The Pitter-Pat of Little Pharisee Feet

MadeByMark.com reader, Pat, commenting on my Open Letter to the Methodist Church, writes:

Mark must have blacked out the places in the Bible that say homosexuality is a sin (Romans 1:18-32 speaks strongly of this) … and the place in Matthew 18 which tells us to confront a sinful behavior in a brother. This means all sinful behavior–you can’t pick and choose and say this sin is okay and this one is not.

Pat, I assure you that I’ve not blacked out any of the passages in my Bible. I have, however, spent a lifetime trying to read those verses *in context*. It’s a practice I recommend highly, especially to those who make a sport of preaching to others.

MadeByMark.com reader, Pat, commenting on my Open Letter to the Methodist Church, writes:

Mark must have blacked out the places in the Bible that say homosexuality is a sin (Romans 1:18-32 speaks strongly of this) … and the place in Matthew 18 which tells us to confront a sinful behavior in a brother. This means all sinful behavior–you can’t pick and choose and say this sin is okay and this one is not.

Pat, I assure you that I’ve not blacked out any of the passages in my Bible. I have, however, spent a lifetime trying to read those verses *in context*. It’s a practice I recommend highly, especially to those who make a sport of preaching to others.

While I have not blacked out a word in my Bible, you have, apparently, added at least one to yours.

You claim Romans 1 says “homosexuality is a sin” and that it “speaks strongly of this” … yet the word “homosexual” does not appear in Romans 1 in any translation I can find.

Pat, to imply that Romans 1 uses the word “homosexual” is, frankly, deceitful. In your Bible, does Romans 1 condemn deceit? If it does, would that condemnation apply to you?

Here’s the truth: Romans 1 does not use the term “homosexual.” As a result, when folks like Pat start talking about “homosexuality” and Romans 1, they are no longer talking about what Romans 1 actually says, but, rather, about *their opinion* about whatever activity Romans 1 actually describes.

Fortunately for everyone, *opinions* about Scripture, are not the same thing as Scripture.

While God and God’s word are perfect, any human’s ability to read, understand, and apply God’s word is, by definition, imperfect. Problems arise, Pat, when people start confusing their imperfect understanding of God’s word with the actual Word of God.

As someone very much aware of his own imperfections, I don’t have much of an appetite for evaluating the validity of anyone else’s relationship with God. Instead, I work on my own relationship with God — and, frankly, Pat, that’s something Christ’s sacrifice empowers me to do for myself, without any need for your evaluation or approval.

My prayer — for Pat, for myself, and for everyone — is that we can set assumptions and prejudice aside, strive to read the Scriptures in context, allow people manage their own relationship with God, and temper the desire to confront or exclude others by embracing an awareness of our own imperfections.

Mark McElroy

I'm a husband, mystic, writer, media producer, creative director, tinkerer, blogger, reader, gadget lover, and pizza fiend.

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Mark McElroy

I'm a husband, mystic, writer, media producer, creative director, tinkerer, blogger, reader, gadget lover, and pizza fiend.

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