Let me start off by saying that I don’t know too much about Catholic theology as it differs from other Christian denominations. Growing up, there were no Catholics where I lived (or at least, I never knew any until at least my teenage years, and there still is no Catholic Church within 20 miles of my childhood home); Baptists, Methodists and Presbyterians a-plenty, along with smaller segments of many various other denominations, but no Catholics. In school (private, Christian school), we mostly stuck to things that all Christians had in common, though in our history lessons of Western civilization, of course we had to get into religious wars and Catholic dominance of Western Europe, etc., so I had a good overview of Catholicism generally. Since growing up, I’ve learned more about Catholicism, even engaging in a couple of online forums (fora?) for a short while, but never delving very deeply into it; and most of what I learned was from an anti- or at least non-Catholic position (or from pop culture, like the christening scene in The Godfather, and the Christmas Day Mass in While You Were Sleeping).
However, now I have several Catholic friends on facebook, and am currently living in an area that is predominantly Catholic, so I don’t want to unnecessarily offend Catholics, even if I do think they’re wrong; and at one point I previously said something to a Catholic about “praying to saints”, and she said that they don’t “pray to saints” as if praying to God, but rather asking them to intercede, just as you might call up a friend and ask them to pray for you about something; therefore, in order to meet Catholics where they are, I can’t go based on what I have read from non-Catholic sources about what Catholics believe, because they tend to reject such language. Yes, the non-Catholics are right in that Catholics pray to dead people, but Catholics reject the unbiblical insinuations of it, and put a Biblical (or quasi-Biblical) twist to it, so that they can hold what seem to be two contrary opinions at once. [I say “quasi-Biblical”, because I do agree that it is Biblical to ask people to pray for you, but that it is unbiblical (perhaps even demonic or approaching witchcraft) to communicate with the dead, and that there is nothing in the Bible that indicates that living Christians should ask dead Christians to intercede for them.]
So, Catholics claim they don’t “pray to dead people” in a bad/unbiblical sense, and they also claim they “don’t worship Mary” (another common charge leveled against Catholics by non-Catholics). No matter how many non-Catholic resources I could quote confirming Mary worship, Catholics wouldn’t accept them as truly understanding Catholicism, and they would brush off any such statements as being inaccurate, so I decided to go to the source. Just about every movie that depicts Catholics or Catholicism at all includes one person with a rosary necklace and/or praying the rosary, but I never knew exactly what it was; at some point I learned that the necklace is used as a reminder of the form of the prayer, with every bead being a different thing to say or think about, so that once you go all the way around the necklace, touching each bead and saying the right prayer attached to each bead, you were done. But here is the rosary from a Catholic source.
It starts off good enough with the Apostles’ Creed and the Lord’s Prayer, but then comes three Hail Marys. So God gets one prayer, while Mary gets three. Okay…. The first part of “Hail Mary” is taken from the Bible in which the angel Gabriel visits Mary and tells her that she will become pregnant and give birth to Jesus, but then it devolves into asking a dead person to intercede on behalf of the living — again, perfectly acceptable to Catholics, but nowhere said or implied in the Bible. Continuing the rosary is again something that no Christians so far as I know would have a problem with, “Glory be to the Father”, followed by the first “mystery” (there are 4 different types of mysteries, with 5 mysteries in each type — more on that later), then “Our Father”, then while contemplating the “mystery”, the person is to say 10 Hail Marys followed by another “Glory be to the Father”, then repeat the cycle with the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th mysteries, saying each mystery followed by “Our Father”, 10 Hail Marys and “Glory be to the Father”. Does anybody else see the problem of the ratio of praying to and hailing and honoring Mary vs. praying to and honoring God?
Now a brief sidetrack into the discussion of the “mysteries”. Most of the things in the “mysteries” are taken directly from the Bible, and are basically just a recitation or repetition of stories in the Bible, although with some occasional non-Biblical/extra-Biblical things thrown in — but for the most part, are things that no Christian would disagree with until… the last two of the “Glorious Mysteries”, “The Assumption” and “The Coronation”. Having read that, I just have to say, “WOW!!” Whoo, boy!
The Fourth Glorious Mystery: THE ASSUMPTION
- After the apostles have dispersed, the Blessed Mother goes to live with John, the beloved disciple.
- Mary lives many years on earth after the death of Christ.
- She is a source of comfort, consolation and strength to the apostles.
- As she had nourished the infant Jesus, so she nourishes spiritually the infant Church.
- Mary dies, not of bodily infirmity, but is wholly overcome in a rapture of divine love.
- Her body as well as her soul is taken up into heaven.
- After her burial the apostles go to the tomb and find only fragrant lilies.
- Jesus does not permit the sinless body of His Mother to decay in the grave.
- Corruption of the body is an effect of original sin from which Mary is totally exempted.
- The bodies of all mankind, at the last judgment, will be brought back and united again to the soul.
Spiritual Fruit: To Jesus through Mary
The Fifth Glorious Mystery: THE CORONATION
- As Mary enters heaven, the entire court of heaven greets with joy this masterpiece of God’s creation.
- Mary is crowned by her divine Son as Queen of heaven and earth.
- More than we can ever know the Hearts of Jesus and Mary overflow with joy at this reunion.
- Only in heaven will we know the great majesty of that coronation, and the joy it gave to the angels and saints.
- Even the angels, who by nature are greater than humans, hail Mary as their Queen.
- Mary shares so fully in the glory of Christ because she shared so fully in His suffering.
- Only in heaven will we see how central is the role of Mary in the divine plan of redemption.
- The angels and saints longed for the coming of her whose heel crushes the head of the serpent.
- Mary pleads our cause as a most powerful Queen and a most merciful and loving Mother.
- A great sign appeared in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.
Spiritual Fruit: Grace of Final Perseverance
Really? First, there is nothing in the Bible of this; it’s just Catholic additions. Secondly, if Mary were sinless (4th mystery, #8 & 9), why does she need a Savior and Redeemer? — Luke 1:47. Thirdly, the “spiritual fruit” that is supposed to come from this 4th mystery is “To Jesus through Mary”?? In a recent discussion with a Catholic friend of mine on facebook, I told her that one of the problems I had with Catholicism is that it puts the priests as a mediator between God and man, while the Bible says that there is One such Mediator, Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 2:5). She basically said that priests weren’t mediators in that sense, and affirmed that Jesus was the only Mediator. I still insist that Catholic priests are mediators in a way that the Bible forbids, and now after reading this, I must add in that Mary is another such mediator. If we have to go through anybody but Jesus to get to God, whether that is priests or as this says, “through Mary to Jesus”, then that is putting an unbiblical mediator between God and man. Now Catholics may say that it’s not putting a mediator between God and man, but it is. Fourthly, aside from the blatantly unbiblical nature of all this (except #10, which is a quote from the Bible and may or may not refer to Mary at all), #7 — “only in heaven will we see how central is the role of Mary in the divine plan of redemption”?? Oh, dear! And #8 is not just “extra-biblical” (meaning, outside of the Bible, like the existence of the Mayans and Incas) but absolutely **UN**Biblical. The Bible says that it is the heel of the Son, the offspring of the woman, that crushes the head of the serpent, *not* the woman’s heel!! — Gen. 3:15.
Okay, enough of the “mysteries”. Back to the rosary, which is technically finished, but after the end of the rosary, this is supposed to be said:
HAIL, HOLY QUEEN, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope! To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve; to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary!
So now MARY is “our hope”??? We cry to Mary, and “send up our sighs, mourning and weeping”? Why not just straight to God? Why this other mediator between God and man? And MARY is our advocate? How unbiblical can it get!?
Finally, I also take issue with them saying that we are “poor banished children of Eve”. While technically true in that Eve is the mother of all living, it is through Adam that we have our federal headship, and we sinned in Adam, not in Eve. That is just one more twisting of the Bible by misplacing the emphasis that the Bible gives, putting it on something that is not emphasized.
I’m no great fan of Rick Perry. If he runs for President, I won’t vote for him in the primary (mostly because he way overstepped his bounds as TX governor, mandating that 11 & 12-year-old schoolgirls receive the Gardasil vaccine), but this post isn’t about him, except that his call for prayer has instigated this post: Five Scriptures You Won’t Hear at Rick Perry’s Prayer Event. Click over to read the verses and what he says about them, then come back here to read my opinion.
Before Jim Rigby even starts on the five verses, he sneers at those who ” take the Christian and Jewish scriptures seriously”, saying that doing so makes for an “unhealthy religion.” Really? A Christian minister says that taking the Bible “seriously” sets you up for being in an unhealthy religion. By what criteria does he judge this?! Does he mean that we should take the Bible flippantly, or carelessly, or ignore those parts we disagree with? Is that what his version of Christianity teaches?
1) “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray in public places to be seen by others… But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your heavenly parent, who is unseen.” (Matt. 6:5-6) [I don’t know what version or perversion of the Bible he uses, but the fact that he says “parent” instead of “Father” says a lot! I digress…] As the verse itself states, it is a warning against being hypocrites more than against public prayer. If the person praying in public prays only prays in public, he is being a hypocrite (literally, a “play actor”); if he is praying just to be seen, he is being a hypocrite. There is no injunction against praying in front of others — in fact, public and/or corporate prayer is mentioned with great frequency as a hallmark of the New Testament church and early Christians. This is probably the one that I least disagree with him on; he says this verse teaches, “Don’t make a show of prayer,” which is true enough; but it’s more in the idea of a false show of prayer, rather than an absolute injunction against praying in front of others at all.
2) “God doesn’t withhold rain because we’ve done something wrong,” he says, pointing to, “God causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matt. 5:45) as his proof text. However, he neglects (once again) the context, and also doesn’t point out the little thing like Elijah praying that God would not let it rain on the nation of Israel, under the rule of wicked Ahab, and it didn’t rain for 3 years, but when Elijah prayed for rain, God sent rain. I would ask Mr. Rigby if he believes that God can and does answer prayer. If no, why does he call himself a Christian?; if yes, why not pray — as Jesus commanded — for those things that you need? The true meaning of this verse is pointing out that God is good even to those who don’t deserve it, and He is merciful even to the wicked, unjust, and unrighteous, and that we should likewise be good. It teaches that when it rains, the rain is from God; it does not teach that God never withholds rain from the wicked.
3) “God doesn’t have favorites” — this is the one that makes me call him a heretic. First, the verse: “Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism.” (Acts 10:34) Now what Rigby says it means: “When the Bible says that God is not a ‘respecter of persons’ it means that God doesn’t have a favorite country or religion.” This couldn’t be further from the truth! God may not have “a favorite country” (although I would argue that God has favored the United States, as our Constitution and early foundation was on His principles), but to say that God doesn’t have “a favorite religion”!! The context (that pesky context again, that Rigby never considers!) is that Peter has just preached to the first person who was not Jewish by birth or by conversion. Up to this point, the gospel of Jesus Christ had been preached to Jews only, and it seems that the Jewish Christians still believed that Christianity was to be limited to Jews only. In a vision, God tells Peter to eat “unclean” animals, to show him that the division between clean and unclean animals was done away with in Christ, just as the division between Jew and Gentile was done away with in Christ. In preaching to Cornelius, and his subsequent conversion and being blessed with the gift of speaking in foreign languages, Peter realizes that God has elect among more than just Jews. If God doesn’t have “a favorite religion” — and Rigby sneers at the possibility that Christianity might be considered God’s “favorite religion”, thus implying here and elsewhere throughout his article, that all religions are equal before God — why did He send His Son to die on the cross and say that there was salvation only through Jesus Christ? If Christianity is the same as any other religion before God, why did Paul and the other early apostles and Christians risk their lives and many die a martyr’s death, if it didn’t really matter whether the Gentiles worshipped the God of the Bible or their heathen idols?
4) “Worship by those who neglect the poor is offensive to God” — “I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me… Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” (Amos 5:21-24) It is true that God hates pretence and hypocrites; but Rigby trumpets so-called “social justice” and decries what he believes to be mistreatment of the poor as being offensive to God. True mistreatment of the poor is indeed offensive to God, as are laws that give favor to the rich because they are rich, while punishing the poor simply for being poor; however, the things he enumerates are not “mistreatment” or “neglect” as God sees it. He decries the fact that Texas has the largest gap between rich and poor, and that they have the largest number of uninsured citizens, among other things. What is his solution for that? He doesn’t say explicitly, but it seems that he thinks that it is the job of the state to “even things out” and to provide health insurance to those who don’t have it. There were plenty of very rich and very poor people in Bible times, and those who could not afford doctors. However, the Bible does not mandate nationwide, statewide, or other governmental handouts; rather, it tells individuals to be privately charitable. Going back to the Sermon on the Mount, which Rigby joyfully quoted from for points 1 & 2, Jesus told His followers — not to march on the Capitol and demand that the government take from the rich and give to the poor — but to give of their own money, and not only of their own money (rather than other people’s money), but so privately that, in a figure of speech, the left hand would not know what the right hand is doing!
5) Using the parable of the Good Samaritan (which he wrongly says was directed towards a “rich, young zealot,” [probably meaning “the rich young ruler” who was told to sell all and give to the poor; something modern “social justice” types conveniently ignore] when in fact it was directed at a self-righteous lawyer — i.e., one well-versed in the Law of Moses, not a modern litigator — who was identified neither as rich nor young), he somehow twists it into a slam on the American Family Association. He says, “the heart of Christian ethics is being a good neighbor,” which I don’t totally agree with, but don’t strongly disagree with it either. First, we are to love God, and secondly, we are to love our neighbors. The story of the Good Samaritan was told because the lawyer wanted to justify himself by limiting those who were his “neighbors”, and Jesus was showing that everyone is our neighbor; but how do we love God? According to the Bible, by keeping His commandments. Among those commandments is to obey Jesus Christ and bow to Him, but that would mean that Christianity would be God’s “favorite religion”, which Mr. Rigby sneers at. So-called Christians have to do so many mental contortions and back-flips that it’s no wonder they sound schizophrenic, picking out only those passages of the Bible they like, while conveniently ignoring others.
But back to the AFA – Rigby says that because one liberal organization considers the AFA a “hate group”, that this proves that the AFA doesn’t have “Christian ethics”, since they so obviously “hate” their neighbors. The AFA is a strong defender of Christian morals as outlined in the Bible, so since when does standing for truth = hating your neighbors? Um, yeah. How does the Bible define loving your neighbors? Wouldn’t that be a better place to start, than taking as truth the opinion of some liberal think-tank?
There are some religious people who claim to believe the Bible (or at least the Old Testament), and say that abortion is not wrong, is not murder, is justifiable, is not prohibited by the Bible, etc. They will usually “argue from silence” and note that abortion as such is never mentioned, much less prohibited. Or they’ll take the passage in the Law of Moses that talks about if a pregnant woman is struck and “her fruit pass from her”, that it is not a murder charge — there is no taking of the striker’s life for causing the fetal demise — they assume that “her fruit pass from her” is a miscarriage, and the “evil” that may happen afterward is maternal injury. Others will note that this passage could easily (and, they say, more properly) mean that this is talking about a preterm birth in which the baby lives, and the “evil” that happens afterwards could be either maternal or neonatal injury. Obviously, in those days, there was precious little that could be done to save preterm babies, so it could easily mean that if the baby was big and old enough to survive, then the person that struck the woman and caused the premature birth would only receive a mild sentence for endangering the pregnant woman and by extension her fetus/neonate; but if the baby could not survive and/or the mother was injured or killed, then the person would pay with his life, if a life was taken, or he would pay some sort of restitution for the injury.
That’s about the sum total of so-called “Biblical support” for abortion that I’ve seen. If there are others that I’ve missed that you’ve heard of, feel free to add them.
Most Christians that try to answer this question or argument basically give the explanation I outlined in the first paragraph, in response to the “her fruit” passage; and say things like, “Of course abortion as such isn’t mentioned — it’s obviously murder, so wouldn’t need to be specially mentioned, any more than a specific type of rape or child molestation would need to be mentioned, other than a general prohibition against any sort of sexual conduct outside of marriage.”
While I agree with this, it doesn’t go far enough, because all the opponent has to say is, “The fetus is not a person and therefore cannot be murdered. It is not obviously murder.” Then the two people just end up in a stalemate.
The line of reasoning I’m about to put forth will only work for people who believe the Bible. The others will find some carnal excuse to continue to support abortion.
In the creation story, God created Adam and Eve in His image, and also the animals, and said that they each would reproduce “after their kind.” [Kinds are not necessarily “species” as we define them, but probably could be a “family” or “genus” as we classify them. All dog types, including domestic dogs of all breeds, wolves, foxes, dingos, etc. would have been originally one “kind,” which speciated after the flood.] But, using species that are familiar to us, it’s obvious that dogs produce other dogs — they don’t give birth to cats; cats give birth to cats; mice give birth to other mice; cows don’t give birth to horses; humans give birth to humans, etc.
Later on in Genesis (perhaps even a few different times, plus other times in Exodus), capital punishment for murder is not just allowed but even required. Gen. 9:6 is one such passage. But more than just being a law given, this verse also contains the reasoning for the law: namely, “for in the image of God created He man.”
To kill a man is to kill God in effigy, which is why the murderer is required to lose his own life. He has, one might argue, made the ultimate insult to God. This is also, I would argue, why Satan loves murder so much. He would love to kill and/or dethrone God; but since he can’t, he will do as much as he can — and this includes killing men himself (perhaps by subtly encouraging them to do self-destructive things, including suicide, promiscuous behavior [becoming infected with lethal diseases such as AIDS], addictions to drugs and alcohol, etc.), and inciting them to kill each other — on a large scale like the Holocaust, or on a small scale like drive-by shootings. Also by abortion.
Because, as I said before, man produces after his kind. This has been proven by genetics — at conception, the male and female gametes come together, and their genes mix to produce a genetically new human. If that “conceptus” is taken and analyzed, it would show that it was definitely human, even though it was only a one-celled creature. It is also most certainly alive, biologically speaking, so to kill this life would be to kill a genetically unique human. To kill a man, a human, one of the human kind, one of the creatures made “in the image of God,” is to commit murder.
We live in an age of relativism. Just like Pontius Pilate, many people today are asking, “What is truth?” There is the idea of “it’s right for you, but not for me.” (To a certain extent, I can agree with that — my husband would not be right for you, but is right for me — that sort of thing.) But one thing that is particularly disturbing to me is in the area of changing the meaning of words, or changing what a document says to bend the words to a preconceived notion.
A few years ago, I read a book called The Genesis Flood, by Drs. Whitcomb and Morris, in which they studied what the Bible said about the Flood as described in Genesis. It was very interesting. One of the things they said that stuck with me is that at the time they wrote the book (I think in the late 60s or early 70s, although it has extended up to this day), some people were trying to say that when the Bible said that all the hills and mountains were covered, and all flesh died, and all this and all that… that all didn’t really mean “all.” Now, I know that sometimes “all” can be used in a limited sense — “everybody watches the Olympics” — well, certainly not every single member of the human race does — but that is not the language of Genesis. The authors point out that the original Hebrew terms, specifically the repetition involved in using “all” so many times in such a short space, shows that there is no way that “all” can be taken in a limited sense, without seriously distorting the meaning of the term and in fact the entire Hebrew language. The way they said it was (paraphrasing, because I can’t remember the direct quote), “If this section is not meant to show a global flood, but instead a limited flood, what other terms could have been employed to show a global flood?”
I think about that a lot, as it relates to the Bible, as well as other things. Take, for example, the section of the Constitution that deals with Eminent Domain. Now, it looks pretty simple to me — the government can force you to sell your land if it is needed for public use; however, the Supreme Court has ruled that “public use” includes selling that land to private individuals or organizations for them to build apartment complexes or malls, which will generate more revenue in the form of taxes, which is considered to be beneficial for the public/government. Huh? So, let me ask the question this way: Had the framers of the Constitution intended to restrict Eminent Domain to being used solely to take land for highways and such (what has historically been the restrictions), what language could they have used to delineate that?
I guess that’s why I’m not a lawyer — I like plain English. 🙂
I used to watch CSI all the time, especially when it first came out, and I liked the catch-phrases “What does the evidence say?” and “Follow the evidence.” It is important to know what the evidence actually says. And not just what people say the evidence says.
For instance, when you talk about creation vs. evolution, those who hold to the latter theory like to portray the theory of creation as being based solely on the Bible, or even on mythical, fictitious accounts; whereas the theory of evolution is portrayed as being based solely on science. But is that what the evidence shows?
Recently there have been some posts, and comments on those posts, about creation vs. evolution. Some evolutionists have (politely or rudely) proudly proclaimed that their belief system is based on science, and point to the number of scientists who accept the theory of evolution. Of course, “majority rules” is fine for the playground, but science is held to a slightly higher standard. So, what does science show?
Some talk about the “science” that demonstrates that the world is millions of years old. Does it? Actually, no. That is the presupposition, and all evidence is skewed to “support” that theory, or else it is ignored. For instance, the various methods of dating objects all produce different ages, many of them multiple millions of years difference. How can we be sure that any of these dating methods are accurate? Also, they are all based on a couple of suppositions — the first being that the rate of decay is constant, so what we see now is the way it has always been; and the second is the starting amount of a certain element in the rock (or whatever is being measured).
So that is not strictly science, but rather, supposition.
Another supposition is that what we see now is the way it has always been, including the rate of sedimentation. That is a huge assumption, and one that cannot be tested. Using this assumption, “scientists” say (I’m making up numbers, because I don’t know the current rate of sedimentation), “If it takes 5 years for an inch of sediment to form, and we’ve got a column that’s a mile high, then it’s taken 315,000 years for that column to form. Therefore, those fossils that are at the bottom of the pile must be at least 315,000 years old.” (Except they usually have this in the order of millions of years.) Only problem is that we don’t know if that is correct. Also, if it takes 5 years for an inch of sediment to form, how did any fossils get created? When animals die, they begin to decompose and scavengers eat their bodies as well. This process begins almost immediately. Yet many fossils show whole creatures (whether plant or animal), which shows that the animal was either buried alive or buried immediately after it died. The only known way for this to happen would be for the animal to have been caught in a flood of water and/or mud. All fossils had to be created in a flood, and not in some slowly-accumulating sediment. Therefore the whole basis and premise is wrong. Yet “scientists” refuse to acknowledge this basic problem. They continue to deny the scientific basis for creation and a global flood, while all around them the evidence shows that the only way for fossils to develop would be to do so in floods. So, you see, it doesn’t really matter what the current or past rate of sedimentation is, because animals begin to decompose within a few days — far too fast for any sedimentation, other than flood or mud. And who can say with certainty how much mud a local flood deposited at any point in time. Think of the mud slides that happen in California and other places. How much mud is deposited during those? It’s enough to destroy houses, so each mud slide could likely deposit several inches of mud. And these can happen more than once a year.
Did you know that the “fossil column” that is shown in all the science books doesn’t exist anywhere in the world? In some of the fossil columns that exist, the idealized order is reversed in some areas. So “science” then declares that this segment of earth (some of these places are huge, involving an area at least a mile high and a mile wide) must have somehow been dislodged from its proper spot and tumbled over onto its head, and was then covered over by more sediment in the intervening millions of years. But there isn’t one hint of evidence anywhere to show activity this massive. The only “evidence” is the dogmatic belief in evolution.
Having been raised to believe the Bible, I don’t give evolutionists any credence. Having been educated in a Christian school whose science textbooks presumed the Bible to be true, I was taught the fallacies of evolution, and the lack of a scientific basis. However, this upbringing did not give much scientific basis for creation or the flood, except for the fact that the only alternative (evolution requiring millions and/or billions of years) was scientifically untenable. So I was pleased to find a website which supplied that which was lacking: The Center for Scientific Creation. In addition to exposing the many scientific faults with evolution (most of these are admitted by scientists which believe in evolution, simply because the only alternative is creation, which they reject), this website provides a scientific basis for creation, and also for the flood. It really is a fascinating theory. I’m quite certain that it is not 100% accurate or infallible, yet it is quite amazing. It solves most of the problems that “science” has with the world as we know it, and shines a spotlight on many of the problems that the theory of evolution creates for scientists who cling to it.
(This post was inspired by a search term that someone used to find my blog.)
Answer: It depends. There were many individuals listed in the Bible who were not married, but most were. Paul apparently was not married, but Peter was. In the Old Testament as well as the New, it is crystal-clear that sexual relations are only allowed between married individuals. So the short answer is, no, you don’t have to get married, as long as you’re willing not to have sex.
Paul wrote most eloquently to the Corinthians that it is best not to be married, because unmarried people have more time and energy to devote to the work of the Lord. But those who “burn” (with sexual desire) are distracted by it, and are therefore hindered in their work. He further wrote that those who desire to get married are not sinning, although he wished that they were as he was–that is, so filled with the desire of the work of the Lord that their sexual urges were greatly minimized or even completely done away.
I rather suspect that the person who Googled that search question was trying to justify his or her behavior. I’ve heard of some so-called Christian couples who live together before they were married, and although they didn’t have a verse in the Bible to back them up, justified it by saying, “We’ve prayed about it and have peace, and feel like God is making an exception in our case.” What nerve!
But there is the possibility that this person had been told that marriage was necessary. I’ve heard that some of the sects of Mormons preach that girls must be married in order to enter heaven–which is why they have girls as young as 14 get married, many times to older men. This is obviously Biblically inaccurate. When Paul wrote to the Corinthians (above), he specifically mentioned females as well as males when talking about whether or not Christians should get married, saying that it was better to remain unmarried if you could stand it. If you can’t, then yes, you must get married.
Update to this post: I was blessed to read this post from a man’s perspective on why modern men seem to want to avoid marriage and talk young ladies into shacking up instead, and what women can do about it.
As a Christian, I believe the world was given to man to rule over and subdue. Since the earth and all the animals are in our care and under our dominion, then we have the responsibility to be wise in the use of resources, to be humane to the animals, and to preserve the health of the earth as much as possible. However, environmentalists go way too far in this. Many of them worship (or practically worship) nature, fulfilling Rom. 1:25, “who… worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator….” They will uproot humans to preserve the habitat of a field mouse. They will interfere with the production of energy, and protest against using nuclear energy (though these things are typically cleaner and more environmentally-friendly than, say, burning wood or coal for heat). Many are vegetarians and vegans because they put animals on equal footing with humans, denying the special place God has created humans in.
Let me be clear–I am not against being a vegetarian or a vegan, nor am I against various “green” or environmentally-friendly things. But the reason behind what I choose to do and what some of the environmentalists do is vastly different.
Most of my environmentally-friendly actions are related to being frugal–things like using less energy (to heat/cool the house or drive my car), reducing my waste (by buying in bulk so there is less packaging and using less of it), and eating less meat and more vegetables. I try to be conscious of how my actions fit in with my Biblical world-view.
While I enjoy the “wild untamed beauty” of the wilderness, I am also not opposed to harnessing that beauty and taming it. I enjoy walking through the woods, but there is also beauty in the order of an old English garden. I do not support the wholesale destruction of the rain forests, but I do support feeding the humans who live there, and if that includes taming the jungle, then so be it.
We should not worship the earth and the environment, but we are to be good stewards of what God has given us, and to take care of it wisely.
A word about global warming. Frankly, I think it’s stupid, but there are plenty of blogs, articles, and websites that discuss this better than I can. My understanding of what the global warming fear-mongerers say is that global warming is going to melt the ice at the poles, and flood the world. But from a Judeo-Christian perspective, this is not only ridiculous, but impossible, because Gen. 9:8-17 declares that God will not destroy the earth with water again. Also, some years ago, my brother-in-law wrote a research paper in which he showed that ozone levels varied directly with the sun-spot cycle. It would not surprise me if “global warming” (or is it global cooling?) is more affected by the sun-spots than by any actions of man. This “research” of global warming only goes back about a century because we have only been keeping records of these things about that long; but I’ve read that some people are looking at old diaries and government records (such as those kept in China 1000 years ago) to look at environmental changes. For instance, one old priest or monk’s diary reported that a few centuries ago, one Sunday the communion wine was frozen. Now that’s cold! If we take that temperature as “normal January temperatures” then it certainly looks like the earth is warmer than it should be. However, is that normal? Are current temperatures normal, or high, or low? We must first establish “normal” before we can decide what we should be doing to get or keep things normal. It’s likely that “normal” is a range, and precious little we do or don’t do changes it.
If you’ve checked out my other blogs, you know that I am a “birth junkie.” I’m on a few email lists related to that, and recently the subject was pregnant women who had been advised to abort their babies for known or suspected anomalies (the ultrasounds were wrong, the babies were all fine). In phrasing my post on that thread, I said something along the lines of “as a Christian I’m opposed to abortion.” One of the women took exception to that phrase.
For context, I’d say that most of the women on these lists are liberals or at least left-leaning, but it seems that this particular list has a lot more centrists or conservatives on it. (We don’t get into politics too much, but some people include on their “signatures” the name of a particular Presidential candidate, or occasionally make quasi-political remarks–you know, little things like that.)
This woman that took exception to it is a pro-abortion lesbian minister in the Anglican church. So she considers herself a Christian, but I’m not sure which version of the Bible she reads that lets her feel comfortable living the lesbian lifestyle, not to mention supporting abortion and being a “minister.” She (in very broad terms, very graciously) chided me for my statement, reminding the list that “not all Christians believe the same way,” and adding gratuitously something about violence done by anti-abortion people. I let it drop, but it still rankles me.
There is nothing wrong with what I said. Not only do I stand by the statement that Christians should be opposed to abortion, but even if so-called Christians can support abortion, my beliefs as a Christian–what I believe the Bible to teach–prohibit my support of abortion, and demand that I oppose it. My statement shows nothing more than what I found my beliefs on. Other people might say “as a woman, I support abortion,” or “as an environmentalist I oppose the burning of fossil fuels.” Not every woman supports abortion; not every environmentalist opposes fossil fuels. In fact, I will insert here a reminder about “Mr. Global Warming” former VP Al Gore who uses more energy for his house in a month than most people do in a year; and all the people who have gas-guzzling SUVs instead of motorcycles or bicycles. They may say that they oppose fossil fuels, but their behavior shows them to be liars. But statements like this merely show the basis for the belief.
On what other grounds could I voice my opposition? That human life is sacred, even in embryonic form. Yes. But what about the people who believe that human life is not sacred–that we are just the products of evolution, and only slightly higher than the animals; or those who believe that only humans who have been fully born have the right to life? There are a multitude of arguments that people who support or oppose abortion use for their position. One might even argue, “As a feminist, I oppose abortion,” because one might see the dreadful consequences that frequently happen to women who have abortions. Among these are death and severe injury, even in legal abortions; or increased risk of suicide and depression, and other physical problems, such as increased risk of future miscarriage, etc.; not to mention the fact that a high percentage of women have abortions at the insistence or coercion of their boyfriends, which lets men have sex without the fear of pregnancy, while women still end up pregnant and then are subjected to the risks of abortion. This would be a valid argument, although most feminists support abortion.
So, when I wrote that original post, it was not to imply that all Christians fall lock-step into the same belief system–I wish it were so, though! All the denominations and schisms and separation among Christians is distasteful to me….but to join ranks with denominations and individual “Christians” who see no problem whatsoever in going against the Bible is abhorrent. We each must appear before God and give account of ourselves. But I must follow the Bible as closely as I can; and I must set my belief systems in alignment with what the Bible teaches, and not bend the clear teaching of the Bible to fit my preconceived notions. So, as a Christian, I do and believe a lot of things. I trust that I can point to one or more verses in the Bible that back up these actions and beliefs.
My former pastor, Elder Hassell Wallis, used to say, “If it takes popcorn and bubblegum to get people into church, it’ll take popcorn and bubblegum to keep ’em in church.” He was, of course, referring to worldly programs used to get people interested in Christ, as if He were not of sufficient interest alone. What happens to churches who are filled with people who come for the youth program or children’s church or any of the other outward trappings of so many modern churches? If Christ is not the object–if the youth program or something else is–then these churches have lost their focus. They may have a lot of members, and a full auditorium most Sundays, but is God really being worshiped? Or is man exalting an idol in God’s place, and worshiping the creature and not the Creator? I invite you to listen to this message preached by our pastor yesterday for some food for thought on this subject.
In my Bible study today, I came across this note on Romans 2:24. The context is Paul writing to the churches at Rome, and here addresses the Jewish Christians, upbraiding them for their hypocrisy. The verse reads, “For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written.” Now, here is the note on that verse, from the Nelson Study Bible, “Israel’s superior privileges should have produced a corresponding life-style, but they did not. This inconsistency has caused the name of God to be blasphemed among the Gentiles…..” What was said then about national Israel can be said now for those who call themselves Christians. All too often the lifestyle of people who claim to be Christians has led nonbelievers to reject Christians’ God. I can’t really say I blame them, either. If Christians can be as immoral as anyone else, and live like the world, and act like the world, what’s the point of being a Christian? If Christians lie, cheat, and steal, just like everybody else, then they are not superior to any other religion.
“Christians’ superior privileges should produce a corresponding lifestyle, but they have not. This inconsistency has caused the name of God to be blasphemed among the nonbelievers.”
Until nominal Christians start acting like the Bible says they should, true Christians will be weakened. That’s the problem with the philosophy behind movements like “The Purpose-Driven Church.” I admit that I’ve not read that book, and know precious little about Rick Warren; but from what I’ve read about his book, and the results of when churches put his marketing strategies to work for their church, it appears that churches are just worried about numbers on their rolls, or bodies in a pew. They are not concerned with changing peoples’ lives. In fact, if ministers preach subjects that are too sensitive, many people leave. I say, good riddance. I’ve heard it quoted, but don’t know the originator:
“The problem with churches today, is that they are more concerned with entertaining the goats than in feeding the sheep.”
This is all too true. And unfortunately, true Christians (you know, the ones who actually believe the Bible) are getting weak from lack of food, while the so-called Christians come to church for to be entertained and get their consciences soothed. They don’t want to hear that they’re sinners. They want to hear “God loves you and He has a wonderful plan for your life.” Well, what does the Bible say? Look at the sermons in the Bible–those of John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter, Philip, Stephen and Paul. Did these sermons start out “God loves you and He has a wonderful plan for your life”? A quick perusal will show that most if not all of these sermons were more along the lines of, “God is holy, righteous, and just; and you are a sinner deserving of hell.” Those who were “pricked in the heart” believed this message, recognized their lost estate, and cried out, “What shall I do to be saved?!” It was only then that the message of Christ’s atoning work was preached, to soothe the sinners’ fears.
Most modern churches have it backwards.