Ask a Pastor Column
Presenting biblical answers to tough questions
November 16, 2023
Q: It seems that the Bible is written in general terms that allow for interpretation by different churches, i.e., the LBGTQ movement. Is this correct?
A: People have always been able to twist statements to their own purposes, no matter how clear or specific they may be. The 17th century statesman Richelieu supposedly said:“If you give me six lines written by the hand of an honest man, I will find something in them to hang him with!” The task of every sincere Bible student is to take all Bible interpretations (including my own) back to the Bible itself to see what it actually says.
Strange as it may seem, the Bible itself teaches us how it should be interpreted. Because the Bible consists of dozens of distinct works written over a period of 2,000 years, later authors frequently interpret and comment on passages previously written (as one random example, see how Hebrews 2:6-9 interprets Psalm 8:4-6). Examining the approach of Jesus and the Apostles in particular grants us many Spirit-filled, authoritative examples of Bible interpretation (Luke 24:25-27).
From these inspired examples we can draw several conclusions. First and foremost, we see a baseline of straightforward interpretation, Bible stories are treated and accepted as authentic historical accounts, interwoven with Jesus’ history and our own (Matthew 19:3-6; Luke 3:23-38; John 3:14-15; Romans 5:12-14; 2 Peter 3:3-7; etc.). Teaching passages are interpreted by the original context, author’s intention and the basic meaning of the words used, even down to the smallest details (Romans 4:6-8; Galatians 3:16; etc.). Word-twisting and reading into the text is frowned upon (II Peter 3:15-16). While the Apostles did occasionally draw profound connections and deep truths from texts which aren’t immediately apparent (e.g., Romans 10:5-8; Galatians 4:21-26), they never contradict the basic meaning of the text nor deny the historicity of Biblical accounts. We are also taught that we cannot “cherry-pick,” proclaiming twisted truths from certain passages while ignoring others (Acts 20:26-27; James 2:10). When we apply these standards to the example you gave, we find that the Bible’s answer on the morality of homosexuality is objective, consistent and crystal-clear (Leviticus 20:13; Romans 1:25; I Corinthians 6:9; etc.).
If we acknowledge that the Bible is the authoritative Word of God, then we can accept the proper system of interpretation; ready-made within its own pages! While it does not answer every question or contention within the body of Christ (which is part of the reason for diverse denominations), it is more than enough for all sincere Christians to agree on the basic essentials of salvation, doctrine, and ethics.
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