Conversations with God about Christianity's toughest questions
Slow down, Mark. With a headline like that, you’re threatening a whole bunch of sacred cows. Do you really want to do this?
I do. Us Christians think we know the answers to those questions without ever asking you personally.
But what, Mark?
But, God, I don’t like that idea! Surely we can’t just take what we think the Bible says, and not ask you personally?? So I’m asking you! What do you really think about Gays, God? And what about the Bible, how important is it – the early church didn’t have it and they got on fine. And one more question – were you honestly so intent on torturing me in hell for my sins, that Jesus had to be crucified in my place?
God, I used to think I knew the answers to all these questions, but I’m starting to wonder. You don’t seem as harsh as you used to, maybe I had the wrong idea about you? Lots of us are starting to wonder. But it’s stuff we daren’t ask about – stuff like the Gay question, the importance of the Bible and what the cross was about etc.
More than lots, Mark.
Ok, more than lots of us Christians are not so sure any more about some of that stuff, but don’t want to admit it in case we get shot down. The Religious will quote verses like ‘the love of many will grow cold’, but right now I’m not that interested in what they think – I want to know what you think, God! Lots of us do.
So why are you asking, Mark?
Because I’m past caring. I’m like bring it on, try and shoot me down if you want. I didn’t start these conversations with you to cause any trouble, but now that I’ve stirred up Religion and he’s screaming at me, I’ll admit I’m enjoying his pain. And anything that forces Satan to show his hand is good in my books, because God I’m going to get that Son of a #*@!! if it’s the last thing I do!
Because his servant Religion has stolen your people’s freedom, their families, their wealth and their health and all the while, pretended your voice. He’s twisted scripture, and confused your message. I want my foot on his neck, God, and that’s just the start of it.
He’s my son remember, Mark. I created him.
Ok well, sorry (confused). Do you want me to stop?
Do you want to?
No! Of course not, I want to do him serious harm, but…
It’s unfortunate, but necessary, Mark – this will make a lot of people unhappy. But it will also set a lot of people free. The two always go hand in hand. Saying the same old accepted things gives people comfort, but if you want to set people free, you need to break down walls. People go on and on about revival, but they’ll never see it if they keep doing and thinking the same things. Long before revival, there’s going to be a reformation. Just saying.
Alright, well God, lots of popular Bible interpretation doesn’t make sense to lots of us.
More than lots, Mark.
Ok fine, and God, I don’t think many Christians realise that for 2000 years the Church fathers have changed their minds back and forth about what key scriptures actually mean. What mainstream Christianity thinks about them now, wasn’t always what mainstream Christianity thought.
No. So which generation has been right, Mark?
I don’t know, God. That’s why I’m asking.
Mark, each new generation believes it has the truth. Christian missionaries once fervently believed that European culture was inherently Godly and that the ‘savages’ they were ‘called to’ needed to give up their culture, and their land, to make way for European ‘progress’.
Ok that’s fine, God, they were wrong, but today I want to ask you about other stuff like Gays and Lesbians, the Bible and whether you really did punish your son. Like, you know, let’s live dangerously and find out what you actually think.
Why have you left it till now to ask?
I discovered by accident how to have these conversations with you, that you will actually answer my questions instantly and in a way I can understand. The Bible says your thoughts are not our thoughts which is why I want to ask you these tough questions. I’m sick of hearing our thoughts on these matters, God, I want to know yours.
And God, the Bible also says ‘come let us reason together’. So I’m here to do that. I want to know the real truth about the Gay question, about where the Bible fits in your plan, and whether you really punished your son.
Heaps God, but that can all wait till another conversation. Stuff like tithing, our whole focus on heaven and getting saved to avoid hell.
You’ll make yourself very unpopular, Mark.
And God, that’s a pity because I’d love to be popular.
Well, you’re not going to be. Those in power and those who think it’s wrong to question this, will be on your case.
Ok, but what about you, will I be unpopular with you, God? Plenty of people already say that I am.
Mark, I love it when people believe I exist enough to actually ask questions, reason with me. That’s the whole foundation of Hebrews 11.
Alright cool. Because God, one day soon I’m going to ask you about spiritual warfare and whether we can swear at the devil, or whether that means we’re naughty and he doesn’t have to obey us. But not today. Right now it’s the Gay thing, the Bible and the idea that you punished Jesus in my place. A more careful read of the Bible and the Greek suggests that the common understandings aren’t necessarily true.
Mark, some men spend their lives searching the answers to those questions.
Ok fine, but I’m not them God, I’m not that patient, religious or nice. I want answers today if that’s alright.
Of course it is, Mark. I love it when people come expecting answers. If people reading this have trouble with your approach, they will find some comfort in these three passages of scripture. They’ll need to read them carefully, then look at the Greek, and hunt for the hidden but obvious correlations between all three passages. John 16:7-13, Hebrews 11:6 and Matthew 7:7. But Mark, before I answer your questions tell me where have you been?
You know exactly where I’ve been, God!
Yes. I’m making conversation Mark.
Ok God, I’ve been doing some research on the whole God/Gay question.
And which side are you on?
Well, God, I used to be fiercely anti-Gay and homophobic and always condemned them as wrong, but I’m starting to wonder…
That’s a dangerous position to take, Mark.
Well yes, around Christians it certainly is.
Mark, you’ll be accused of deception and leading people astray if you don’t condemn Gays and Lesbians. You know what it says in the Bible and what all the popular preachers and authors say.
Well, actually I don’t know so much about what the Bible says anymore God.
Mark, that’s even more dangerous.
Yes I know, and God, I suspect that those Christian leaders who trumpet loudest against Gays, don’t actually know what the Bible says either.
Now you’re really getting yourself in trouble Mark, putting your finger on the ‘holy ones’.
Actually God, I’m past caring.
So are you on the Gay side, Mark?
I don’t know any more to tell you the truth. The way we Christians have condemned Gays and Lesbians, we’re bordering on hypocrisy, and it’s because we have overlooked what the scriptures are really saying. The Bible says homosexuality is an abomination but it also says a huge list of other stuff is an abomination too – stuff that most Christians do all the time.
For instance, stirring up strife between brothers is also called an abomination – that’s pretty much an official past time in a lot of Churches, let’s be honest. But the final straw God, was when I got told of a very unkind comment from a Christian uncle to his Gay nephew and I was like what the heck?!?!
I realised that although the uncle was convinced he knew what the Bible says, he actually doesn’t. He was just parroting popular Christian thinking, and doing a lot of harm to his family. Stirring up strife among brothers. And God, I’ve been wondering if most of the Christian bigwigs, the ones who love the lime light…
Ease up, Mark, you love the lime light too.
Ok true, God. Sorry. (Feeling embarrassed).
Not an issue, Mark, it’s the way I made you and them, carry on with your story.
Ok, those Christian bigwigs get a lot of stage time attacking Gays, but I’m wondering if they’ve done their homework. Their comments make it pretty obvious they haven’t really spent any time studying what Paul wrote to the Romans, Corinthians and Timothy, or what Jude and the old testament say about all this. They sound wise, but they’re just trotting out the standard interpretation which has some gaping holes.
Hang on, God, I’m on a roll here. I know it’s dangerous, but I want some straight up answers from you on all this.
That’s great, Mark. But it is dangerous.
Ok, well God, I wonder if they even know what the Greek says about Paul’s comments about homosexuality, or why the early church fathers were not in agreement with each other about what Paul meant. It’s not just the present day radicals as they call them, the early church fathers were questioning some of this.
Well God, I’d put money on it, I bet they’ve never studied it carefully enough, never asked you personally if the popular interpretation is really true before they get on their platforms and start condemning people.
Because if you poke and prod them they’ll poke and prod you.
I’m looking forward to it, God. Bring it on! I reckon a good scrap would do us all good. We’re so blimmen sanctimonious, us Christians. No wonder the rest of the world finds us so painful. We think our… well we think it doesn’t stink is all I’m saying.
A bit of public disagreement might bring us all, me included, down a notch. Do us good. There were important arguments in the early church, that suggest that modern Christianity might have it wrong about homosexuality.
What does the Bible say?
Well, it uses the word abomination, but there are big questions around what Paul was actually talking about. And I’m not sure that Christians realise that, or even want to know.
Mark, it’s not a problem unique to you Christians, it’s part of being human. Fear of being wrong drives all humans to block out arguments to the beliefs they hold dear. Some call it the ‘Ostrich Syndrome’.
Well God, right from the early church writers, there’s been disagreement about what Paul was talking about – did he mean homosexuality or did he mean the practise of temple prostitution, guys having sex with castrated priests. And that’s not the only question. In fact, almost none of the modern Bible scholars believe that Paul, even though he mentions women, was talking about Lesbians. It was definitely a male thing. So how does that fit??
There’s a lot of disagreement, God, a lot of wrestling over what it means, even among the real Bible scholars - but the rest of us never bother to question it. In truth, we have very little knowledge about what the Bible is really saying, and everyone knows a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
Alright, but slow down, Mark. If you put aside all those disagreements and differences in translation, - even if you ignore that a significant number of the true scholars agree that what Paul wrote to Timothy about homosexuality, was some other writer, and not Paul at all…
See what I mean God! If we’re wrong about who wrote it, what else have we got wrong?? I mean we all think we know exactly what the bible says, but actually we don’t. Far from it.
But what about Sodom and Gomorrah Mark?
God that’s not even an argument. You said in Ezekiel that the real sin of Sodom was that she was ‘arrogant, overfed and unconcerned and did not help the poor and needy’ – sounds a lot like us selfish western Christians, me included to be honest.
Mark, slow down, all of that aside, what’s the other significant problem with what mainstream Christianity thinks I say about Gays?
Well, there are at least two gaping holes that anyone who knows even a wee bit of Bible can see… First up there’s the small matter…
Big matter, Mark.
Ok, big matter - when Paul talked about homosexuality, he also talked about adulterers and fornicators and liars in the very same verses. He doesn’t single homosexuals out as any different, he just lumps everyone in to the same boat.
Mark Gays and Lesbians would be understandably offended if you compared them with liars.
Well yes, but God, we all lie. Gay or straight, it doesn’t seem to matter. The Christian uncle who condemned his Gay nephew, I bet you he’s had problems with being truthful, we all have – well I have that’s for sure. But let’s put the liars like me aside, let’s just stick with us fornicators and adulterers - I think it’s time us Christians got real.
Research shows that between 70% and 80% of us Christian men look at pornography. You said if we lust in our hearts, we’ve committed adultery. When Paul talks about homosexuality being an abomination, he also says adultery is too.
What are you saying, Mark?
That 80% of us Christian men better think twice, look at the log in our own eye before we condemn someone who is Gay, because actually, as far as the Bible is concerned, we’re exactly the same in your eyes. We’re hypocrites if we condemn Gays. We need to condemn ourselves too.
We publically state that Gays and Lesbians are bad, going to hell, causing earthquakes and a whole bunch of other bull##&! We think we have scripture on our side, but the fact is, we’re so dumb we never bother to study it and find out what it all means.
And because the vast majority of Christians seldom hear you speak in full sentences or paragraphs, we only have a little bit of knowledge, which makes us dangerous, like a lynch mob. Us Christians aren’t allowed to burn or skin alive those we disagree with anymore, but we’re still very dangerous and damaging.
You can be fairly hypocritical yourself, Mark.
I know. I hate that! Us blimmen Christians have so buggered up the world with our hypocrisy and ‘Angry-God’ nonsense that no one knows what to think about you anymore.
No one, Mark?
Well, no one except kids, God. The younger the better. They seem to see past all the religious garbage and somehow know intuitively that you’re on their side and not cross at all. But us Christians portray you as a harsh judge. If we’re going to condemn Gays, I think we’d better first condemn ourselves.
No what, God??
No, I don’t want you condemning yourselves, or Gays and Lesbians, or anyone else. Why must you Christians always focus our relationship on right and wrong, salvation and condemnation? Is your relationship with your own children about those things? Can you just relate to them, or is it all about rules?
Don’t start me, God. I always thought you were a loving Father, that’s how I described you anyway, but I also thought you punished your one true Son in my place. It sounded good, sounded like love, but I never really properly thought it through. But God, it doesn’t really add up does it? Let’s be honest.
Explain what you mean, Mark.
Well God, let’s say one of our kids, when they were young, had done something wrong and I was planning to punish them, and Miriam, wanting to spare them the pain, offered that I punish her instead.
That’s pretty much the story, Mark.
So it’s the truth, God?
I didn’t say that. Let’s take this slowly. It’s the way you Christians have come to understand the story.
Ok well, if Miriam offered to take the punishment in our child’s place, that would show that the child was loved, definitely by Miriam, but…
But what, Mark.
But if I agreed to Miriam’s offer and punished her in my child’s place, it would show that I was so intent on punishment, that I needed a victim, someone to vent my anger on. A court of law would call me a tyrant for that sort of behaviour and they’d be right! I don’t think you’re a tyrant, God, so there must be something wrong with the way we understand the story. It makes you look amazingly loving Jesus, but Father, it doesn’t put you in a very good light at all.
Mark, there are people who can no longer read this, they are incensed that you would question what they believe. They believe that the cross is the truth, and that’s that!
But God, I think the cross is the truth too. It’s clearly central to everything…
Well what are you saying then, Mark?
My marriage came crashing down and me with it. The devastation began sinking in and me with it. Nothing I knew was the same anymore. It was horrible and I was terrified. I threw my pride to the wind and screamed (literally) to God.