… religious freedom and the Bible …

The Bill of Rights
Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.  (The Constitution of the United States of America, The Bill of Rights, electronic ed. (Oak Harbor WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1998).

religiousfreedom

… it seems you can’t turn on a radio or tv without hearing someone talking about ‘religious freedom’.  the majority of the people who support these religious freedom laws claim to be Christians.   for going on 38 yrs, i have been a Christ follower.  i have read the bible through – cover to cover – in many different translations over the years, and i still can’t find anything that says that someone who follows Jesus, the Christ has a right to refuse service to anyone because of their piety.

… but, because i have not memorized the entire bible, i thought i would look and see if there was something i was missing.  and so i start with a concordance search for the word “religion”.  that word is used only 6 times in the New Testament.  in the book of James it is written:

“If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:26–27, NKJV)

… according to the Bible, ‘pure and undefiled religion’ is literally taking care of widows and orphans.

… interesting.

… ‘but the Bible says that homosexuals are bad and should die.’ – “If a man practices homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman, both men have committed a detestable act. They must both be put to death, for they are guilty of a capital offense.” (Leviticus 20:13, NLT)

… you can’t argue that. that is true.  the Bible also says that adulterers must die too.  –  ““If a man is discovered committing adultery, both he and the woman must die. In this way, you will purge Israel of such evil. “Suppose a man meets a young woman, a virgin who is engaged to be married, and he has sexual intercourse with her. If this happens within a town, you must take both of them to the gates of that town and stone them to death. The woman is guilty because she did not scream for help. The man must die because he violated another man’s wife. In this way, you will purge this evil from among you. “But if the man meets the engaged woman out in the country, and he rapes her, then only the man must die.” (Deuteronomy 22:22–25, NLT)

… and what did Jesus say about adultery? – “And I tell you this, whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery—unless his wife has been unfaithful.” (Matthew 19:9, NLT)

jesusandthewoman

… i have not heard of anyone refusing to take pictures at a ‘second marriage’ or bake a cake for a ‘second marriage’.  not saying that there aren’t some self-righteous people who do refuse them service, but i have never heard of that.

… and what about disobedient children?  ““Suppose a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father or mother, even though they discipline him. In such a case, the father and mother must take the son to the elders as they hold court at the town gate. The parents must say to the elders, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious and refuses to obey. He is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of his town must stone him to death. In this way, you will purge this evil from among you, and all Israel will hear about it and be afraid.” (Deuteronomy 21:18–21, NLT)

“Cursed is every man that continues not in all the words of this law to do them: and all the people shall say, So be it.” (Deuteronomy 27:26, Brenton LXX En)

… back in the time of Paul the Apostle, there were people of the religious right who claimed to be Christians but insisted on the following of the Law of Moses – especially circumcision.  in his letter to the Galatians, he wrote : “Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.”” (Galatians 3:11–12, ESV)

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,” (Romans 3:23–24, ESV)

… so, what is a Christian to do?

But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do to others as you would like them to do to you. “If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those The Sermon on the Mount Carl Bloch, 1890who love them! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return. “Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate. “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven.” (Luke 6:27–37, NLT)

… and then there is a letter that Paul the Apostle wrote to the church at Corinth.  he clarified what he had written earlier about not keeping company with “sexually immoral people”.  he wrote :

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”” (1 Corinthians 5:9–13, ESV)

.. so Paul tells us that the only people we are to discriminate against are those in the church who are guilty of “sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler.”

… i think we need to look at ‘greed’ for a minute.  the word translated as ‘greed’ or ‘covetousness’ is πλεονεξία [pleonexia /pleh·on·ex·ee·ah/].  Louw Nida defines it like this :  “a strong desire to acquire more and more material possessions or to possess more things than other people have, all irrespective of need—‘greed, avarice, covetousness.’ καὶ τὴν πλεονεξίαν ἥτις ἐστὶν εἰδωλολατρία ‘and greed, which is idolatry’ Col 3:5; καρδίαν γεγυμνασμένην πλεονεξίας ἔχοντες ‘they are experts in greed’ 2 Pe 2:14.” *

… ” to possess more things than other people have, all irrespective of need”

… people who call themselves Christians who drive luxury autos, live in mansions, and adorn themselves with gold, diamonds and jewels  – in a world where 21,000 people die of starvation DAILY are the definition of the word ‘greed’.  these are the ‘good christian businesses‘ that should be avoided like the plague – according to the Bible.

… on the night before Jesus died, there is a story about a woman with an ‘alabaster flask’ of ‘pure nard, very costly’.  basically, a very expensive perfumed oil was poured over Jesus head.  His disciples kinda freaked out that something so expensive would be ‘wasted’ and not sold for ‘more than 300 denarii’ to take care of the poor with.  it is my understanding that a ‘denarius’ was a Roman silver coin, equivalent to a laborer’s daily wage.  in this country, the minimum wage is $7.25/hr or $58/full day of labor.  this ‘nard’ was the modern equivalent of $17,400+.  even today that is very, very expensive.

… Jesus, who has spent the last 3 years with these disciples, teaching them what the law really says, showing them how to live it out, responds like this:  “But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” (Mark 14:6–9, ESV)

… Jesus was referring to a law that the disciples knew very well.  it is written :

“For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.” (Deuteronomy 15:11, ESV)

… many of the people who claim they are fighting for ‘religious freedom’ are the same impostor christians who are fighting against food programs for the poor, fighting against expanding health care to the poor, and passing laws that make homelessness illegal.  yes, in many cities in this country, Jesus would be thrown in jail for being homeless.

… it shouldn’t come as too big a surprise though.  Paul wrote in a letter to the pastor Timothy :  “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (2 Timothy 3:12–13, ESV)

… so you want your religion to be ‘pure and undefiled’? i would ask you to consider some friends of mine who can help you.

Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.
You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things.
” (Romans 1:28–2:1, NLT)

actual examples of persecution of people doing what Christ said :

90 yr old vet arrested for feeding homeless
33 Cities ban feeding homeless
$2,000 fine for feeding homeless without a permit

* Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 290–291.

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Author: orland

.. i was born into an average family in the mid-west of the United States of America. my parents were divorced when i was young. ... i have been fortunate to have experienced many things that only the rich get to see. i once stayed in the Presidential Suite of the Lai Lai Sheraton Hotel, in Taipei, Taiwan. this suite composed the top two floors of the Lai Lai, where my private room overlooked the city of Taipai. ... and i have spent time in the Federal Prison System of this country as well. ... i had a construction company on the road to 'success and prosperity' and fell pray to the lures of the American Christianity Syndrome. but thank the good LORD, He allowed it all to crash around me. ... now i am quite happy to be poor, relying only on Him ....