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Talking about God

Here are a couple of ‘musings’ which have been developing over some time. Neither is big to form a whole blog post on its own (at least, that’s what I think as I start writing - but who knows, maybe they’ll grow as I write), but they are related, so I’m leaving them together for now.

The first concerns how I refer to God. It is mostly related to my discomfort with the word ‘God’. It’s a word loaded with ‘baggage’. Not least because it makes ‘God’ seem like just another god among many gods, although it seems that this one has been going to the gymfor a whileas well as taking anabolic steroids and is ‘ripped'. I almost feel as though I need to use a different word, so as to break the link between ‘God’ and ‘the gods’. And that’s because of what I might call both God’s supremacy and his transcendence. He is, in a very real sense, ‘way beyond’ and ‘way above’ other gods humanity has worshiped. Those other gods - Zeus/Jupiter and the rest of the Greco-Roman pantheon; Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and the other Hindu gods; Odin and the Norse gods; Amun, Horus, Ra and the other Egyptian gods; I could go on and on. Somehow God is above, beyond and, in a sense, ‘behind’ these other gods - in that they’re all attempts by humanity to either invent or explain what is ‘beyond’ humanity’s understanding. They all have very ‘human’ aspects and, yes, flaws… Having been 'made in humanity’s image' that isn’t surprising.

God is Love

I don’t want to try to count how many posts I’ve written and published with this title in the past six years. It must be some sort of obsession. And yet, I don’t think we should stop talking about it. Love is God’s very essence; it’s who He is.

It’s very easy to be deceived into thinking that God doesn’t really love us, and that we need to be afraid of Him. Either that or, like me, never really believe it in the first place. It’s a very hard one to get over too, particularly given what we’re told about God in our churches.

We’re told that God is love, but that He only loves us if we repent; that we have to keep a ‘short account’ with Him; that He can’t abide sin and can’t bear to be near it. We get these very mixed messages a lot of the time, and end up asking ourselves

‘Does God really love me?’

If you’re like me, the conclusion you come to is

‘No, not really, because I’m not obedient; I sin all the time; I don’t really trust him’ - and so on.

And so we end up feeling like ‘second class citizens’ - if we feel like citizens at all. I spent years and years being afraid of God - afraid of really ‘letting Him in’ to see the ‘mess’ which was my life (despite knowing that He knew anyway!) - instead of believing I was loved.

Giving to the Church

If you’re involved in a church, it wants you to give your money to it… Typically ‘in order to further its ministry’ - which is usually a form of Orwellian ‘Newspeak’ meaning, basically, to keep the building(s) in a state of good repair and to pay the clergy and other staff… Rather than much (or even sometimes any) of the money going to relieve poverty or to support ‘widows and orphans’ or any of the other worthy causes you might think of. The church I belong to has a long-standing policy of giving 10% of money received to missionary organisations.

The doctrine of ‘tithing’ (giving at least 10% of your income to the church) is contentious. It can be contentious within the group, but it’s contentious outside too… Few things are more off-putting for potential ‘members’ than the knowledge that, at some point, the vicar or some other representative of the organisation is going to put the squeeze on you and start ‘suggesting’ that you really should be giving the church a not insignificant proportion of your hard-earned money.

Some More Thoughts on Homosexuality

In this post I am going to touch on two things. First of all, having in my previous post touched on ‘scriptural matters’ pertaining to LGB folk, I am going to look, very briefly, at what the bible may have to say about Transgender and Intersex folk.

Transgenderism probably wasn’t ‘a thing’ in ancient Mediterranean culture - there seem to be no references to anything like it - or at least I haven't found any. Intersex isn’t mentioned explicitly either. Jesus does talk, briefly, about eunuchs - castrated males - and that’s about as close as the bible gets to talking about either transgenderism or intersex people…

Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.” Matthew 19:11-12

This passage is translated a number of ways, depending on the point the translators think Jesus is trying to make. Some translations imply that Christian men should castrate themselves in order to live as though they were in the heavenly kingdom, whilst others, as here, make it seem metaphorical. What it does say, at least the way I read it, is that Jesus has no problem with eunuchs in the Kingdom of God… And there’s nothing, anywhere, other than some obscure passages in the Levitical laws about which animals make acceptable sacrifices, to suggest that God has any problem with what, if any, sexual organs a person has.

Copyright Phil Hendry, 2022