A Hurting Soul
(I ***ed the name to preserve identity)
J*** wrote:
> But... I have a real hard time with being expected to love and worship a 
> deity who is just waiting for me to step a little bit out of line so he 
> can send me to hell to be tortured forever! Wouldn't God rather that we 
> love and honor Him because we do it with our own free will, rather than 
> being too scared not to?
Dear Sister, He DOES! The fact that we have free will is one of the things that cause this little problem for people. God did not want the "puppy dog" love but a love based on free will and reason. That is the why that verses like 1 John 2:3-4 are written as they are. See, we strive to follow His will, His commandments, His rules not because we have to but because we love Him! It is quite different from someone waiting and hoping you'll step out of line so you can be squashed. The most often quoted text, John 3:16 shows He made provision for His created so he would NOT have to destroy them along with the sin which He will destroy. This was not the move of an unloving God but an ever-loving God. It says He is not willing any should perish. He created us in His image! Wow, we even look like Him! But we were also given choice. We can choose to pay for our own sins if that is what we wish to do. We can also chose to accept Jesus as our sacrifice which covers, blots out and removes from us sin which will end up being placed on the old scapegoat's head at the time of the cleaning of the sanctuary, very similar to what the old testament showed us in the symbols they had for exactly that reason. It showed how sin was forgiven atoned for, cleansed from creation of which we are part, and placed on the head of the being who caused it in the first place. To often this understanding of the sacrificial system is just tossed out as people no longer slaughter innocent lambs, but see, they forget that Jesus IS that innocent lamb for us. We STILL very much rely on the sacrifice of an innocent!
> The same people who love to talk of hell and all the agony that awaits 
> (they always sound SO gleeful) insist that God LOVES us… but if God 
> truly loves us, why would He be like that? Looking for fault, nit-picky, 
> wanting everyone to conform to some impossible ideal...? That's the most 
> conditional love I've ever heard of!

The point is that sin itself is going to be eternally destroyed. It is NOT going to be allowed to continue to exist. This being the case, where is hell? A lot of people claim it is earth, ...they are correct! Now then the Bible also states in Isaiah 45:17-19, Eph 3:20-21 that the world is without end and we as saved will inhabit it for eternity, ...and they are correct! How do these two things fit together? The Bible quite plainly speaks of a second death. In other words, people who will NOT live for eternity but die! Sin is to be completely wiped out never to ever raise up again and for this to happen those unsaved will at sometime along with the deceiver, cease to exist. How does this happen? Well read Rev 20:10-21:8 and note that it speaks of death, not eternal life given those unsaved and the devil. Life eternal is reserved for the saved, not the damned!

> A friend suggested that I read the Bible with an open mind and pray, and 
> so I did. It made my feelings worse, not better. It only made me more 
> uncomfortable and added to my mental list of questions, doubts, and 
> worries. I'm afraid the OT depressed me terribly. I cannot revere and 
> worship a mean, petty, nasty, vengeful God, who acts like my last 
> employer. And when I read the Bible, it seems like I always run head-on 
> into one of the many verses that indicates that God just plain doesn't 
> like women, especially if, like me, they do not or cannot reproduce. He 
> seems to tolerate them, albeit as second-class citizens, but only if 
> they have children. A "barren" woman is totally disgraceful and useless. 
> As a matter of fact, one of the ways that God punishes a woman is to 
> "close her womb" so she can't conceive. There are all kinds of Levitical 
> laws that indicate clearly that women are basically dirty creatures and 
> less valuable than men.
So, what do you make of Gen 1:27? See, a great deal of assumptions are made from a sinful standpoint and not from God's standpoint. He did not create woman as a second class being! For example, God created man in His own image and the Bible says He was rather happy with what He had done! Gen 1:31 even states He thought it VERY good, as opposed to each of the other days previous creations which was only written of as good! Then we come to the fall of man in Chapter 3: and see what happens in verse 7. Was that Gods idea? Evidently not, as he asks a question in verse 11. Why then do most churches think the body obscene? God's image obscene?!! Why would a person ever have this idea? Some talk about the fact God sent them out of Eden in the skins of the first death ever recorded as His demanding clothing. If they truly thought that then we would have to be still wearing skins only because vegetable clothing was not acceptable to God according to verse 11, was it? Then we would also have to ask if God could command someone to sin. Well, no, as that couldn't make sense if there were also punishment for sin! So then what happens there in Isaiah 20:? See, we are teaching for doctrine the traditions of man! For the most part, we are not and have not been following God's leading since the beginning of time, but the other being's leading. That one who deceived Eve in the first place. Ever after, sin is the willful disobedience of God. It is like someone telling you that if you smoke you are going to get cancer. You ignore him and after twenty years of smoking, here you are with cancer! Is it the fault of that person who told you so long ago what would happen? No, you willfully disregarded his advice. Sin is much the same. Most of the time however we blame God for all of mans problems which we brought on by our willful disobedience. A great deal of the Old Testament is history of a people who disregarded God's leading and fell into exactly the consequences God told them would happen! It was NOT that God caused their problems! There are difficult passages alright which if not read in context of the rest of scripture show a VERY vengeful God. It is in fact the learning of God's love in spite of all the wrongful ideas we have which causes some of us to study scripture for years and years and STILL not know the mind of God! Actually, I have mostly found the strong women in the Bible made fewer mistakes than the men did!! The one thing the Bible does for us sometimes is like a mirror, show us where and when we fall short but it is not to squash us but to allow us to see where we need extra help! Again using the mirror example, it shows us the smudge on our forehead before it embarrasses us by have someone else draw attention to it in public! Not to judge others but to help us with ourselves!
> The NT was better... until I got to Paul's writings. And we're back to 
> women being second-class citizens, only useful as servants to men and 
> even a little stupid. For instance, men are made in "the image and glory 
> of God," but not women; they are only "the glory of the man". Wives are 
> to submit themselves to their husbands "in all things" as though 
> husbands are gods. Women are commanded to be silent in church- if they 
> want to know anything, they are supposed to wait and ask their husbands 
> at home because "it is a shame for women to speak in church." And I 
> think, Why? What's so "shameful" about a woman speaking in church? Why 
> is she less worthy than a man?

Again, we are looking at this with sin tainted vision and it is NOT the way we were created OR what God had in mind for us. For example, because slavery was common in Biblical times, slavery was also addressed to a point. It was not an ideal. It was in fact just a factor of the life of the times dealt with in the imperfect way of man. Notice Jesus had no real problem being around women of ANY human class! He talked with them just like they were His creation, which of course they are, and like they were people of value!

> I've been told that I just think too much. Part of me wishes I could 
> just have faith like other people do; I have been praying for it but 
> that doesn't seem to help either. Sometimes prayer, to me, is like 
> chattering away to a dial tone.

Faith is a problem for us and I mention often it was a regular saying of Jesus to say "oh ye of little faith" when talking even to his closest followers. In fact He stated if we had the faith even the size of a mustard seed, we could move mountains! I don't see a lot of mountains leaping around these days! Prayer is something very much needed to build even the little faith we DO have! To gain understanding of the Bible, and of ourselves we need guidance given by the Holy Spirit and yet with practice one can grieve away that same Holy Spirit. God however does NOT want us to not think! We need ask for Him to reveal to us what He would have us learn. We need to pray for discernment to be able to tell the words of the deceiver from those of the creator. We pray for guidance and understanding in our studies of the scriptures. We are NOT left on our own but were given the Holy Spirit to be our comfort and our guide. However, be quite aware that your life will never be the same!

> Organized religion scares me, especially when I look at history and what 
> people have done in the name of their Deity.

Well, you are not alone in that either! But look back at those Bible stories you have read. How many people were right in the time of Noah? ...the time of Sodom and Gomorrah? ...the time of Jesus? So why do we believe it would be much different today? In fact again Rev 17 speaks about a great mother church deceiving the world! We ought to be able to take a small hint here as to whom we are following. THINK! We have a Creator and a destroyer! Even in our words, we can see either creative or destructive words come out our mouths. So who are we following? Well, was the word/action/attitude creative or destructive? So WHOSE word/action/attitude was it? Not hard at all, right? So why is it we think getting into a war and killing off thousands of other of God's creation as something which comes from God? Why is it we think "God is on our side" when we set out to destroy any of His creation? Is it a creative or a destructive act? You now have its author!

> Bear with me, folks... I've been wrestling with all this for fifty years 
> now, and I'm thinking I probably will for another fifty. When I have 
> brought stuff like this up in Bible study groups I've been in on, both 
> IRL and online, the general response is a collective gasp and a "How 
> DARE you question God? Who do you think you are?" I know they look at me 
> like I'm some sort of a heretic Jezebel for sure. Perhaps I am. Maybe my 
> name ought to be J***abel!

If any of us were perfect we would have already been translated! Fact is, not one of us has done that in quite some time! I'll be happy to discuss these but we should try, I suppose, to address less points at a time! I skimmed this very much as the answers to the questions you asked would and HAVE required whole books on the subject and even then addressed only to the amount of light available at that time.

73 de N7PSV aka Rev. JW <n><

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