I don't mind when people use the Bible as their Source and Authority on matters of spiritual consequence, but I do have a problem with people who use the Bible "buffet style," choosing only those verses that suit their purpose or personal opinion, then ignoring anything and everything that does not -- or that they think might make them, as staunch believers in the Bible, "look bad."
The Rev. Tim Reed, pastor of First Baptist Church of Gravel Ridge in Jacksonville, Ark., may not be a Buffet Bible Believer, but I would like to ask him some questions, just to make sure.
Rev. Reed was quoted in a news story the other day as saying that his church has no choice but to terminate its charter with Boy Scout Troop 542 because the Boy Scouts of America has lifted its ban on openly guy youths. Reed told one of the major television news networks that "it's not a hate thing." He said it is a "moral stance we must take as a Southern Baptist Church."
The Christian minister was quoted by the network as saying: "God's word explicitly says homosexuality is a choice, a sin." Others likewise use "God's word" as their authority in this matter, most often pointing to the Bible's book of Leviticus at Chapter 18, Verse 22. As found in the King James Version that verse says: "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination."
Many Buffet Bible Believers also cite Leviticus 20:13, which offers this: "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them." And still others often point to 1 Corinthians 6:9, which says, "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind..."
Using the Bible in this way may seem to provide righteous authority to some Southern Baptist churches, most of which are predicted to end their charters with Scouting in the weeks ahead. That could amount to nearly 4,000 Boy Scout troops soon without a sponsor. Richard Land, head of the Southern Baptists' Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, was quoted in the news story mentioned above as saying that "Southern Baptists are going to be leaving the Boy Scouts en masse."
OK. Now. Fair Question time. Which verses of the Bible should be operative in our lives if we are to live up to its moral injunctions, as the Southern Baptists feel that are doing in response to the Boy Scouts' decision to admit gay youths?
Do you suppose it might be the verse in the Book of Deuteronomy where it says that if a man marries a woman and finds that she is not a virgin, and if her family cannot prove that she was a virgin before her marriage, "she shall be brought to the door of her father's house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death"? Or perhaps it would be the verse that says that if found to be in an adulterous relationship, both the man and the woman are to be taken to the city gates and also stoned to death. (Please keep in mind that if this were to be applied, some churches would have to stone to death their own ministers.)
Or perhaps it's the verse that says that only certain people are welcome in God's house of worship. If you happen to be a child born out of wedlock, or the great-great-great-grandchild of a person born out of wedlock, God says you may not set foot inside a church. The Bible makes this very clear. It says that no illegitimate child, "nor any of his descendants may enter the assembly of the Lord, even down to the tenth generation."
And did you know this? If a certain part of a man's body happens to be injured in an accident or as a result of war, he may likewise not join with other worshippers of God in a House of the Lord. The Bible says: "If a man's testicles are crushed or his penis is cut off, he may not be included in the assembly of the Lord."
Yes, these are words right out of the Bible. Turn to Deuteronomy 23:1-2, New Living Translation. "Oh," you might say, "one of those modern Bibles." Yes. The King James Version has it this way: "He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord," but it means the same thing.
And the Bible has some startling news for women who take some of those self-defense classes that are offered these days. They can find themselves in a lot of trouble because of some of what they might learn in those classes. The Bible says: "If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity."
God's Word also provides us clear guidance on what to do about children who don't obey their parents. These are probably not thoughts that many mothers would have -- maybe even not Southern Baptist mothers, but we have no choice but to obey. As Rev. Reed would say, "God's word explicitly tells us" how we are to respond. And what does God's Word instruct us to do with rebellious children?
Now you might not believe that, but it's right there, plain as day, and you can't deny God's Word: "If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. They shall say to the elders, 'This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard.' Then all the men of his town shall stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you."
I guess that would do it, all right...
So with respect, I ask you to excuse me, Pastor Reed, if I am not totally convinced that humanity's infallible answers will be found in the Bible. You may not agree with all of the above verses, either. But if we are going to be Buffet Bible Believers, rather than a Literal Word of God Believer, than might you please tell us which verses of the Bible we are advised to ignore, and which we should apply to the letter?
Thank you, sir. That would be very helpful. We would not want to be called hypocrites for citing some verses of God's Word when they support our personal prejudices, and ignoring others when they do not, now would we?