In my last post I wrote about my experiences in the church. Most of these experiences occurred in my 20s. However, I remained in fundamentalist churches until my 40s. Why was this the case? I believed there was something wrong with me. Here is why.
It is a sad indictment on humanity that when a group of people get together members are expected to conform. This does not just happen in the church but in any group, workplaces, friendship groups, etc. The difference with the church is that it reinforces its behaviour with its view of God.
Instead of leading people to love one another, churches tend to push us toward uniformity. A close friend of mine once said that it often confuses unity with uniformity. Unity is of the heart drawn by love; uniformity is of the mind driven by fear. Uniformity requires each of us to be the same, thereby shaming any differences from the group norm. But the church reinforces the group norm by saying that God wants it enforced. So, if those in leadership find being gay, or obese an offence to them they justify that belief using God as the ultimate reference point. Using God in this way is justified by their interpretation of the Bible.
However, our view of the world stains everything we read or hear. In the same way, we filter the words of the Bible through our perceptions. If I view my life through fear, I will have a judgemental God who uses judgemental, fearful, and harsh passages of scripture to justify my own view. But, if I view the world through love I will emphasise the caring, empathic and gracious passages and place less value on the harsher passages of the bible.
To my rational mind the bible is a complicated and contradictory book which cannot be fully understood. I do not wish to argue its validity as to me that does not matter. What matters is that in all things, including the bible we interpret in the spirit in which it was intended.
As a professional I was taught to interpret the law in the spirit in which it was written. That is, the intention of those who wrote it. In the same way, I believe we should interpret the bible in the spirit in which it was written. And I believe that is Love.
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In love, Jenny