Even as a Christian minister, I too struggle with what it means to be labeled a “Christian” when we are too often represented in the public square by people like Pat Robertson, Focus on the Family, that Florida preacher who wanted to burn a Quran, and local folks like WyWatch Family Action. On the issue of same sex marriage, legislators report receiving especially unChristian emails from self-identified Christians. When confronted, one blamed it on the Good Book, saying she was “only quoting the Bible”
It’s hard for a lot of us to be lumped in with that crowd.
It comes down to a question of whether you take the Bible literally or seriously. The debate over marriage is an example. According to its website, “WyWatch Family Action believes marriage was intended by God to be a life-long relationship between one man and one woman.”
They may believe that, but there is nothing in the Bible to support it. Search the Bible for something they call “traditional” marriage. You’ll find polygamists, concubines, powerful men mating with slave women and the wives of others, loaning their own wives to other powerful men. But you’ll find nothing that says “marriage was intended by God to be a life-long relationship between one man and one woman.” WyWatch isn’t taking the Bible seriously when they make these self serving claims. They aren’t even taking it literally.
Tolstoy, the 19th century Russian writer, provided a good idea of what it means for a Christian to take the Bible seriously. After spending the final three decades of his life thinking and writing about Christianity, Tolstoy concluded some Christians have elevated the stories and myths of the Old Testament and Paul’s letters in the New Testament to the same sacred level as the words of Jesus.
Having made that mistake, the faithful must then figure out how to reconcile irreconcilable views of God. For centuries, Christians have been hammering those square pegs into round holes. It’s still not working.
Tolstoy made a choice in his life that perhaps we 21st century Christians might consider. A person who seeks to reconcile the matter, Tolstoy wrote, “must bring himself (or herself) to understand the teachings of Jesus, his true teachings and not the crude misinterpretations which have been put upon it.”
Could be that is what Jesus meant when he said “all the Law and the Prophets” hang on these the two great commandments, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.”