What rules: Your Desires or God’s word?

You know how two people can read the same passage in the Bible and then come up with completely different conclusions about what it must be saying?

There are many things to keep in mind in order to read and interpret scripture properly. This includes understanding historical context, historical culture, sorting out whether the passage is a historical account, or poetry, or prophecy, whether the passage should be taken literally or not and what the original word in Hebrew, Greek or Aramaic means. There are probably many more things to consider if you take a course on how to read scripture properly (because there are really THAT many things to consider).

More simply though, is what priority or authority we give the Word in our lives. Christopher Yuan describes it this way:

There are Revisionists and Traditionalists.

Revisionists have ranked in authority:

  1. Their desires, emotions and experiences
  2. Find research and studies that support (1)
  3. The Bible…re-interpretted or revised to support (1) and (2)

For example: I’m in love with my boyfriend, we’re in the “moment”. There’s research that shows sex before marriage is good for testing sexual chemistry before committing to someone and this supports what I feel like doing. Therefore, the Bible must be out-dated with the no premarital sex thing. Or the Bible must be referring to something else but premarital sex is ok.

The Traditionalists however, see it like this:

  1. The Bible
  2. Find research and studies that support (1)
  3. Their emotions and experiences are modified to follow (1) and (2)

So in this example: The Bible says to honor marriage and seek purity. There is research that shows having sexual relationships prior to marriage increases the chance of divorce which supports what the Bible  says. Therefore, though I’m in love with my boyfriend, I confess my selfishness and lust and will make sure to honor what the Bible says.

See the difference?

A lot of what the Bible has put restrictions or “rules” around is NOT because God is a kill joy and doesn’t want us to enjoy life. It also isn’t because His word is irrelevant to life today. People thought God’s word was irrelevant in Adam & Eve’s day, in Noah’s day, in Abraham’s day, in Jesus’ day, in Martin Luther King’s day…and in our day. There is nothing new under the sun. We tend put incredibly short-sighted desires and emotions as an authority over God’s word and then “revise” it to suit our motives and desires. Or we brush it off as “irrelevant”.

When interpreted correctly, the Bible describes how we’re apt to screw ourselves over (and we have been for millenia) when we wander from the truths and principles God has lovingly provided us. Not because He’s punishing us, but because there are some very real consequences when we break spiritual laws, just as there are consequences for breaking natural laws. I see more and more that what seems like restrictions or rules against a good time is actually a love letter with a road map detailing how we can best navigate our time on earth such that we have a dynamic and healthy way to thrive in Life. With the people around us. And on the planet we’ve been given to take care of. Seriously.

Simpler illustration….it’s like reading a guide-book to a country we’ve never been to before. There are details on what to expect, what the highlights and lowlights are. Where to get good food and clean water. How to interact with the locals, what their customs and values are. As well as what laws and fines to be wary of or what areas of town to avoid for safety and health reasons. A wise person takes note to follow what’s written. A foolish person does whatever they see fit to do. The illustration ends here in that while you can usually get away with not following a travel guide-book and get home in one piece, the end result of not following God’s word is death.

God’s trying to get us all Home.

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