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Archive for June, 2014

When I was seventeen, I lived with my family in Poplar Bluff, Missouri.  I had a Sunday school teacher who was a strict vegetarian.  In many ways, she was a very nice lady, but she had some weird ideas when it came to her vegetarianism.  She believed that killing animals for any reason was wrong and sinful.  (I wonder if she ever squashed a spider or swatted a fly in her home, but I digress.) 

During her class one Sunday morning, she told us that God never commanded Moses (or any other Old Testament prophet) to sacrifice animals.  I was, shall we say, surprised, to say the least. 

“What about all those scriptures in Exodus and Leviticus where God commands Moses and Aaron to kill sheep, goats, oxen, and so on?” I asked. 

“Oh, I’m sure that’s a mistranslation,” she replied.  “God would never command people to kill an animal.  Killing animals for any reason is a sin.  The sacrifices in the Old Testament were symbolic.  They never actually killed the animals.” 

“But,” I said, “the Lord gets pretty specific in the scriptures.  He says what parts of the animal are to be burned on the altar and what parts are to be eaten.  He talks about how the animal is to be cut up.  He even says how the meat is to be cooked.  When He commanded the Passover meal, He said that the Israelites had to eat the entire lamb or burn what was left.” 

She sighed, shook her head, and gave me an indulgent smile.  “No, He would never do that.  It’s wrong to kill animals or eat meat.  They’re God’s creatures, just like you and me.” 

“But that’s what it says in the Bible!” 

“No!” she snapped, losing patience with my obvious stupidity.  “If that’s what it says, that part is clearly NOT scripture.  I cannot believe in a God who would command anyone to kill an animal.” 

OK, I freely admit that, once upon a time, I was a headstrong and stubborn teenager.  Actually, I’m still pretty headstrong and stubborn.  (Just ask my wife and children.  They will readily attest to that.)  But I’m pretty sure my Sunday school teacher was wrong.  She had strong opinions about vegetarianism, and I think she interpreted the scripture through the lens of those strong opinions.  And if a scripture contradicted her personal philosophy, that scripture was either a mistranslation or not scripture at all.  And if a prophet said otherwise, that prophet was either misinformed or lying. 

Sadly, it wasn’t long after her proclamation that she stopped attending church.

In ancient times, people made unto themselves gods of wood and stone.  They imbued these gods with very human frailties.  The gods were capricious, petty, and cruel.  They conspired and plotted and fought among themselves.  They favored certain mortals and punished others for no apparent reason.  They were selfish and driven by lust.  They cheated on their spouses.  (Zeus had many affairs and fathered many demigod children.  One of my ancestors was supposedly fathered by Zeus.  Another was supposedly fathered by Odin.)  They were not impartial or fair or even particularly nice a lot of the time. 

It seems that, anciently, humans created gods in their own image.   After their own world-view, created they them. 

My Sunday school teacher could not conceive of God who didn’t agree with her. 

Today, it seems to me, that we are doing the same thing.  We have imagined up to ourselves a Jesus who tolerates everything and requires nothing.  We remember that He told the woman taken in adultery, “Neither do I condemn thee.”  (John 8:11)  But we seem to ignore the rest of the Lord’s words in that passage: “Go and sin no more.”  Yes, He forgave her, but He also commanded her to stop indulging in the sin. 

We pretend that God doesn’t condemn immorality.  We think it’s OK to engage in premarital sex, so long as two people are in love.  Recently, a major Christian church voted to sanction same-sex “marriage.” Comments on this news story included many which claimed that no scripture exists that forbids homosexual relations (or if such a scripture exists, it is mistranslated or not God’s word after all). 

We pretend that God wants us to take money or land or stuff from people that have so that we may give to those that have less, because that fits with popular social theory. 

We pretend that God will justify lying and deception if it is “for the greater good.” 

When did God rescind the Ten Commandments?  Did I miss the memo? 

We pretend that the greatest sin is intolerance.  We act as if anything is permissible so long as we don’t hurt someone’s feelings. 

Even Jesus took a whip and drove the money changers and their animals from the temple.  “And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables.”  (John 2:15)  He made a lot of people angry, it would seem.  He probably even hurt their feelings a little. 

The prophet Nephi said, “And there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God—he will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God.”  (2 Nephi 28:8) 

Describing those who teach such things, the prophet further stated, “They wear stiff necks and high heads; yea, and because of pride, and wickedness, and abominations, and whoredoms, they have all gone astray save it be a few, who are the humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men.  O the wise, and the learned, and the rich, that are puffed up in the pride of their hearts, and all those who preach false doctrines, and all those who commit whoredoms, and pervert the right way of the Lord, wo, wo, wo be unto them, saith the Lord God Almighty, for they shall be thrust down to hell!”  (2 Nephi 28:14-15, emphasis added) 

Not being a perfect man myself (once again, just ask my wife and kids), I’m not calling for anyone to be stoned to death for their sins.  I’ve got my own sins to contend with.  But I’m not going to “call evil good and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20), even if that hurts someone’s feelings or conflicts with their world-view or lifestyle choice.  However, I’m not going to persecute them for it either.  I won’t stand on their lawn and shout, “Here lives a sinner!” (I’ve had that experience.  It’s not fun.)  However, if someone comes to my home or to the Church or just approaches me on the street and wants to talk about it, I’m not going to lie about what I believe or avoid uncomfortable subjects.  I’m not going to pretend God hasn’t said the things He has said or ignore the parts of scripture that bother me or someone else. 

I’m seeking to learn God’s will, to be more like Him, not remake Him in my own image. 

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This is my first pass at a design for the freighter from my current novel, “Time’s Plague”.

 

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The back cover art for “The Prophecy” is finally in! 

Check it out on website for “The Children of Lilith”: http://www.unwillingchild.com/book3.html

 

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Author Interview

Check out my author interview on Kersten Campbell’s blog!

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Absolutely Beautiful

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We Get to Sing with Prince Hans from Frozen!

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