Views expressed in community voices do not represent opinions of The Gazette-Virginian or staff members.
I am writing in response to the letter to the editor from Troy Clem printed on Nov. 16 naming me and my response to Dane Skelton’s article.
I will start by saying that I respect both these men and our constitution that allows us all to speak so freely about our view. As I stated in the rebuttal to Dane Skelton, Troy and Dane have every right to their views on the topic, but neither have the right to tell anyone else that they are wrong is their views. My beliefs are between me and my God.
While I do not profess to be the expert on the Bible that Troy seems to be, I feel compelled to respond to clarify several points in his letter. Troy listed 17 passages from the Bible as justification for his views. I’ll address these later in my response.
The Bible is a complex document and having read every version written thus far in English, I find it an incredible collections of writings from great scholars over many centuries.
I have also read the 14 books of The Apocrypha, the so-called hidden text, that were not included in the 1611 King James Version of the Bible. The KJV is used by many Protestant Christian churches who believe in the idea of sola scriptura, or scripture alone. This is a theological doctrine that holds the Christian scriptures are the sole infallible source of authority for Christian faith and practice.
My Anglican/Episcopal faith believes in both the Bible and sacred tradition. This view is held by those claiming apostolic succession and include Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Assyrian and Anglican traditions, and refer to the foundations of the doctrinal and spiritual authority of Christianity (referring to the Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teaching of Jesus of Nazareth) and the Bible.
Clearly Troy and Dane follow the “scripture alone” doctrine as is their right. I find that to be a narrow view that fails to consider that being Christian does not mean I must adhere to their narrow view of life. This also means that I can be a Christian and not hold the prejudices they have against sexual orientation or a woman’s right to choose.
The Bible comes in many forms other than just the Christian Bible, including the Hebrew Bible and the Samaritan Pentateuch. The Bible is a collection of religious text in the form of an anthology linking beliefs that these text are revelations of God. I ascribe to the New International Version of the Bible and used the Study Edition published by Zondervan. The NIV is a new translation of the Holy Bible completed by over 100 scholars in 1966, and is written in clear and natural English.
I say all of this as a means of explaining that being Christian is more than being dedicated to the “scripture alone,” but to a set of standards that are identified many times over in the Bible. It is the purity of heart and each individual’s beliefs that make us Christian.
Troy noted Matthew 5:27-30 as one of 13 passages justifying his views. I submit that Matthew 5:1-12 tells us clearly how we should live as Christians. Ephesians 4:31-32 tells us to forgive one another as God in Christ forgave you.
It also is interesting to me that Troy places great emphasis on the “Word of God” in his letter. The Bible is referred to as the “Word of God,” meaning it can be considered a direct line of communication from the Lord, interpreted by the authors of the respective books.
Ten of the references listed by Troy are chapters written by the Apostle Paul. The Epistles of Paul, which account for 13 chapters of the New Testament, were letters written as a means of instructing people in his understanding of the Christian message.
Most of these were written to the cities in the Greek East between A.D. 49 and A. D. 67. Most of Troy’s passages come from 1 Corinthians, which was written to the church in Corinth based on information Paul received from several sources concerning the conditions in the city. It was well known that Corinth was a center for open and unbridled immorality and Paul’s Epistle was an attempt to change the ways of the Corinthians.
That said, I and many others do not see these letters to the cities in Greece and Rome as the “Word of God,” but of Paul’s views and his honorable attempts to change the “wicked ways” of the peoples of these areas.
If you use a “Red Letter” version of the Bible as I do, only the letters in red are attributed to Christ, of which here are none in any of Troy’s references except Matthew and Revelations. The harsh words in Paul’s letters were meant to shame and intimidate the recipients of the letters in order to change their behavior to what Paul believed to be right and not specifically words from God through Christ.
Troy and Dane’s views sadden me because they seem to have overlooked the good in people and that what another person believes does not make them a sinner, as Troy so graphically stated. My place in heaven is secured by my belief in my God, and so is the place in heaven secured for every man and woman regardless of their sexual orientation, over which they have no choice, because of their belief in their God.
Every Sunday, or whatever a person’s Sabbath Day might be, there are men, women and children worshipping in their church of choice where they are not judged by their sexual orientation, but by the way they live, love and serve their God. It is a rare day that I attend a church service that I don’t recognize another person there as being gay, and I share the same love and respect for them that I share for Troy and Dane, and the world is a much better place because of these wonderful Christians.