A Huffington Post Humanist Urges the Church to Stop Using the Bible as a Moral Guide

Is the Bible more than a "hodgepodge of contradictions?"

By Michael Brown Published on May 2, 2017

It’s one thing when a humanist attacks the Bible. That’s expected. It’s another thing when a humanist attacks a Christian denomination for using the Bible as a moral guide. But that’s exactly what humanist author Clay Farris Naff did in the Huffington Post on April 29.

Naff was upset that the highest court of the Methodist Church struck down the consecration of Bishop Karen Oliveto. Her only infraction was being married to another woman. How, he wondered, could the church punish her for love?

He writes, “To anyone free of ancient prejudices, the injustice of condemning Oliveto is plain. How can love be wrong? How can love enfolded in commitment and fidelity be wrong?”

The answers are simple and self-evident. Love is not always right, even when it’s “enfolded in commitment and fidelity.”

Marriage Has Meaning

A father may love his adult daughter in a romantic way, but that doesn’t make the relationship right. Twin brothers in their 30s may love each other in a sexual way, but that doesn’t make their sexual activity right. A man who no longer loves his wife may now love his female co-worker, but that doesn’t make his adultery right.

It’s possible, of course, that Naff has no problem with consensual adult incest or with adultery. And maybe he has no issue with polygamy or polyamory. But as a thinking man (which he clearly is), he should be able to understand that conservatives have reasons other than “ancient prejudices” for opposing gay marriage. After all, there were ancient cultures that celebrated homosexuality. Yet they still recognized marriage as male-female only.

That’s because marriage has had a specific function and purpose through the millennia. It’s not just “ancient prejudices” that cause many of us to reject its redefinition. Or is it only prejudice that believes God designed men for women and women for men? Or is it only bigotry that believes it’s best for a child to have a mom and dad?

Marriage has had a specific function and purpose through the millennia, and it’s not just “ancient prejudices” that cause many of us to reject its redefinition.

Naff asks, “What possible harm can her marriage cause? Not even the claim of setting a ‘bad’ example holds water. People do not choose their spouses on the example set by clergy. If they did, there’d be no Catholic children, and poor, sultry Elizabeth Taylor could never have married even once.”

Actually, many people do follow the examples set by their leaders (including clergy). As for Naff’s argument regarding Catholicism, wouldn’t he argue that the sins of some pedophile priests have been especially heinous, because they are looked to as religious leaders?

Of course, I’m not comparing Oliveto’s “marriage” to her partner to a priest abusing boys. I’m simply saying that clergy have a special responsibility to set good examples. Their bad examples have a wider, ripple effect.

“Sacred Scripture” — Or Not?

Naff then focuses on the Bible itself. He uses the same hackneyed, pro-gay arguments that have been refuted time and again. (For example, he claims that Paul’s categorical prohibition against homosexual practice in Romans 1 is merely “a tirade about some unnamed people who turned their backs on God and indulged in, er, Roman-style orgies”).

Why would anyone take comfort in the Bible if it’s merely a “hopeless” moral guide?

He also seems oblivious to the idea that when Methodist leaders speak about “Christian teaching” on homosexuality, they don’t refer exclusively to the Bible. They’re speaking in general about the unanimous teaching of virtually all branches of Christianity for nearly 2,000 years. And they’re speaking in particular about the clear teachings of the Methodist Church throughout its history.

But this is not important for Naff. He feels there’s a much deeper problem with the Methodist Church: hypocrisy. Why, he wonders, does the Church not ban divorce like it bans homosexual practice?

Because according to Scripture, there are some legitimate causes for divorce. These are recognized by the Methodist Church. It is remarriage that’s in question. But that’s a question he fails to ask. (He could have made a better argument had he addressed that question.)

Either way, Naff isn’t calling for a church ban on divorce. Instead, he explains:

I am trying to help you see that the Bible may be many things — historical treasure, poetical comfort, and sacred scripture — but as a moral guide, it is hopeless. Some claim to follow its commands literally, but they deceive themselves. No one can do so, for the Bible is a hodgepodge of contradictions and morally obscure or outrageous injunctions.

So, it’s fine if we take the Bible to be “sacred scripture.” But we must realize it’s “a hodgepodge of contradictions and morally obscure or outrageous injunctions.” Not to mention “hopeless” as “a moral guide.”

Thanks but no thanks.

That kind of “sacred scripture” is neither sacred nor scripture. Why would anyone take comfort in its words and find guidance for life if the Bible is what Naff describes it to be?

Bad Logic

After launching a few more (weak) salvos against the Scriptures, Naff writes:

Look at the Bible with fresh eyes, and you’ll find the record of ancient peoples who, lacking any police force, detectives, or proper jails, did their best to construct rules for getting along with each other and used the fear of God to enforce them. Look even closer and you’ll find that those in power often bent the rules in their favor. I suppose God might have wanted the people to heap silver, gold, and fatted calves on their priests, exempt them from any real work, and give them a retirement plan (Numbers 7 – 8), but I find it more likely that the priests themselves heard the Word of God that way.

Put another way, this is not the Word of God, so don’t treat it as the Word of God. Instead, Naff states:

I’ve shown that the United Methodist Church is interpreting the Bible to privilege the heterosexual majority while sanctimoniously applying ancient “laws” in a questionable way to Bishop Oliveto. But more important, I hope I’ve shown that Methodists, and all other religionists, would do well abandon the effort to apply scriptural codes to contemporary life. Draw inspiration, by all means, but recognize that the hard work of thinking through right and wrong remains a moral duty for us all.

In truth, Naff did not prove his points at all, let alone demonstrate them in such fashion that Methodist leaders should feel beholden to follow his counsel.

But it is not merely Naff’s attack on the Bible that falls short. It’s his logic that falls short as well. If he is right in his description of the Bible, there’s no reason for the Methodist Church (or any church) to exist. There’s not even a reason for a single synagogue to be found on the planet if what we call sacred Scripture is merely a compendium of human ideas, many of them flawed, and none of them perfectly inspired.

If Jesus is not the Son of God who died for our sins and rose from the dead, Christians are believing lies.

In short, if Jesus is not the Son of God who died for our sins and rose from the dead, Christians are believing lies. End of subject. And if the Torah was not given by God through Moses, Jews are believing lies. That’s all that needs to be said.

If the Bible is not a moral guide, it cannot be a spiritual guide, since it purports to tell us who God is and what He requires from us, His creation.

Human Reasoning vs. God’s Word

I do understand Naff’s concerns about religious fundamentalism, which he has articulated elsewhere. But he fails to understand that 

  1. The Bible’s moral witness is quite coherent when studied holistically and in-depth
  2. Scholars have answers for the questions he has raised, along with many more
  3. There are solid reasons, both practical and moral, to stand against homosexual “marriage.”

What is lacking is not the inspiration of Scripture or the wisdom of Scripture or the moral authority of Scripture. What is lacking is the understanding of human beings (including Naff). That’s exactly why we need God’s Word.

Human reasoning alone will always fail us. God’s Word will never fail.

Print Friendly
Comments ()
The Stream encourages comments, whether in agreement with the article or not. However, comments that violate our commenting rules or terms of use will be removed. Any commenter who repeatedly violates these rules and terms of use will be blocked from commenting. Comments on The Stream are hosted by Disqus, with logins available through Disqus, Facebook, Twitter or G+ accounts. You must log in to comment. Please flag any comments you see breaking the rules. More detail is available here.
  • Gary

    People have been rebelling against God’s laws since Adam. That’s why there are many times more people in Hell than in Heaven, and why real Christians are a small minority of those living now. People want to do what they want to do. They want to define morality for themselves. And some want to define morality for others too. But it won’t work. Eventually, everyone must face the charges against them of breaking God’s laws. No one can avoid that.

  • Paul Burgett

    More and more are Paul’s words to the church at Corinth ringing true. The wisdom of God is foolishness to the world! If you are determined to follow God, then know that the world will ultimately consider you a fool. But I am fine with that, because all those who love God will love me, and God himself loves me. The end of the wicked will be cut off from eternity, and the voice of the mocker will cease.
    Psalm 37 gives us reason to persevere, and even have compassion on the people of this world who are headed for destruction. “For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be. Yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be. But the meek shall inherit the earth, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.”

  • m-nj

    Well, glad to hear the old Methodiists have taken a “stand” on something. But I suspect that denomination will eventually cave, especially as the old guard dies off. If Karen Oliveto wants to fluot the rules (I refrain from using the title “Bishop” as woman should not be in authority over men, which the title bishop clearly implies), then maybe she should just go join one of the other denominations that have already gone fully apostate.

    • Brian Cheek

      It’s my understanding that the Methodist church in Africa is primarily what is keeping them from the fate of the other mainline denominations for now. The gospel came to them, they embraced Christ, and now they are having to remind the messengers of what the message was.

  • Shears-of-Atropos

    Where to begin? Theologically, this guy is on a different planet. It’s pretty obvious that in his narrow world, all morality can be expressed in the term “All you need is love”. In general, most religions involve both a theology and a more secular “rules for living” portion. (Faith and Works). In Islam they are hopelessly interwoven. Some liberal churches are so into “Works” that one wonders if they have any Faith at all. He is apparently in the latter camp. There’s no way one can understand scripture casually, through the lens of “if it feels good, do it!”

    Pope wrote “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing; drink deep or touch not the Pierian Spring.” He is, by any measure, unclear on the concept of religion. The Bible puts it this way: “The fool sayeth in his heart, “There is no God!””

    • Irene Neuner

      Indeed a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

  • Irene Neuner

    The original Methodist way of Bible study, prayer and hymn singing as a way to knowing and developing love for God is something we do daily and it’s effective.

    The more I grow as both a woman and a Christian the more I believe that female preachers are not ok. The fact that she is homosexual tells me that the the United Methodist Church is of the world and not in Christ.

  • Fishcicle

    Seems to me one question not addressed in the article is whether people who have sex with their own gender should be persecuted by people (officially or unofficially), or whether their punishment (if that’s what they deserve) should be left to God (as at least one Biblical quote seems to indicate).

    • Psimitar

      I think this issue is best addressin in 1 Corinthians 5. While the subject of this passage doesn’t pertain to homsexuality per se, it addresses an issue of sexual immorality that is occurring within the Church in Corinth that was being allowed by the Church and Paul provides direction on how it needs to be handled.

      9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister[c] but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.

      12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”

      I believe that Paul is saying that we cannot and should not control what those of the world (non-believers) do. But we are called no tolerate what the Bible has deemed to be sexually immoral within the body of Christ. Therefore, we can not and should not try to control things like the legality of gay marriage that occur outside the Church, but we should not allow the practice of homosexuality within the Church.

  • Psimitar

    I confess that I have, at times, chafed at Paul’s teachings, particularly regarding the roles of women in the Church. Why are women to remain silent in in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, yet Paul identifies a woman named Phoebe as a deacon in Romans 16:1? But I have to remember that ultimately, Paul is not the author of his letters. His letters, and the rest of the Bible was authored by the Holy Spirit who wrote through Paul. This makes the Bible the inerrant word of God. It is perfect in Truth and we have to accept it as the Word of God, even when it is inconvenient or in regards to homesexuality, politically incorrect.

    • Patmos

      In 1 Corinthians Paul is responding to questions that the church at Corinth had for him, one of which is that women should remain silent. Most of 1 Corinthians is a response to questions they had, and these responses start at verse 7, where he writes, “Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me…”

      Verse 14:34-36 Paul is rebuking their claim that women should remain silent. Verse 34 says “as also sayeth the law” yet nowhere in the law given by Moses is their anything of the sort. Verses 34 and 35 are their question, then in verse 36 comes the rebuke: “What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only?” He is chastising them for putting something into the word of God that isn’t there.

      • Voice of Reason

        pathetic fanciful interpretation….. this post has ignorance in spades… It would be nice if you would actually honored the scriptures and believed them instead of making outlandish nonsensical interpretations of what is clear.

        • Timothy Horton

          I wonder how many here accept it’s OK to have your children stoned to death if they curse you?

          • GPS Daddy

            Timothy, your not dealing with Deut 21 in an “honest” way. The passage is not about a child cursing a parent but rather about a child that is defiant, deep-seated rebellion. This kind of rebellion does not come from a small child but from an adult child. Take vs 30 in which the child is a glutton and drunkard. A child still in their fathers house would not be these things.

            Now is it correct for a child to be put to death for such things? To our ethics today, no. But to the ancient Israelites whom God was instilling what it means to disobey Him in like manner? Yes. Back then it’s not like it is today. The ancient Israelites did not drive to work and not see their neighbors. Drive home, pull into the garage and never have to interact with their neighbors. They knew each other’s buisness. God gave them a command. Obey your parents. If a child gets away with disobeying their parents without consequences then the only conclusion is that God does not mean what He says.

            Do you understand the difference between OT law and NT grace? The OT moral law is about giving boundies to life. It’s to show man the seriousness of sin. You can’t know how serious sin is if you just get a slap on the hand.

            I’ve just scratched the surface here. This topic requries more study. The new atheist websites that give all kinds of twisted views is the worst place to go to “study” these things.

            You pride yourself on being educated. Educate yourself on what the Bible is really saying. Use good sources for this.

          • Timothy Horton

            The passage is not about a child cursing a parent but rather about a child that is defiant, deep-seated rebellion.

            “”‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.
            Because they have cursed their father or mother, their blood will be on
            their own head.”

            Sure looks like it says curses to me. The way you guys twist things to within an inch of their life just to deny what the words say is just remarkable.

            It’s really OK to admit the Bible has plenty of inconsistencies in it. That’s not exactly a secret.

          • David Tay

            The Bible is not inconsistent but it does contain passages that are difficult to understand and open to misinterpretation and abuse. But for the most part, the church is in agreement on the interpretation. Has there ever been a record of christians stoning their kids?

            Have you ever considered that your western values could be wrong and the Bible correct? The spirit behind these verses is to teach us the value and importance of good parenting!

          • Timothy Horton

            The Bible is not inconsistent

            Of course it’s inconsistent. There are plenty of website with whole lists on the many inconsistencies, such as

            Psalm 58:10 “The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance: he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked.

            Proverbs 24:17 “Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth:”

            So which is it? Do we rejoice or not rejoice when our enemies fail?

            The fact is Christian apologists have spent centuries coming up with creative ways to hand wave away the inconsistencies. There’s nothing wrong with the Bible having inconsistencies since it was written by many different people at different times. It’s the denial of the obvious fact that makes you guys look silly.

          • RuthER

            It is impossible to understand the Bible intellectually unless you are able to understand it spiritually. Meaning, by the power of the Holy Spirit within you and your humble listening, as in putting away your natural ways of thinking. Not every Christian is at the same level of *spiritual* maturity, which has nothing to do with natural chronological age or hours of intellectual study. Many people who study the Bible for themselves with hopes of finding contradictions and ways to disprove it end up discovering the opposite — for examples, the author of Ben-Hur; the famous apologist Josh McDowell; the true story of Lee Strobel portrayed in the current film “The Case for Christ”. These guys were not accepting the “research” of others but investigating for themselves. I hope you will try it out! We enjoy being presented with challenges like yours because it helps us clarify further that what we believe has logical applications to reality as well as meanings that go below the surface and the obvious. The main message of the scripture, from cover to cover, is that God is a kind, loving, and just father, who cannot tolerate rebellion against himself; we learn what qualifies as rebellion against him by studying his own explanation of it, which is primarily behaviors that bring harm to ourselves and other people. Since every person is born with a propensity to rebel, he has provided us with a way to be forgiven and acceptable to him, by coming to live with us in human form, which is Jesus the Son of God. The sacrifice of Jesus became our substitute for the inevitable consequence of our disobedient nature (death), and his coming back to life is our example of how we no longer have to die but we will live like Jesus. We can know who God is, and we can learn about his ways, because we can connect to him like Jesus does, and because of what Jesus did. We have not earned this, and sometimes it seems like a contradiction to think that we have become acceptable to God, since we still disobey him at times. We have been given a new understanding of what things are holy or not, and our heart loves the holy because God is holy. We are disappointed in ourselves when we do not live holy lives, and we are thankful all over again that God has chosen to forgive us and he is able to love us anyway, because we have trusted in the sacrifice of Jesus to make us acceptable to God. When we are exposed to things that are not holy, as God is holy, we celebrate their destruction. Is it wrong to be happy at the deaths of Judas, or Hitler, or Osama bin Laden? I don’t think we “rejoice” about their dying, but about the end of their evil deeds. Don’t you think it’s possible to feel pity for these men, yet joy at their demise, at the same time? This is what it means to go below the surface of things. You may be able to understand that goodness and obedience are not inconsistent with hating evil and seeking justice.

          • Timothy Horton

            Thanks for sharing your opinion.

            So should we rejoice or not rejoice when our enemies fail?

          • RuthER

            I am choosing to believe that you are asking an honest question, and I will try to give you a way of thinking that you are not expecting and also praying that it’s the truth. I’m not sure you realize that you are asking a complex question, not giving an “obvious” illustration of the Bible’s “errors.”

            Psalm 58:10 “The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance: he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked.

            Proverbs 24:17 “Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbleth:”

            First, if someone is seriously researching these two verses, then they should include the original Hebrew language versions. By plucking then out of two different passages by two different human authors and laying them side by side, the person is creating an artificial comparison and may have nothing to do with the meaning or context.

            Next, in the Psalm excerpt, an assumption is being made that there are two kinds of people: the righteous and the wicked. These are not simple terms, based on personal opinion. They mean something in the context of the Bible as a whole.

            The “righteous” refers to people who are “right” with God. Not perfect people, of which only one ever existed (Jesus), but those who desire to obey God. They have sincere motives, and God knows this.

            We are not told what the deeds were that determined the other group to be “wicked,” only that God had revealed them to be so. God’s ruling in this case was to put them to death, but we also don’t know how the death was carried out. We only know that the righteous were on God’s side, and supported him in putting an end to evil. We trust God to know the best way to carry out justice.

            This could also be a prophecy about the future, as many Psalms are. It is possibly talking about the final judgment at the end of time, when God gives Jesus permission to carry out his “righteous judgment,” a time that is mentioned in various parts of the Bible. The righteous will be rejoicing to see the end of all sin and suffering forever, as a new life begins.

            The first quote mentions rejoicing in “vengeance against the wicked”, and the second describes an enemy who falls or stumbles, which doesn’t seem to have anything to do with justice (a.k.a. fairness). Again, it might be better to find an original Hebrew version to figure out what the difference is between the words being translated as “the wicked” and “an enemy.”

            The Proverb seems to be discussing human relationships (as most of the Proverbs do), but not about “the righteous” and “the wicked.”

            If we are wise, then we will try not to communicate in ways that makes someone our enemy. If someone we consider to be our enemy is suffering bad consequences (“stumbling” or “falling”) due to a lack of alignment with God’s laws, we should be sad that they are lost. Or if they suffer for other reasons, we should pity them, and pray for them.

            Being pleased at the suffering of an enemy is a sign that we have pride in who we are, as if they deserve what they get but we don’t, or that we think we have more value than they do.

            This is not how Jesus responded to his enemies. We do not want to live in anger or fear of our enemies. We want to treat others as God wants us to treat them, which is not usually the way that comes naturally to us. We need to forgive, even if we have been badly wronged and they haven’t asked us for it. We need to leave “vengeance” in the hands of God because he commands us to.

          • Timothy Horton

            Thanks for going to so much trouble but you still didn’t clarify matters. Proverbs 24:15-16 also talk about the righteous and the wicked. You still have two very contradictory instructions as to what to do when the wicked fail.

            It’s really OK to admit the Bible contains contradictions. That fact doesn’t alter its main message of being good to your fellow man.

          • RuthER

            I’m sorry but the Bible is always consistent, regardless of our proud, finite human minds choose to believe. All 66 books contain an identical message: that no human being can possibly be “good to our fellow man”, because our hearts are evil. Only Jesus is good, and when we agree with God about this, we will then grow in our understanding of his special revelation to us in his Word. As we grow closer to him, the meaning changes for us personally, though the message remains consistent. The meaning is consistent in every culture and tribe of every historical era. The power of the Bible is not as a “self-help” book or book of wisdom; the power of it, as it claims of itself, is salvation from darkness and death.

            Isaiah 42:1-7
            “Behold my servant [Jesus Christ], whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
            I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.
            He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.
            He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law.
            Thus says God, the Lord,
            who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it,
            who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it:
            I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.”

          • Timothy Horton

            I’m sorry but the Bible is always consistent, regardless of our proud, finite human minds choose to believe.

            Well, except for those over 100 examples of where it directly contradicts itself. But I’m sure in your mind it must be human interpretation at fault, not a 2000 year old set of manuscripts that have been translated, added to, and deleted from dozens of times over the centuries.

          • glenbo

            >>”and only God never makes a mistake.”<<
            According to God, I am allowed to beat my slaves to death.
            Do you believe that God was correct in saying this?

          • David Tay

            my friend, please look up the meaning of the word “context”. is the internet is your primary and most trusted source of information?

          • Timothy Horton

            Where do either of those passages mention context? Or is that your personal interpretation, just as I have been pointing out?

          • David Tay

            unless you are incapable of rational thinking (or refuse to do so), Psalms 58:10 – the numbers itself already tells you the verse 10 is in the context of a chapter 58. I’m pretty sure you did not read the rest of the chapter yourself.

          • Timothy Horton

            So you can point to no qualification of “context” in either the statement or the chapter. Got it. Thanks for that admission it’s all your personal interpretation.

          • GLT

            Timothy,

            Context is vital in that these two passages are, in effect, addressing two different situations. The passage in Psalms is telling people to rejoice in the defeat of their enemies, while Proverbs is telling them not to rejoice in the actions necessary to achieve that defeat.

            The best example of what I mean is found in my own father. He lied and joined the Canadian Army at he age of 16. By the time he came home from overseas he had fought in North Africa, all the way through Italy, including the Battle of Cassino and all through Europe to the liberation of Holland. He was very happy when the war ended. He was, however, not happy with what needed to be done to win it. In fact it haunted him the rest of his life.

            Do you remember the part in Saving Private Ryan where one of the Americans at Omaha beach realises they have killed a bunch of child soldiers during the landing? My father experienced that very thing in Holland. They were attacked by a group of German soldiers all of whom they killed. Upon inspection they found they were all kids about 12 years old. You rejoice in your victory, you do not rejoice in the cost it takes to gain that victory. Therein lies the difference between what is being said in Psalms and what is being said in Proverbs. There is no inconsistency.

          • Timothy Horton

            The passage in Psalms is telling people to rejoice in the defeat of their enemies, while Proverbs is telling them not to rejoice in the actions necessary to achieve that defeat.

            I appreciate your Dad’s story but that has nothing to do with the contradictory Psalm and Proverbs statements about defeating the wicked. My Dad was in the U.S. Army in WW2 also, fought in France, fought in Germany. Like many of his generation he chose not to speak about it. I never knew if it was to spare us kids or himself the bad memories. Probably both.

          • GLT

            Timothy,

            Sorry for taking so long.

            “Like many of his generation he chose not to speak about it.”

            My Dad would rarely speak of his time overseas and like you I wondered if it was to spare us the details or him having to re-live the memories. In retrospect I think it was both. He did not want to remember the horror he went through and the friends he lost, but I think he also felt a sense of shame over the things he had to do. I think that was common to all veterans, whether they were Americans, Canadians or Germans.

            I have a picture of my Dad’s regiment taken a couple of days before he went overseas. He did not get a copy until he got back at the war’s end. He marked all the men who did not return. It is very sobering to look at.

            You and I must always remember what our Dad’s did and appreciate what they gave us. We can disagree on many things and express our disagreement freely and in a friendly way because of their commitment and dedication. We must never forget that or take it for granted.

            Penguins and Predators, that has a survival of the fittest ring to it, doesn’t it. One thing is for sure, there will be a lot of yellow on the screen. I don’t know which way I am leaning right now. Maybe for Nashville because they have never won before, but we will see. I just hope it is as good as Pittsburgh & Ottawa. With the exception of the 7-0 blowout.

            Hope all is well, take care my friend.

          • Dee

            Out of context troll!

          • Timothy Horton

            Keep that mud flying! You’ve got plenty to spare.

          • GLT

            What do you accomplish by calling Horton a troll? Present a cogent argument.

          • Timothy Horton

            That’s OK Nic, I’ve been chirped much much worse. 🙂

          • GLT

            Timothy,

            “The fact is Christian apologists have spent centuries coming up with creative ways to hand wave away the inconsistencies.”

            Context is always important in the interpretation of any written or spoken word.

            I’m curious, you say there are plenty of websites that are dedicated to pointing out the inconsistencies of the Bible and then comment on how apologists provide explanations for these inconsistencies. This leads me to believe you have read both sides of the equation, which is good. However, can you explain why you brand the explanations put forth by apologists as mere hand waving? If you are going to do so you have to have a reason other than you simply don’t like the explanation.

            Why not pick out your favourite example of a supposed contradiction in the Bible and we’ll kick it around for a while.:)

            No suspension for Niskanen is an utter disgrace.

            Ducks are looking better, Getzlaf was incredible last night. You may not get your Predators/Oilers wish after all. That would disappoint me as well. We’ll see if the Oilers can get the magic back in Anaheim.

          • Timothy Horton

            Context is always important in the interpretation of any written or spoken word.

            If context and interpretation is required then the passages in the Bible aren’t any absolute moral rules or laws. Everything is subject to human interpretation, just as I have been pointing out all along. 🙂

            Yeah, Ducks / Oil is turning into another heck of a series. People in Pittsburg are still livid over the Crosby incident as they should. As a hockey fan it will suck big time if Crosby is out for the rest of the playoffs. Then there’s the big question on the effect on the rest of his career…

          • GLT

            Timothy,

            “Everything is subject to human interpretation, just as I have been pointing out all along. :)”

            Of course everything is subject to human interpretation, even the evidence used to support evolution.:) Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

            Now, if you can argue one interpretation of the relevant evidence is proper and supportive of evolution while a different interpretation of the same evidence is invalid and is not supportive of ID, it only follows’ that despite the fact everything is subject to human interpretation, some interpretations, by your own standards, are superior to others in that you view them to be correct over other interpretations. Why is that same standard not applicable to interpreting the Bible? Why does the fact there are various interpretations of the Bible mean they are all valid and therefore, because they are seen as contradictory, none are valid?

            The Ducks and Oilers are going 7 in my mind. Can’t say who will win but whoever does win will deserve it. I’m not a Pittsburgh fan and I am ticked off. I really hate to say it, but I think Crosby should hang up his skates. So does Keith Primeau as he said in an article on Sportsnet yesterday. What more does Crosby have to prove? 2 Stanley Cups, 2 Olympic Golds, 2 World Championships (I think it’s 2) and a World Junior Gold. Scoring Titles, Hart Trophies, etc. The only thing left is passing Gretzky and I don’t think that’s in the cards due to his playing style. He does not need the money. He should find an off ice job and enjoy his gorgeous property in Nova Scotia before the concussions take that away too.

          • Timothy Horton

            Why does the fact there are various interpretations of the Bible mean they are all valid and therefore, because they are seen as contradictory, none are valid?

            I don’t recall anyone saying none are valid. The whole point is there are those who claim the Bible is a source of absolute objective morals and values yet everywhere we look we see contradictions requiring subjective human judgment.

            I’m sure Crosby has heard the same speech a hundred times from his friends and family. As a hockey fan I hope he stays (health permitting) but as a fellow human I hope he gets out now while he still can. The specter of lots more CTE cases like Derek Boogaard and Bob Probert is frightening.

          • GLT

            Timothy,

            “yet everywhere we look we see contradictions,…”

            The contradictions are only perceived contradictions. Like I said earlier, pick out what you believe to be the best example of a contradiction and let’s discuss it.

            As a fan I too hope Crosby can play, but the wants of fans must come second to his future quality of life. Strange as it may seem, I think what the NHL needs to do is implement rules to slow the game down and create more space. The players have become so strong and so fast the present ice size is no longer adequate. I’m not advocating the international ice surface, just some extra space. Owners would freak out as it would cost some seats, but cest’ la vie. Another change could be the reinstatement of the centre red line as that would slow the game down.

          • Timothy Horton

            C’mon Nic, you know what will happen. I’ll post a contradiction like

            Genesis 1:11-12 and 1:26-27 Trees were created before Adam.
            Genesis 2:4-9 Trees were created after Adam.

            …and you’ll post the usual hand-waving excuse, just like when you try to defend Biblical creation.

            Agree with needing to slow the game down and/or reduce injury potential. In a perfect world Olympic ice would work but the owners would never go for the lost revenue or removing all those seats. Maybe something radical like going back to wooden sticks instead of composite? Or maybe (thinking out loud here) allowing only 5 guys per side be “designated hitters”, eligible to throw body checks – the coach could play them all at once or only have 1 or 2 out per shift. Have them wear red helmets so you’d know who they were. Everyone is still eligible to be hit.

            It’s an interesting problem.

          • GLT

            Timothy,

            “Genesis 1:11-12 and 1:26-27 Trees were created before Adam.
            Genesis 2:4-9 Trees were created after Adam.”

            Before I respond to your example let me ask you a question. Do you not think if this was literally a contradiction of narratives it would have remained uncorrected for over 3,000 years? After all, you believe the Bible is simply a construct of human origin, do you really believe no one would have noticed this obvious contradiction for thousands of years and done nothing to correct it?

            As for your example, the narrative in Genesis one is indeed different form the narrative in Genesis 2.However, they do not contradict each other. Genesis 1 records creation in a sequential manner, thus the naming of specific acts on specific days in a specific sequence.

            Genesis 2, on the other hand is an overview of the creation account and does not follow a sequential pattern. That, however does not mean it contradicts Genesis 1. Notice Genesis 2:7 says God created man from the dust. Verse 2:8 then says God had planted; (past tense); a garden in the east and placed the man there. The passage is clearly stating the garden was already in existence when man was created. As such, there is no contradiction in the sequences described in the two chapters.

            I would go for getting rid of composite sticks but I don’t see how that would slow the game down, it would slow the velocity of shots. I think the reinstatement of the red line is the first thing they should do as that will definitely impact the speed coming out of the defensive zone. It would also reduce the devastating hits many guys receive while cutting across the middle of the ice at high speed. Remember how Scott Stevens used to lay in wait for victims cutting across the middle?

            Another factor in the speed question is how light equipment has become. It’s probably 40% lighter than it used to be. However, there is not much you can do in that area in terms of slowing things down as players are not going to back to wearing heavier equipment

            The interesting thing in all this is I remember when the debate was raging over whether or not to make helmets mandatory some argued requiring helmets would lead to an increase in head injuries as players would see themselves and their opponent as less vulnerable.

            As for increasing the ice surface, it is true owners would not like the lost revenue but they also don’t like the money they lose via paying players making millions who can’t play. Maybe it will need to come about via players forcing the issue for a larger ice surface by withdrawing their services. The owners would adjust and you would have to pay a few more dollars per game to watch the Sharks. 🙂

          • Voice of Reason

            Your ignorance is stunning to anyone that really understands the scriptures. Let me help you… just image a person who has a hard time grasping the concept of eighth grade math commenting on the inconsistency of differential equations. The fact is it is apparent that you like many others that regurgitate braindead propaganda are just too ignorant of the scriptures to make a good judgement on their application and like many of them you are unable to properly represent scriptures intent or purpose. Do you even consider the context of those scriptures… theocratic, given in the presence of the continual visible manifestation of God, pre-Christ… all those facts and no doubt many more are in play with the command. None of those things are true today…. Now one day those conditions will again be our reality in a more perfect form when Christ returns and sets up His Kingdom.

          • Timothy Horton

            LOL! We know, anyone who doesn’t share your narrow personal interpretation of scripture must be stupid or blind.

            Your problem is everyone who has their own interpretations says the same thing about all the other interpretations. You can’t all be right but you can all be wrong. 🙂

          • Dee

            You think you should try to make scripture say what you want, God means way’s he says who are we to say other wise or don’t you get the word GOD! The word or scripture for those like yourself who`s ear`s are deaf, Jesus himself said we can only really understand scripture when revealed by the Father and if you are not a child of God then you can not clearly understand it, and we are not all children of God! Jesus said to people that they were of their father the devil. Why are you here you clearly have no grasp of the word of God. The only people here LAUGHING OUT LOUD ! Are us watching you try to make sense of what you can’t understand until you have been blessed to have the mind of Christ. That being said, I do pray that one day you will hear that voice and the love that flows from it. Though we don’t agree on thing’s and there are things we can not except, we do love people. I don’t agree with or except everything my children do but I will always love them. The heart/spirit is capable of a love that surpasses our natrual love we can even love those who would hate us.
            Yes that inclubs you Mr. Horton!

          • Timothy Horton

            You think you should try to make scripture say what you want

            Everyone tries to make scripture say what they want. That’s why there are hundreds of different Christian denominations and sects in the country, each with its own personal interpretations.

            Yes that “inclubs” (sic) you Ms. Dee! 🙂

          • Dee

            You real are not worth the time I won’t make that mistake again. You couldn’t even understand what I was saying ! You have no understanding of the Bible go back under your bridge.

          • Timothy Horton

            You couldn’t even understand what I was saying

            The same thing every religious conservative here claims: “MY interpretation of scripture is the ONLY CORRECT interpretation!”

            Wash, rinse, repeat….

          • Dee

            Pearls to swine! Go find some mud under that bridge!

          • Timothy Horton

            May I borrow some of yours? You seem to have plenty to wallow in and throw.

          • Micha_Elyi

            Wrong again. The most conservative of Christians rely on the Church’s interpretation of Scripture. Really, chumley, if you knew the Bible then you’d be a Catholic Christian. After all, it’s their own book!

          • GLT

            Timothy,

            “Everyone tries to make scripture say what they want.”

            You are absolutely right. And guess what, the Bible speaks to that exact thing in Peter 3:16: “He (Paul) writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.”

            Things are the same today. It does not mean the Bible is incoherent or self contradictory, it only means some, due to their ignorance, distort its true meaning.

            Now that Toronto and San Jose are both gone. I am hoping for an Edmonton/Ottawa final. Both are fast paced teams and both have great goaltending . It could result in a good old fashioned ‘fire wagon’ type series. An Oilers/Senators final is the last thing Bettman would like to see. One Canadian team in the final would be hard on his psyche, two would put him in the psych ward.:) My feeling is, true hockey fans just want to see good hockey in the final regardless of where the teams come from.

          • Timothy Horton

            Things are the same today. It does not mean the Bible is incoherent or self contradictory, it only means some, due to their ignorance, distort its true meaning.

            Of course only you and the ones who think like you are wise enough to get the “true meaning”. 🙂

            How’s the rehab going? The Pens / Caps series is going to get very ugly after the Crosby cross-check. With a history of concussions Sid could be gone the rest of the playoffs. OUCH for the Pens and the TV ratings. Looks like I might get my Edmonton / Nashville series after all. In the East I’m pulling for Ottawa just because Tommy Wingels was one of my favorites for SJ – honest, hard nosed, plays the game the right way.

          • GLT

            Timothy,

            “Of course only you and the ones who think like you are wise enough to get the “true meaning”.

            There is an entire discipline (hermeneutics) dedicated to ascertaining the meaning in all historical writings, the Bible included. If people practice sound principles when interpreting scripture they will be on safe ground. Most divisions within Christianity are centred around minor factors such as mode of baptism and church government. On the essentials, most are in agreement.

            As for my rehab, I am pretty much back to normal. The leg still needs a little strengthening which I can now begin to do without fear of aggravating the ankle. I missed the game with THE cross-check, but I saw the replay. It looks to me that Niskanen could have avoided the hit as Crosby was clearly going down. I think a lengthy suspension is in order. How about you?

            That’s four concussions for Crosby so it could be more than the rest of the playoffs. Depending on the seriousness of this concussion, it could be career ending. What a shame that would be.:(

            As for WIngels, he sure seems to be one of those players who can get things done. He seems to be in the mix every time he is on the ice. You’re right about an Oilers/Preds western final. That would be a heck of a series. Here’s hoping.

          • Timothy Horton

            I think a lengthy suspension is in order. How about you?

            That’s the age old question, isn’t it? How do you adequately punish one 4th line player / one team for taking out the other team’s superstar with a dirty play? Not sure how to implement it but maybe change the rules so the other team’s top scorer has to sit out until the injured player returns. The NHLPA would never allow it in a million years though.

            In the old days someone like Dave Semenko would have beaten Niskanen into a bloody pulp. You never saw anyone cross-check 99 in the head. Time to rethink having an enforcer around?

          • GLT

            Timothy,

            “Not sure how to implement it but maybe change the rules so the other team’s top scorer has to sit out until the injured player returns.”

            I agree, they would never go for that. However, I don’t think it would be out of the question to suspend the offending player until the injured player returns.

            “In the old days someone like Dave Semenko,… Time to rethink having an enforcer around?”

            Semenko and Gretzky are still hanging around together. You are in complete agreement with Don Cherry (and me), on the role of the enforcer. There is no doubt there were fewer incidents like Niskanen’s cross-check before they did away with the enforcers. The tradition goes way back. Beliveau had Ferguson, Middleton had O’Reilly, Keon and Mahovlich had Shack, etc.

          • Micha_Elyi

            “Most divisions within Christianity are centred around…”

            …if you have a dispute, failing to take it to the Church.

          • Dee

            Mr. Horton if you weren’t the the spiritually walking dead you would know that when Jesus died the law died, his blood broke the cure, we are not under the old testament we are under the new testament and under the old testament the gentiles as they were known did not follow Jewish law. So we can see you don’t know what you are talking about. LOL!

          • Nels

            Horton is a troll. Don’t feed the trolls.

          • Timothy Horton

            Nels is a troll. Be gone troll.

  • Patmos

    “How, he wondered, could the church punish her for love?”

    Except it’s not love, it’s lust. Remove the element of lust and these woman are just friends.

    • Timothy Horton

      You know that exactly…how?

      • Patmos

        You’re brain just doesn’t seem to function right. I will try to empower you here: There is this thing called the internet, on it you can find a ton of information, including the definitions of words like “love” and “lust”. Believe it or not, there is actually a difference between the two! Amazing, I know.

        • Timothy Horton

          OK, you were just BSing when you claim to know a married couple doesn’t love each other, merely lust.

          You often resort to such false claims to prop up your prejudices I notice. So much for your own morality.

          • Patmos

            “when you claim to know a married couple doesn’t love each other”

            I made this claim where? Oh wait, I didn’t. Do you ever do anything besides flail at the air?

          • Timothy Horton

            I made this claim where?

            Right above.

            “Except it’s not love, it’s lust.”

            You shouldn’t lie about things so easy to demonstrate.

          • Jim Walker

            Obviously you know little about what love really is.

        • Nels

          Horton is a troll, and perhaps an AI troll. Don’t feed the trolls.

          • Timothy Horton

            Nels is a troll, a teenaged immature troll. Don’t feed the trolls.

    • ImaginaryDomain

      It’s narcissistic lust – an unhealthy and pathologic sexual desire for self and things like self.

      • Timothy Horton

        You know that exactly…how?

        Patmos deflected and then lied and said he never made the claim. Can you back up your BS?

    • FromWhereIAm

      Well…romantic love tends to lead to sexual feelings (tends to, but not always). And I know a lesbian who is frankly in love with another woman. I’ve been in correspondence with her to try and help her as a Christian (she struggles because she doesn’t want to feel that way), and I can attest with complete certainty from lengthy correspondence that my friend’s descriptions of her feelings for this woman bear all the same marks as if she were a male describing romantic attraction – except that the object of her attraction is another woman. It is also particularly agonizing for her because she knows without a doubt that the woman she is in love with will not ever engage in any open, “gay” relationship. Marriage, too, is out of the question for them.

      While I fully accept that homosexuality is the result of something having gone awry in the early childhood development – and our correspondence would confirm this – nevertheless, once it is present, it should not be wrongly described as mere “lust.” You don’t have romantic feelings for someone with whom you are “just friends.” Just a fact.

      The intensity and pathos of this situation should arouse compassion, and it does – for me. In many ways, though, it is not unlike ANY romantic relationship in which there is a forbidden element. If you’ve ever been in love with someone you cannot possibly have, you know how agonizing that is, whether you are heterosexual or not.

  • Patmos

    It is truly painful trying to read Naff’s piece. It is such a poor display of reasoning that it is very disheartening that anyone would actually put it out there as such. That a widely read news source published it and not a blogger says a lot about these times, though it is tame compared to Slate defending pedophilia.

    • Wayne Cook

      Jeremiah 17:5
      5 This is what the LORD says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the LORD.

  • Nunyadambizness

    “….for the Bible is a hodgepodge of contradictions and morally obscure or outrageous injunctions.” I once had the son of a good friend of mine state something like this, how the Bible “contradicts itself” and “has errors”, to which I handed him one and asked him to point them out to me. He stared blankly, and I said “If you believe that then show me, because I’ve read through it and have never found them.” He made some comment about them still being there, and I told him (in not the same words) to “put up or shut up” at which point he backed off. Everyone who I have ever heard discuss the “contradictions” in the Bible have never read it–they only repeat what they have heard and take it as the truth. If they’d only read it, they might come to understand what it really is.

  • Stephen D

    I think the problem with the Naffs of this world is that they have not realised that the Bible speaks with authority. To understand the Bible requires that one study it – and live what it teaches – in a humble frame of mind.
    The Bible is a spiritual book. It speaks to the spiritual need in the heart of man. Clever people tend to think that if they disagree with the Bible it must be wrong. Not so. The utility, and indeed the beauty of the Bible, lies in the fact that the Bible does not tell us what we want to hear, but what we need to hear.
    As the Bible itself says “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways”. The Bible challenges the reader with a perspective on life that it is not natural to us in our fallen state. Of course people disagree with it.
    I remember an Anglican bishop who was interviewed on radio about the vexed question of homosexuality in the church. The interviewer listened politely and then said: “Don’t you think these views will make you unpopular?” The bishop answered: “I hope so”. This was a profoundly biblical answer.

  • Rebel w/out a Cause

    This will probably get me some flak, but I grew up a Fundamental Baptist, was a missionary for several years, and here’s what I witnessed. Preachers twisting and spinning the “Word of God” for their own purposes – usually to secure their own position of power or manipulate their congregations. Eventually I figured out that the Bible is a collection of “books” and “letters” that was determined and selected during a large convention of religious “leaders”. Can you imagine the politics involved in such a convention? My point is this: everything mankind touches ends up being corrupted. Satan is “The Great Deceiver”. Do you really believe he wasn’t at work during that convention? The egos. The self-interests. The “looking out for #1”? So yeah, take the “Bible” with a grain of salt. Now, does that mean we shouldn’t have any absolutes? No. But be careful how you establish those absolutes. You could be playing right into the hands of “The Great Deceiver”. Just MHO, based on my own experiences with cult worship. Research “Jack Hyles”.

    • Gary

      If the Bible is not true, then we cannot be sure what God wants for us, or of us, and we have no guarantees that we are on the right track. The Bible dictates doctrine for Christians. If the Bible is not true, then what we believe is a matter of opinion for everyone with no way to know whether what we believe is true. It is as likely that God got the “books and letters” included in the Bible that He wanted as it is that God got written in those books and letters what He wanted. If that is not true, then we have no way to know what is true and we are all on our own to guess at it, with no way to know if we got it right.

      • Timothy Horton

        So basically you’re admitting you can’t figure out right from wrong yourself and are 100% reliant on a book to tell you which is which? Wow.

        • Gary

          You are saying that you can figure out right from wrong by yourself. But you can’t. In fact, given your beliefs, there is no right or wrong that is objective and applies to everyone. According to your world-view, right and wrong are subjective, not objective, and as such, everyone defines right and wrong for themselves. That means what you define as right and wrong can be the opposite of what someone else decides.

          • Timothy Horton

            You are saying that you can figure out right from wrong by yourself. But you can’t.

            Yes, I can. Most adults can. If you put on your big boy pants you could do it too.

          • Gary

            Your statement implies that an objective moral standard exists. But you have repeatedly said that morality is SUBJECTIVE. Have you changed your beliefs? Do you now say that there is an objective moral standard that applies to everyone which people can deduce on their own?

        • Shears-of-Atropos

          I suggest you read Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason.

          It’s a start.

    • Ken Abbott

      1) Abuse does not negate proper use.

      2) What you “figured out” does not comport with actual history or Christian experience.

      3) Who is most powerful? God, Satan, or man?

  • Shears-of-Atropos

    OK, I wonder, that since the Scriptures are (if nothing else) a road map to salvation, why should they be rejected. Who throws out a road map because a particular street or highway is mislabeled?

    So what it this guy’s road map? “Fanny Hill” and “Mad Magazine”?

  • davidrev17

    “The natural [unsaved/unregenerate] person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one.“For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:14-16) My emphasis.

    ☆ ☆ ☆

    “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. “Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the [gospel] message preached to save those who believe.” (1 Corinthians 1:18-21) My emphasis again.

Inspiration
How Do I Handle My Regrets?
Joe Dallas
More from The Stream
Connect with Us