Unless you reason outside the box of human reason, you can forget about understanding the Jesus of the Bible. Only those willing and able to break the constraints of common experience and human rationalism can hope to make any sense of Jesus’ life and ministry. [In other words, the Biblical narrative of the life of Jesus is irrational.]
The birth narrative of Jesus demands that we think outside the box. We have no conceptual or experiential category for a woman conceiving a child without sperm from a man. But the biblical authors announce that Jesus was conceived in the womb of a virgin named Mary by a direct act of God. We are to understand that although fully human, Jesus had no earthly, biological father—a reality Mary found no easier to grasp than we do.
In my graduate course last week, we analyzed the Proto-Gospel of James (which scholars call the Protevangelium Jacobi — a Latin phrase that means “Proto-Gospel of James,” but sounds much cooler….). It is called the “proto” Gospel because it records events that (allegedly) took place before the accounts of the NT Gospels. Its overarching focus is on Mary, the mother of Jesus; it is interested in explaining who she was. Why was *she* the one who was chosen to bear the Son of God? What made her so special? How did she come into the world? What made her more holy than any other woman? Etc. These questions drive the narrative, and make it our earliest surviving instance of the adoration of Mary. On the legends found here was built an entire superstructure of Marian tradition. Most of the book deals with the question of how Mary was conceived (miraculously, but not virginally), what her early years were like (highly sanctified; her youth up to twelve (lived in the temple, fed every day by an angel), her betrothal to Joseph, an elderly widower with sons from a previous marriage, the discovery of her pregnancy and the “proof” that she (and Joseph) were both pure from any “sin” (such as, well, sex).
The book was originally composed in the second Christian century. There are a number of intriguing passages, none of which is more famous than the one I translate here (the original language is Greek). In this striking narrative, when Mary is about ready to give birth in a cave just outside of Bethlehem, Joseph runs off to find a midwife who can help. They arrive too late. The child appears without any human help or intervention (is the child really a newborn? Jesus appears to walk over to his mother to take her breast; and he performs a healing miracle!).
It’s an amazing passage, that everyone should know about. (The first bit is given in the first-person, with Joseph himself talking). Here it is:
(1) I saw a woman coming down from the hill country, and she said to me, “O man, where are you going?” I replied, “I am looking for a Hebrew midwife.” She asked me, “Are you from Israel?” I said to her, “Yes.” She asked, “Who is the one who has given birth in the cave?” I replied, “My betrothed.” She said to me, “Is she not your wife?” I said to her, “She is Mary, the one who was brought up in the Lord’s Temple, and I received the lot to take her as my wife. She is not, however, my wife, but she has conceived her child by the Holy Spirit.” The midwife said to him, “Can this be true?” Joseph replied to her, “Come and see.” And the midwife went with him.
(2) They stood at the entrance of the cave, and a bright cloud overshadowed it. The midwife said, “My soul has been magnified today, for my eyes have seen a miraculous sign: salvation has been born to Israel.” Right away the cloud began to depart from the cave, and a great light appeared within, so that their eyes could not bear it. Soon that light began to depart, until an infant could be seen. It came and took hold of the breast of Mary, its mother. The midwife cried out, “Today is a great day for me, for I have seen this new wonder.”
(3) The midwife went out of the cave and Salome met her. And she said to her, “Salome, Salome, I can describe a new wonder to you. A virgin has given birth, contrary to her natural condition.” Salome replied, “As the Lord my God lives, if I do not insert my finger and examine her condition, I will not believe that the virgin has given birth.”
(1) The midwife went in and said to Mary, “Brace yourself. For there is no small controversy concerning you.” Then Salome inserted her finger in order to examine her condition, and she cried out, “Woe to me for my sin and faithlessness. For I have put the living God to the test, and see, my hand is burning, falling away from me.” (2) She kneeled before the Master and said, “O God of my fathers, remember that I am a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Do not make me an example to the sons of Israel, but deliver me over to the poor. For you know, O Master, that I have performed my services in your name and have received my wages from you.”
(3) And behold, an angel of the Lord appeared and said to her, “Salome, Salome, the Master of all has heard your prayer. Bring your hand to the child and lift him up; and you will find salvation and joy.” (4) Salome joyfully came and lifted the child, saying, “I will worship him, for he has been born as a great king to Israel.” Salome was immediately cured, and she went out of the cave justified. And behold a voice came saying, “Salome, Salome, do not report all the miraculous deeds you have seen until the child enters Jerusalem.”
I have pointed out that our earliest Gospel, Mark, not only is lacking a story of the virgin birth but also tells a story that seems to run precisely counter to the idea that Jesus’ mother knew that his birth was miraculous, unlike the later Gospels of Matthew and Luke. It is striking to note that even though these two later Gospels know about a virgin birth, our latest canonical Gospel, John, does not know about it. This was not a doctrine that everyone knew about – even toward the end of the first century.
Casual readers of John often assume that it presupposes the virgin birth (it never says anything about it, one way or the other) because they themselves are familiar with the idea, and think that John must be as well. So they typically read the virgin birth into an account that in fact completely lacks it.
Many people will respond (some of you are responding right now, in your heads!) by saying that if Christ was the Word of God [John 1] who became a human, his mother must have been a virgin. Right? Well, no, I’d say, not right. The idea that the incarnation implies a virgin birth makes sense only if you already think that Jesus’ mother was a virgin. If you don’t know about a virgin birth, there would be absolutely no reason to think that an incarnation requires a virgin birth.
Scholars have often thought that there is an indication in John’s Gospel that there were questions floating around about Jesus’ “unusual” birth. In the controversy that Jesus has with his Jewish opponents in John 8, they make a comment that is often taken to be directed to Jesus paternal lineage, when they say “WE (emphasize the “we” here) were not born from an act of fornication” (8:41). Is this a suggestion that Jesus was known to have been born out of wedlock?
If so, is it possible that the virgin birth stories that appear in other traditions (Matthew and Luke) was a response to this charge against Jesus? “You nonbelievers say he was born out of fornication. It’s true that his mother was not married when she conceived, but that’s because it was God who made her pregnant.” It is interesting that in pagan circles we have stories of women who were charged with extra-marital sex, leading to pregnancy, who claimed that in fact a God had made them pregnant. This is precisely what legend says about the mother of Romulus, the founder of Rome.
My point: John’s Gospel does not mention a virgin birth. And it does not presuppose a virgin birth. It indicates that Jesus was the incarnation of the Word of God. The only way to get a virgin birth into the Gospel of John is to read it into the Gospel of John. Because it’s not there.
And this now is the yet bigger point. Matthew and Luke do not say a THING about Jesus being the incarnation of the pre-existent Son of God. In Matthew and Luke, Jesus is not a pre-existent being. He comes into existence when he is conceived of a virgin. John’s Gospel is just the opposite: it does not have a virginal conception of Jesus. It has Jesus as a pre-existent divine being who becomes incarnate.
The traditional Christian doctrine takes the view of Matthew and Luke, and smashes it together with the view of John, and creates a view found in NONE of the Gospels, namely, that Jesus Christ was a pre-existent human being “who became incarnate through the Virgin Mary” (as the Nicene Creed states).
That is often how Christian doctrines are created out of the Bible, by combining disparate views of different authors and through that combination creating something that precisely none of them subscribed to. I’m not saying these doctrines are wrong. I’m simply saying that they are not the doctrines held by the authors whose writings are used to create them.
You must be a member of Bart Ehrman’s forum to access the complete text of this post. At $24.95 a year, it is a worthwhile investment, especially if you are interested in better understanding the nature and history of the Biblical text. All proceeds go to charity.
Jesus, a character on The Walking Dead, is currently among the living. Whether by Negan’s hand or a walker’s bite, this Jesus will one day die, joining all the Jesus’s that have come before him.
Over the past nine years, countless Evangelicals apologists have emailed me or commented on this blog in hopes of winning me back to Jesus. Reclaiming an Evangelical-pastor-turned-atheist for Jesus would certainly be big news and viewed as a sure sign that God is still in the soul-saving business. Why is it, then, that former Evangelical pastors rarely, if ever, return to the faith?
Many apologists suggest that the reason former pastors can’t be reclaimed for Jesus is that they are apostates or they have committed the unpardonable sin. (Romans 1:18-32) These pastors are blasphemers who have trodden under their feet the blood of Christ (Hebrews 10:26-30), degenerates who have crossed the line of no return. Apologists will often engage former pastors anyway, seeing it as an opportunity to hone their apologetical skills or preach the gospel to those who are lurking in the shadows.
Assuming that I am not a reprobate that God has turned over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, why, then, do Evangelical apologists fail to win me back to Jesus? One reason is that the behavior of apologists towards me is contrary to everything the Bible says about how we are to treat other people. Some of the most arrogant, nasty, judgmental people I have ever met are people who attempt to win me back to Jesus. I have never understood how behaving this way is conducive to reclaiming me for Jesus. As a pastor, I talked to hundreds and hundreds of people about the state of their souls. I found that being loving, kind, and compassionate helped in setting the tone for a presentation of the gospel. Leading with hell, judgment, and the wrath of God generally turned people off. Sadly, many apologists are oblivious to these things, choosing instead to bully people with the Bible. (Please read Bible Thumpers: Dealing With Evangelical Bible Bullies.) In doing so, these apologists give Christianity and God a bad name. When such people savage me with their words, I often ask them, what is it in your behavior that would make me want to return to Christianity? Granted, just because the messenger is an asshole doesn’t mean that the message is untrue. That said, kindness and respect will open far more doors than hatred and judgmentalism — a lesson some apologists need to learn.
Another reason that Evangelical apologists fail to win me back to Jesus is their belief that the Protestant Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God. I recently wrote a post titled, Why Biblical Inerrancy is Not Intellectually Sustainable. This post attracted an apologist who was certain that his intellectually superior arguments would destroy any criticism of the Bible. His arguments failed to convince anyone that the Bible was inerrant. The only people who believe the Bible is inerrant are presuppositionalists who assume, without evidence, that the Bible is without the error. The Bible says is it is without error, so it is. End of discussion. This is, of course, a faith claim that cannot be refuted. Once apologists appeal to faith — which is inherently subjective — all rational discussion ends. Faith, according to the Bible, is belief without evidence. Hebrews 11: 1,3, and 6 states:
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Creationists love to argue that the events recorded in Genesis 1-3 are scientifically accurate; that God created the universe out of nothing in six twenty-four-hour days, 6,022 years ago. Everything that science tells us about the universe says that creationists are wrong, that the universe is billions of years old, not thousands. Vast amounts of scientific data must be rejected or misinterpreted for creationists to conclude with a straight face that Genesis 1-3 is how the universe came into existence. Lost on creationists is the fact that the Bible says that believing Jesus created the universe is a matter of faith, not scientific fact. Millions of Christians reject creationism, yet believe God is the grand architect of the universe. Creationists, on the other hand, refuse to budge on their ignorant beliefs. Why? Their commitment to literalism and inerrancy forces them to embrace beliefs that are absurd. One need only drive to Kentucky to visit Ken Ham’s Creation Museum and Ark Encounter to see colossal monuments to Evangelical ignorance.
Let me conclude by giving three obstacles apologists can’t overcome in their attempts to win me back to Jesus:
The Christian God is the creator of everything.
Jesus was born of a virgin.
Jesus was executed on a Roman cross and resurrected from the dead three days later.
These three things ultimately stand in the way of me returning to Christianity.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
The Apostle Paul said the universe itself gives testimony to the existence of God. Look at the wonders of the earth and beauty of the star-lit sky. Sure this is proof that God created everything? Perhaps, but what evidence is there for this creator being the God of the Christian Bible? I have long argued that I understand how someone could look at the night sky on a clear summer night and conclude that a deistic God of some sort created the universe. What does not make sense to me, however, is that this creator God is the triune God of Christianity. What in the night sky tells me that the Christian God is the creator? Why the Christian God, and not any of the other Gods human worship? I see no intellectual bridge that gets me from A GOD to THE GOD of Evangelical Christianity. Again, the belief that the Christian God created everything rests on the presupposition that the Bible is the Word of God and whatever it says is true. Believing this way requires faith, a faith that I do not have.
The virgin birth of Jesus and his resurrection from the dead thirty-three years later, are equally problematic for me. Virgins don’t have babies and dead people don’t come back to life. Pregnancy requires the uniting of a female’s egg with a male’s sperm. Believing Jesus’ mother Mary was a virgin requires me to ignore what science tells me about where babies come from. But, Bruce, with GOD all things are possible! So Evangelicals say, but one thing is certain: millions and millions of people have prayed to God asking him to give them a baby. God has — supposedly — answered these prayers countless times. I have heard numerous testimonies about how God “blessed” people with children. What is the common denominator in all these stories? — a female egg united with male sperm, and nine months later a child was born. There’s no evidence that God played any part in these births. Believing so requires faith.
So it is with the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Billions of people have lived and died on planet Earth, yet not one of them has come back from the dead. Cemeteries, funeral homes, and crematoriums are reminders that when people die, they stay dead. I believe Jesus was a real person who lived and died in Palestine two thousand years ago. How Jesus died, it matters not. Jesus lived, died, end of story. Evangelical apologists offer no evidence for the claim Jesus resurrected from the dead. Again, believing this to be true requires faith, a faith I do not have. Either someone accepts as fact what the Bible says about the things mentioned in this post or they don’t. I don’t, and this is why apologists fail in their attempts to win me back to Jesus. I want evidence, not special pleadings that appeal to Evangelical faith and the inerrancy of the Bible. Until apologists can come up with arguments that are more substantial than the litany of proof texts and faith claims they currently use, I remain unconvinced. The ball is in your court, Evangelicals.
About Bruce Gerencser
Bruce Gerencser, 60, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 39 years. He and his wife have six grown children and eleven grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.
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Dan Phillips, a frequent contributor to the fundamentalist Christian blog Pyromaniacs and pastor of Copperfield Bible Church in Houston, Texas, thinks Evangelical Christianity is the only rational worldview. Phillips had this to say about this supposed rationality:
A Mormon friend, in passing, remarked that religion is not rational, so he didn’t expect it to make sense. It’s a matter of faith, not reason.
You might think, “Right: Mormon. I don’t expect rationality, either.” Hang on.
He went on to give an example—but the example was not how a human could become a god, or how there could be only one god and many at the same time, or how God can keep changing His mind about things, or how two equally-inspired books could contradict each other. His example was the virgin birth. I said there was nothing irrational about the virgin birth, and the conversation simply moved on elsewhere…
…But was he right? Is religion irrational? “Religion,” maybe. Christianity, no…
….Perhaps definitions are part of the problem. There is a world of difference between rational and rationalism. The latter is a philosophy, a worldview that asserts that man can know truth by the use of his unaided reason. The former merely means that something is in accord with reason, it doesn’t violate fundamental canons of thinking such as the law of non-contradiction.
Is Christianity rational?…
…But are some of our faith-tenets irrational? Two that I hear cited specifically are the Trinity, and the Virgin Birth.
The second example is just plain silly. I have never understood how this can be an issue to anyone who believes Genesis 1:1, and thus grants the premise of a God who created everything out of nothing. It’s like saying, “Everything out of nothing? Sure! But make an existing egg alive without a sperm? No way!” Canons of rational thought are not even stretched, let alone violated, by the fact of the Creator and Ruler thus operating within His creation.
How about the Trinity? Surely the doctrine that God is three and one is not rational?…
…The Trinity is the Biblical teaching that there is but one God (Deuteronomy 6:4), and that this one God is Father (2 Peter 1:17), Son (John 1:1), and Spirit (Acts 5:3-4). The simplest way I have been able to understand and express the truth is that God is one in one way, and three in another. Or, we could say that God is one “what” (i.e. one as to His essence), and three “who’s” (i.e. three as to His persons).
Now, do we understand the Trinity exhaustively? Of course not! How exactly does God manage being what He is? We don’t really need to know, since we’ll never need to be God. Nor should the finite expect to understand the infinite exhaustively. It is as C. S. Lewis says:
If Christianity was something we were making up, of course we could make it easier. But it is not. We cannot compete, in simplicity, with people who are inventing religions. How could we? We are dealing with Fact. Of course anyone can be simple if he has no facts to bother about. (Mere Christianity [Macmillan: 1960], p. 145.)
But we know enough to love Him, to worship Him, and to discern truth from error. And we know enough to know that there is nothing irrational about the doctrine.
It’s not hard to spot Phillips’ presupposition: the Bible is true and all discussions about what is rational must begin with the Bible. However, for those of us who do not accept the Bible as truth, the authority of the Bible has no relevance. The evidence that demands a verdict is that which can be observed, tested, and verified.
Are there things in the Bible that are not reasonable to believe? Are there things that a rational person would have a hard time accepting as factual? Phillips gives two examples of beliefs that some people, even Christians, consider irrational (lacking a rational explanation). His two examples are cardinal Christian doctrines: the virgin birth and the Trinity.
What evidence do we have, outside of the Christian Bible, that the virgin birth is a rational, reasonable belief? Is there any medical proof for a virgin becoming pregnant without having her egg fertilized by the sperm of a man? Is there any record anywhere, outside of the Bible, that a virgin has ever given birth to a child? Of course not. Belief in the virgin birth is not a rational belief. Believing that a virgin can have a child requires Evangelicals to have faith. They must be willing to blindly accept that the Evangelical God is capable of impregnating a young virgin so she can give birth to a God/Man.
Many Christians wisely reject the notion that Jesus was born of a virgin. It’s Evangelicals who stubbornly dig their heels in on this issue. For them, the text of the Bible is deified, and when this happens reason goes out the window. This is the kind of thinking that gives us young earth creationism and a host of other rational mind defying beliefs. Believing the Evangelical God miraculously impregnated an unwed Jewish teenager runs contrary to everything the Evangelical and the atheist know to be true. To suggest, as Phillips does, that the virgin birth is rational because the Bible says it is, is not an reasoned argument; it’s blind, irrational faith.
Phillips also uses the Trinity as an example of a Christian doctrine that is reasonable. Once again, Phillips’ Evangelical interpretation of the Bible becomes the arbiter of what is rational. For the atheist, the argument for the reasonableness of Trinitarianism is not important. Three in one, one in three, one in one, it matters not. The only question that matters for the skeptic and the atheist is whether there is sufficient evidence for the existence of the Evangelical God, or any other God for that matter.
The atheist, based on the available evidence, concludes that the Christian God does not exist. The Christian has the same evidence as the atheist, but rejects it, and by faith believes that the Evangelical God of the Bible really exists. Contrary to what Phillips says, Christianity is all about faith, and that faith, many times, is quite irrational. (1)
I know Phillips doesn’t mean for his post to be a complete and full defense of the rationality of Christianity, but there are many other illustrations of rational irrationality he could have used. How about the resurrection of Jesus from the dead? All of the evidence, apart from the Bible, points to a reality we all know to be true; people die and they don’t come back from the dead. There’s nothing in the natural, observable world that suggests that the dead come back to life. Again, believing otherwise requires faith in what the Bible says about the resurrection of Jesus.
Here’s another “rational” Evangelical Christian belief: Jesus walking through walls. According to the Bible, after his resurrection from the dead, Jesus walked through walls. This is a claim that any of us can test in about 10 seconds. Stand up, go to the nearest wall, and try to walk through it. How did it work out for you? Were you able to walk through the wall, without doing damage to yourself or the wall? Silly, I know, but this is another example of a Bible truth that requires faith to believe. No one, Jesus included, can walk through a solid wall.
I found the C.S. Lewis quote about the difficulty of believing the Christian narrative to be quite interesting. I heard this line of thinking many times when I was a pastor. The essence of the argument is this:
If Christianity is a man-made religion, do you think its makers would have included the irrational, bat-shit crazy stuff found in the Bible? The crazy stuff is proof that what the Bible says is true.
Here’s the problem with this argument. Phillips mocks the Mormons several times in his post, but if I judge Mormonism by the standard set by C.S. Lewis, I would have to conclude that Mormonism is factual. Who has more crazy beliefs than Mormonism, right? OK, maybe Scientology is worse and Mormonism comes in a close second
Phillips enters this discussion with his mind made up. Christianity is the truth and Mormonism is just another man-made, heretical religion. After all, everyone knows Christianity is a not religion. At least Phillips didn’t trot out the “Christianity is a relationship” line.
What do you think of Phillips’ closing line:
Is Christianity rational? I daresay it’s the only worldview, ultimately, that is.
Share your thoughts in the comments.
(1) I am not suggesting that a person can’t look at the natural world and reasonably conclude that there is a deity or a higher power. However, it is a huge jump from the deistic view that a God of some sort created the world to that creator being the Evangelical God of the Bible. There is a gigantic chasm between these two and the bridge that spans that chasm is called faith. I am amazed at how readily Christians chuck faith in hopes of trying to “prove” that Christianity is reasonable. They diminish their religion when they do so.
James Melton is the pastor of Bible Baptist Church, an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church in Sharon, Tennessee. The Christian Nightmares website made me aware of a tract written by Melton titled Safe Sex. Melton, because he can read and understand the King James version of the Bible, considers himself a “sexpert.” According to Melton, “No one is more qualified to speak on the subject of safe sex than God Himself.”
Really? What does God really know about sex or “safe” sex? Only the second person in the Trinity, Jesus, was human, so only he could have had sex. Did Jesus, an unmarried man, have sex? I am sure that Melton would say, ABSOLUTELY NOT! We do have the curious case of the Holy Spirit, a Ghost, an incorporeal entity, impregnating a virgin by the name of Mary. According to the Bible, this is the only reference to any part of the Godhead having sex. And even here, did not the Holy Spirit commit fornication, having sex with a woman he was not married to?
Melton likens having sex to buying a gun:
Picture, if you will, a man who purchases a gun. By law, this man has done nothing wrong in purchasing a gun. He is allowed to have a gun, and he is allowed to shoot the gun as long as he does so in a safe manner. However, he is not allowed to harm anyone with the gun or even threaten to do so. If he does, then he has abused his free privilege, and he will be punished. Rather than use the gun for legal purposes, he chooses to use it illegally, so he must pay for his crime. Even if the judicial system fails to punish him, people with common sense still know that he is a criminal and he deserves to be punished.
Sex works the same way. There is nothing wrong with a person enjoying sexual activity. God made us to desire sexual gratification, and He doesn’t frown upon us when we fulfill this desire His way, according to His word. However, when we ignore God’s laws and practice our own sexual preferences, we become criminals in God’s sight, and punishment will surely follow. Even when the sexperts say, “Use protection and you’ll be okay,” God never said it, and you will not be protected from His wrath. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” (Gal. 6:7)
Let’s see, why am I permitted to purchase and own a gun? State and Federal law determine whether I am permitted to buy and own a gun. If I do not meet the criteria, then it is not legal for me to purchase and own a gun. Now imagine if I went to the gun store and the dealer, as he was explaining to me what the law said about gun purchase and ownership, opened up a King James Bible and said, right here in God’s Holy Word it says __________________. Does the Bible have any authority when it comes to purchasing and owning a gun? As Pastor Melton, hypothetically said earlier, ABSOLUTELY NOT!
Melton does the equivalent when he interjects the Bible into a discussion about sex. State and Federal law determine who may legally have sex. We rightly protect children from having sex and we punish adults who manipulate teenagers so they will have sex with them. We have ages of consent and sexual assault and rape laws. At one time, we had laws criminalizing adultery, fornication, and sodomy. While some states still have these laws on their books, thanks to the Courts, such laws are not enforceable. While Melton is free to believe and practice the moral strictures of the Bible, and through strong-arm preaching get others to also do so, the Bible is no authority when it comes to sex. No one can be criminally punished or imprisoned for disobeying what the Bible says about sex.
Melton has harsh words for those who cohabit without being married:
…This is just a sinful grown-up way of “playing house.” A couple who lives together without marriage is a couple who has become habitual and irresponsible fornicators. She thinks he’s a wonderful man, yet he’s such a coward he can’t even ask her to be his wife. He thinks she’s a fine lady, yet she’s nothing more than a cheap prostitute who allows herself to be used for his sexual gratification in exchange for what seems to be a stable and secure home life. This make-believe game may fool people, but it doesn’t fool God. This is a sin, and it will be punished! God didn’t change His law just because someone started acting like married people. Either you are married or you are not married. If you are not married, yet you have sexual relations, then you are a wicked fornicator…
I am shocked by Melton’s liberal, Bible denying view. While he calls a sexually active, cohabiting, unmarried woman a cheap prostitute and the couple, wicked fornicators, he doesn’t use the word whoremonger one time. So disappointed. I love hearing a Baptist preacher using the word WHOREMONGER. Here’s my favorite Baptist preacher (25 second clip) :
IFB preachers like Melton are fighting a losing battle when it comes to sex. Far stronger than the Holy Spirit or the outrage of the preacher is the human desire for sexual intimacy. While there are certainly many good reasons for waiting to have sex, the fact is, most people don’t. Rather than shaming people for indulging their desire, Melton’s church would be better served if he taught them how to responsibly handle their sexuality. Instead of threatening punishment from God for any sexual activity outside of heterosexual marriage, wouldn’t it be better to educate teenagers and young adults about birth control, sexually transmitted diseases, and when it is “right” to have sex? Instead, Melton preaches the Puritanical gospel of NO!
I get it, it IS in the Bible, but we are 2,000 or more years removed from the writing of the Bible. It is NOT a timeless book of absolute moral instruction. Take, for example, masturbation. Many IFB preachers still preach against masturbation. It’s considered fornication with self. How boring, eh? We now know that masturbation is a good way to release sexual tension. It won’t make you blind nor will it make you sterile. Imagine how relieved the purity ring wearing teens in the Baptist youth group will be if they hear their pastor compassionately and honestly tell them that it is OK to masturbate. No shame, no guilt; just a wonderful THANK YOU JESUS release of sexual tension.