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God talked to me... does that make me crazy?

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Ok, no, God didn't really talk to me, at least not today. But I was watching the movie Evan Almighty today while I was home... I have seen it before and it's a really cute movie. In it Steve Carell plays Evan who is told by God, played by Morgan Freeman, that he needs to build an arc because a flood is coming. So anyways, after some convincing he begins building the arc and everyone in town calls him crazy even though he tells them that God told him to do this.

We live in a Nation where many people consider themselves "Christians" and they believe in God and they pray to God and believe all that stuff... yadda, yadda, yadda. If I were to say tomorrow that God spoke to me and he wants me to build a big boat and I start building it... a lot of people, many of them "Christians", would probably think I should be locked up in an institution. Why is that? What if I went on TV tomorrow and claimed that God came to me in my dream and wanted me to deliver the message that some people being born gay is normal and part of his divine plan and that gays should be allowed to get married... would gay marriage have to automatically be made legal... b/c God said so? How would people know for sure whether or not God did talk to me... why would most automatically think it's not true even though many believe in God and believe you can pray to God and that God hears your prayers and all that stuff...?

Long night at work... I have some downtime... just something I was thinking about. ^_^

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I was going to address this in the thread about science in the classroom, but this seems to be a more appropriate topic to do so.

As one who converses with god, I can assure you I don’t think people who claim to do so are crazy. That’s not to say I always believe it when someone makes that claim, especially when some TV evangelist claims god told him I needed to send him money. But if someone truly has “found god”, then I would hope they also found a way to communicate with him, or her.

The thing is, though, that not everyone communicates with god in the same way. I suppose there are some who might have interactive discussions with god. Personally, my conversations run along the lines of 20 Questions – I ask her questions that require a yes or no answer, and she answers thusly.

Sometimes I get the answer to my question immediately. Sometimes the answer comes days later, or weeks, or months later. But I feel confident she will answer eventually.

And I don’t always get the answers in the same manner every time. Sometimes the answer comes to me like a loud voice. Sometimes it comes like a gentle nudge. Sometimes the answer comes from a friend, or relative.

And sometimes it comes through the television. Countless times I have asked a question, and within days, I will chance upon a TV program that deals with the issue my question relates to.

This may sound even stranger than god suggesting someone build an ark, but many times in the past, god answered my question with a meteor, or “shooting star”. Usually these were questions that weighed heavily on my mind, like if I was making the right decision in a relationship.

Once I was driving with a woman I was dating, and we were discussing marriage. We just sort of came to a mutual decision to do the deed, and I said something to the effect, “Good. Let’s do it”. At that very moment, one of the brightest meteors I have ever seen appeared through the front windshield slowly heading in the direction we were heading along the West Loop.

The meteor pulsed once, then another time, and then split into two parts just before dying out, and taking about three seconds to do so, which is a long duration for a meteor. But that was my answer from god. I can’t explain it, but I accepted it as such.

Here’s the kicker, though. The woman and I had a bit of a blowup sometime after that, but we stayed together. Then we had a second major argument that we couldn’t get past and broke up for good.

The sign, the meteor, the answer from god was exactly as the relationship unfolded. I just misunderstood the answer. And thinking back on other “meteoric” situations, it came to me that I had misread many of those answers, too.

The point is, even though we get answers from god, we don’t always understand the answer correctly.

Finally, and this is curtail, god does not give everyone the same answers, especially about “right or wrong” situations. God has repeatedly made it clear to me that while I am right about a particular thing, it doesn’t necessarily mean those who think differently are wrong.

I will consider a situation and come to a decision about how I feel about it, and what I should do about it. I then ask god, “Is my way the right way?”

And she so often answers me in the same way, “Yes, your way is the right way, but it’s not the only way.”

Edited by Heights2Bastrop

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Ok, no, God didn't really talk to me, at least not today. But I was watching the movie Evan Almighty today while I was home... I have seen it before and it's a really cute movie. In it Steve Carell plays Evan who is told by God, played by Morgan Freeman, that he needs to build an arc because a flood is coming. So anyways, after some convincing he begins building the arc and everyone in town calls him crazy even though he tells them that God told him to do this.

We live in a Nation where many people consider themselves "Christians" and they believe in God and they pray to God and believe all that stuff... yadda, yadda, yadda. If I were to say tomorrow that God spoke to me and he wants me to build a big boat and I start building it... a lot of people, many of them "Christians", would probably think I should be locked up in an institution. Why is that? What if I went on TV tomorrow and claimed that God came to me in my dream and wanted me to deliver the message that some people being born gay is normal and part of his divine plan and that gays should be allowed to get married... would gay marriage have to automatically be made legal... b/c God said so? How would people know for sure whether or not God did talk to me... why would most automatically think it's not true even though many believe in God and believe you can pray to God and that God hears your prayers and all that stuff...?

Long night at work... I have some downtime... just something I was thinking about. ^_^

The question that would undoubtedly arise would be, "whose god talked to you; it wasn't mine." Christianity is not practiced by one monolithic category of people. There are thousands of different sects of Christians in the United States, each playing by their own rulebook. Not all of them are opposed to gay marriage, though some are.

FWIW, I believe that marriage is an irrelevant institution propagated by religion that gays should be proud and grateful to be exempted from. People like me have to worry about common law when there's cohabitation, and if I did get married for some reason (most likely to gain access to a tax incentive which could very easily change under any given Congress) I'd expose myself to the financial risks of a divorce later on. And that's not to say that I dislike the social aspects that traditionally come with marriage--the fact is that I don't really care to waste my time by pursuing any kind of relationship without long-term potential--it's just that I can achieve my goals outside of traditional judeo-christian constructs.

^And there you have, it someone's God talked to you. ;) Now you can go on Fox News as my prophet and reveal the Truth the nation.

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If it was the God of the Bible, would he tell you to do something inconsistent with his commandments/teachings?

Would you expect his followers to believe you if what he told you was inconsistent?

Even if you were saying it was Allah or some other religions god, would you expect people to believe you if the revelation was inconsistent with their beliefs and teachings from their source/book of truth?

As a parallel, if some stranger came to you and said your parents told them to do something to you that was totally inconsistent with the character you know they have, would you believe them? You know your parents so you would know if what they're saying is true.

If you were saying it was the God of the bible and it was consistent with his commandments/teachings, then sure, Christians might believe you. But then again, the Bible does teach the principle of not adding or taking away anything from it.

Just a couple of things to think about.

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If it was the God of the Bible, would he tell you to do something inconsistent with his commandments/teachings?

Would you expect his followers to believe you if what he told you was inconsistent?

Even if you were saying it was Allah or some other religions god, would you expect people to believe you if the revelation was inconsistent with their beliefs and teachings from their source/book of truth?

As a parallel, if some stranger came to you and said your parents told them to do something to you that was totally inconsistent with the character you know they have, would you believe them? You know your parents so you would know if what they're saying is true.

If you were saying it was the God of the bible and it was consistent with his commandments/teachings, then sure, Christians might believe you. But then again, the Bible does teach the principle of not adding or taking away anything from it.

Just a couple of things to think about.

Yes (and this is fertile territory, so think about it), no, no, and no.

New Testament God is very different from Old Testament God. And the very fact of the New Testament (never mind the apocryphal texts) is evidence of inconsistency by way of adding or taking away from the Bible.

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Yes (and this is fertile territory, so think about it), no, no, and no.

New Testament God is very different from Old Testament God. And the very fact of the New Testament (never mind the apocryphal texts) is evidence of inconsistency by way of adding or taking away from the Bible.

How is he different? Are you thinking along the lines that he was an angry God in the OT and a loving God in the NT?

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How is he different? Are you thinking along the lines that he was an angry God in the OT and a loving God in the NT?

Yeah, that's the short of it. The character of the entity's actions changed rather abruptly. No more global floods, no more destruction of sin cities or turning those that looked at the blast into pillars of salt, no more commanding followers to sacrifice their children in his name, no more destruction of his followers' livelihood just to make an argumentative point to Satan. He's a really high-strung, angry kind of guy in the Old Testament. ...and then, not so much.

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As someone who grew up without much exposure to religion, the OP's example would yes, in the DSM-IV, probably come up with something near a 297.1 (delusional psychotic episode sorta thing).

Of course, as I started seeing more of the world, I realized there were WAY more religious people out there than I could have ever imagined, and it scared me.

All I know is that religion (I'm talking organized religion, not individual spirituality) is a learned thing, people subscribe to it, and I don't personally get it. But if it is a therapeutic and meditative exercise for people, then that's great.

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What if I went on TV tomorrow and claimed that God came to me in my dream and wanted me to deliver the message that some people being born gay is normal and part of his divine plan and that gays should be allowed to get married... would gay marriage have to automatically be made legal... b/c God said so? How would people know for sure whether or not God did talk to me... why would most automatically think it's not true even though many believe in God and believe you can pray to God and that God hears your prayers and all that stuff...?

If someone went on the air and claimed God told him gay marriage is of the devil and that all gay people should be burned at the stake..... you'd probably be pretty darn glad the world, Christian and others, would dismiss him as a wacko.

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If someone went on the air and claimed God told him gay marriage is of the devil and that all gay people should be burned at the stake..... you'd probably be pretty darn glad the world, Christian and others, would dismiss him as a wacko.

Really? Because some wacko wrote that in the Bible. See Leviticus 20:13:

"If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads."

A lot of Christians believe that isn't the word of just any wacko, but the literal word of their god.

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Ok, no, God didn't really talk to me, at least not today. But I was watching the movie Evan Almighty today while I was home... I have seen it before and it's a really cute movie. In it Steve Carell plays Evan who is told by God, played by Morgan Freeman, that he needs to build an arc because a flood is coming. So anyways, after some convincing he begins building the arc and everyone in town calls him crazy even though he tells them that God told him to do this.

We live in a Nation where many people consider themselves "Christians" and they believe in God and they pray to God and believe all that stuff... yadda, yadda, yadda. If I were to say tomorrow that God spoke to me and he wants me to build a big boat and I start building it... a lot of people, many of them "Christians", would probably think I should be locked up in an institution. Why is that? What if I went on TV tomorrow and claimed that God came to me in my dream and wanted me to deliver the message that some people being born gay is normal and part of his divine plan and that gays should be allowed to get married... would gay marriage have to automatically be made legal... b/c God said so? How would people know for sure whether or not God did talk to me... why would most automatically think it's not true even though many believe in God and believe you can pray to God and that God hears your prayers and all that stuff...?

Long night at work... I have some downtime... just something I was thinking about. ^_^

I think the problem is, as it often is, that you're generalizing people's actions and reactions.

If you said tomorrow that God spoke to you, the reaction you'd get would depend on who you're talking to. The Internet Tough Guys would likely ridicule you, that's a given. But what about your family? What about your very good friends? What about people at work? What about a neighborhood priest? I don't think you should assume that people would think you're crazy. I would think that most would want to know more before making a judgement.

If someone I knew well told me that God spoke to them, my first question wouldn't be, "Are you crazy?" It would be, "What did he say?"

If you believed that God told you to go stick your head in a pig, then I might think you're off your meds. If God told you that you should be nicer to other people, I wouldn't make the same assumption. If God told you to build an ark, I'd want more information.

There are people who believe that God speaks to them every day, with varying definitions of the word "speaks." For some people, it's outward signs. For others, it's inward feelings. For some, a beautiful calming sunset at the end of a bad day at work is God telling them that everything will be all right. It doesn't make these people crazy, it's just how they practice their faith.

I think the answer to a lot of the hypothetical questions you posed above is, "nothing." It's your money, go build yourself an ark, as long as you're not hurting anyone, who cares? If you blew your paycheck on a 30 second TV spot to tell people that God told you being homosexual is OK, then good for you. It's your money and you didn't hurt anyone. It's no different than any other ad. 99.999% of the world would simply move on with their lives. I don't think you'd get the persecution you'd imagine.

As an aside, I once saw this line in someone's .sig and sometimes I use it: "How come when we talk to God, it's prayer; but when God talks to us it's crazy?

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Really? Because some wacko wrote that in the Bible. See Leviticus 20:13:

"If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads."

A lot of Christians believe that isn't the word of just any wacko, but the literal word of their god.

The Bible says lots of things, some of which are believed more literally than others, by some people... But believing something and acting on that belief are two different things.

Regardless, you just proved my point... even for those Christians that believe literally your passage above, when was the last time one stood up and said "follow me, time to kill gay people" .....and it actually worked. How much support did he have? And if he was laughed out of the building by sane people, regular Christians, and anyone else... what chance does someone have that says God talked to them with the same message ?

Of course... in the original example.. it was a gay person saying God talked to him to spread the word that gay is okay. One would assume if he willing to accept that God really just talked to him.. he's either Christian or gonna be a really quick convert... and if that happens.. he has to contend with your Leviticus passage himself.... so let's hope he's not the literal type.

Edited by Highway6

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The Bible says lots of things, some of which are believed more literally than others, by some people... But believing something and acting on that belief are two different things.

Regardless, you just proved my point... even for those Christians that believe literally your passage above, when was the last time one stood up and said "follow me, time to kill gay people" .....and it actually worked. How much support did he have? And if he was laughed out of the building by sane people, regular Christians, and anyone else... what chance does someone have that says God talked to them with the same message ?

Locally, a year or two back, there were the teenagers in Spring where one of them said something to the effect of "hey, let's go shove a pipe up our gay classmate's asshole" .....and they did it.

Clearly there is persecution, and I don't excuse it, nor do I deny it. But if your point was that it was uncommon even among Christians who read the Bible literally (or very close to it), that is also true.

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Regardless, you just proved my point... even for those Christians that believe literally your passage above, when was the last time one stood up and said "follow me, time to kill gay people" .....and it actually worked.

I don't know. I know a lot of them say the Bible is the literal word of God and they are obliged to obey it. It seems inconsistent for them not to kill gay people on a regular basis.

Are there any Christians out there who can tell us what is stopping you?

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Locally, a year or two back, there were the teenagers in Spring where one of them said something to the effect of "hey, let's go shove a pipe up our gay classmate's asshole" .....and they did it.

Clearly there is persecution, and I don't excuse it, nor do I deny it. But if your point was that it was uncommon even among Christians who read the Bible literally (or very close to it), that is also true.

Yes.. there are wackos.. and yes there are persecutions. I'm not sure how tied in the Spring incident was the Leviticus passage. I don't remember reading in the stories the "Remember Leviticus" war cry as they charged that poor guy. We don't know what the root of their anger towards gays was.. or even if they held enough anger already towards this guy for other reasons and the gay aspect was just the tipping point. So I'm not sure how much religious persecution this one incident was.

Regardless.. the maybe-persecution happened... and it was properly found revolting by all, Christians included.

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I don't know. I know a lot of them say the Bible is the literal word of God and they are obliged to obey it. It seems inconsistent for them not to kill gay people on a regular basis.

Are there any Christians out there who can tell us what is stopping you?

I just did a quick google search on the % of Chrisitans that believe the Bible is literal.. came up with roughly 1/3.

That is significant. However, there is still a difference in what you believe and how you act and even in what you say you believe vs what you believe when reality hits the fan.

The other 2/3 of Christians believe the Bible is a guide.. that the Word is inspired by God.

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Let's keep this discussion on topic, or the thread will be closed.

Was that a preemptive warning or are we actually all that off topic? I mean, it isn't like we're discussing the comparative merits of Houston vs. Dallas rap music in a thread about a new retail center or anything.

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Let's keep this discussion on topic, or the thread will be closed.

If the original post was concerning following God voice.... how is talking about beliefs, and literalness of the Bible off-topic ??

If the original post used the context of gays to address the above concern.... how have we strayed off topic ?

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Yes.. there are wackos.. and yes there are persecutions. I'm not sure how tied in the Spring incident was the Leviticus passage. I don't remember reading in the stories the "Remember Leviticus" war cry as they charged that poor guy. We don't know what the root of their anger towards gays was.. or even if they held enough anger already towards this guy for other reasons and the gay aspect was just the tipping point. So I'm not sure how much religious persecution this one incident was.

Regardless.. the maybe-persecution happened... and it was properly found revolting by all, Christians included.

You stated that there are wackos and persecutions. Then you stated that everyone finds it revolting. These statements are in conflict with one another.

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If the original post was concerning following God voice.... how is talking about beliefs, and literalness of the Bible off-topic ??

Because the original post was about God talking to him, not about interpreting the Bible and not about a crime that happened in suburban Houston.

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Really? Because some wacko wrote that in the Bible. See Leviticus 20:13:

If you can't participate in this discussion in a respectful manner, you will be removed from this discussion.

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Because the original post was about God talking to him, not about interpreting the Bible and not about a crime that happened in suburban Houston.

The mention of the crime was an example used to validate a point; the crime is not itself a topic of discussion.

Also, you're vastly oversimplifying the nature of the OP's subject matter.

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You stated that there are wackos and persecutions. Then you stated that everyone finds it revolting. These statements are in conflict with one another.

The fact that there are wackos in the world, and the fact that there are persecutions, whether they are religious, gender, racial, political, etc, in the world was a general statement of acceptance.

You're right.. maybe not everyone found the Spring incident revolting... but by everyone, i was referring to the group we were talking about.. Christians that believe Leviticus literally...... not the wackos that gay-bash for non religious reasons, or the wackos that find murder, pain, and mayhem amusing

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The mention of the crime was an example used to validate a point; the crime is not itself a topic of discussion.

Also, you're vastly oversimplifying the nature of the OP's subject matter.

A necessity. These sorts of threads go bad very easily since not everyone on HAIF (or the rest of the internet for that

matter) is capable of having an intelligent theological discussion.

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All I ask is that people think before they post and not let this thread devolve the way so many other religious discussions have on HAIF.

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If you can't participate in this discussion in a respectful manner, you will be removed from this discussion.

Then I don't understand what you mean by "respect". The term "wacko" was taken from Highway6's post, and used to demonstrate that not every Christian shares his view. I meant no disrespect, and didn't realize I had disrespected anyone.

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Then I don't understand what you mean by "respect". The term "wacko" was taken from Highway6's post, and used to demonstrate that not every Christian shares his view. I meant no disrespect, and didn't realize I had disrespected anyone.

I have too much work to do today to play high school debate team pendant with you.

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I have too much work to do today to play high school debate team pendant with you.
I just talked with god, and she said she'd take it from here, and if these guys don't behave, she'll just wrath this thread up.

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I have too much work to do today to play high school debate team pendant with you.

Can we play Hungry Hungry Hippos?

Uh, I don't know who that is, but that's not my god.

That's Alanis Morissette from "Dogma". She played God (along with Bud Cort).

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If you believed that God told you to go stick your head in a pig, then I might think you're off your meds. If God told you that you should be nicer to other people, I wouldn't make the same assumption. If God told you to build an ark, I'd want more information.

I think the answer to a lot of the hypothetical questions you posed above is, "nothing." It's your money, go build yourself an ark, as long as you're not hurting anyone, who cares?

Do you know what Rainbows are? "Rainbows are a reminder of God's promise not to flood the earth again".

So hopefully, if that's true, then if someone were to say they were told to build an arc, we could call them crazy :).

Yes.. there are wackos.. and yes there are persecutions. I'm not sure how tied in the Spring incident was the Leviticus passage. I don't remember reading in the stories the "Remember Leviticus" war cry as they charged that poor guy. We don't know what the root of their anger towards gays was.. or even if they held enough anger already towards this guy for other reasons and the gay aspect was just the tipping point. So I'm not sure how much religious persecution this one incident was.

Regardless.. the maybe-persecution happened... and it was properly found revolting by all, Christians included.

That passage doesn't have anything to do with what happened. Neither party was gay. The David that did the beating (and his friend) were white supremesists... not super christians.

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Was that a preemptive warning or are we actually all that off topic? I mean, it isn't like we're discussing the comparative merits of Houston vs. Dallas rap music in a thread about a new retail center or anything.

Did I start that? And what thread was this?

Edited by Trae

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That passage doesn't have anything to do with what happened. Neither party was gay. The David that did the beating (and his friend) were white supremesists... not super christians.

Ok.. i didn't originally bring up the example, Niche did... I didn't remember the details of what happened.

But it's kinda besides the point... it was an example of what could happen in the name of Leviticus....

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Yes (and this is fertile territory, so think about it), no, no, and no.

New Testament God is very different from Old Testament God. And the very fact of the New Testament (never mind the apocryphal texts) is evidence of inconsistency by way of adding or taking away from the Bible.

The bible is not an exhaustive written history on Christianity and the words God said. Just because a certain set of characterstics was written about doesn't mean the other ones did not exist. If someone only wrote about a father disciplining his children, that doesn't mean the father had no love for him at different times of his life (That is only an example that happens to be similar to our discussion, I am not suggesting this was the case). Here's an example: John 21:25 - Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

Just as history books usually only have what's important, so does the bible. It does not mean the other things did not happen.

Also, what does the Bible teach is the penalty for disobeying the creator/God? The fact that anyone was still alive in the first place was a testament to his grace, mercy and patience. Secondly, God promised Adam and Eve that a seed would come and redeem them. And God also wanted his people (Israel) to be holy (set apart, different) from the rest of the world. If he allows that to go on, then they are neither set apart and the redemption seed never reaches Mary.

The bible teaches that God is just. He cannot let the sinful go unpunished, or he would not be a just God. Just like a judge would not be a good judge if he let all the bad guys go free.

And God will come back to judge those who do not repent. The book of Revelation is full of the righteous wrath that God has been holding back in patience. The OT teaches plenty of love and forgiveness as well.

I don't know. I know a lot of them say the Bible is the literal word of God and they are obliged to obey it. It seems inconsistent for them not to kill gay people on a regular basis.

Are there any Christians out there who can tell us what is stopping you?

The bible teaches to love even your enemies. Christians are redeemed sinners too. Plus, there is no commandment to do that.

Any commandment of that nature named in Leviticus was for Israel alone. When Jesus came, he fullfilled the law.

Edited by lockmat

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And God will come back to judge those who do not repent. Revelation is full of the righteous wrath that God has been holding back in patience. The OT teaches plenty of love and forgiveness as well.
The bible teaches to love even your enemies. Christians are redeemed sinners too. Plus, there is no commandment to do that.

Caveat - I don't mean any offense to anyone or lockmat (and he's the one of the only ones so far that has come out and stated his religiousness to a greater degree than others).

I have an incredibly difficult time grasping all of this. Yeah, it's mostly because I wasn't enculturated in to it growing up, but still. No part of my being can look at religion and understand it or its followers in any logical, rational way. Do I need to toss out the logical and rational?

As a help, I've started reading the Bible (so many versions!) with some annotations. I can't honestly say I trust the translations or annotations fully, though.

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Ok, no, God didn't really talk to me, at least not today. But I was watching the movie Evan Almighty today while I was home... I have seen it before and it's a really cute movie. In it Steve Carell plays Evan who is told by God, played by Morgan Freeman, that he needs to build an arc because a flood is coming. So anyways, after some convincing he begins building the arc and everyone in town calls him crazy even though he tells them that God told him to do this.

We live in a Nation where many people consider themselves "Christians" and they believe in God and they pray to God and believe all that stuff... yadda, yadda, yadda. If I were to say tomorrow that God spoke to me and he wants me to build a big boat and I start building it... a lot of people, many of them "Christians", would probably think I should be locked up in an institution. Why is that? What if I went on TV tomorrow and claimed that God came to me in my dream and wanted me to deliver the message that some people being born gay is normal and part of his divine plan and that gays should be allowed to get married... would gay marriage have to automatically be made legal... b/c God said so? How would people know for sure whether or not God did talk to me... why would most automatically think it's not true even though many believe in God and believe you can pray to God and that God hears your prayers and all that stuff...?

Long night at work... I have some downtime... just something I was thinking about. ^_^

No, you have nothing to worry about because YOU have no REAL power. Now if someone like Obama or Bush (when he was President) came out and said that GOD commanded him to build an Ark and yadda yadda yadda, I am sure alot of their minions would bow down and say "It must be true."

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Caveat - I don't mean any offense to anyone or lockmat (and he's the one of the only ones so far that has come out and stated his religiousness to a greater degree than others).

I have an incredibly difficult time grasping all of this. Yeah, it's mostly because I wasn't enculturated in to it growing up, but still. No part of my being can look at religion and understand it or its followers in any logical, rational way. Do I need to toss out the logical and rational?

As a help, I've started reading the Bible (so many versions!) with some annotations. I can't honestly say I trust the translations or annotations fully, though.

Don't sweat it. You will never fully understand the Bible. Nobody will. There are hundreds of thousands of people in the world who devote their entire lives to studying, researching, and understanding just small portions of it. Entire universities have been founded around this.

In spite of what some TV preachers may tell you, the Bible is hard and no one "gets" the whole thing.

But you bring up a very good point -- that there are many versions of the Bible, and many interpretations of even the primary source material (the letters and such). And parts of the Christian Bible also appear in the Jewish Torah and the Koran (not sure what the correct spelling of that is these days, but spell check seems happy with that).

Organizations like the Vatican are constantly reviewing these interpretations to make sure they're as close to accurate as possible and as new information becomes available things are changed.

In fact, a couple of the basic prayers that Roman Catholics use in church are going to change ever so slightly because of errors made when they were translated from Greek to English. All of the other languages in the world have already updated their texts to reflect the original meaning, but the English version is still being worked on. From what I'm told it should be in the next two years. I wish I could remember the prayers. The changes aren't catastrophic, just slight and not hard to remember.

Unfortunately, not everyone takes the time to understand the words they've read in the Bible. It's easy for some Internet Tough Guy to pull a line or two out of context and then label the entire 1,000+ page book as something horrible. But at the same time he doesn't understand what he's quoting.

A good example is the whole "eye for an eye" thing. A version of the text I found online has it thusly:

If any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

Today, people who think they're smarter than they really are decry this as barbarism. But when taken in context, it's actually fascinating.

Parts of the Bible lay down the basic code of law for the time; and "eye for an eye" means "let the punishment fit the crime." At the time, the general rule in the world wasn't "eye for an eye" it was "life for an eye" and "your wife's life for a leg" and "your children's lives for an ox." When the Jews in Babylon found out that killing everyone wasn't working out, they came up with "let the punishment fit the crime" and spelled it out above in a way that people of the time could understand. It's a notion that permeates our laws today as the notion of "cruel and unusual punishment." When "eye for an eye" was written, it was absolutely revolutionary and helped turn a warring people (though they continued to fight) into a people of rules and laws.

Another poster brought up the whole he/she thing when it comes to God. This was another revolutionary notion that comes from religion. Jesus didn't refer to God as "Father" simply because he lived in a patriarchal society. He did it deliberately because during Roman rule, fathers were cruel horrible people. A man could come home and if he had a bad day, kill his wife and nothing would be done about it. His wife and children were his property and were routinely treated horribly. Then Jesus comes along and starts talking about a LOVING "Father" who wants to take care of all people, including women and children and people were like "whaaaaaat?" Again, at the time it was a scandalous notion to say that a father would love his children and not just kill them off for fun. Today we look at the things Jesus said and think, "well, duh!" But back then things were very different than they are now.

Again, I'm no biblical scholar. I haven't read a Bible in 20 years and didn't even own one until six months ago (given as a gift that I still haven't opened). But I'd wager I've had a few more theology classes than the average bear. Still, I don't pretend that I'm an expert on either of the two passages above, or anything else in the Bible.

Anyway -- don't worry about learning or understanding the entire Bible. No one ever does, no matter what they say. Just understand it enough to make yourself comfortable. There are tons of books out there to help. If I ever find a good one, I'll recommend it to you. I've heard there are "teaching Bibles" with notes in the margins to make things clearer. Hopefully I'll run across one of these.

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Caveat - I don't mean any offense to anyone or lockmat (and he's the one of the only ones so far that has come out and stated his religiousness to a greater degree than others).

I have an incredibly difficult time grasping all of this. Yeah, it's mostly because I wasn't enculturated in to it growing up, but still. No part of my being can look at religion and understand it or its followers in any logical, rational way. Do I need to toss out the logical and rational?

As a help, I've started reading the Bible (so many versions!) with some annotations. I can't honestly say I trust the translations or annotations fully, though.

I think a major help to understanding the bible is first understanding God's character. Understanding man's relationship to God because of sin would also be very helpful. I agree that without a proper understanding, the Christian teachings might be very difficult to understand and accept.

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I think a major help to understanding the bible is first understanding God's character. Understanding man's relationship to God because of sin would also be very helpful. I agree that without a proper understanding, the Christian teachings might be very difficult to understand and accept.

It's also hard because "Christian" teachings aren't the same from one denomination to another. You could spend months learning what Baptists think of the eucharist and then find out that the Greek Orthodox people believe something else.

Alas, there are no simple answers.

(As a point of interest, I just booked tickets to the Vatican Museum. It turns out that God will take anyone's prayers, but He won't take American Express.)

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It's also hard because "Christian" teachings aren't the same from one denomination to another. You could spend months learning what Baptists think of the eucharist and then find out that the Greek Orthodox people believe something else.

Alas, there are no simple answers.

(As a point of interest, I just booked tickets to the Vatican Museum. It turns out that God will take anyone's prayers, but He won't take American Express.)

True that there are some differences out there, some more liberal interpretations than others. But if God cannot lie and the Bible is God-breathed (written by God, through man) then there are no flaws and there is only one true interpretation. The problem comes when people interpret it to fit their own lifestyle and when they take it out of context.

But there are some main principles that should be agreed upon or Christianity itself crumbles and it ceases to be Christianity, and it becomes some other gospel.

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True that there are some differences out there, some more liberal interpretations than others. But if God cannot lie and the Bible is God-breathed (written by God, through man) then there are no flaws and there is only one true interpretation. The problem comes when people interpret it to fit their own lifestyle and when they take it out of context.

But not every sector of Christianity believes it was written by God. Some believe it was the Holy Spirit. Some believe it was inspired by God and delivered through the Holy Spirit. Some are a combination of all of the above and some other things.

But none of this helps the original poster.

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One would think that after thousand years of confusion, god would finally realize that "shoot, I better go down and tell them myself, maybe do some real in-your-face miracles, so they believe me and wouldn't get it wrong". But no, he wants to go through the message through dreams thingy again, so we end up with even more more denominations, hooray.

Based on this, one should already conclude that either there is no god, the christian version anyway, or this dude is really bad at communicating, or errr, god works in really mysterious ways.

Edited by webdude

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One would think that after thousand years of confusion, god would finally realize that "shoot, I better go down and tell them myself, maybe do some real in-your-face miracles, so they believe me and wouldn't get it wrong". But no, he wants to go through the message through dreams thingy again, so we end up with even more more denominations, hooray.

Some people believe that miracles happen every day. The Roman Catholic church has documented what it believes are many God-produced miracles, including a bunch in our own time. Heck, some just a few years ago. They're more along the lines of people being cured of incurable diseases and other such intervention, rather than a big cartoon hand reaching out of a cloud and pointing at someone and a booming voice saying, "YOU, JOE LUNCHPAIL ARE A SINNER!"

Based on this, one should already conclude that either there is no god, the christian version anyway, or this dude is really bad at communicating, or errr, god works in really mysterious ways.

When I was a kid it was explained to me thusly: If we have proof that God exists, then we don't need faith. Without faith, there is no religion.

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I just talked with god, and she said she'd take it from here, and if these guys don't behave, she'll just wrath this thread up.

...and...

The bible teaches that God is just. He cannot let the sinful go unpunished, or he would not be a just God. Just like a judge would not be a good judge if he let all the bad guys go free.

...hmmm... so which is it? him? her? I find it strange that we are so sure in what God looks like, down to his/her gender... Any being (or off-spring of said being) that can create the universe, create man, and knows-all, in my book, cannot possibly be ~6 feet tall, have long hair down to their waist, wear sandals, and walk on water. Any being, if one does exist, is beyond what was written by man, beyond any human form we could possibly understand, beyond any human reasoning, logic, or moral system.

I am weary of anyone who says "God made me do it." For good deeds, or bad deeds.

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...hmmm... so which is it? him? her? I find it strange that we are so sure in what God looks like, down to his/her gender.

"We" who? Speak for yourself.

My religion teaches that God is genderless, though humans were created in his image. My language's rules require the use of the masculine form for unknown or undetermined genders. It has nothing to do with religion.

I am weary of anyone who says "God made me do it." For good deeds, or bad deeds.

A wise notion. Most (all?) Christian religions teach that God doesn't make anyone do anything. We are given free will.

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A wise notion. Most (all?) Christian religions teach that God doesn't make anyone do anything. We are given free will.

Of course, it is entirely possible that a God who triggered the big bang instantaneously set into motion the entire future of the cosmos, down to the smallest microcosmic detail...including the development of religions (plural)...and the very keystrokes that I make right now. This God knows all, including the past, present, and future, and so my earlier proclamation that I am my own god is part of this God's plan. It is necessary, by design.

Perhaps God is just a galactic novelist. Not all literature turns out with a happy ending, and certainly there must be some level of conflict for people to retain interest; that doesn't mean the content of the novel isn't thoughtful, perhaps to God's friends. Or perhaps he takes some kind of personal pleasure out of seeing what he can come up with, not unlike myself playing Sim City or drawing novel things (even if inherently flawed) on SketchUp.

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