One of the growing trends that I have seen come to the surface in recent days is that an increasing number of people are putting their feelings over Scripture. The idea can be summed up in this statement “I feel that this is the right things, therefore, it must be the right thing”
This is not a new phenomenon. People have wrestled with the Bible and its teaching for years, tried to reconcile Scripture and culture and people have tried to understand some of the ‘harder’ passages or teachings of Scripture. But people have not always taken the Bible as what it is, God’s Word, instead they have tried to interpret it through their own cultural lens and by doing so they have tried to change its teachings. These changes of the Bible’s teaching can be seen in topics such as gender, sexuality, marriage, the nature of sin and doctrine.
Here are three brief thoughts about the dangers of changing Scripture based on our own feelings or cultural situations:
- We are fallen and so are our feelings
If people have a gut-feeling, if something feels right then some people argue that it must be right, even if the Bible clearly says that it isn’t!
In Genesis 3 we read about the fall of humanity, rejection of God, the beginning of death and separation from God. The Fall effected the whole of humanity, including our feelings.This doesn’t mean that all of our feelings are wrong and should have no bearing on our actions. We can use our emotions to gauge a situation or our response to something, but they should not be our guide because they are fallen.
The Bible speaks about people needing to wrestle against the flesh (Ephesians 6:12), that our sinfulness is deceitful (Hebrews 3:13) and we are called to be sober-minded (1 Peter 1:13). Taking these verses into consideration and taking an honest look at our sinful hearts, which naturally leads us towards sin and temptation, why would we use our feelings to re-interpret Scripture?
Instead of pursuing emotions, we should be pursuing Christ. Instead of submitting to our gut-instincts and feelings, we should be submitting to God, His Word and His desire for humanity. Hence, all areas of the life of a Christian should be subject to the Word of God and should be distinctly different from the world around us. Christians are called to be different in all areas of our lives not least including gender, sexuality, identity and obedience.
- God has spoken on many issues, but will we listen?
Other people know what the Bible teaches on certain topics but refuse to listen to it or acknowledge that it applies to them. Arguments in this category often include something like “that was specific to the culture of the time and it is not relevant today”.
I recently had a number of conversations with people regarding gender (specifically transgenderism) and they argued that the Bible had nothing to say about it, they didn’t see how the Bible’s teaching on gender is relevant to the topic of transgenderism. But this danger goes further than just the topic of transgenderism.
If people don’t like something, or feel uncomfortable about something, they seem to have a default avoidance setting, they walk away from it or if it’s in the Bible then they just skip that bit (examples of this would be Romans 1, 1 Corinthians 11, 1 Timothy 2 and 3, Ephesians 5… the list goes on).
But avoidance is not the answer!
When we purposefully decide to reject, or to acknowledge, the authority of God’s Word in our lives then we are putting ourselves above the Bible, putting our wil above God’s and setting up our own desires as the good thing in the world. Do you see how dangerous that is? The Bible is clear, its teaching is clear and right, will we listen to it?
This whole issue boils down to the next danger…
- Where do you put your emphasis, Scripture or culture?
Do we put our emphasis on God’s Word and its teaching, or do we put our emphasis on culture? I’ve noticed more and more Christians trying to change what Scripture teaches because it is more comfortable for them and for the culture that they live in. The problem with this is that, if Christians do this, then we are letting an ever changing culture determine the meaning of an unchangeable Word. It means that we are allowing current events and trends change the meaning of God’s inspired Word.
If we take the Bible as the Word of God, if we understand it as it was meant to then we will be different, our ideas will be different and we have a completely different worldview from the world. The growing trend is to change this, to make Christianity more comfortable, to impose current cultural norms on the Bible and on God and I honestly think that the damage of this approach is dangerous. However, the dangers will not been seen immediately but years down the line when people are not firm in their understanding of Scripture and people have a shallow view of God we will be able to look back and know why.
God is supreme, He is all-knowing, He is the One who is right and holy. Humanity is totally depraved and fallen, our hearts of prone to wander and sinful, we are not right and by nature not holy. Therefore, let’s let the Bible have the last say and not our feelings, not our ideologies and not our culture. Let God speak and let’s listen!