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  • "Scriptural Justification"

    I'm reposting this message in this section to see if it sparks discussion on it's own under an appropriate heading.

    I've seen a few posts as I've been lurking regarding "scriptural justification" this is a sore spot for me and the one under "INA promotes gambling" provoked a response.

    I've seen or heard of about everything being justified by scripture, gambling, not gambling, drinking, not drinking, instrumental music in church, no instrumental music in church, movies, no movies, monogamy, polygamy, rock and roll, no rock and roll, Harry Potter, no Harry Potter, slavery, abolishing slavery, and of course nudity and body shame, etc, etc, the list goes on endlessly.

    I've also seen (and been at the receiving end of) people doing very - to be polite I'll just say - very "Pharisaical" things with an absolutly clear conscience in the name of "scriptural justification". A couple examples, first is what happened with pastor Jeff Bowman because of his stance regarding nudity, rather than the people who disagreed with him trying to reason with him and understand his perspective, those who disagreed demanded that he repent of his sin and go to counseling or have his ordination revoked. His ordination was revoked with NO process to investigate or seek to restore him. Second, (I just heard about this a couple days ago) a woman who was a member of a church with her family was also into body building. Her church was unaware of it until one Sunday morning when the local newspaper ran an article about the woman, complete with a picture of her in her posing suit (a bikini). Since she was unwilling to publicly confess her "sin," ask for prayers on her behalf for forgiveness, and of course give up forever the "sinful practice" of body building and wearing bikinis. The church had "withdrawn" from the woman in condemnation of her "sin" before the clock struck noon that day. This resulted in a marriage destroyed, two children left with a broken home, and a pastor who praised his church for what had been done to this woman. I've personally experienced similar to what these two people have regarding my stance on the goodness of the bodies that God has given us, with no discussion or willingness on the part of others to accept anything other than total repentance and counseling for my sin.

    The thing that seems to me to be a common thread when it comes to "scriptural justification" is a legalistic, works orientation (where it's very easy to fool yourself that your less of a sinner and therefore more righteous than the other person) rather than a grace orientation (where you realize that we are all equally condemned apart from the grace of God.) I believe that scripture is meant to direct us to Jesus and God's loving grace to us who deserve no grace, not to itself. Most things are not harmful in and of themselves, but outright banning them can be harmful since the law was established, not to make us righteous, but to prove that we aren't and that we need God (see the book of Romans). When we are living in a dependent relationship with Jesus, he can direct us to what is helpful and away from what is hurtful in our lives. The best the law or "scriptural justification" can do is show us how short we fall and how much we need God.

    Arguments for or against things based on their merits have wait with me, but when I see "scriptural justification" and traditional church stances as basically a sole argument, it really it sets me off. Trailscout said: "It is 21st Century Churches that have often decided to go contrary to the Bible that are the problem." With that I totally agree. The church establishment is wrong about a great many things. With what most churches teach the law would be just fine, Jesus needn't have died and been raised again, with the true gospel the law is dead, and Jesus' death and resurrection are absolutely essential.
    Sorry to get so long winded about this, especially outside of the religion section, but when I see someone argue something based on little other than "scriptural justification" it really hit's one of my sore spots. If scripture is approached from a legalistic view many things can be quickly justified (or condemned) that never would be when scripture is approached with a true understand of God's love and grace.

    Yes scripture is important in pointing us to Jesus and determining what we should do (would Jesus regard the human body, which he created and said was very good as obscene or indecent? NO. Would he regard a body by itself - I.E. no loving relationship with the person in the body - as a source of legitimate source of sexual pleasure, again NO!) But using scripture alone to justify things I have found to be very damaging and self-righteous.

    Nate

  • #2
    I'm reposting this message in this section to see if it sparks discussion on it's own under an appropriate heading.

    I've seen a few posts as I've been lurking regarding "scriptural justification" this is a sore spot for me and the one under "INA promotes gambling" provoked a response.

    I've seen or heard of about everything being justified by scripture, gambling, not gambling, drinking, not drinking, instrumental music in church, no instrumental music in church, movies, no movies, monogamy, polygamy, rock and roll, no rock and roll, Harry Potter, no Harry Potter, slavery, abolishing slavery, and of course nudity and body shame, etc, etc, the list goes on endlessly.

    I've also seen (and been at the receiving end of) people doing very - to be polite I'll just say - very "Pharisaical" things with an absolutly clear conscience in the name of "scriptural justification". A couple examples, first is what happened with pastor Jeff Bowman because of his stance regarding nudity, rather than the people who disagreed with him trying to reason with him and understand his perspective, those who disagreed demanded that he repent of his sin and go to counseling or have his ordination revoked. His ordination was revoked with NO process to investigate or seek to restore him. Second, (I just heard about this a couple days ago) a woman who was a member of a church with her family was also into body building. Her church was unaware of it until one Sunday morning when the local newspaper ran an article about the woman, complete with a picture of her in her posing suit (a bikini). Since she was unwilling to publicly confess her "sin," ask for prayers on her behalf for forgiveness, and of course give up forever the "sinful practice" of body building and wearing bikinis. The church had "withdrawn" from the woman in condemnation of her "sin" before the clock struck noon that day. This resulted in a marriage destroyed, two children left with a broken home, and a pastor who praised his church for what had been done to this woman. I've personally experienced similar to what these two people have regarding my stance on the goodness of the bodies that God has given us, with no discussion or willingness on the part of others to accept anything other than total repentance and counseling for my sin.

    The thing that seems to me to be a common thread when it comes to "scriptural justification" is a legalistic, works orientation (where it's very easy to fool yourself that your less of a sinner and therefore more righteous than the other person) rather than a grace orientation (where you realize that we are all equally condemned apart from the grace of God.) I believe that scripture is meant to direct us to Jesus and God's loving grace to us who deserve no grace, not to itself. Most things are not harmful in and of themselves, but outright banning them can be harmful since the law was established, not to make us righteous, but to prove that we aren't and that we need God (see the book of Romans). When we are living in a dependent relationship with Jesus, he can direct us to what is helpful and away from what is hurtful in our lives. The best the law or "scriptural justification" can do is show us how short we fall and how much we need God.

    Arguments for or against things based on their merits have wait with me, but when I see "scriptural justification" and traditional church stances as basically a sole argument, it really it sets me off. Trailscout said: "It is 21st Century Churches that have often decided to go contrary to the Bible that are the problem." With that I totally agree. The church establishment is wrong about a great many things. With what most churches teach the law would be just fine, Jesus needn't have died and been raised again, with the true gospel the law is dead, and Jesus' death and resurrection are absolutely essential.
    Sorry to get so long winded about this, especially outside of the religion section, but when I see someone argue something based on little other than "scriptural justification" it really hit's one of my sore spots. If scripture is approached from a legalistic view many things can be quickly justified (or condemned) that never would be when scripture is approached with a true understand of God's love and grace.

    Yes scripture is important in pointing us to Jesus and determining what we should do (would Jesus regard the human body, which he created and said was very good as obscene or indecent? NO. Would he regard a body by itself - I.E. no loving relationship with the person in the body - as a source of legitimate source of sexual pleasure, again NO!) But using scripture alone to justify things I have found to be very damaging and self-righteous.

    Nate

    Comment


    • #3
      Nate, Jon-Marc here. I always dislike saying anything against Christianity or Christians since I've been a Christian and a Baptist for 39 years since age 17. However, I agree with you. People, whether Christian or not, often use scripture to "prove" what they are for or against.

      I have often found my fellow Christians--
      God forgive me for saying this, but it's true--to be unforgiving, pious and self-righteous, and condemnatory. I know this partly from my own personal experience, and I used to be one of those hypocrites until God made me realize that it's not my goodness--none of which I have--that makes me righteous, but His goodness and grace. He also made me realize that He is the only One with the right to judge or condemn since He is the only One Who is perfect and holy.

      I'm twice divorced, once from an adulterous woman, and the second time from a woman who CONSTANTLY crtiticized EVERYTHING I said and did. Both times "my brothers in Christ" the deacons condemned me without even hearing my side of things and wanted me removed as the music director. The pastor, who knew the truth, stood up for me in both churches.

      My dad used scripture to "prove" that masturbation was sinful and condemned by God.
      While I've been guilty of trying to use scripture to prove to others that God doesn't condemn social nudity, proof for me comes from the Holy Spirit Whose ministry it is to convict the Christian when he sins or even considers it. I've often been convicted of certain things and knew it to be sinful for that reason. I've used prayer and fasting to get an answer to a question. I have yet to be convicted by God that social nudity is a sin. That's where I get my justification--from God. What can make it sinful is if we have sinful thoughts going on in our minds when we're nude with others and look at them.

      Scripture should be used to teach us about God's way and how He wants us to live as well as to show us that we are sinners and unable to make ourselves righteous. It takes Jesus Christ and His shed blood to do that. Scripture shouldn't be used to justify or condemn what one is for or against unless it is absolutely clear as to what the scripture says--as in "Thou shalt not commit adultery."

      I have been told--probably by non-Christians--that I should tell the people at my church that I'm a nudist. The instances you mentioned show that I can't do that and remain in any church. If my fellow Christians are so condemning toward divorce, what would be their reaction to my going to nudist clubs and resorts? When I mentioned to someone at my church that I was going camping on my vacation, he asked me where I was going. I couldn't bring myself to tell him after my past experience with the deacons. So I pretended that I hadn't decided. I camped at Turtle Lake Nudist Resort for a week.

      As God looked down on ALL that He had created He said "It is good." I assume that included Adam and Eve sitting ther naked and unashamed. Their shame came when they disobeyed God and rebelled by doing what He said not to do. Their nudity--in their minds--became part of their shame. Nudity itself did not suddenly become sinful and shameful, but it became in their minds a PART of their shame at disobeying God. He made clothing for them by making the first sacrifice of animals amd shedding blood because He was sending them out of the protection of a perfect environment into a cruel, harsh world with thorns and other things that would harm their bare bodies. I believe, but this is only an opinion, that the clothing was meant only as protection, and not to cover up their shame or their nudity.

      If God considers the nude human body to be shameful or sinful then why didn't He cover them as soon as He created them either with clothing or with hair like animals?

      100 people can look at the same scripture and get 100 different interpretations according to THEIR OWN beliefs and what they want it to say. I'm not saying the bible is too difficult to understand. The Holy Spirit is my interpreter. I don't look at the Bible to put into it what I want it to say but to find out what God IS saying. Give God ALL the glory whether nude or clothed. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img] [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_cool.gif[/img]

      Comment


      • #4
        Hi Jon-Marc, thanks for your post, excellent.

        On topic note:

        I'm not saying that scripture shouldn't be used when you're discussing whether something like nudity, gambling, drinking, etc. is harmful or good, I think it should be used in fact. However I think the way it is used is vitally important i.e. is it in a loving, graceful way, or a legalistic, judgmental, condemning way. I also think that when we are discussing whether something is harmful or good that we have brains (hopefully!) and we should look at the evidence outside scripture as well. Standing on scripture ALONE is fraught with problems as you said: "100 people can look at the same scripture and get 100 different interpretations according to THEIR OWN beliefs and what they want it to say."

        Side note:

        Openness about nudity is an issue I'm still struggling with myself. On one hand I come from a very conservative family, I was certain they would have a problem with it (they do) so I understand the position of people in similar situations. On the other the only people I know who have never had problems from other people about nudity are people who where always very open about it. (The one exception to that is Pastor Bowman, he was always very open about it) Apart from pastor Bowman all the people I know who have had problems (like myself) kept it hidden and were found out. But this is a bit like which came first the chicken or the egg. If I?d been open about nudity years ago would I have had the problems I have? I can reason both yes and no answers to that question, so I'll really never know. But it does always seem that openness is the best policy, even if I didn't follow that myself. One thing I do know apart from everything else, is that because I was not open, I have hurt people I love, lost credibility, trust, and was forced to stop work on something I believe is very important, exposing the deception and harm of body shame. That is a deep wound.

        Regarding Paster Bowman are some links to his new church's site:

        Home Page for Fellowship Bible Church: http://www.experiencegrace.com/index.html

        Part of the goal statement on another page says: To embrace in Grace fellow Christians who have been offended, rejected or disenfranchised by "legalistic" churches

        Beliefs: http://www.experiencegrace.com/Doctrinal_Statement.html

        About the Pastor: http://www.experiencegrace.com/Pastor_Jeff_Bowman.html

        His page on naturism (one of the best, if not the best, I've seen): http://www.experiencegrace.com/naturism.htm

        His "Good Nudity" article, also excellent: http://www.experiencegrace.com/Good_Nudity.html

        and off the church site is the site for the naturist Bed and Breakfast he and his wife run: http://www.oursunhome.com/

        Nate

        Comment


        • #5
          Nate,

          To be sure, many people will attempt to wrest scripture to their ends, taking a verse here and a verse there to justify or condemn any given behavior.
          That would account for some of the "100 different interpretations" of scripture you mention.

          I believe that the Bible is God's word, though dictated through the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, et alibi. I also believe that on a wide variety of issues, God's will can be known with certainty to even a lay reader, provided he/she is familiar with the the scriptures overall and well-versed on the major tenets of the faith. For other issues, basic principles of conduct are a clear enough guideline without any specific word from God. Take reckless driving for instance. The automobile did not exist in the days when the canon of scripture was completed, but anyone with a passing knowledge of Christian principles would know that reckless driving is incompatible with "loving your neighbor as yourself", etc.

          Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to help us understand the scripture. Having the love of God in your heart and the guidance of the Holy Spirit is an underlying assumption in interpreting scripture that I did not state expressly in my previous post.

          There are some issues Christians have disagreed on, dispite careful study and prayer. God has not seen fit to make a pronouncement on every specific issue. For those issues we have the love of God and the main principles of the faith to guide us.

          I join with you in opposing the legalistic approach to living the Christian life. In my haste to post an a response to a topic, I used the buzzwords, "scriptural justfication" when in hindsight I should have said, "I can find no specific verses in scripture or guiding principles from scripture to help me mount an adequate defense of gambling to those who oppose it on biblical grounds".

          In retrospect, perhaps spending money on gambling is no worse than paying for any amusement, playing a multi-user game on the Internet for a fee for example. As long as you confine yourself to a budget of time and finances that allows you to serve God and your fellow man, I don't see why someone can't spend some of his disposable income on a game of chance. I have heard some argue that playing a game of chance implies a belief in destiny, fatalism, relying on occult forces to influence outcome, etc. I think it is terribly unfair to impute such motives to everyone who plays a game of chance.

          And of course it is possible to abuse gambling, nudity, wine and a host of things. Water is necessary to life, but it is even possible to drink water to the point of causing one's own death.

          Comment


          • #6
            Very well said Trailscout, thank you. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img] Sorry for going off on a tangent regarding a buzzword, but it's an issue I'm somewhat sensitive to. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_eek.gif[/img]

            Nate

            Comment


            • #7
              We have veterans where I work at the VA Medical Center who drink so much water that they get "water intoxication". As Trailscout said, overindulging in even the necessities of life can do harm.

              People who don't know Jesus Christ and have the guidance of the Holy Spirit in their lives have to go strictly on their own personal beliefs or lack thereof in deciding what is right or wrong. "Let your conscience be your guide" is an old saying I used to hear. However, I prefer, "Let the Holy Spirit be yout guide." Often people say, "The Bible is too hard to understand." That's true when you don't have God's help in understanding it. The mind of God is too deep for our simple minds.

              God says in Isaiah 55:9, "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." As long as we don't rely on ourselves as authorities on the truth, but on God and His truth, then we can't go wrong.

              Nate, I didn't mean we shouldn't use God's word to prove truths. Of course we should as long as we don't inject into the scripture what we want as too many people do. We have the Word of God not only to show us that we are sinners and need Jesus Christ, but also to use in bringing others to His truth. A good example of misusing God's Word for wrong purposes is satan using it on Jesus as he tried to tempt Him in the wilderness. Scripture can be used for good as it's intended or for evil as it often is.

              In most cases we know what is right and what is wrong. Some things are a matter of personal conviction. Still others are in what can be called a "gray area". Can we prove by God's Word that it is wrong? If not then we have no right saying it is. Whatever man says is wrong God has already said it. Many things man says is right are not right by God's standards, and those are the standards by which I choose to live and govern my life.

              There are many things God says are sin, and we are to avoid them. He even says "Avoid even the appearance of evil." I'm not sure where that is, but it's in His Word. So I live by the words, "When in doubt, don't." It's very important to me to please God rather than pleasing myself.

              However, there is nothing I can find in His Word that says social nudity is a sin. So be nude and have fun. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img] [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_cool.gif[/img]

              Comment


              • #8
                Jon-Marc,

                Are we doing enough for those with compulsive disorders? (including addiction to gambling)

                The state of Georgia has television commercials urging citizens to gamble on the state lottery, but makes no mention of the odds of losing, suggests no guidelines for budgeting money for gaming or provides any warnings about addictive behavior. I am paying for these enticing commercials and I will also pay for their therapy when these people seek counseling for addictive behavior, and their bankruptcy claims affect us all.

                In rural parts of my state especially, are gullible people who believe that some magic charm will improve their luck at the tables, or some dimestore booklet of "winning numbers" will help. When you are behind on your bills and the repo man is eyeing your car, why not cash your paycheck, pray real hard and roll them bones? Your luck is so bad it's gotta turn, that lucky dice roll is sure to happen.

                What are we doing for this sort of people?

                Please note, I still do not oppose playing a game of chance for fun with your extra cash.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Trailscout, Gambling, like anything else, can become an addiction and destroy lives, and it often does. Of course, people seldom admit to being an addict, whether it's gambling, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, sex or whatever.

                  I'm not sure what can be done to help people who spend their last dollar looking for that "lucky break" that never comes. They keep believing that the next roll of the dice, or the next turn of a card, or the next pull on the one-armed bandit will be THE one, but it rarely happens, and they keep trying while losing everything they own.

                  No one can be helped until they realize and admit, first to themselves, that they have a problem, second that they need help, and third that they can be helped if they WANT to be. No one can force someone to change except God, and He never forces anyone. We all have a will that was first execised in the Garden of Eden.

                  I found out with marriage and with being a dad that I can't force anyone to change anything in their life. Addictions, whatever they may be, are very difficult but not impossible to overcome. As a Christian I don't have to rely on myself alone to overcome anything, for I have the almighty power of God at my disposal. He wants us to change and become what is best for us, but the desire to change has to come from the individual. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_cool.gif[/img] [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Let me make it clear that I do not wish to attack anyone's religion, as I hope no one verbally attacks me for my personal religious beliefs.

                    I personally think that one of the greatest mistakes a person can make when reading ancient religious legends contained in the Bible and ancient literature of other religions, is to "LITERAL-IZE" instead of attempting to learn the moral meaning of the story. Too many people quibble over what they call "facts" instead of listening to what wisdom the narrator is trying to convey. So many people quibble over the words of the (two slightly different) Adam and Eve stories in the Bible as to what actually was the talking snake/devil and what actually was the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, instead of simply trying to understand what wisdom the writer was trying to convey. Same with the two creation stories. One creation story in Genesis has the sequences of days of creation differently than the second Genesis account, but if we do not "literalize" that does not change the attempted meaning of the legends. These accounts were not meant to be historical accounts.
                    Accepting their conveyed wisdom - in addition to accepting the modern idea of evolution, should be no problem or conflict.

                    Now on to a different aspect as I see it, which is concerning the posts about what Paul said in the book of Romans. Let us say that it is what PAUL himself said in one of his letters and not attribute the authorship to God Himself. Paul has a right to his opinion - which was not based on scientific evidence which did not exist in his day. What he would say if he were alive today with the scientific information available, we can not say. This also holds true for the writings of thousands of years ago as recorded in the Jewish manuscripts.
                    So far as I can recall from reading the Bible, nothing was written by God Himself, except the carving of the ten commandments on tablets of stone. I do not "literalize" this account and infer that God was a good stone carver, (as well as His giving Isrealites good ethical standards), but extract the conveyed meaning of the holiness of the ten commandments.

                    Some of the Bible is truly inspired but some was not, in my opinion, such as Revelations, and those at the council of Trent were wrong to compile this writing into what we know today as the Bible. The Bibles are somewhat different for Protestants, Catholics, Orthodox, - not even taking into account that English language translations (as well as other language translations) are different.
                    I think it is amiss to always try to find "Scriptural or Biblical Justification", but it is better to do as one said in his post, to follow the holy spirit (which I translate for myself as the spirit of what is holy, sacredly good, which we all can cultivate).

                    I apologize for having taken up so much space on the board about religion, but so many fundamentalists on the board give a justification from the Bible for their beliefs on nudity and acceptance, that it motivated me to give my views here.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      David, You believe what you want, and we'll believe what we want.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        David, well said. As a non-Christian, I always find it interesting to see how the stories in the Bible can be interpreted to defend just about anything. Most of the time, I honestly don't think these people are deliberately trying to twist any meanings; rather, it is a reflection of how any religious text can mean many things at once.

                        In fairness, I'm sure the same is done by followers of other faiths. The statement earlier in this thread about 100 different opinions is very true. I've even seen some Pagans go further: ask five Pagans for their opinions on something, and you'll get at least six different answers. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]

                        Anyway, thanks for bringing out an important point about the ancient legends that we all base our religions on.

                        BB,
                        Vin

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          "The Devil can quote scripture" is a saying I have heard (and known) for years. Another I have heard is "Christianity is the only army in the world that shoots its own wounded." All too often misguided but well meaning people will attempt to "prove" some point they believe is true using the Bible. My favorite response is to ask them to show me where in the Bible God ever commanded a prophet to sin. No one has ever found a chapter and verse yet. I then ask why, if nudity is sinful, did God command Isaiah to preach nude (Chapter 20, verses 1-3) for three years? While it hasn't happened yet, if they still persist, I would say "Let he among you who is without sin cast the first stone."

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