I don't know if it's because it's October or if it's the election coming up and the incessant bleating about it. I don't know why but I am once again on my anti-American Church kick. Not that I'm going to stop going. Some of the same old things are starting to really rub me the wrong way again. Why do we read the Bible and, when it's hard enough to live up to the standards that are CLEARLY printed there, we add to it.
For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
Rev 22:18-19 (KJV)
Most churches seem to apply these verses to the entire Bible. I think it is specifically for Revelation but let's assume it does apply to the whole Bible. God has told us, through His written word, what is required for salvation. Believe on Jesus and follow him by loving our neighbors and God. Easier said then done but there it is nonetheless. So what do we do? Add things to that.
If you are saved or a “good” Christian you don't smoke. We have preachers who from the pulpit will preach with great enthusiasm that smoking is a SIN. Not a bad choice. Not a bad habit. A sin. That means, no matter how they hem and haw about it, that these folks believe that smoking will take you to HELL. Haven't you read that you are the temple of the Holy Spirit? The Bible says it twice. One reference is about sex and marriage and the other is in a discussion of works and the judging thereof.
Of course, we don't apply this principal to other areas of our lives. Are you fat? That's fine. Skinny but sedimentary? Okie dokie. Eat red meat? With gravy. Extreme sports that lead to broken bones, concussions or worse? Rad. You can do anything to abuse your Temple you want to as long as it's not smoking, drugs or possibly alcohol; then it's a sin.
Then there's drinking. Since the late 1700's here in America and in England, there has been a segment of the Church that rails against drinking alcohol I all forms and in any amount. It was not always this way. Various abbeys were regarded as great breweries. Monks INVENTED champaign. The Reformation, which most of the anti-drinking crowd is a proud part of, was, in part, launched/discussed/debated in pubs and taverns. Luther himself said this of the Reformation: "I opposed indulgences and all the papists, but never with force. I simply taught, preached and wrote God's Word; otherwise I did nothing. And while I slept [cf. Mark 4:26-29], or drank Wittenberg beer with my friends Philip and Amsdorf, the Word so greatly weakened the papacy that no prince or emperor ever inflicted such losses upon it."
I can't find a single verse in the entire Bible that says “Do not drink.” Not one. The bible repeatedly condemns being drunk but never once mentions drinking. Jesus mad wine for the wedding party!! He drank wine at the Passover! What sort of twisting of things do we have to do to come to the conclusion that drinking is a sin? I've heard the arguments that the wine Jesus made was non-alcoholic. I've been told about the word in Revelation 21:8 is pharmakeus which comes from pharmakon which means a drug, i.e. spell-giving potion. It, and it's derivatives, are translated as sorcery or witchcraft. Somehow this means that drinking is wrong. Taking aspirin, or other legal PHARMAceuticals is fine, but drinking is wrong. To be fair, there is a group that has seen the logical problem with this argument and forbid taking all medicines (ie drugs) as sin.
Jesus very specifically said that what we eat or drink does not “defile the temple of the Holy Spirit”. Really, Jesus said that.
“10And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: 11 it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.”
Matt 15:10-11 (ESV)”
17Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? 18But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.
Matt 15:17-19 (ESV)
Not only does he specifically say that what we put in our bodies does not defile us or is not sin, he goes on to list out things that ARE sin and do defile us.
Then we'll go to Halloween. It's a pagan holiday. It's roots are in ancient pagan traditions, child sacrificing and such. So it's bad. The spring solstice is also an ancient pagan holiday accompanied by the same kinds of acts that came with Halloween. The winter solstice is also a pagan holiday of high order. We celebrate two of these in the American Church every year. Easter (the spring solstice) and yep, Christmas (the winter). Easter is a form of the name Ishtar, a Babylonian goddess of war and marriage. Why is one pagan holiday evil while using the trappings of two others for our own purposes is fine? Why do we have Harvest festivals and Fall Celebrations the week of, or actually on Halloween and call these good when we are still essentially celebrating Halloween????
Again, we stress out over these things while we allow divorce to flourish. We even appoint divorced men and worse, remarried men to the eldership or pastorship clearly against God's will. Our kids our having sex. We gossip like lonely old women, usually under the guise of a prayer request. “Could you pray for Bertha? She found out Tom was cheating on here and really needs God's grace.” “Pray for Bob. He really needs God's provision. They've cut off his power and they may come take his car next week.” We judge each other at the drop of the hat over both Biblical and not-so Biblical things. We covet after things of this world all the while claiming it's the promises of God. We don't tell the lost about Jesus.
Lord, Lord. I didn't smoke or drink and I sat locked in my dark house hiding from Trick or Treaters.
41Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels: 42for I was hungry, and ye did not give me to eat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink; 43I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not; sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
Matt 25:41-43 (ASV)