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Old 01-26-2005, 09:04 AM   #16
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Originally posted by blueyedpoet
AcrobatMan, thanks again for your kind words...are you by chance familiar with Buddhist thought?

for buddhism, check out Thich Nhat Hahn.

lots to know in the Bible, and it's great to have a solid knowledge of all its stories in order to better understand things like Shakespeare.

while i'm familiar with parts of the Bible, i'd hardly call myself a scholar; that said, from what i do know, the Bible has much to say about that amorphous thing we call "the human condition."

however, it's hardly the final authority, imho.

i'd also recommend:

Ulysses
Gravity's Rainbow
Hamlet
The Great Gatsby
Crime and Punishment
Lolita
Catch 22
Invisible Man
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Old 01-26-2005, 09:17 AM   #17
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Irvine, with all due respect, those books you've listed are great, but they're not inspired by God! (At least not completely. ) Maybe the Bible doesn't have EVERYTHING about the human condition, but you'd be surprised what is in there or what can be applied to modern situations we may find ourselves in.
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Old 01-26-2005, 09:17 AM   #18
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Re: The Bible - Is it really the book for me?

Is the Bible completely God-written?

No. It is very much a reflection of its environment. The texts that make up the Old Testament, in particular, are dated around 500 B.C. There may have been older texts that originally formed these, yes, but we have found no earlier. As it stands, though, the Old Testament is about rebuilding a broken people back to the nation that they were exiled from for 300 years. It provides a history of the Israeli people and their belief system.

On the flip side, though, it is also about the Jewish clerical establishment trying to reassert political authority that they have not had for 300 years. I believe that the Mosaic Law is a direct reflection of the clerics reasserting unquestioning authority by attributing their legal beliefs to "Moses" and "God." That way, of course, if the clerical establishment doesn't want people eating shellfish, they can say that "God commanded it." Who would question that?

It is also believed that the Old Testament exaggerates Israel's importance in the region, by design. They had an inferiority complex when stacked up to the great civilizations around them, such as the Phoenicians, the Babylonians, the Greeks, and the Romans. As such, just as the Old Testament generally does not have good things to say about any of these civilizations, these civilizations had little good to say about Israel. The Greeks and Romans thought Israel was "barbaric" for engaging in circumcision, for instance.

The New Testament is different, but it also does its share of demonizing. Rather than having to demonize the civilizations around it, it demonizes the Jewish establishment. Judas Iscariot, for instance, is seen as a metaphor for Judaism. The name "Judas," itself, is the Greek form of the Hebrew word, "Judah," which is not so coincidentally the name of the Kingdom of Judah (the name of the Southern Kingdom, whose capital was Jerusalem).

However, I will say that I enjoy the Bible not for its perfection, but for its humanity. The underlying message of the New Testament and the Bible itself is spelled out in Romans 13:8-10:

"Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, 'You shall not commit adultery; you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not covet,' and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this saying, (namely) 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.'

Hence, while I may have an academic curiosity in the cultural idiosyncrasies and customs present in the Bible, I'm also not bothered by their existence either, as Romans 13 keeps me in check as to what I should do to live a moral life and that is to love.

As such, the Bible's humanity and struggle to understand the nature of God is what makes it "perfect," not because it is a "divine book written by God." Frankly, I think God can write something better than the Bible.

Melon
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Old 01-26-2005, 09:22 AM   #19
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Originally posted by coemgen
Irvine, with all due respect, those books you've listed are great, but they're not inspired by God! (At least not completely. ) Maybe the Bible doesn't have EVERYTHING about the human condition, but you'd be surprised what is in there or what can be applied to modern situations we may find ourselves in.

the bible may have been inspired by God, but it wasn't written by God, and i don't regard it at all as inerrant or without error. you assert that as fact, when really it is opinion/convicttion. and i do agree with your last point.

my point is that great works of literature -- like all great works of art -- come from inspired places in the soul of the artist. it's the whole thing that Bono talks about, "letting God walk into the room." i think the same thing happens in all of those books, where the author is connecting to something mysterious and powerful. maybe that's "God," maybe he's stepping out of the way and letting his/her brain operate on a higher level.

while i understand and respect the importance of the Bible to many people, it simply isn't all that important to me.
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Old 01-26-2005, 11:41 AM   #20
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I agree that God can influence or inspire art today, like Bono said. However, when it's God's Word, or to be taken as God's message to humanity, I think there's going to be more of an influence by him in it. It was written by humans BUT under the guidance of the Holy Spirit — God. Also, I never said God actually wrote the Bible. Yes, it was written by humans. However, you won't find any errors in it. That's not just opinion or conviction, that's a fact. Nothing has ever proven the Bible to be wrong, and let's face it, if one part of it's wrong, how can we take it as God's word? If you can find something, I'll be open to reading it and considering it.

And you said the Bible isn't important to you, but have you read it? I'm seriously just curious, I'm not trying to challenge you by asking that. I myself have read the entire NT and about half of the OT. When I read the entire NT last year and studied it, I was blown away at how different it was from my preconceived ideas of what it'd be like.
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Old 01-26-2005, 12:11 PM   #21
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Yes, it was written by humans. However, you won't find any errors in it. That's not just opinion or conviction, that's a fact. Nothing has ever proven the Bible to be wrong, and let's face it, if one part of it's wrong, how can we take it as God's word? If you can find something, I'll be open to reading it and considering it.

And you said the Bible isn't important to you, but have you read it? I'm seriously just curious, I'm not trying to challenge you by asking that. I myself have read the entire NT and about half of the OT. When I read the entire NT last year and studied it, I was blown away at how different it was from my preconceived ideas of what it'd be like.

firstly, i was responding to Cardosino's post, but i take all your ponts.

1) "nothing has ever proven the Bible to be wrong." i have no idea what you mean by that. are you talking about messages? commandments? historical events? just because no one has proved them wrong, does that mean that they then happened? has anyone proved that they did happen? seems to me that the burden of proof should be on the book.

i'm very happy to point out many messages/laws in the bible that have been provent to be wrong -- and we can just start with all that garbage in Leveticus, from shellfish to so-called "abomination." just that part renders the bible errant. and you're right -- because i see flaws in it, based upon my own experience, i cannot take the thing as god's word. one response might be -- "you're reading it wrong/ignoring the context/no, what they really meant is ..." and that's fine; i'm a big fan of understanding literature on it's own terms. but that then destroys, for me, the inerrancy of the text. to me, it is a text, and like all texts, it is filled with the historical prejudices of its authors and of its readers and interpreters. something to be studied, of course; but not something from which black-and-white laws are pulled and slapped on top of modern society.

2) no, i have not closely studied the bible. i would like to, especially if i could take a class that viewed it as an historical text and not, as has been indicated, The Word of God. not saying that a clergy member would be unable to teach this class, but the goal of the class should not be to reinforce the inerrancy of the text; rather, the goal of the class should be a deeper understanding of the complexities and naunces of the text itself, ontological authority aside.

that said, i am not unfamiliar with much of the bible. as a child, for my first holy communion, i was given two huge books -- "bible stories for children." let me tell you, these were not for children! i remember reading them late at night -- vividly illustrated, bloody, swords, etc. what this gave me, at the age of 8, was a fairly good grasp of the major bible stories because i read them over and over and over, almost breathless with all the lurid violence. ironically, because i then knew all the answers in Sunday School and i loved telling my friends about the more violent stories, i probably sounded like the child of devout bible-thumping parents anyway, this rather basic knowledge was very usefull in school, as i understood many historical allusions in texts better than many of my peers. i also went to CCD from kindergarten through my junior year of high school. there wasn't much bible study, per say, but lots of discussion of religion, though it almost seemed more of a class in the culture of Catholicism -- and i happened to be selected to play Jesus when we acted out the Stations of the Cross just before Easter. every year. i am still traumatized by the memory of standing in front of the congregation, in "rags," with my arms wide open, Creed-style, as the narrator explains that now i have risen from the dead. *shudder*

listen, when it comes to the bible, and god, and jesus -- i'm only hostile when people think they can 1) make judgements, and 2) render those judgements into law based upon their own understanding of the bible. yes, i'm talking about gay marriage, but that extends to the resistance of *any* recognition of gay relationships, whether in marriage or in domestic partnership laws or in the protesting of silly cartoon shows because a few crazies seem to think a sponge is gay. when you really look at the issue, there is no reason to deny gay people anything that heterosexual couples get, aside from "tradition."

really: would you deny for others what you demand for yourself?
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Old 01-26-2005, 12:41 PM   #22
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Originally posted by coemgen
Also, I never said God actually wrote the Bible. Yes, it was written by humans. However, you won't find any errors in it. That's not just opinion or conviction, that's a fact. Nothing has ever proven the Bible to be wrong, and let's face it, if one part of it's wrong, how can we take it as God's word? If you can find something, I'll be open to reading it and considering it.
The burden of proof should be proving that the Bible was right, and we can't do that either. It was written, by design, to never be proven or disproven. It's written in mythic speech, which, when you start talking about "faith" and intangible things you can't see, it will never be proven or disproven.

With that, most of my gripes are not with the Bible as much as how people interpret it.

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Old 01-26-2005, 12:58 PM   #23
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Irvine, I would just say that the Bible has proven to be factual, and never not factual. Maybe there are things that aren't recorded elsewhere in history that are only found in the Bible that maybe can't be verified (but that doesn't make them wrong.) What I was saying was that the Bible doesn't conflict with history or archeology. In fact, historians and archeologists use the Bible for new discoveries.
Actually, to say Leveticus is wrong isn't true either. You have to take the context of which it was written into consideration. When you do this, you'll find it to be inerrant.
How does the fact that you may not understand the context or whatever destroy the inerrancy of the text for you? That doesn't make sense man! Are you saying just because you haven't studied it or understood it from its context that it's not entirely true? What examples of historical prejudices of its authors and interpreters can you show me? Just curious.
I'm glad you'd like to study the Bible. I commend you for being open understanding it, even though you have these feelings about it and Christianity. I would encourage you to study it from a secular point of view, but I wouldn't stop there. I would see what a Christian scholar tells you about it as well (of course, there's good and bad of these as well), but to deny the Christian take on it is missing the point. It's not just a history book — you know?
You're right about the Bible —*it's actually rated R for sure!! Many Christians realized this after watching the Passion of the Christ and seeing how bloody it actually got. Many scholars believe it wasn't bloody enough!
Thanks for sharing your neat story about playing Christ during the Stations of the Cross before Easter.
I nearly wet myself with your "Creed style" comment. I can tell from what I know about your heart that Christ was probably pleased to have you represent him.
I understand your perspective on interpretations of the Bible being put into law. I can agree with you on some points actually!

Personally, I'm not for gay marriage, because the Bible describes marriage as an institution created by God between a man and a woman. So why should I go against God and change the definition of it? Marriage is also something recognized by God, so why do homosexuals, many of whom (not all) don't adhere to Christianity anyway, want it that way? I know homosexuals want the concept of marriage, but I think it should be called something different. As a Christian, I don't think homosexuality is what God intended for any of us, and I do consider it a sinful lifestyle, as the Bible says it is. That said, I also don't think homosexuals should be denied the right to have a civil union. Many Christians might disagree with me on this, but how can I tell someone to not do something based on Biblical grounds if they're not a Christian? I don't think it should be "marriage" because that's a term reserved for a man and a woman, as it always has been. Does that make sense? This is just my opinion, I know it differs from yours and I honestly respect that.

Melon, I don't know who's feeding you this mythic speech crap about the Bible, but I can tell you that's a false statement. Maybe parts of it are allegorical, in the form of a parable or poetic, but the Bible itself isn't mythical. In fact, most of it should be taken as historical and straight forward talk; black and white. And I don't know about it being written to not be proven wrong or proven right. What are you saying? How do you know this?
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Old 01-26-2005, 01:41 PM   #24
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Originally posted by coemgen
Melon, I don't know who's feeding you this mythic speech crap about the Bible, but I can tell you that's a false statement. Maybe parts of it are allegorical, in the form of a parable or poetic, but the Bible itself isn't mythical. In fact, most of it should be taken as historical and straight forward talk; black and white. And I don't know about it being written to not be proven wrong or proven right. What are you saying? How do you know this?
Prove to me it's a false statement.

I think you're confused as to my usage of "mythic speech." Don't confuse it with the word "myth." Mythic speech is to phrase something in a way that nobody can question it. Religion, in general, is nothing but mythic speech. You say that the Bible should be taken as "historical"; what evidence do you have beyond what you have been taught to believe? To say the Bible is "historical" is a matter of faith and faith alone.

There are contradictions in the Bible. Even if I believe that science has made a mockery of literal creationism, no one has ever solved this overlooked Genesis conundrum:

If Adam, Eve, Cain, and Abel were the first humans, then how did Cain marry a woman from the land of Nod after being cast from the Garden of Eden (Genesis 4:16-17)? How do "Nodites" even exist? After all, if there are only three people on Earth (after the death of Abel), Cain should have no one to marry, let alone a whole pagan tribe. This is generally why I believe that the creation myths of Genesis were never meant to be applied globally, but were, rather, the story of the creation of the "Chosen People." Genesis 4 more than implies that the world has long existed before Adam and Eve were even created. I theorize that early Judaism believed in the existence of multiple gods, but would only worship one: their own. However, they may have believed in the existence of other tribal gods, each of which would have been the creator of the tribe (i.e., "Baal" as the creator of the Phoenicians, etc.).

Post-exilic Judaism is probably genuinely monotheistic, but even in the NT, there is a disconnect between the Sadducees (old time Jews) and the Pharisees (Pharisee derives from "Parsi," referring to Persian Zoroastrianism, the religion of the Persian Empire where they were exiled. The Magi ("Three Wise Men") are Zoroastrian priests, BTW.). The Sadducees hated the Pharisees who believed in Zoroastrian beliefs about a Messianic savior, and it is the text of the Pharisees that make up the Old Testament. The Pharisees, while believing a Messiah would come, did not believe Jesus was it. The Sadducees would not have believed in a Messiah at all.

Secondly, the story of Noah's Ark makes no sense. I would challenge Noah to have been able to snatch some polar bears or kangaroos for the ark, let alone the myriad of freshwater life that would not have survived a salty ocean deluge. Additionally, a global flood would have left clear scientific evidence for us to study, even if the flood dried up. There would be a clear layer of sediment, not to mention fossil evidence from all the dead animals (after all, Noah only supposedly saved a few of each animal, not all) and dead humans.

However, there is clear scientific evidence that the Black Sea is a result of the Mediterranean Sea breaching a weak land wall, plunging the area that is now the Black Sea with 500 feet of water 5,000 years ago. There is clear evidence of civilization, since the lower layers of the Black Sea are anoxic (no oxygen), meaning things like wood never decay. This is likely the origin of "Noah's Ark." No global flood, but an event so horrifying as to be passed down in distorted, mythical form.

I can back up my claims with plenty of historical and scientific evidence, not to mention applying logic. As to how I know this, the secular study of the Bible is quite an interesting subject to study. We know that the Bible is not a fixed text, due to evidence from the Dead Sea Scrolls. There are some additions (and Martin Luther's "apocryphal" OT texts are in the Dead Sea Scrolls, meaning he was wrong). Logically, it makes sense; with no printing press until the 1400s, you had to make books manually and it lends itself to contemporary additions. The idea of "preservation" is a modern value, not a traditional value.

I enjoy studying religion, and like the early Founding Fathers, I tend to approach it quite scholarly. In my opinion, to understand God, one must understand His creation, and that is only going to be understood through science and finding out, historically, what really happened. I was never a fundamentalist, and, through the centuries, there is a clear tradition of philosophizing about the nature of God outside of the Bible.

Melon
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Old 01-26-2005, 01:49 PM   #25
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Originally posted by coemgen

Melon, I don't know who's feeding you this mythic speech crap about the Bible, but I can tell you that's a false statement. Maybe parts of it are allegorical, in the form of a parable or poetic, but the Bible itself isn't mythical. In fact, most of it should be taken as historical and straight forward talk; black and white. And I don't know about it being written to not be proven wrong or proven right. What are you saying? How do you know this?


There are mythical parts. Currently I am in the midst of a four year course of study and that was chapter 1. The bible is mythical, contains legends, and much of it was not written down as a history book and the whole first week the instructor spent plenty of time discussing why it should NOT be taken as straight forward historical talk.
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Old 01-26-2005, 02:09 PM   #26
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Coemgen: see, we're just not speaking the same language. you're working from an assumption -- the Bible is inerrant -- and putting the burden of proof on those who say it isn't inerrant.

who is proving these facts of the bible? are these christian scholars with a vested interest in validating bible stories? is circumstantial evidence interpreted to support a pre-existing hypothesis? i have no idea ... but i am suspicious. if you have any sources for this stuff, please let me know.

it is because of context, and the prejudices of the writers, that NO text is divorced from the time period in which it was written, nor are the readers of any text divorced from the prejudices of the time periods from which they are reading. this makes meaning subjective, and why literature is such a powerful, living, breathing thing. in fact, to me, this would make the Bible more powerful -- we seek the essence of the message, not the message itself, because it then becomes timeless. like Shakespeare: it works in Verona, Italy (Zeferelli's version) or in Verona Beach, CA (in Baz Luhrman's version).

you really think the line about man "laying" with man is "an abomination" is inerrant?

if you are personally against gay marriage, that's one thing. but if you are against gay marriage for no other reason than the bible tells you so, and you then use your vote to ban gay marriage, that strikes me as poor reasoning -- as i've said, i don't think the bible is something that should be used as a legislative consultant.

to go into marriage ... you, and many others, are completely missing the point of civil marriage. civil marriage is not "sacred" as GWB would have you believe; civil marriage gets you 1,049 different tax cuts, and legitimacy in the eyes of both the state itself and society. marriage may be recognized by the church, but the church is not the only institution that is capable of marrying people. basically: objection to gay marriage on religious grounds is fine from a personal standpoint, but it is illegitimate from a legal standpoint.

you're also saying "i don't think God intended homosexuality for any of us." well, since you're not a homosexual, how could you possibly know this? who are you to say that i'm living a life contrary to God's will? who are you to call it sinful?

you seem like an exceptionally nice person, and i bet if ever we were to meet, we'd get along well. i'd then challenge you to observe my life, and more importantly the lives of many gay people who live in commited relationships, and then tell me if you trust your own *interpretation* of the Bible, or if you trust your own eyes and ears.

there are several other points in your post that i'd like to address, but i've gone on long enough already.
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Old 01-26-2005, 02:17 PM   #27
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You're right, there are mythical parts, but the entire Bible isn't written in mythic speech as melon suggested earlier. And, MUCH of it IS to be taken as straightforward talk —*not all, but much of it. The New Testament, aside from Christ's parables and the Book of Revelation, are letters and historical accounts, they're not mythic by any means. I would also argue that more of the OT is supposed to be taken litteral than not.

Melon, when I say the Bible is historical, I'm saying that based on the numerous amounts of other texts that verify what it has to say. For instance, there's a part in at least one of the Gospels where it says after Christ was crucified, the earth turned dark. Most people just take this as a litterary phrase to create a mood or whatever, but there are texts outside of the Bible that say the same thing!! Sounds like an accurate, historical account to me! If it can be verified by other texts, who's to say it's not historical? As for the rest of your post, I don't have enough time to give my response, but I respect where you're coming from.
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Old 01-26-2005, 02:23 PM   #28
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you really think the line about man "laying" with man is "an abomination" is inerrant?
Even if I were a Biblical fundamentalist, the word "abomination" is a misnomer. It's a ritual condemnation. Eating shellfish and wearing multi-fibered clothing is an equal "abomination" using the same exact Hebrew word, "toevah."

While I believe that early Christianity eliminated the entire Mosaic Law in Acts 15 (minus four relatively insignificant laws regarding idolatry and incest/"blood mixing"), the "abomination" regarding homosexuality (which is actually a reference to temple cult practices, not the 1874 definition of homosexuality) was clearly ritual in nature, and even most Protestants agree that ritual Mosaic Law was voided in the NT.

And, even then, those four relatively insignificant laws were not enforced by St. Paul. He spent some time in his epistles saying that you could eat meat offered to idols, because they are meaningless, if you don't believe they exist.

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Old 01-26-2005, 07:27 PM   #29
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Melon great questions. I'll admit ignorance here! I actually wondered about the situation with Cain and his wife when I read Genesis a while back (I even put a ? in my Bible next to that.), but I never looked into it. I wanted to answer your question and I found a Web site that did. http://www.christiananswers.net/q-aig/aig-c004.html covers it extensively. For space and time reasons, I'll just let you and others check the site out.

As far as the Noah's Ark issue (another good question by the way) the site goes into GREAT length explaining this. It's incredible. I can tell you from my own knowledge of Genesis that Noah didn't have to collect the animals, they came to him under God's guidance. The site even answers your question about salt water and freshwater fish in this case. It also looks at how all the world's animals fit into the ark, how Mt. Everest was covered in water and whether or not the ENTIRE Earth was flooded. It also answers how animals from Australia made it to the ark. Check these sites out. I think you'll find them to be way more in-depth than you would've ever thought. It also addresses your point on the Black Sea.
I think this site will give you the historical, scientific and logical explanations you (and I'm sure others) were looking for.

And Irvine, the site also has great stuff on the Christian perspective of homosexuality, and answers questions such as "What's wrong with being gay?" "Are people born gay?" "What does the Bible say about same sex marriages?" and "Can a gay or lesbian person go to heaven?"

Irvine, before I go any further, I want you to know I have the utmost respect for you as a person and I respect your views, no matter how much they may differ from mine. We've had some great discussions and I treasure those. First of all, I don't have to use the Bible to object to gay marriage from a legal standpoint. I, as a member of the vast majority of people who are heterosexual, don't think a small minority of people should change the very definition of something as sacred as marriage for everyone else. Call me close-minded if you well, but that's how I feel. Also, I didn't call homosexuality sinful, God did. I know that sounds harsh, but it's true. There's no denying that.
I know this all sounds harsh to you, and I'm sorry for that. You know I respect you greatly. You seem like a nice person too, and I'm confident that if we did meet, we'd get along well. I know there's more to a person than their sexuality. To be honest, I'd love to observe your life and better understand what you go through. I have no doubt there are homosexuals out there who deeply care for their partners, but I have to go with what God tells me in his word over a human's perspective. And frankly, God's word is clear enough on this matter that there's nothing really to "interpret."

For both of you guys, I'm not trying to avoid you or your questions by suggesting you check these sites out, I just feel like they say it better than I could and I would just be pulling from them in many cases anyway. My purpose with this post was not to offend either you guys or anyone else reading it in anyway. I sincerely apologize if that was the case for anyone. Thanks for reading and checking out the sites.
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Old 01-27-2005, 02:05 AM   #30
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First of all, I don't have to use the Bible to object to gay marriage from a legal standpoint. I, as a member of the vast majority of people who are heterosexual, don't think a small minority of people should change the very definition of something as sacred as marriage for everyone else.
Tyranny of the majority is not and never has been either a legal or moral justification. At least, not one that stood the test of time.

I won't discuss gay marriage as we've already had a thread on it and this is about the Bible, so I wouldn't want to see it derailed - but as it is something you addressed, I will provide this link, which says it better than I would, anyway.


Legal Reasons for Gay Marriage

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