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The Golden Rule a Love Loophole

I have friends who used to say that divorced people who remarry were condemned by their own sin. Jesus is quoted in the Bible as saying that people cannot remarry except under special circumstances (Luke 16:18). My friends would not forgive a minister who married a couple if one of them had been previously married. They would not forgive this transgression that is until it was their daughter who gave up on her terrible marriage and sought a divorce. All was forgiven when, all of a sudden, it was their kid who was experiencing this painful trial, their little girl who was suffering, their flesh and blood who wanted a second chance to commit to someone who would honor and love her. Everything changed when the person committing the perceived sin was family. After all, what loving parent would commit his/her child to a life of loneliness and shame without the opportunity for a second chance?

I have found that it is not unusual for people to change their minds when looking at a religious issue from a personal point of view. The historical argument over slavery is a good example. The Old Testament allows for the possession of slaves without restrictions if the slaves were foreigners and with restrictions if the slaves were Israelite’s. The New Testament accepted slavery as a normal part of life. Paul made the famous statement “slaves obey your masters” to promote good citizenship among the believers. Paul just accepted the issue and told his friends to make the best of whatever situation they faced. With a large number of biblical quotes like this one to support their beliefs, pro-slavery preachers in the pre-civil war era were able to get up and tell their parishioners that slavery was biblical as long as the slave holders treated their charges with Christian love. The abolitionists, on the other hand, had few Bible passages to support their arguments. However, there was one brief passage that made all of the difference, and it was familiar to every Christian. This passage enabled people to ask the following questions; would you want to be treated in this deplorable way? Would you want your daughter sold into slavery? If not, then why would you sell someone else’s daughter into slavery? The passage is the Golden Rule of course; do unto others as you would have others do unto you. This simple argument trumped all of the pro-slavery Bible passages the slave holders had on their side. It’s like a loop-hole in the Bible – a love loophole.

It's an amazing loophole, and one that explains why we don't make a fuss over a lot of difficult issues that the Bible raises up. Am I really going to force my wife to keep her head covered during a prayer service? (1 Cor 11:5) Only if I want to remain chaste for the rest of my life. Am I really going to make my daughter keep complete silence while at church? (1 Cor 14:34) Obviously the answer to both of these questions is a big "no way!" First of all, the women in my life wouldn't put up with it. Secondly I would never impose such uneven and unfair restrictions upon the people I love. And so I apply the love loophole to these and other questions. I am not willing to insist upon the universal adherence to supposed biblical mandates if I won't force my family to adhere to them.

The Golden Rule causes me to consider the effect of my actions on the lives of others. If I take it seriously it prods me away from self-focused thinking and urges me to think in selfless terms. It causes me to put myself in another’s place and try to understand how I would feel under the circumstances. It teaches me that existence is more than just me.

And so the Golden Rule causes me to ask this question; how would I wish my son to be treated if he were to tell me he was gay? Would I cast him out of my life? Would I tell him that he has sinned against me and against God and was no longer worthy of being my child? Would I tell him that the Bible condemns him to an eternity in hell? I don't think so. What loving caring parent would do any of these things to their own flesh and blood? I read a story once about a former president of Dallas Theological Seminary changing his mind over this issue when his son came out of the closet. The former president of my seminary was recently fired because he presided over his daughter’s gay marriage. He is a good conservative theologian. And this was his little girl. Would I tell my little girl to get lost? Would you?

The current arguments surrounding the issue of gay’s and society are based upon abstract principles. God is not abstract – God is real. And God is the Father of all creation. God does not abandon children for such petty reasons. What loving parent would condemn his/her child to a life of loneliness and shame? Not this earthly parent and not our Father in heaven. There are always loop-holes, and this one is the best.

God bless you,

William Whitehead

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