Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.

Our Sunday School teacher posted the note below on Facebook tonight, and I felt compelled to share it with you.  It would be wonderful to believe that attitudes like the one he mentions no longer exist.  That people today are capable of judgment based on skin color.  Sadly, our church is currently dealing with this issue. Big decisions are going to be made very soon in regards to church leadership...please pray that our church body is open to the will of God, and doesn't fall into the trap of relying solely on "rules taught by men".

Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.

Jesus said that, in the 7th chapter of John.

I came across that statement tonight in the Bible, on the same night I heard about someone saying that they disagreed with people marrying people who have skin coloring a few shades darker or lighter than theirs.

When asked why they believed that, the person really couldn't say, other than to mention that their parents had taught them that it was wrong, so they had taught their kids that it was wrong.

We have a lot of this "passed down" tradition in our country today, and I have to ask: Why?  Why believe something just because grandpa said he'd "disown" your mother if she married someone who was from a different ethnic background?  Why decide that just because someone from your parents' generation (or before) "felt very strongly" about something, that you will just go along with it forever?  Why teach something to your own children if you've really never given any thought to why you believe it, or whether it's even worth believing?

You see, I have to break something to you . . . Just because someone was born a few decades earlier than you doesn't mean that they can pronounce "forever truths" to you, and that you must pass them along without examining them.  Your parents could have been dead wrong.  Your grandparents could have been dead wrong.  Would you want to pass on falsehoods to future generations if you could avoid it?

I have read the Bible, the whole thing, many times, and I can assure you, there's nothing in there that says a man today can't marry a woman if she's from a different country or race.  God told a specific group of His chosen people not to marry certain foreign women, specifically because He knew that they would entice the men to worship other gods besides Him, at a time when they were extremely susceptible to complete destruction as a unique people.  But you simply can't stretch instructions like that to mean that a lighter man today can't marry a darker woman, nor can you say that a man with extra pigment in his skin can't marry a woman with very little.

(The Bible does warn believers that it is a bad idea for believers to be married to unbelievers, unless you were already married and one became a believer and one didn't.  With clearer teaching on this subject, from the Bible itself (1st Corinthians 7 and 2nd Corinthians 6, for example), you would think that believers would be extremely careful to avoid marrying people with different beliefs.  Oddly, however, very few people have feelings about this as strong as their feelings about darker-skinned people marrying lighter-skinned people, even if both of those people who look different are devoted followers of Christ!  How easy it has become for the Evil One to convince us to believe and do the exact opposite of what the Bible teaches!)

In the sad history of this world people have spent all kinds of time and energy trying to justify the persecution of various people groups.  Hitler hated the Jews, the Gypsies, and other people groups, and did all that he could to convince people that they were less-than-human and had to be destroyed.  White people in Europe and America a few hundred years ago made lots of money by convincing people that it was okay to buy and sell kidnapped Africans, because they were considered less-than-human.  Greed and selfishness led people to use even the Bible to support such insane ideas, and surprisingly, for many, it worked, and they were deceived.

We should be wiser than that by now, though.  We should know better.  Saying that it's wrong to marry someone just because their forefathers came from a hotter climate than mine is just silly, and there's nothing in the Bible that supports that.  Saying that is the same thing as saying that it was wrong for me, with my Norwegian/German/English pale-skinned ancestors, to marry my French-Canadian darker-skinned, dark-haired wife.  Nonsense!  God put us together, and what God has put together, no man should separate.

So I ask you -- and I'm not trying to slam your beliefs, but I'd like to ask you to examine them -- why do you believe it's wrong?  Upon what do you base your belief?  Have you honestly thought it through?  Or are you just saying you believe it because your parents or your grandparents did?

If it's just something that was passed down to you, I encourage you to base your beliefs on something more solid and eternal.  Check out God's word for yourself and see if what I'm saying is not in agreement with it.

In the 15th chapter of Matthew, Jesus quoted the Old Testament prophet Isaiah when he described the terrible habit the Pharisees had of passing down picky rules that God had not instituted:

‘These people honor me with their lips,
   but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
   their teachings are but rules taught by men.’

It is possible for people to consider themselves devoted followers of God, but be incorrect on important subjects, and pass down "rules taught by men" to their children.  This has been done in the past, and many of us still struggle with incorrect rules that have been a part of our lives for decades.

Because we know that this is a danger, we should be extremely careful not to pass things to our children until we know why we believe them, and we know that our beliefs are in accordance with God's will.  We need to test these things by looking for ourselves into what God's word says, and if we feel that we lack wisdom in these things, we must ask God to provide guidance.

"If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you."  James 1:5


Julie Tucker-Wolek said...

That is very powerful...and oh so true.. I was very lucky to be raised very open minded.... praying that your church doesn't become divided due to this issue :):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):)

Anonymous said...

Does seem strange that people still have those feelings and beliefs. We can only hope God opens their eyes and changes their hearts.

EverydayMe said...

I will be praying for your church and you... you are right what we believe... should be from the Word of God... but many times if you don't read the Word... some go by what they were taught... being in the Word is the way to find truth... the only way... thank you for sharing this... being reminded is a good thing... especially when we have children... we want then to KNOW what the word says... and we should be a reflection of it in our daily lives... this was beautiful.. pray.read.know... and the truth come... Blessings to you as you and church memebers go through this difficult time... {{hugs & prayers}} Michelle