We must learn to worship God and not our bibles. We must learn to worship God and not our pastor/bishop. We must learn to worship God and not our glistening, massive church buildings. We must learn to worship God and not our stellar church choirs. But most importantly, we must learn to worship God and nothing else and no one else, no matter how highly esteemed and honored it is by man. In the end, it all comes terribly short of God’s infinite, continuously living, and breathing glory!
These are very simple concepts but extremely difficult truths to live out in the lives of “biblical” Christians, many of whom are gay/lesbian. Biblical Christians embrace the letter of the word and not the spirit behind it. They see the bible as a religious contract between them and God that allows them access to heaven if they abide by all of its commandments and ordinances without fail. Further, they staunchly believe that the bible “says what it means and it means what it says” end of story.
For someone to take the bible in such cut and dried literal terms without any further reflection, prayer, meditation and most of all without any type of linguistic, cultural, and historical study is called literalism.
Literalism or the act of taking a literalist belief, view, and understanding of the bible is exactly how it has been used in the past to destroy, kill, enslave, and marginalize human beings around the world. Literalism is the tool by which Native Americans were persecuted, our ancestors enslaved, and by which women and gays/lesbians have been kept in cultural bondage.
So does the bible promote hatred, slavery, the marginalization and the rape of cultures of people??? Of course not, instead it has been man’s literal interpretation and literal misinterpretation of scripture that has led to such atrocities.
That is why we must always seek the spiritual meaning behind God’s word and hence worship God and not our bibles! The bible is a wonderful tool, path and template by which our lives should be guided and governed, however it is still NOT God. Although the bible wonderfully describes the glorious nature of God, it still does NOT define God. Although inspired by God through man to record on earth, the bible still at its very best is an extremely tiny fraction representing the totality of God.
For anyone who foolishly attempts to trap and define God within 66 chapters is actually limiting their own spiritual growth and experience within God. To believe that there are no more revelations and spiritual truths to be revealed to us by God is basically saying that God is shut up and bound by the leather backs of the bible.
In actuality, God is alive, living and breathing and his word continues to speak to us everyday, but we must take the precious time to listen. However, as “spiritual” Christians, we not only embrace the bible, but we also actively seek the spiritual meaning behind the word within the cultural, linguistic, and historical context in which it was authored.
In others words, spiritual Christians study beyond the literal black and white print of their King James. They do not take their 21st century, internet savvy minds and attempt to apply 1st and 2nd century translated writings to their every day lives.
Instead they take their 21st century, internet savvy minds and seek to understand scripture within the cultural, linguistic, and historical context of when and how God inspired it through man. They then seek out the spiritual meaning behind it and then apply it to their daily lives. Further, they do not seek to berate or intimidate others by their memorization of scripture, but instead seek to inspire and uplift others by it.
So do you worship God or do you worship your bible??? If you’re not sure, then answer the following questions:
- When you read and study scripture do you use a concordance or a lexicon which gives the actual Hebrew and Greek meanings and derivations of words that have been translated to your bible?
- Do you seek to understand who is speaking in the passage, who they’re speaking to, why they’re speaking, and if it was during a time of war or peace?
- Do you read other texts to gain insight as to the culture, habits and customs of the city and time period of the passage of scripture in which you are reading?
- Do you seek out the spiritual meaning and truths behind the words that you read?
- Do you apply any of these questions to your pastor/bishop’s sermons and their biblical texts that you hear on Sunday mornings? Do you ever go back and do additional linguistic, cultural, and historical detailed study around your pastor/bishop’s sermons or do you just accept everything that comes out of pastor/bishop’s mouth as the true and inspired word of God? If the answer is no to any of these questions, then chances are that you are probably worshipping and memorizing the bible and not truly worshipping God. It is extremely difficult for one to literally read scripture in the black and white format in which it is printed today and think they have gotten the total meaning(s) and understanding(s) from it.
Take into consideration the following facts:
Did you know that the King James version of the bible is not the original text? Instead it is an extremely well organized and methodically edited text put together by 54 men in Great Britain at three university locations (Oxford, Westminster, and Cambridge) over the course of three years?
Although the bible committees were bound by 15 rules of translation and consulted language experts, an exact word for word translation does not exist. In fact every italicized word that is printed in King James actually does not exist in the original Hebrew and Greek texts. They were added or inserted there for greater clarification for the reader.
Did you also know that the original biblical text that was indeed inspired by God are called “autographs” and were actually written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek languages? However, these “autographs” have long since been destroyed. However, what has indeed survived are many handwritten copies of copies of copies, of copies that were created and passed down through the generations.
Did you also know that it is theologically documented that there are certain parts of the bible that are actually considered to be allegories, which have extremely strong spiritual and moral meanings for us to apply to our everyday lives, even though they are thought not to be literally true?
Did you know there is no biblical word in Hebrew or Greek for homosexual?? Did you also know that it wasn’t until 1946 that the word homosexual was first printed in an English speaking bible and that the word homosexual wasn’t even invented until the early 19th century?
Did you also know that the word sodomite actually refers to male temple prostitution and NOT homosexuality, and thus represents yet another translation error that we embrace today?
So am I suggesting that we throw out the bible??? Of course not, but I am encouraging that we take the precious time to understand the bible, embrace the bible, but NOT worship the bible or read it in the literal fashion that has caused so many lives to be destroyed at the hands of others.
God’s word is brilliantly LIVING and we must continuously seek his guidance and understanding as we grow spiritually within him.
Herndon L. Davis is author of the book Black, Gay & Christian: An Inspirational Guidebook to Daily Living, published in 2004.