Monday, December 22, 2008

Real Brothers, Real Sisters

When Dan Brown's controversial book "The Da Vinci Code" was published many people were outraged over its assertion that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were not only married but had a child. Apparently, that notion bothered people not only because it posits a sexually active Christ but also because it implies that there are descendants of Jesus alive today. While there's little or no Biblical evidence that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene or anyone else, there probably ARE descendants of Jesus alive now, albeit indirect ones. Why do I say this? Because Jesus had brothers and sisters. I know; I just wrote something that a lot of Christians will vehemently disagree with. For them, the idea that Jesus had siblings is as repulsive as the idea that He was married. But if you believe the Bible you can accept no other conclusion but that Jesus was the oldest of at least seven children.

In the Gospel accounts of Jesus's birth He is described as being Mary's first son, first as in other sons followed. The Gospel of Matthew provides the names of Mary's other sons: James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas (Matthew 13:55). Mary's daughters--Jesus's sisters--are not named but they are mentioned in the plural, so we know there were at least two of them. Later in the first Gospel--Matthew 12:46--Mary and Jesus's brothers are mentioned as wanting to speak with Him while He was preaching to a crowd. Jesus's brothers and sisters are also mentioned in the Gospels of Mark, Luke, and John and in at least two Pauline letters, clearly showing that Christ was not an only child. So, with all this Scriptural evidence attesting to the nature of Christ's family, why do many Christians reject the fact of His siblings? Answer: the unBiblical doctrine of Mary's perpetual virginity.

Both the Catholic and Orthodox churches teach that Mary never had sex, but remained virginal all her life. Clearly, if Jesus had brothers and sisters that doctrine crumbles. How, then, do the Catholic and Orthodox churches explain, or explain away, the references to Christ's siblings? The most popular explanation is that the brothers mentioned in verses like that of Matthew 12:46 are spiritual brothers. But this doesn't make sense. First of all Jesus, as mentioned above, is described as Mary's first son. If He was the first, then Mary had at least one more. Secondly, Catholics and the Orthodox never take the word "mother" in Matthew 12:46 and similar verses elsewhere to mean anything but a literal mother. Why, then, should the word "brothers" in those passages be interpreted as spiritual? Here is Matthew 12:46:

While Jesus was still speaking to the crowd his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to talk to him.

Clearly, from the context of the above verse "brothers" is a literal term. The men waiting with Mary to speak to Jesus were her sons, His siblings. Some Catholic and Orthodox Christians accept that the "brothers" in this passage are Jesus's literal, not spiritual, brothers but deny that they were Mary's children. Instead, they claim that the men were the children of Joseph by a previous wife. Unfortunately, the Bible does not support this claim. NOWHERE in Scripture is Joseph described as having any wife but Mary. And Scripture says that Joseph did "know" Mary after she gave birth to Jesus.

The doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary is false and needs to be discarded by anyone seriously committed to Biblical truth. Joseph and Mary were a normal married couple; they had sex with each other and conceived at least six children after Jesus. James, Joseph, Simon, Judas, and the unnamed girls were Jesus's siblings. They were His real brothers and real sisters and, in all probability, their descendants are walking the earth today. Imagine that. Relatives of Jesus alive today. That's way more cool, and way closer to what Scripture actually says, than a specious doctrine of phoney "purity". Mary had sex; she had children. Get over it.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

The Trinity Explained...Sort Of

If you're like me the doctrine of the Trinity has always befuddled you. The idea that God is one Being that exists in three Persons is confusing, to say the least. It also always seemed a little contradictory to me. How can Christians be monotheists yet believe that three separate beings are God? How can three be one? I've finally hit upon a way to explain the Trinity that works; an explanation that's both spiritually and intellectually satisfying, at least to me. I've come to think of the Trinity as a set of divine identical triplets. Before you accuse me of blasphemy or stupidity, hear me out.

My main sticking point with the doctrine and concept of the Trinity has always been that three is more than one. When you have two or more of something you can't call it one, unless you're dealing with identical multiples. The doctrine of the Trinity says that the members of the Godhead--Father, Son, and Holy Ghost--are three beings who are one in essence. And it's that "oneness of essence" that makes them one God. But they're still three Persons, so how could they be one in any way? Answer: they're identical triplets.

Think about it. Identical multiples are called that NOT because they look exactly alike, but because their DNA is 100% the same. Thus, while identical multiples consist of two or more separate people, their genetic essence is the same making them, genetically speaking, one person. This is how you can have two, three, or four separate individuals who, beneath the skin, are actually the same person. This is how you can have the Trinity. This is how Christians can believe that three persons are God while remaining true monotheists. The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are all God because their "genetic essence" is the same. This essence is what defines them, not their existence as separate beings.

This is how I understand the Trinity. An image of God as a set of divine, identical triplets may offend some people. I understand that. But I think it's more offensive to be unable to give a reasonable explanation of a key Christian doctrine. Pratically every church I've ever attended did a terrible job of explaining the Trinity. This contributed significantly to my divine discontents. Realizing that there are instances in the physical world where two or more beings are really one helps me to grasp this fact in the spiritual realm. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost really are one God. They are triplets. Understand?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Isn't It Strange?

This message was sent to me by a friend. As you read it I'm sure you'll feel that little twinge of guilt just as I did. Read it anyway, and pass it on.

Isn't It Strange?

Isn't it strange how a $20 bill seems like such a large amount when you donate it to church but such a small amount when you go shopping?

Isn't it strange how two hours seem so long when you're at church and so short when you're watching a good movie?

Isn't it strange that you can't find a word to say when you're praying but you have no trouble thinking what to talk about with a friend?

Isn't it strange how difficult and boring it is to read one chapter of the Bible but how easy it is to read 100 pages of a popular novel?

Isn't it strange how everyone wants front row tickets to concerts or games but do whatever is possible to sit in the last row at church?

Isn't it strange how we need to know about an event at church 2-3 weeks in advance so we can include it in our schedule but we can adjust our schedule for other events at the last minute?

Isn't it strange how difficult it is to learn a fact about God and share it with others but how easy it is to learn and repeat gossip?

Isn't it strange how we believe everything that magazines and newspapers say but question the words of the Bible?

Isn't it strange how everyone wants a place in heaven but they don't want to believe, do, or say anything to get there?

Isn't it strange how we forward e-mail jokes right away but hesitate to forward messages about God?


Now that you've read this message will you forward it to anyone you consider a friend, family, or even a foe? If you chose not to share HIS message you may deprive yourself of being blessed as well as depriving others who may need God in their lives.

Posting this message on my blog is my way of sharing it. I hope you share it, too.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

An Irish Blessing

I know it's a little late for St. Patrick's Day, but I found this Irish, guardian angel blessing while surfing blogs and just had to post it. Enjoy!

An Irish Blessing

A sunbeam to warm you
A moonbeam to charm you
A sheltering angel, so nothing can harm you.

Short, simple, and beautiful!

Monday, March 03, 2008


Here is a beautiful poem written by Denna who blogs at Two Little Darlings (she's in my blogroll). I asked her if I could put it on God and Me and she said yes. I love this poem because it affirms the Biblical truth that God supports and strengthens us in the bad times rather than always keeping us out of harm's way as the phony prosperity gospel asserts. So here's "Grace"; I hope you like it as much as I do.

God has not promised skies always blue,
flower-strewn pathways all our lives through;
God has not promised sun without rain,
joy without sorrow, peace without pain.

But God has promised strength for the day,
rest for the labor, light for the way;
Grace for the trails, help from above,
unfailing sympathy, undying love.

Isn't that beautiful?! What a warm, gentle, and lovely way Denna chose to speak Biblical truth to a Christian community too often looking for divine quick fixes to life's problems. I just hope Christians are listening.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Don't Blame The Church First

A couple of days ago I came across a book titled "unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity...And Why It Matters". The book was written by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons. Actually, I didn't come across the book itself but a review of it on a blog. I was intrigued by the information about the book that was in the review. Basically, this book is an in depth report on what young people--those 30 and under--think of Christianity. And the news isn't good. How should Christians respond to the negative impression so many in the younger generation have toward the faith? Not by blaming it all on the Church, which is what I fear some Christians will do. Let's take a closer look at the problem areas to see what Christians can do about them.

In "unChristian", the young complained that Christians were judgmental, anti-gay, hypocritical, too political, and sheltered. We might first ask where the young got these views. Of course, there are and always will be Christians who behave in unChristlike ways and it's highly likely that young people got their negative views of Christians partly from them. But I suspect that other, more calculating, sources implanted anti-Christian attitudes into the young's hearts and minds.

We all know that the media is dominated by irreligious people who use their position to voice their anti-Christian prejudices. I can remember '70's sitcoms such as The Jeffersons, All in the Family, and One Day at a Time, portraying Bible-believing Christians as narrow-minded, hypocritical, dumb, and/or bigoted. This has continued to this day. It's acceptable to mock and even to hate Christianity in popular culture. The relentless barrage of anti-Christian messages in popular entertainment can't help but leave a negative impression of Christians in people's minds. Christians who are inclined to blame the Church for it's poor image need to remember that and hold Hollywood accountable for it's anti-Christian bigotry.

Christians must get more involved in the media. No one but Christians are going to portray them and their beliefs accurately and sympathetically on film, in books, and on tv. They need to realize that and stop just criticizing Hollywood and start creating art and entertainment that winsomely conveys the Christian worldview. But what about the specific charges the young levelled against Christians? Well, let's take a closer look at those.


This one really surprised me. Just what do the young mean when they accuse Christians of being "sheltered"? Do they mean that Christians don't share a lot of the values of secular culture? Well, that's true. Christians who take their faith seriously are going to differ from their contemporaries by definition. But it's not because they're sheltered. On the contrary, many Christians became Christian because they saw way too much of what the unChristian world offered and found it wanting. In addition, most Christians live in the same neighborhoods, attend the same schools, and work at the same jobs as non-Christians. They're not holed up in monasteries or communes. So what's this business about them being sheltered? I think it reflects a deeply engrained ignorance of and bigotry against Christians on the part of those who make the accusation. The faithful should not be intimidated by it.


This is the big one. Of all the things it's wrong to be in our modern society, anti-gay is the "wrongest". Many of the younger generation seem to think that anti-gay sentiments among Christians makes them little better than Nazis. But is that fair? Yes, Bible-believing Christians hold that homosexuality is a sin, but they believe that other sexual practices, such as adultery and prostitution, are also sin. Why are they accused of hate and Naziism for disapproving of the former but not the latter? Where's the reasoning in that? And what about diversity and tolerance, the two most touted values of secular culture? Difference and the tolerance of difference are supposed to be great. So why no tolerance for Christians who think differently from non-Christians about homosexuality? Young people who condemn Christians for opposing homosexuality should be asked these questions. They should be made to defend their accusation. In the process they may learn that they've accepted pro-gay arguments unthinkingly and have judged Christians unfairly.


This common accusation against Christians is repeated by the young people in the book. But what do they mean when they accuse Christians of being "judgmental"? Do they mean that Christians make a distinction between right and wrong and stick to it? If so, is that so bad? And if it is, is that practice limited to Christians? Or do they mean that Christians condemn people unfairly, show no compassion for human weakness, and/or impose their morality on others? Well, we can all agree that unfairness and lack of compassion are wrong and Christians are sometimes guilty of this. But non-Christians are guilty of these things, too. Trying to make these faults peculiar to believers in Christ is itself a form of unfairness, lack of compassion, and judgmentalism.

And as for imposing their morality on others, this is really laughable. Yes, Christians have deeply held values. Yes, they often criticize society for violating those values. And they sometimes work for laws that reflect their morals. But every other group in America does the same thing, especially militant secularists. Secularists control the transmitters of culture: the schools, the media, and Hollywood. They use these outlets to proselytize their worldview, to the young especially. In the schools secularists have instituted sex ed classes that deliberately teach children an anti-Biblical sexual ethic. In their movies they routinely portray Christians as ignorant, bigoted, and dangerous. Ditto for their news media. And to ensure that their indoctrination goes unchallenged secularists have invented speech codes, written laws, and employed social stigmatization to stop "hate", i.e. dissent from their anti-Christian propaganda. So we should ask the young accusers, who's imposing their views on whom? Who's being judgmental?


This accusation against Christians is as old as the faith itself. Yes, there's hypocrisy among Christians. No, it's not peculiar to them. If you're going to look down on Christians for sometimes being hypocritical then you'll have to look down on every other religious and secular group. Hypocrisy is a human failing, not a Christian one. The young should remember that before they get too sanctimonious in their condemnation of the faithful.

Too Political

This one surprised me as much as the accusation that Christians were sheltered. Apparently, the young believe that Christians don't have the same civic rights and responsibilites as all other citizens. Gee, I wonder where they got that idea! While I do think that Christians sometimes put too much faith in politics to achieve what the Bible says only Christ can, they are totally within their right as Americans to organize politically. It would appear that the young, like many older people, object to Christian political activism because it's usually on the conservative side of the political aisle. If most Christians were voting for Democrats and their liberal policies their political involvement would be praised by most of those who now hold it in contempt. So the charge of "too political" is an expression of sour grapes not principle.

There you have it. The five big negatives the young have against Christians. And the reasons why those negatives aren't all Christians' fault. Of course, Christians should correct their unChristlike behavior where ever and when ever it arises. But they shouldn't capitulate to "blame the Church first" sentiment out of a misguided notion of love, meekness, or forgiveness. Rather, Christians should challenge their accusers to prove their accusations. They should boldly speak out against anti-Christian bigotry in the media, and they shouldn't hesitate to protect their rights through the courts. Christ told His followers to be not just gentle as doves but also wise as serpents. Fighting anti-Christian stereotypes and propaganda should bring out the serpent in them.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Why Not Married Priests?

I want it known from the beginning that I'm not anti-Catholic. I believe that Catholics are Christians and I DON'T believe that the Pope is out to take over the world with the Illuminati. However, I was raised Protestant and many things about Catholicism do baffle me. One of those things is the prohibition on married priests.

Growing up Prostestant I saw many married pastors; one was even in my extended family. In fact, virtually every pastor I knew anything about or whose church I attended was married. No, they weren't all paragons of marital virtue but being married and having children didn't hinder the performance of their pastoral duties. If anything, being married seemed to make pastors more approachable, more in tune with real life where most people married and had kids.

If you are having problems in the most intimate part of your life, seeking help from someone who's been there can be far more productive than asking advice from someone who has no personal experience of your situation. Yes, Catholic priests can teach people the Bible's commandments on the duties of husbands, wives, parents, and children. But there's a big difference between reading commandments and applying them in real life. No matter how well versed priests may be in Biblical family doctrine the fact is they have no experience living it. I've never understood why the Catholic Church doesn't realize that's a weakness.

But even more important than the question of personal experience is Biblical authority. The Bible is the only authority on Christian doctrine and practice. It is the only book which God has given to reveal His instructions on how Christians should live. No church, clergyman, or denomination has the right to require of Christians anything that God Himself doesn't. And that's what the Catholic Church is doing by requiring priestly celibacy.

I'll say it without equivocation, there is NO Biblical commandment for clerical celibacy. In both the Old and New Testaments priests, elders, deacons, and bishops weren't just married but were presumed to be so. Both Testaments gave instructions on how clerics were to handle their own families. In the New Testament, for instance, having his own children under control was a key factor in determining a man's fitness to be a leader in the Church. Clearly, such a standard would've been unnecessary if priests were required to be single.

Some Catholics I'm sure will argue that Jesus and Paul are the authority for the Church's celibacy doctrine. Jesus and Paul were not married, ergo priests shouldn't be either. The problems with that argument are obvious. First, Jesus and Paul weren't priests, certainly not in the Catholic understanding of the term. Rather, they were itinerant preachers unattached to any ecclesiastical organization. Further, while we know for sure that Paul was single Jesus' marital status isn't so clear cut.

Most people assume that Jesus was single because no wife is ever mentioned for Him. But that's an argument from silence and it's weak. It's like claiming that Jesus was illiterate because no mention is made of Him going to school. The fact is the Bible is silent on 95% of Jesus' life. His birth and His adolescent encounter with the Pharisees in the Temple are mentioned only briefly. His ministry, which began when He was 30, is the part of Jesus' life that the Bible is truly concerned with. Virtually everything else is ignored as irrelevant. So it shouldn't be surprising that Christ's wife, if she existed, didn't make it into Scripture. The absense of a messianic spouse gives no church the right to demand clerical bachelorhood. So I reiterate, the Catholic Church is stepping beyond its authority by forbidding it's priests to marry.

Why not married priests? God is the reason why not. Christians are to "obey God rather than men". When manmade rules and regulations conflict with those of God, God's prevail. The Bible is God's Word. It reveals His commandments, rules, and requirements for living the Christian life. No church, priest or pastor has the right or the authority to go beyond God's commands. Requiring people to follow rules that have no basis in Scripture is a sin. The Catholic Church is sinning when it demands priestly celibacy. Married men can serve God as priests; the Bible says so. It's time the Church put aside tradition and committed itself to God's way. Let the priests marry! The blessings of obedience will be bountiful.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Modern Modesty

The Bible has teachings on virtually every aspect of human life. Both the Old and New Testaments have many rules and commandments on how the faithful should live. Some of those rules deal with clothing. Biblical clothing rules range from the prohibition on cross dressing to commands for modest dress for women. It's the modest dress rules or, rather, their application that I want to discuss in this post.

I admire those Christians who take the Bible's teachings on modest dress seriously. So many of today's professed Christian women don't. Go to just about any church and you'll see women dressed in ways that are indistinguishable from non-Christian women. You won't see young ladies looking like Britney Spears in most churches but you will see young and old women alike sporting the latest, non-modest styles. This goes against the Bible's teaching that women are to dress modestly with shamefacedness and sobriety, and not dwell on being fashionistas, as we say today.

For Christian women who want to obey God current clothing styles offer few choices. Virtually everthing on the market for women today is designed to show off their sexuality. For truly modest wear Christians are forced to make their own clothes or buy from online Christian stores specializing in modest clothing. But there's a problem there, too. While looking at online modest dress stores I became painfully aware that most of them operate on the principle that modest is synonymous with old-fashioned, dowdy, and just plain ugly.

The devout Christian women and families who run most of these stores are well-intentioned, but they're fixated on 19th century pioneer wear for inspiration for the style of dresses and skirts they sale. I suspect that most pro-modesty Christian women don't really want to wear that stuff. Rather, I suspect they want to dress modestly without looking like they just walked off the set of Little House on the Prairie.

The Bible doesn't say that Laura Ingalls sets the standard for modest dress. If past clothing styles should be Christian women's inspiration for modest apparel shouldn't we look to the first century? Surely, the dress of New Testament Christians provides a more appropriate model of modesty than the dress of pioneer women who lived 1800 years later. But it's not necessary to look to the past at all to know what modesty consists of. It's possible to be both modern and modest.

An unlikely example of modern modesty for Chrisitian women is the late Princess Diana. In 1989 the princess visited the United Arab Emirates, a Muslim country. For her trip Diana had modest outfits specially made for her so she wouldn't offend Islamic sensibilities. Brightly colored tunics over loose pants and long sleeved, loose fitting, ankle length dresses paired with stylish accessories allowed Diana to wow the women of the Emirates without subverting their morals. The clothes are a perfect specimen of elegant and thoroughly modern modest dress. They can and should serve as an alternative inspiration for Christian women who want to be obey God without looking frumpy or excessively different from current fashion norms.

If looking like an extra for "Little House on the Prairie" suits you then by all means dress that way. Don't let me wrench you from your conviction. Just understand that that's not the only way to live out God's clothing requirements. There are valid alternative modes of dress that let women honor God while living in the here and now. It IS possible to be both modern and modest. We just need to open our minds a little to see that.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone! May 2008 bring many blessings to you!