When People Speak For God Tell Them to Shut Up

God has many voices. To hear some tell it, they are a constant mouthpiece. Those are the people I listen to the least. One of the biggest issues I’ve had with the church over the years is dealing with people who speak for God, condemn for God, and use God’s name in vain. The church is a place for healing and learning and unfortunately in America we have too many people that think they’re doctors and teachers.

I don’t agree with the denomination of the church I am in on a lot of things. That’s part of my problem. Part of the reason I wanted out of this church is because instead of staying and fighting those beliefs I found it easier to walk away from the situation. Who am I, I thought? They are religious leaders. They chose to spend their life in dedication to God and I can just go another route and live my own life and not be bothered with this nonsense. Truthfully, this thinking led me away from one of the things that sustained me in life…involvement in church. I love church. I love the people I meet at church. I love contemplating religion. It absolutely fascinates me. I love religious based arguments. I love forming thoughts and listening to people’s life experiences and letting it change me. People have said, “church arguments shouldn’t be aired in public.” My argument is, “I need to make sure that people know I don’t think like you.”

The issue in the church denomination I belong to is the role of women leadership in the church. When I talk to other people they laugh and say, “Wow, the church is still dealing with that issue…is it 1920 yet?” I laugh and say, “Yeah, hopefully next year they take the laws off the books that require black people to stop sitting in the back of the church.” This isn’t really the case. This same group of people would be appalled if that rule were in place. They use scriptures to back up their arguments. “As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.” (1 Cor. 14:33b-36 NIV). In the very same Bible, the scripture exists that says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28).

The bible also has other paradoxes such as one book, “Philemon” which is a letter that allows and promotes slavery. It deals with taking a runaway slave back. In fact, if one looks they can find arguments in the Bible that make slavery ok. Now, most people don’t argue those facts today, but it is one of the key things that kept slavery and beliefs that people are superior because of race. Some of those beliefs are still around today and still going to be around tomorrow. Every race has people that don’t like people from another race because of the color of their skin…EVERY RACE.

The fascinating thing about the Bible to me is that people can use scriptures to make arguments from almost every side of issues. That’s why I think it’s completely foolish to use the Bible in arguments. I shouldn’t say use the bible, I think it’s completely foolish to get beyond the words of this one scripture, (Matthew 22:36-40) 36″Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'[a] 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'[b] 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

In church discussions, there is one group of people that say, “God is speaking to me and telling me this is the way we should go.” On the other side, there is another group of people saying, “God is speaking to me and telling me we should go the opposite way.” There is a group of people that condemn others for their actions and say, “God is telling me your actions are wrong.” There is a group of people that do not like cussing and say if you speak certain words you are using God’s name in vain. Oh, by the way, I’m still waiting on people to find those exact words somewhere in the Bible. These are the same people that USE God’s name in vain…by supposedly speaking for him.

I say all this to say this. The entire Bible is summed up in one passage. This is the scripture that supersedes all others. This is the part of the Bible that all arguments should lead to. This is it. People that believe this way are called “liberal christians.” They are called, “non holy.” The argument is that, “they will let anything go.” My argument is, “YES”. Yes, I believe that I can read the Bible, interpret it for myself and follow it as I believe it is instructing me. Yes, I believe that I can find mentors who will help teach me. Yes, I believe that I will change myself when I ask, not when I am condemned by someone else. Yes, I believe that people should not ever have anything held against them because of a way they are born. To me that means that because someone is born a woman or born with gray skin they shouldn’t be told that they can’t hold certain positions. In the same regard, I think it’s completely foolish to pretend like sexes are equal. Men are physically stronger than women. Women are more nurturing and caring than men. Is this a stereotype…yes. Are there exceptions…yes. Recognizing differences in each other is not racist or sexist. Telling people what they cannot do because of it is.

One of the best examples I can think of is abortion. Abortion is not something I believe in. Not because I don’t believe in people’s right to choose, but the argument exists when does life begin? I believe life begins at conception. Some people don’t. It’s not what a woman wants to do with her own body…just tell me when you believe life begins. Some people don’t believe life begins until a baby is actually birthed. Some people believe life begins halfway through a pregnancy. That’s fine, they are all our opinions. The one thing I have found is that in knowing quite a few friends that have had abortions, people that condemn and tell others they are murderers have no idea what these people go through. They have no idea the amount of stress they are under and no idea the feelings they live with for the rest of their lives. So, in this country we debate and decide whether abortion is right or wrong and that’s fine. We live under the rule of law. The law in this country allows abortions and so be it. If you don’t like it, attempt to change the law, but don’t demean people for following it. If you believe in the sovereignty of God, I think you have to believe the laws have been allowed to be there. The bottom line is these people will remain friends of mine regardless of their choices and I will be there to support them. At the end of the day, we each live with our own decisions in life, not others.

To me it all goes back to free will. Freedom of choice is what we all want in our own lives. We all want the ability to make choices for ourselves without being told what we can’t do. Telling a woman she can’t serve as a leader in the church because of the sex she was born? Most don’t want to be leaders in the church…idiots. Let the ones that do become that. There are always going to be people we encounter in life that feel they speak for God. Like I said, two people on each side of a church argument will both feel that God is speaking to them. God doesn’t speak through me. I speak for myself. I would never pretend to put myself on the level of God. I read the Bible, I know what it says. I know arguments on all sides of issues, but I trace it back and say to myself, “Am I treating my brother as myself?” If I were a woman, would I want a man to tell me what I couldn’t do because of the way I was born? I make fun of the church leaders who think they are so pious and so in touch with the Bible that they believe they speak for God. Take responsibility for your own actions and thoughts. Quit using God’s name in vain and pretending that you speak for him. I don’t. These are my opinions. They are your opinions. Let’s debate.

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Paul Dickens

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