First Peter 4:8 “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.”
The above Verse is one of ten important bible verses on love according to the writer, Jack Wellman, from an article he wrote in Patheos. As a matter of trivia Jesus’ commanded us Five times altogether, according to the New King James version to love….
John 13:34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
John 13:35 “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 15:12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
John 15:17 “These things I command you, that you love one another.
The number of times that love is mentioned in the Bible depends on the version of the Bible. In the King James Version, love is mentioned 310 times, 131 times in the Old Testament and 179 times in the New Testament. I will be using the KJV as a reference point in this blog. There are figures available for other versions. As the Methodist Church continues to vote and then vote again I believe I my have found some hope in an article in the latest Methodist publication of, The Call, written by Bishop Wilke. I will post the link to the article at the end of the blog. To quote the Bishop, “ Thirty years ago our daughter Sarah shared with Julia and me that she is gay and that she had entered into a committed relationship. She came out to us when she was 27 years old. We never imagined this was anything that would touch our family.”
Most articles about the same-sex issues facing the church are fueled by talking points and are agenda driven, peppered with social and cultural reasoning and here and there a scriptural reference. I have no doubt that years ago when this first became a discussion among well meaning lay and clergy members that they were attempting to find a way to minister to those who were truly not being encouraged to come to the table. I do feel that what started out as a journey to discern God’s will and bring the church together was hijacked by social justice warriors. Rainbow ribbons, hastily lettered signs, slogans and disrupting legally convened meetings to conduct church business does not speak to a spirit focused search for the answer to this issue. It should also be noted that pulling certain scripture and not considering the context in which it rests is also a habit many of us have adopted over the years. Bishop Wilke goes back to scripture but with and open mind, open heart, and hopefully may have opened a door to a much needed healing. The first step to healing this wound will be to admit all have sinned and fallen short of their calling. Having said all of this I found Bishop Wilke’s article pointed to the need to consider context, and the need we all have to better understand the scripture as written. While it didn’t change my mind about the intent of scripture it did open my heart to that which is most powerful….I believe the love of God is a powerful thing and right beside it is the love a parent has for their child. So before I go too far, some points to list taken from this part of the article.
-Context is important
-One or two verses do not a story tell
-The written word is best understood in its entirety
-God is Love
Let’s look at some scriptures found in or alluded to in the first part of the Bishop’s letter. The Bishop presents not an argument but a scriptural reason for all of us to consider the power of love as a factor of value in this issue. I will start with the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. The sin of Sodom and Gomorrah has over the years always been used to point to homosexuality as a sin. Bishop Wilke puts forth another reason for God’s anger at these cities. Ezekiel 16:48-50 requires me to ponder a moment the rest of the story so to speak.
Ezekiel 16: 48-50
48 As I live, saith the Lord God, Sodom thy sister hath not done, she nor her daughters, as thou hast done, thou and thy daughters.
49 Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.
50 And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.(KJV)
Here plainly is a compelling reason, scripture based, that deserves prayerful consideration. The abomination the Lord speaks of is no doubt in my mind, the demand that the men be sent out for the pleasure of the crowd gathered there. In these verses the Lord plainly lists the actions of the people that he found wrong and punishes them for their actions and lack of compassion for others. Context, context, exactly how does this fit contextually with the account in Genesis? For years Chapter 19: 1-13 has been used by people to condemn same-sex practices. It has been noted that it was this activity on that night that was the reason for God destroying these cities. Give this some thought. It has been said that the Bible never contradicts itself but over and over scripture does validate itself in other scripture, adding proper context that we may miss simply because we want so much for the scripture to validate what we believe and works for us.
I am going to rest here awhile, be back in the Pew next week with more of the Bishop’s letter. Please take time to read the scriptures we looked at this week, pray and re-think the importance of LOVE between God, his people and you and others.
Life is Good