New Era of Change – Conscience and Reassessment

New Era of Change – Conscience and Reassessment May 26, 2022

It’s okay not to be liked

“It ain’t easy being green.” – Kermit the Frog on Sesame Street about being different.

“If you are a communicator, no one really likes much of what you say, therefore they don’t like you. So you never worry about it, just tell the truth.” – Dorian S. Cole

Jesus: “… you will be hated for my name sake” (Matthew 10:22)

Background image by Gerd Altmann on Pixabay Era of Conscience image by Dorian Scott Cole
Background image by Gerd Altmann on Pixabay

Era of Conscience image by Dorian Scott Cole

There is no law more important than that of our own conscience. If we violate our conscience we condemn ourselves, and we find it harder to forgive ourselves than others.

This series on conscience and change examines and tries to resolve things that cause newer generations to reject the church and its teachings. Many of the articles have already looked at LGBTQ issues from a Biblical point of view.

New generations don’t reject Jesus, they just don’t like the hate and focus on sin that Christianity seems to represent in this era, while lacking love. These issues help us understand our changeless God much less as a list of rules and agreements originating 3500 years ago among nomads, and more as an example of love that Christians try to understand and emulate through the ages as situations change.

Some condemn 6% of the world, and actually 2/3 of the world

There are a number of people in this world who have no so called “natural desire” for the opposite sex, but do have desire for the same sex, and they make committed same sex relationships. Gallup finds 5.6% of US people identify as LGBTQ. Estimates by some are that the number is higher. This series is only interested in identification and committed relationships. Some of the same people condemn 2/3 of the world for not being Christian.

A question is why some people are so quick to condemn anything that is different from them and their point of view.

In the articles concerning LGBTQ I demonstrated that the ancients reacted to other cultures and insisted that purity was essential in worship and that they felt many things were impure. Much of what it says is simply cultural in origin.

One example of cultural origin is the Bible’s perceived preference for being right-handed: Gen. 48:13-18; Ex. 15:6; Ps. 118:16; Gal. 2:9; Matt. 25:33; Acts 2:33. The right hand is identified with being clean, righteous, and acceptable to God. The left hand is identified with unclean and sin.

In cultural context in the Arab world the left hand is the unclean hand used for the bathroom in an area with limited access to water, and the right hand is used for contact with others and eating. – Etiquette In The Middle East: 8 Things To Know. Any stigma about being left-handed is cultural.

To understand the Bible it’s imperative to understand cultural context or you will make grave errors in interpretation and understanding. Even though the following observation might be just cherry-picking evidence: left-handed people today are often associated today with having exceptional talent.

We so often are guilty of putting people in categorical boxes of good – bad, right – wrong, binary gender, gender roles, acceptable – unacceptable, judging and condemning and justifying it with some Bible verse. In doing so we don’t have to think, understand differences or cultural context, we just say, “You’re different, you’re out until you become just like us.”

Jesus looked beyond gender and gender roles. Sexuality meant nothing to him, nor does it to God.

Jesus said and didn’t say

In context, nearly everything Jesus said in the Bible was to Jews about Judaism, saying that the law and prophets (entire Hebrew Bible) were until John the Baptist, and that their following the enormous burden of Jewish law wouldn’t get them into the Kingdom of God. Love fulfills the law – love is the thing that’s important.

To both Jews and non-Jews Jesus proclaimed and sent the Good News of forgiveness and love is the way to the Kingdom of God. He didn’t send the Apostles to make people Jews with Jewish laws and covenants with God.

Jesus ran into so many people with hard hearts. They were mostly people who could not accept his teachings, preferring the old ways. He told them that the reason Moses permitted them to divorce was because of the hardness of their hearts and it wasn’t this way from the beginning.

– Matthew 19:8 (NASB)

“For the heart of this people has become dull, With their ears they scarcely hear, And they have closed their eyes, Otherwise they would see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, And understand with their heart and return, And I would heal them.’” – Matthew 13:15 (NASB) (Also see Isaiah 6:10)

Jesus said to his Apostles, “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.”
– John 16:12-13 (NASB)

Jesus didn’t say a word about a lot of things. Nothing about LGBTQ, nothing about slavery, nothing really about free will, nothing about women’s place, nothing about economic systems and politics, nothing about a thousand other issues. He disregarded many things as being the culture, politics, and economy of the time.

Jesus showed us by his example that we aren’t to reject others nor tell them their place. He didn’t reject prostitutes, women, tax collectors, roman soldiers who kept male slaves (likely for sex), lepers, or any other person. But he kept at arm’s length the hypocrites who would never change their ways.

Silence doesn’t make it right or wrong

Jesus’ silence doesn’t make anything implicitly right or wrong. He gave us the imperative of love so that we could decide from our heart right and wrong and fix things that needed fixed, especially as cultures, situations, and needs change.

We don’t live in 1500 BCE. We’re not nomads in arid lands. The law is in our hearts, even for non-believers, and he gave us the Spirit to help us discern what is from love and what is not. We have compassion and conscience. If our hearts aren’t hard, these things should be enough.

Yet people keep dragging out the law and legalistic ideas of religion, forsaking love, and clobbering others who are different because their hearts are hard with hate and can’t accept them.

Apostle Paul said

The Apostle Paul said, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
– Galatians 3: 26-28 (NASB. And compare to Ephesians 2:20–22.

Paul referenced Jesus: “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” – Matthew 22:30 (NASB)

Paul: “Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that. But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I.” – 1 Corinthians 7:7-8 (NASB) (The Apostles knew that tribulation – that is the Roman persecution and killings – would soon be on them.)

This raises a huge question. If we are all the same in God’s eyes, why is it we can’t accept that? In fact, some Christians have preserved the idea of male dominance over women, and have excluded them from positions of leadership in all areas of life. It was an idea that was becoming dead in Jesus’ and Paul’s time, and has long outlived its usefulness.

Others would still support slavery, sex with slaves and others, racism, multiple wives, women barefoot and pregnant …. Then turn to others who are different and say they’re condemned.

We can’t accept God’s view that we are all the same in God’s eyes because it doesn’t fit our cultural perspective. As this series has demonstrated, religion is culturally situated.

I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.”
– John 16:12-13 (NASB)

Take Home Points

As we move on with this series about this New Era of Change, Conscience, and Reassessment, we need to drop the false pretense that somehow, someway we can make the Hebrew Bible with all of its laws still apply to everything we don’t like and everything that conflicts with our culture.

There is an endless body of literature on the Internet written by people with hard hearts that still lust after these laws. The Law and Prophets (Hebrew Bible) was applicable until John the Baptist then Jesus fulfilled it with love, emphasizing forgiveness for all who ask.

Jesus didn’t shove any part of Judaism onto non-Jews, nor did the Apostles who simply warned people in their freedom to be careful of certain things. New generations have a keen sense of hypocrisy and are completely rejecting the church because so much of it singularly lacks love and substitutes what seems to be hate and control.

The standard of belief and conduct for Christianity is love. Our conduct is a matter of conscience for each of us to wrestle with. If in doubt, apply love.

There is no law more important than that of our own conscience. If we violate our conscience we condemn ourselves, and we find it harder to forgive ourselves than others.

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Additional Resources

How to Keep Millennials Engaged in Church – on Patheos

What Is Meant by Truth? – on Patheos

Tabernacle of Hate – False Religion – on Patheos

10 Reforms Christianity Needs to Make Right Now – on Patheos

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The standard of belief and conduct for Christianity is love. Legal standard.

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If you find these articles intriguing, please consider joining the mailing list.

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Our answer is God. God’s answer is us. Together we make the world better.

– Dorian

About Dorian Scott Cole
Additional information about the author is on the About tab. You can read more about the author here.

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