just put forward the key reason as women having the gifts to do it. Amazing! Of course no one I know was ever saying that women didn’t have the gifts! What an amazingly silly thing to say! However the Bible clearly says that having the gifts doesn’t give us the right to such privileges at all (cf : 6-7). What an astounding illogical thing to say!

  2. I agree with the article, thanks for the way it was written.
    I like the way you are using the bible as the ultimate authority.
    Can i sincerely ask where the bible talks of the congregation having authority in the church, and is it at the expense of the elders, or in conjunction?
    Thanks, interesting reading.

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