Dialog between Pauline and a Pastor

Christian News published this in late 2022.  It’s 21 pages long. This really is only for those who dare, but for those who do I think there is insight into those who came of age with the smartphone a given.

Dear Pauline:

               You were born into a conservative Lutheran household, but your parents made the mistake of thinking a small Christian college would be conservative and could give you a well-rounded education. The only thing it did was confirm for you that you are card-carrying member of the that denominational Club forever. No matter what you believe. No matter if you knew what you believe or not. This is the real background to many of your questions. Your email pleaded for truth even if it’s blunt. So here goes.



  1. The Old Testament has led me to feel like I’m accepted by God with an asterisk for being a woman. As though God is making an exception for my being born a woman. Paul says that women shouldn’t be pastors (1 Timothy 2:12), and if I’m being bitter, I can interpret his words to be saying that women shouldn’t hold any position of leadership at all. You’re being bitter but accurate. 1 Cor. 11:3 says as God is the head of Christ, and Christ is the head of man, so man is the head of woman. Furthermore, as the hymn says, “to be born of a woman He doth not despise.” It seems to be that you, above God and everyone else, despise being born not only of a woman but a woman. Embrace, reality Pauline not the fantasy that we can choose gender as we do clothing.
  2. I am constantly, constantly, having to fight sexism in my field and in my personal life. If a man says something inappropriate or touches me without permission, I have several options: I can laugh it off to avoid confrontation, while also indicating that it’s funny when it’s not. I can fall apart and cry, and come across as weak. I can get angry, and have people ask why I can’t take a joke. I can retaliate physically, and be labeled a psychotic bitch. And in every single one of those scenarios, I lose. My best option is to remain silent. And even then, I lose, because I’ve forfeited my voice. I see it everywhere I look. My mother and sister who have both been raped and abused, my friends who have been assaulted and attacked. And when I turn to the Bible for guidance, it feels like Paul is putting me in my place, and saying that, yes, I actually not only need to be silent, but I need to accept it. These are basic 5th Commandment issues. No one has the right to mistreat you in word or deed. Paul never says anything close to that. It wasn’t till I started working with college students at the turn of the century that I realized how often, how ordinary, what you describe is. I’m not saying men of my generation didn’t do that when we were your age, but even when still fleeing headlong from Christ and the Church, I didn’t do such things nor did the people I hung out with. Mansplaining, sexism, men abusing and mistreating women are real things. Feminism tells you they are they answer to these. They are not. They are an ideology that has declared war against God’s Order of Creation. And if they win, the real losers will be women.
  3. And yet, Jesus appeared to a woman first, which is the verse that’s always pointed out to me when I bring this up. People imply that I shouldn’t pay so much attention to the way women appear to be portrayed negatively, in favor of feeling better that Jesus appeared to a woman first, showing how highly He thought of women. So, what? All this was said about women in the Old Testament, and then Jesus appeared first to a woman to indicate that God didn’t mean it? It feels like people use this verse to placate me: “Oh, yes, it does say X in the Old Testament, but Jesus appeared to a woman first. And look, he rebuked Martha for telling Mary to do chores.” When I ask about the Old Testament, people are like, “Well, yeah it says that, but that’s not what it means.” But then no one tells me what it really means.
  4. Genesis 19:8 – Behold, I have two daughters who have no known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof. Lot had spent years living in a degenerate place. You can follow his path from choosing that area, moving into leadership, and finally having his daughters marry into this paganism. I think this reflects his fallenness. A society that abandons the natural function of women, has no use for them. Others have said, he offers his daughters, perhaps already married into their society and if not that, at least known by them, thinking they won’t accept. In any event, it is perverted no less so than ‘modern’ society thinking the answer to mothers having unwanted babies in their womb is to kill them.

Judges 19:24-27 – “Behold, here are my virgin daughter and his concubine. Let me bring them out now. Violate them and do with them what seems good to you, but against this man do not do this outrageous thing.” But the men would not listen to him. So the man seized his concubine and made her go out to them. And they knew her and abused her all night until the morning. And as the dawn began to break, they let her go. And as morning appeared, the woman came and feel down at the foot of the man’s house where her master was, until it was light.

How is this even slightly acceptable? How is this an appropriate response? “Don’t rape the men, but by all means, please rape these women instead.” From what I’ve ready, Lot was apparently bluffing, but what does it matter whether he’s bluffing or not (Gnuse 71)? How is it acceptable to offer to let men rape your daughters in exchange for protecting someone else? Why not just protect all of them? If God loves men and women equally, why on earth would He permit this? Even if “that’s how it was done,” God was the one making laws for Israel. Why didn’t He stop this? Why didn’t He tell them that it wasn’t allowed? Why didn’t He protect women like me? This is the time in the Old Testament church when their was no king in Israel and everyone did as he pleased. Read the interchange between Micah and mother where the son is blessed for stealing his mother’s money. She gives it back to him and he makes an idol. This is one screwed up time. Much like today when everyone is free to do as they please with no judgment other than as long as it is between consenting adults. At times like these, the very times feminism, liberalism, wokeism is pushing, women are the losers. But really, it’s your last sentence that this is really about. “Why didn’t He protect women like me?” He has; He does; He will. But then why do bad things happen to me? I can only tell you it can’t be to pay for your sins since Christ Jesus did that. It can’t be because His holy angel failed to be with you. I can also tell you that you can stop asking that ‘why’ question and all the others that are whipping you away from your Savior. Jesus alone rightly asked the ‘why’ question on the cross, and heaven didn’t answer Him in order to assure you that all the things that drive ‘why’ from your lips not a one of them is about God punishing you to pay for sins.

  • Exodus 22:18 – You shall not permit a sorceress to live. 

Why don’t we hear about sorcerers? I assume men performed evil magic, too. I get that it might imply both men and women, but why are women singled out as the evildoer? When mankind is referred to, it is understood to mean both men and women. But if men are the go-to gender for referring to both men and women, why not use men here as well? Or is it just more convenient to throw women under the bus?  Sorcerers are condemned in Deut. 18:10 and Mal. 3:5. Why not here, could be because the context is about women. Interestingly Mal. 3:5 is in the context of those who oppress the widow and the orphans. The last is really the word ‘fatherless’ and that brings us back to how you think of yourself: i.e. fatherless. More on this later.

  • Leviticus 20:18 – If a man lies with a woman during her menstrual period and uncovers her nakedness, he has made naked her fountain, and she has uncovered the fountain of her blood. Both of them shall be cut off from among their people.

I know plenty of women who have sex on their period. Why is this so bad? Is it really a sin?

It’s frustrating because so often today, boys and men see periods as disgusting and gross, and women are taught that it’s something to hide and be ashamed of. People in society are pushing back against that and saying that periods are not something to hide, and that men need to stop shaming women for it and being disgusted by it. But how can they do that, when boys are being brought up reading the Bible, which, if you don’t understand these verses (which I didn’t at 10 years old) is telling them that periods are disgusting? How can we expect them to know any different when we’re literally teaching them that is the case? And if that’s not what the verses are saying, why aren’t churches doing a better job at explaining that, so girls don’t grow up being ashamed, and boys don’t grow up shaming them? Had you ever darkened the door of one of my Bible studies you would have heard it addressed by me many, many times. It’s not about what is objectively disgusting, but what God declares unclean. A woman’s period is unclean, as is a man after ejaculating. These are unclean because these are the means of reproducing life, and after the Fall, all we can reproduce is sinful, fallen life. That, by the way, is why a woman giving birth to a girl is unclean for twice as long as a boy. Not because God hates women – and your point of view is 125 years old, so stop posing as avantgarde. Your take on virtually all of these passages is found in Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s 1895 The Woman’s Bible. Back to my point: Adam named Eve, Eve, because she was the mother of all the living. After the Fall she is the fountainhead of fallen, dying life. All those regulations are not about her being objectively dirty – anymore than being a leper was – but about it is God’s Word alone that declares what is clean and unclean. Now skip ahead to Acts 10 and hear God thunder at Peter: “What I have declared clean don’t you declare unclean.” All the Levitical laws about bodily fluids, food, clean and unclean animals are not about moral purity. The moral law is written in the human heart; the civil and ceremonial law are not. Nobody naturally despises bacon, do they? This is from a 19th century commentary on Luke: “’to impress upon the mind a deep horror of everything that is and is called death in the creature, and thereby to foster an utter abhorrence of everything that is called sin, and also to the constant humiliation of fallen man, to remind him that in all the leading processes of the natural life – generation, birth, eating, disease, death – how everything even his own bodily nature, lies under the curse of sins so that the law might become a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, and awaken and sustain the longing for a Redeemer from the curse which had fallen upon his body.”

  • Deuteronomy 21:14 – When you go out to war against your enemies, and the Lord your God gives them into your hand and you take them captive, and you see among the captives a beautiful woman, and you desire to take her to be your wife, and you bring her home to your house, she shall shave her head and pare her nails. And she shall take off the clothes in which she was captured and shall remain in your house and lament her father and her mother a full month. After that you may go in to her and be her husband, and she shall be your wife. But if you no longer delight in her, you shall let her go where she wants. But you shall not sell her for money, nor shall you treat her as a slave, since you have humiliated her.

Is that what I need to be thankful for? In return for all that’s written about women, I should be thankful that women prisoners, who were forced to marry men, weren’t forced into slavery or sold when the men got tired of them? That’s the good news? And again, if I’m taking it too literally or I’m taking it out of context, why hasn’t The Church bothered to explain verses like these? They’re complicated and they’re messy, for sure, but those are the verses that people need to have explained the most. I don’t understand why everyone is so surprised that I find this so offensive. Why would anyone think I wouldn’t have questions about this? You could read Origen or Clement of Alexandria on this. They struggle with them too. Origen, big surprise here, takes them as a warning to be careful around the spoils of pagan learning. Clement says, “The [Deuteronomic] law wishes males to have responsible sexual relations with their marriage partners, solely for the generation of children. This is clear when a bachelor is prevented from enjoying immediate sexual relations with a woman prisoner of war. If he once falls in love with her, he must let her cut her hair short and mourn for thirty days. If even so his desire has not faded away, then he may father children by her. The fixed period of time enabled the overpowering impulse to be scrutinized and to turn into a more rational appetency” (ACC, OT III, 309). The Lex Talionis that people of your generation like to assume they in the 21st century are above and so call it barbarism. That’s what you’re doing with this passage. As the Lex Talionis actually limited punishment in a way that was not usually done, so compare how captives of war were treated in say Egyptian or Assyrian society?

  • Deuteronomy 22:20-21 – But if it is true, that evidence of virginity was not found in the young woman, then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones, because she has done an outrageous thing in Israel by whoring in her father’s house. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

What about men who aren’t virgins upon marriage? Are they to suffer the same fate? If so, why are women the only ones mentioned? And if not, why not? Because in today’s society, this is still how it plays out. Women are shamed for having sex, while men are congratulated for it. I saw a comment on a social media post that said “a lock that can be opened by many keys is a bad lock, a key that can open many locks is a master key.” So men are congratulated for sleeping with as many women as possible, and the women (who, by the way, the men need to participate in sex as often as possible in order for the men to get those congratulations), are expected to sleep with only one man their whole lives. How are men going to sleep with as many women as possible if women only are allowed one man? The double standards are impossible.

If men are supposed to be virgins as well, why doesn’t the Bible make that clearer? Is it just because there’s no physical way to tell that a man is not a virgin, whereas with a woman there (supposedly) is? And if that’s the case, why didn’t God do something about that when He created human beings? Why are women the ones who have to take the hit for this, and men get away with it? In Deuteronomy 22:22, it says that “if a man is found lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman. So you shall purge the evil from Israel.” So the man is punished for having sex with another man’s wife, but not for sex in general, which again, brings me back to why does it seem that women are punished but not men?

And if there are other ways to talk about verses discussing homosexuality (which will be discussed in further questions), are there also other ways to talk about verses discussing a girl not being a virgin? Could these verses only imply a woman who was a prostitute, not one that entered into a consensual sexual relationship outside of marriage? You’re very far gone now Pauline. Yes, there is a double-standard in society, but is there in the 6th Commandment? The OT Church waited for the Promised Seed, the Seed of a Woman, which is not how people were normally described. They were the seed of men. We know, but not till Isaiah, that this means a virgin will conceive. Furthermore, only by knowing a bride was virgin could the paternity of your child be guaranteed. I too have often puzzled that they could be so sure about the evidence of virginity. I conclude that those who had the urim and thummim to tell them definitely what to do when could certainly have consulted that in difficult cases. You, on the other hand, look at this text with 21st century jaded, skeptical eyes and conclude it’s more evidence that God hates you.

  • Deuteronomy 22:23-24 – If there is a betrothed virgin, and a man meets her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbor’s wife. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

The two are punished because they slept together, and it sounds consensual. The woman is punished for the act itself. The man is punished for violating his neighbor’s wife, again, not for having sex. Which, again, is frustrating.

Deuteronomy 22:28-29 – If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he has violated her. He may not divorce her all his days.  

So now women have to marry the men who put them through hell and raped them? I get that it would be hard for a woman who was raped to get married because women were seen as less valuable if they weren’t virgins and “that was the way it was,” but why wouldn’t God have made provisions for that if that was the case? Why make the solution forcing the women to marry the men who raped them? That’s a form of torture in and of itself. Living every day of your life with the man who did the worst possible thing to you he could? Why would God force that on a woman? You write as if no one at anytime had addressed your issues when commentators ancient and modern have. In the first case, by not crying for help the woman was consenting to the fornication. The man of course is punished for the sexual intercourse; that’s what it means by “because he violated his neighbor’s wife.” As to your great umbrage, which surely smacks of self-righteousness and therefore not a genuine inquiry but a rant, “It is assumed as self-evident here, that such a right [to refuse the marriage] was possessed by the father” (Keil & Delitzsch, III, 412). But you can’t assume this because of two things: The word ‘father’ makes you irrational and you assume that God hates women.

  1. Deuteronomy 23:1-2 – No one whose testicles are crushed or whose male organ is cut off shall enter the assembly of the Lord. No one born of a forbidden union may enter the assembly of the Lord. Even to the tenth generation, none of his descendants may enter the assembly of the Lord.

Why does God appear to be creating outcasts? I don’t get it. This makes no sense of a loving God. Physical characteristics from who knows what kind of traumatic accidents are going to prevent you from worshiping God with others? Reading verses like this, I don’t know how to go out and share God’s Word because when people ask me about verses like this, I don’t know what to tell them. Children born of a forbidden union are outcasts? Plenty of children today were born as a result of forbidden unions, and yet they’re not forbidden in worship services. Again, if things changed, where did God permit the change? And why would He even make such rules in the first place? Why would he punish children for things that they had absolutely no responsibility for? Again you confuse OT ceremonial laws with moral truths. It doesn’t say they aren’t forgiven, going to heaven or saved. It’s whether they can join in the outward assembly. And think of it: a man with messed up genitalia is forbidden to enter the assembly. Nothing about a woman. And drop the act of the questioner who is asking what no one dare before. Any commentator or study Bible has notes on this. But no answer is good enough for you. See Pauline, that’s Satan. He always is asking: “Did God really say?”

Deuteronomy 23-3-8 – No Ammonite or Moabite may enter the assembly of the Lord. Even to the tenth generation, none of them may enter the assembly of the Lord forever, because they did not meet you with bread and with water on the way, when you came out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you…You shall not abhor an Edomite, for he is your brother. You shall not abhor an Egyptian, because you were a sojourner in his land. Children born to them in the third generation may enter the assembly of the Lord.

Again, I just don’t get it. Ammonite and Moabites were punished to the tenth generation for not offering bread and water, but the Egyptians were given a lighter sentence after enslaving the people of Israel, simply because the Israelites were sojourners in Egypt? Again and again, you pose the “how could a loving God do…” Don’t you see Pauline: That question says you are more loving the God. Also, because you would do things differently, you are smarter than Him. The only thing I can tell you drop-dead for sure I would do different than He did is that I would never, ever give a child of mine (Yes even a girl, can you believe it?) to suffer and die for anyone. And I sure wouldn’t forgive the sins of people shaking their fists at heaven saying they have a right to be mad, bitter with God, but God says, “While we’re still enemies Christ died for us.”

  1. Proverbs 31:3 – Do not give your strength to women, your ways to those who destroy kings.

Why are women talked about like this? If that’s “just the way it was,” God still could have prevented that kind of language, these types of comparisons. The Bible is God’s inspired Word. If He didn’t want it written like that, why didn’t He prevent it? And if He did want it written like that, why does He equate giving strength to a woman with destroying kings?

  1. 1 Corinthians 11:3-9 – But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven. For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head. For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.

Here’s my thing: the head of the household is the man, the husband. He’s the one who is supposed to instruct his family. He didn’t teach me the Ten Commandments and their meanings. He didn’t teach me the Apostles Creed and its meaning. He didn’t teach me the Lord’s Prayer in multiple languages. My mom did. And my pastor growing up said something similar: that it was his wife that did the teaching. So why aren’t men being held accountable? Why did my pastor get to just laugh it off and say what a wonderful wife he had, as though it was funny when he didn’t live up to his responsibilities, but had the audacity to require my mom to return to her emotionally abusive, but not physically abusive or unfaithful husband? Why isn’t God holding them responsible for their failures? Moreover, why are male pastors telling my mother she has to stay with her abusive husband (punishing her for his failures), but no one mentions the fact that my father never lived up to his biblical responsibility to teach his family? That this pastor had the audacity to tell my mother she had to obey him, when the pastor himself wasn’t even living up to the responsibilities he had? I don’t understand the standards. So you were raised like Pastor Timothy. His lousy father didn’t teach him either, but his mother and grandmother did. The passages about being the head aren’t addressed to wives to make their husband the head or to pastors to make the male members heads, but to the men themselves. Apparently, Moses had a crappy father do. His mother and sister are the ones who do everything to preserve his life. While we’re at it, Eli, Samuel, and David were just as bad, and none of them seemed to learn from the judgment that befell the one before them. To answer your complaints about father and pastors, one has to assume 1) You do know all the facts. 2) You are accurately reporting them. These are huge assumptions to make about a child in a home in probably a very complicated, difficult situation. Rather than thank God and those people, like your mom, who preserved you during these times, you throw a tantrum about why they didn’t do more.

  1. 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 – …the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.

Again, why did God have this law? When did it change? How did it change? And if it didn’t, why are churches not abiding by the law? Is it because too many people will turn away from it? If so, why should that make a difference if this is God’s law? Scripture interprets Scripture. Paul explains in 1 Timothy 2:15 what he means by keep silent: Not to teach or have authority over a man. The citation ‘as the Law also says” is huge. By not citing a passage, Paul is saying, “as the entire Old Testament says”, i.e. this is an obvious point that the Church, with a view exceptions, recognized till the 19th century. But a post-moderns like yourself who have little knowledge or appreciation for history, church or otherwise, have little ability to even understand how far our world has fallen.

  1. Ephesians 5:22-33 – Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of the water with the word, so that He might present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes it and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

And yet, my father didn’t do that, but more people focused on mom continuing to live up to her responsibilities according to this verse, than correcting my father for not living up to his. And this is putting women in the place of needing saving, being unclean, and men in the position where they are the “savior.” And I get it doesn’t mean that, but people take it that way enough for it to be noticeable in society, but not provable enough that it’s tied to the church. It feels like this just stokes the flames, but I have no right to say that about God’s Word. We understand. You had the worse father in the world and no one saved you from him. You were beaten, abused in word and deed, starved, not clothed, not educated, not protected. Wait a minute. None of those things are true. He didn’t live up to Eph. 5:22-33. No, sinful husband does, ever. You need a dose of Jordan Peterson just telling you like it is. Millions, literally millions and millions of girls (and boys),have fathers who fail the standard of Eph. 5:22-33, but they don’t end up sniveling neurotics like yourself. That’s a question you can ask and answer, yet we both know you haven’t and won’t. Your answer is to “Go Ask Alice.”

  1. Colossians 3:18 – Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.

Again, great sentiment, but when questions are raised, people always direct me towards the direction to the husbands: “love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.” My mother is, and one day I will be, expected to submit to my husband. When abuse occurs, we always seem to point women toward the direction to wives’ submission as opposed to correcting husbands. People tell me, “it’s not just women who are given instruction; men were given rules, too.” But when my father doesn’t follow the command, no one seems to care. But when my mom wants to drift from the rules for wives, everyone has something to say about it. You address the one, male or female, husband or wife, presenting the problem. Just as many men have complained to me about their wives not standing under them, and I point them to the passages about loving their wife as Christ did His Church, and I don’t say anything at all to the wife unless she comes in with him. Pauline, don’t even think about getting married. You have no intention of standing under anyone, not even God Himself as evidence by your treatment of the Word of God. Isaiah 66:2 says, “’For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being,’” declares the Lord. “’But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.’” You don’t tremble. You at best rant and at worst mock.

  1. 1 Timothy 2:8-15 – I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarrelling; likewise also that women should adorn them selves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper or women who profess godliness – with good works. Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing – if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

Paul said that women shouldn’t adorn themselves (1 Timothy 2:10) or serve in the church (1 Timothy 2:12). I’m not repenting every day of wearing earrings since I’ve gotten my ears pierced – women aren’t repenting every time they serve as an usher, or board member, or even as a priest. If Paul says women shouldn’t serve and shouldn’t adorn themselves, doesn’t that make those acts sinful? And if they’re sins, are we going to hell for not repenting of them? And if they’re not sins, why hasn’t someone explained that and made it clear? And if it’s okay to wear earrings, but it’s not okay for women to serve, where have we found the evidence that we are allowed to separate one statement as a sin and one as not a sin? If it’s not a sin, when did God change the law? Did God direct Paul to say this, is Paul speaking for God here, or is this just Paul’s opinion?

If I’m taking any of this too literally or out of context, how should I be taking it? And if there’s a different way, a better way, to take it, then why isn’t everyone taking it that way? Why isn’t the true meaning of these verses spoken of more openly? Why aren’t pastor teaching that version? It feels like people are trying to hide the true meaning of the words in order to keep women in their place.

And if the argument is that I’m taking them out of context, or that I’m just pulling all the really harsh ones, I can respect that. But then where are the ones that portray men in the same light that these verses portray women?

And if it truly is just “the way it was then,” why didn’t God do something to protect the women who would come after? Why didn’t He put something in place to protect me? Or does it not matter? Would God prefer it to be now as it was then?

And children. I’m apparently going to be saved through childbearing. What if I don’t want children? Obviously, I don’t think God is going to send me tell hell for it, so what does He actually mean here? I don’t want to ever, ever have children. What are the implications for me based on this verse? The denomination you come out of has the best treatment of this. Yet, you have not sought it out and I doubt care to. You pose as a pious person who just can’t understand this or that only to end in screeds about how unjust, unfair, and uncaring God is. David was speaking of you when in 2 Samuel 22:27 he praised God for doing this: “with the purified you deal purely, and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous.” Your words drip with all the pain of one tortured, and rather than repent and accept your blame, you blame everyone else but yourself.

  1. Titus 2:3-5 – Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children and to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

And I don’t care what in Psalms and Proverbs talks about women being wonderful; I want to know why these verses say what they do, not know that other verses speak well of women. Because my mother’s mother taught her submission, and now she won’t leave her abusive husband. My mother tried to teach me submission, and I got angry. You are convicted by God’s Word out of your own mouth. You willfully revile the Word of God rather than do a simple Google search where there are uncountable Biblical, faithful, clear explanations of this passage.

  1. 1 Peter 3:1-7 – Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external – the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear – but let your adorning be the hidden person of the hear with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God use dot adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

Am I just surrounded by a culture that is drawing me away, or do I have legit reason to be frustrated by this? I don’t want to be the weaker vessel, I want to be equal. Again, we’ve got mentions of braids and jewelry that I wear all the time – this is one of the ones I hear tied to the “that’s the way it was then” rule, except I’ve never seen where God changed the law after that, so I have to assume He never did.

And the verses say that wives should be subject to their husbands, so that even if the husbands don’t obey the word (in my family’s case, my father teaching us and loving my mother), they may be won over. So women have to suffer through the abuse in the hopes that they win their husbands over, all the while no one bothers to correct the husbands, and only insist that the wives follow the rules laid out for them in these verses? You do realize Pauline that all your questions are of the “have you stop beating your wife yet” variety, don’t you? Worse, they are convoluted in thinking and expression. You drag repeated red-herrings through almost everyone of them. And the trump card is always: how no one saved you, protected you, helped you as if you were the most abused child on earth when in fact you were raised in a good home where mother and father sacrificed on your behalf. Women are the weaker vessel by virtue of the fact they have men as their head. This places them in a vulnerable position. As in the military – that’s where the Greek term for submit comes from – only someone above you in rank can abuse authority. That’s the case with men and women, ergo, that places woman in a weaker position. It really not worth anybody’s time to tell you what you could find out for yourself but are either too lazy, broken, or pig-headed to look into. It’s not a matter of never wearing certain things but of what your adorning really is. You just spit your bile “So women have to suffer though the abuse” as if that was the subject when it’s not. Read rather than emote, Pauline. And you don’t even take the example given by the Holy Ghost Himself of Abraham and Sarah. How stupid and unloving was Abraham to twice expose his wife to fornication. Once, Abraham is confronted for listening to his wife another time he is confronted for not listening to his wife. There God goes again being ‘perverse’ to you. Poor, poor Pauline. Your righteous indignation is so justified. No, it’s laughable.

  1. I don’t understand, with all of these verses, why people are shocked that I feel less valued. How can I not? And if I’m not less valued, why, when I expressed those feelings of being of lesser value, would the Church not have loudly objected and clearly explained to me why that wasn’t the case and why I was of equal value? If the church doesn’t want me to feel less valued, why did authority figures silence me instead of explaining it to me? Did they think I was one day going to wake up and suddenly magically understand? Did they think maturity would bring on an understanding of why verses condemn women for things that men seem to get away with? Maturity has only made me angrier because I feel and have felt the double standards every day in the workplace, in school, and on the street. It feels like The Church was trying to say, “Well, you are valued less, but we just don’t want to tell you that.” Congratulations Pauline, you have been successfully indoctrinated by the Devil, the World, and your own flesh. The Devil has taught you the only question worth asking is: Did God really say? The world – via unbelieving Judaism and pagan Aristotle has taught you that is it better to be made a man than a woman; as well as this 19th century “wisdom” that “Texas is paradise for men and dogs, hell for women and horses”. N.B. men are dogs in this quote. How true to my experience. And your flesh isn’t satisfied unless God explains everything to your satisfaction. Pauline, you are not a Bible-believer. He who only believes the Bible when it makes sense to them, doesn’t believe the Bible but themselves. That’s you. Now your salvation, your future, your sins are up to you too. See how that works out for you.


  • The argument I’ve heard in support of a LGBTQ+ lifestyle is that “we don’t do things that way anymore,” with “that way” being the way of the Old Testament. That’s a dangerous road to go down, and it almost feels like people are picking and choosing what they want to accept and what they don’t. How are we deciding which of God’s laws we’re keeping and which ones we’re throwing out because they don’t suit us in the twenty-first century anymore?

But is it true? Do we not do things that way anymore, and therefore the LGBTQ+ lifestyle is now acceptable to God, whereas thousands of years ago it wasn’t? And when did God decide it was acceptable? And when did He tell us it was? Where do we find the evidence that it was not okay then, but it is okay now?

And if we’re saying things changed between the Old Testament and the New Testament, then we have to go back to the first question because Paul gave the instructions on women serving and adorning themselves in the New Testament, so why were there still restrictions on women then if things changed between the Old and the New Testament?

Not to mention, God specifically mentions the LGBTQ+ lifestyle in the Old Testament. Paul is the one who brought up women not serving in the church and not wearing jewelry. Does that make a difference? Or if Paul was speaking for God, does that make it one and the same? Because, personally, I’m not the biggest fan of Paul. If we’re saying that things changed between the Old and the New Testament, did Paul push his own beliefs onto people? Which sounds like a horrible conspiracy theory because surely God would have prevented that, or at least kept it out of the Bible since the Bible is the inspired word of God, but was that the case, since “things changed?”

Or by “things changed between the Old and the New Testament,” do we not really mean the Old Testament in the days of Mount Sinai and the New Testament in the days of Paul, but actually mean that things changed between the Old Testament of Mount Sinai and the New Testament of 2021? By “New Testament,” do actually we mean right now, since we live in the New Testament? And that things didn’t really change between the Old Testament of Moses’ time and the New Testament of Paul’s time, since rules for women were still strict?

My understanding, from the way I was raised, is that if you are living the LGBTQ+ lifestyle, you are going to hell. If you were born gay or lesbian, it wasn’t an automatic damnation. The damnation came if someone chose to succumb to being born gay or lesbian and chose to live that lifestyle instead of refusing to. The beliefs have changed some, I will admit, as the misconceptions are slowly uprooted. When my mom first brought up the subject, she was of the belief that you chose to be gay or lesbian. You weren’t born into that choice. It does sound like she’s changed her mind on that, but she’s still struggling with whether or not choosing to live in that type of lifestyle will send someone to hell. I know she believes living the LGBTQ+ lifestyle is a sin. And because I was raised in the LCMS, I’m hearing that I should believe that being gay or lesbian is a sin. And I just don’t know that it is. All I’ve ever been told is that it is a sin. I’ve never been shown the evidence.

If the LGBTQ+ lifestyle is in fact a sin, if a person living that lifestyle prays every day for forgiveness for sins known and unknown, and continues to live that lifestyle thinking it is not a sin, are they forgiven for it, since they’ve prayed to be forgiven of sins known and unknown? This is Catechism 101. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” Do you want to be forgiven for stealing 20 dollars from me, Pauline? Of course not, because you didn’t steal the money. But just because you don’t believe something is sinful doesn’t mean it isn’t. On the Last Day Pauline, when you stand before the Judge of all, He isn’t going to go by your standard, opinion, or reasoning no matter how certain you are that you are right.

  • I read an academic article, Seven Gay Texts: Biblical Passages Used to Condemn Homosexuality (which I’m sending along with these questions in case you can’t answer without reading it through), that raised some questions on the verses in Genesis and Judges:

Genesis 19:8 – Behold, I have two daughters who have no known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.

Judges 19:24-27 – “Behold, here are my virgin daughter and his concubine. Let me bring them out now. Violate them and do with them what seems good to you, but against this man do not do this outrageous thing.” But the men would not listen to him. So the man seized his concubine and made her go out to them. And they knew her and abused her all night until the morning. And as the dawn began to break, they let her go. And as morning appeared, the woman came and feel down at the foot of the man’s house where her master was, until it was light.

From my understanding, the article seems to be saying that the identical stories in Genesis and Judges are probable discussing rape more than homosexuality. Specifically, the threatened rape against the men. What is threatened against the men is clearly violence, as opposed to a consensual sexual relationship between two men or two women. The article writes that “There are two passages in the book of Leviticus that appear to condemn homosexual behavior. Both of these laws appear in what Christians would call the cultic laws of ancient Israel. It is often said that these cultic laws are no longer binding on Christians, so in actuality they are irrelevant for any discussion of homosexuality as a sin,” (Gnuse 75). Is that true? Could the verses be condemning rape, as opposed to condemning homosexuality? If so, then why were women offered up as viable options to be raped in the men’s place if God was trying to say rape was a sin? You do realize, don’t you Pauline, that this is an argument at least 50 years old? It’s the same with all the difficult texts about marriage, sexuality, and Order of Creation. Either God did not write it. They are time bound so not relevant. They are not opposed to homosexuality just the wrong kind, i.e. loveless. Or – and this is the 50 year old argument that the ELCA adopted – the Order of the Fall makes the Order of Creation impossible.

  • And if I don’t believe they’re going to hell, but they actually are and I don’t realize it, am I going to hell too? Basically, if something is a sin and I don’t believe it is or don’t realize it is, am I as guilty of that sin as if I’d committed it? And if I don’t know it’s a sin, and therefore don’t repent of it, am I going to hell because I haven’t repented? How I tire of your dribble. No wonder you have to pay a therapist to listen to you. This isn’t Catechism 101; this is Sunday School 1.0. What does Matthew 18:6-7 say? “but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! “ What this really says to you Pauline is, ‘woe’ to you.
  • And what if you all come back with different answers? Three pastors, three points on the spectrum, three different answers – how do I know what to believe? Because He says I am saved by believing and being baptized, but then what about LGBTQ+ community members who believe and are baptized? You honestly don’t know that there were people who claimed to be Christians yet denied Jesus is God or they denied the Trinity? You honestly don’t know that there are people today who claim to be Christians and deny that Jesus was born of a virgin or ever rose from the dead? To not have the millstone around the neck, the true church has always taught and still does today that those defending a sin, any sin, are outside of the Church and are going to hell.
  • By choosing an LGBTQ+ lifestyle, is a person rejecting the Holy Spirit’s work in their life? I was raised to believe rejecting the Holy Spirit’s work in your life is the unforgiveable sin. My pastor taught me in Confirmation that once you reject the work of the Holy Spirit, there’s no going back. If I remember correctly, I believe he said that even if you repent, you are not forgiven. He taught us that the unforgiveable sin is saying that the Holy Spirit’s work is the same as Satan’s, but since then, I’ve come to understand that it is simply rejecting the work of the Holy Spirit in your life. And for years, every time the thoughts have even come into my head, I push them away so I don’t accidently think something I don’t mean as I’m trying to process all this, and thus damn myself to hell by accident. My grandfather told me one time that he always told his congregants that if they were worried about committing the unforgiveable sin, then they weren’t committing it, because how could you reject the Holy Spirit’s work in your life if you were worried about rejecting Him? But again, what if you think it by accident? Do you have to believe what you’re saying, or is merely saying the words enough to send someone to hell?

But Paul said that if you believe in Jesus (meaning you believe that He died and rose to forgive us our sins, and believing that and repenting of our sins is the only way to eternal life), then we will be saved (Acts 16:31). I didn’t think there were conditions or caveats to that. Are there? Is the unforgiveable sin really the unforgiveable sin? Is there no way to repent of rejecting the Holy Spirit’s work? Is this truly the unforgiveable sin, from which there is no return? Can you be forgiven for rejecting the Holy Spirit’s work if you stop rejecting it and believe? I sometimes think that’s sort of what happened to Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3-9). He was rejecting the Holy Spirit until this interaction, at which point he stopped rejecting it. Because wouldn’t the Holy Spirit have been working in Paul’s life (or anyone’s life) from the moment he was born? God didn’t appear to Paul before this encounter, but surely the Holy Spirit was at work? Paul accepted Jesus when He appeared, but wasn’t the Holy Spirit at work trying to bring Paul to Christ before that? And therefore, he was rejecting the Holy Spirit and committing the unforgiveable sin, but then repented and believed and was forgiven. Is that not what happened? Is rejecting not the same as just not believing? Because isn’t the Spirit always at work to convert non-believers, and so every day, even though someone may not be verbally rejecting the Spirit, by not believing, are they not technically rejecting? And you’re forgiven of that when you come to believe, are you not? The test for whether or not a person has committed the unforgiveable sin can’t be whether or not they’re worried about having done so because then “being worried” would be proof of your salvation. Pauline, first come to know what sin is and isn’t and what grace is and isn’t, then come back to these questions.

  • Leviticus 18:22 – You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.

According to Robert Gnuse’s article, the verse before and after Leviticus 18:22 describe Canaanite behavior, and so the text seems to claim that perhaps God was not speaking about consensual homosexual relationships, but perhaps homosexual relationships tied to cult practices (Gnuse 76). Could that be the case? See above.

  • Deuteronomy 22:5 – A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.

I’ve worn a dress all of twice in the last…three years? Is this another “that’s the way it was then”? If so, when did it change? If it didn’t change, are we just letting it slides because there’s no way women are going to go back to wearing only dresses all the time? Or am I taking it too literally? Does it not mean what I think it means? You have taken part of the ceremonial and civil law given to the OT Church only and made it part of the moral law. You’re now a 7th Day Adventist. At least your back in the Church. Seriously, Paul deals with this in 1 Cor. 11. There are things in every society that express the distinction between masculinity and femininity. These do change age to age, but every age has them. In Paul’s age it was about veils for women, but before you go off about this read carefully. Paul says it wasn’t so with him or God’s churches. In this day and age where the reality of male and female is now said to be a choice you can deny, the church should seek to conserve any way that expresses and rejoices in this difference. If you can’t see the God-given differences, this too is an indication that you are not ready for marriage.

  • Romans 1:22-27 – Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchange the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relationships for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

According to Robert Gnuse, Romans 1:26-27 is a favorite passage for those who want to condemn homosexuality, but Gnuse argues that we can’t just look at verses 26 and 27, and actually need to look at the verses which precede them. He writes that “the popular opponent of homosexuality quotes the last two verses and declares that here we have a clear condemnation of both male and female homosexuality. I respond by saying we must observe how verse 26 begins. The words are “for this reason.” That initial statement means that the homosexual behavior is the result of the idolatry described in the previous verses. In other words, the idolatry and the homosexual behavior go together and describe the same people. Sophisticated critics of homosexual behavior do indeed observe this also. But the point I wish to make is that Paul is not speaking about all homosexuals; he is speaking about a specific group of homosexuals who engage in a particular form of idolatrous worship” (Gnuse 81). Could that be true? Or is Gnuse (and I) just desperately looking to make an argument that God does not, in fact, condemn homosexuality? You can find this rebutted in so many places on the internet, the internet that your generation believes is the sole source of truth, that if you won’t bother to look it up, I’m not going to take the time to give you it. I will tell you Gnuse misses the point as do most conservative commentators. The problem starts when men – see there I go blaming men; why can’t I stick to your script and only blame women? – exchange the natural function of women for that which is beside nature (a literal translation). The natural function of women is to bear children, but men do everything they can to avoid that till they are ready – reasoning by the way much like you do in this long jeremiad. Men separate women’s bodies, and even body parts, from childbearing and glory in their nakedness in strip clubs and pornography. Once you deny the basic difference between men and women, their functions, one is as good as the other for satisfying sexual desires.

  • That the LGBTQ+ community are sinners at best and damned to hell at worst is the only thing I know; it’s all I’ve been taught. Everything else is just stuff I’ve picked up along the way. But what I always come back to is my super conservative foundation: people in the LGBTQ+ community are sinners, who are possibly going to hell. How am I supposed to go and preach the good news when an entire demographic going to hell isn’t good news?

When I was in college, I was pretty open about my faith, and I got asked these questions. And when I wasn’t asked, I could feel the tension of people wondering what I thought. And not even just surrounding the LGBTQ+ community. One of my best friends told me she was raped in high school and asked if she had committed a sin. Of course she didn’t, but these are the tough questions I get asked. I can’t go out and bring people to faith if I’m not prepared with answers to these questions. Because people are going to ask. And for all the Church as preached about being disciples and missionaries, no one prepared me to do that. They just said “do it,” as though I could come up with the answers on my own. And yes: I am slightly bitter that I was told to proclaim the good news, but wasn’t given answers to do it with.  For the 4 or 5 years you were around my church, you never ONCE darkened the doors of my Bible classes, neither week nights nor Sundays. Not once did you ask to meet with me. And here you bitch that you were not taught. Pauline, you didn’t want to be taught then, and I sincerely doubt you do now.


  • Mark 16:16 – Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

A friend of mine who is Episcopal says she believes that everyone eventually goes to Heaven. She says she believes in a loving God, who could never damn anyone to hell forever. That’s…way off from how I was raised to believe. I’d love to buy into that, but it seems pretty unrealistic. My understanding of Heaven and hell is that you have until the moment you die to believe in Christ. Even if it is one instant before your death that you accept Christ into your heart, you are saved. But once you die, it’s over; you don’t get a second chance. Because of course if you’re thrown into eternal fire, you’re going to say you believe because you want to get out. And the whole premise of Luther’s teachings was that there is no Purgatory, and if there is a chance for redemption after hell, that seems to be leaning toward Purgatory existing. Plus, Mark makes it pretty clear in the above verse that if you don’t believe, you will be condemned. My question is whether or not these types of discrepancies have an impact on salvation. According to Mark 16:16, all you have to do is believe. But do you also have to have correct theology? Does God care about your theology, so long as you believe in what really matters (that repentance and belief in Jesus’ death and resurrection are the only way to salvation)? If someone believes all people eventually go to Heaven, when that’s not the case at all (according to the LCMS), if they’re wrong, is God going to factor that into their salvation? Where’s the boundary of correct vs. incorrect theology impacting salvation? Is the devil in the details, or does it not really matter what specifics you believe, so long as you believe Christ died for your sins and belief in Him is the only way to Heaven? If I believe there is a chance for redemption if you die not believing in Christ (and I don’t as of now), but I believe in Jesus’ death and resurrection, does God really care whether or not I believe in salvation after hell? Is it really as simple as Mark says, that whoever believes and is baptized will be saved? It’s kind of like what I was talking about with LGBTQ+ rights – if I am not in an LGBTQ+ relationship, but I believe they are not sinning, if they are sinning, is my belief that that sin is not a sin as good as committing the sin itself? If you don’t see how much you are repeating yourself – in writing! – you are not able to think clearly at all. The one who says, “How could a loving God do this or not do that?” is claiming to love people more than God does! How blasphemous. Had you ever deigned to grace a class of mine or my office with your royal presence, I would have told you that 5 years ago.

  • Acts 16:31- And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

Again, is it really that simple? No other caveats to it? They didn’t just tell us that in Sunday School because that was the most important part of it, and they figured we would learn the actual caveats later? No matter how many times I commit the same sin and repent, knowing I will commit the sin again, no matter what sin I commit, no matter how much I self-harm, no matter if I committed suicide or not, no matter what specific side of theology I take, all I have to do is repent and believe that Jesus died for my sins, and that this is my only way to salvation? That’s really it? You should ponder the question asked by the jailer that prompts this response and see that you’re the jailer. I could have taught you of the opinio legis that always drives us to “What must I do?” and I could have taught you the difference between the Arminian “once saved always saved” (which you are expressing), the Calvinist Perseverance of the Saints which is virtually the same thing, and the Lutheran certainty of salvation found in the wounds of Christ which only reach us in Word and Sacrament.

  • Matthew 6:14 says that “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

That sounds like a caveat. Is the meaning literal, that if we do not forgive, then we will not be forgiven (even if we believe Jesus died and rose to forgive our sins and we’ve repented, according to the instructions in Acts 16:31), or is there a meaning that I don’t see?  Again basic confirmation class material. The person who will not forgive doesn’t want to be forgiven. Read the parable. The person who knows their sins cause them to be indebted to God trillions and yet is freely forgiven can’t hold a few dollar debt against someone else. Again, Matthew 6:12 teaches us we are forgiven as we forgive thereby not directing us to think of someone it is hard to forgive but of the times we easily do forgive, we tell the person to think nothing more about it, it’s all gone. That’s how God in Christ forgives our sins.

  • How does forgiveness work? We’re kind of going back to Acts 16:31 (and forgive me if it sounds like I’m asking the same questions multiple times and in multiple ways). What if I knowingly commit a sin because I want to, and then promptly ask for forgiveness, even knowing that I’m going to commit the same sin the next day? Maybe even in the next minute. Is my apology then no longer valid? Or is the act of asking for forgiveness enough to receive it, regardless of the conditions under which the forgiveness was requested? The explanation I used to hear all the time is that if someone murders someone, asks for forgiveness, and then murders again and asks for forgiveness again, then they’re still forgiven. That’s an easy one for most people to swallow because most people aren’t guilty of murder, so they don’t have to do a lot of extra thinking about the sin itself and can focus on the main purpose of the analogy: God forgives all sins if you repent, regardless of how many times you commit them. And that was easy to believe before I self-harmed and thought about suicide, because at the time, I would never intentionally sin. Now, it feels like it’s more complicated than that simple explanation makes it sound. And yet, we say all the time that it is that simple. But when the murderer asks for forgiveness, he doesn’t necessarily know he’s going to murder again. When I self-harmed, I asked for forgiveness knowing perfectly well it was going to happen again. Does that make a difference? Read the 1951 book Luther Discovers the Gospel. There you’ll see you range from being a Pharisee, putting all the emphasis on repenting as if it caused God to forgive, to being a Baptist, putting all the emphasis on believing as if faith caused God to forgive, never reaching the mature Luther where it all is a matter of God’s grace in Christ. I could have taught you this too.
  • John 15:19 – If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

John 17:14-16 – I have given them Your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that You take them out of the world, but that You keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.

1 Corinthians 5:9-10 – 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.

1 John 3:1 – …The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know Him.

1 John 2:15 – Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

I am surrounded by women who encourage me to break the glass ceiling. To oppose gender norms. To fight for equality. But am I falling victim to the world I live in? Am I not adhering to John’s instruction to “not love the world or the things in the world”? Does God actually not want me to break the glass ceiling? Does He want me to submit? Am I only seeing what I want to see, only hearing what I want to hear? Does God actually not want me fighting the misogyny I see around me? Does He actually want me to conform to it? Am I sinning just by being angry that I think I have fewer rights? Does God actually want me to have fewer rights? Like I asked before, am I just surrounded by a culture that tells me I have a legitimate right to be angry that I am valued less, or is this the way God intended it to be? You answer your own question; you just don’t like the answer. James 4:4 “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” As our Lord Jesus said to St. Paul: “It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” Not hard on Jesus but on you, Pauline.

  • Is suicide a sin a person goes to hell for? I was raised thinking that was true based on the story of Judas. Judas committed suicide and went to hell. I continued believing that until our pastor did a sermon one time and explained that Judas went to hell, not for committing suicide, but for believing God could not forgive him. It’s kind of like my political science professor taught about correlation vs. causation: ice cream sales rise in the summer, so does crime. Does that mean ice cream causes crime? No. Just because they’re correlated and happen at the same time, doesn’t mean that one causes the other. And that’s sort of what my pastor seemed to be saying about Judas. Judas did commit suicide. He did go to hell. Correlation. But he didn’t go to hell because he committed suicide (causation). Judas went to hell because he died believing God could never forgive him for what he’d done. And the way you get to Heaven is by believing that Christ is the only way to Heaven and that His blood is the only way to forgiveness. If you don’t believe that, you can’t go to Heaven. Is that true? What are the consequences of suicide?

And please do not base your answer off of whether or not you think this will send me over the edge. I have the support system I need to make sure that doesn’t happen. I just need to understand. The five suicides in the Bible are all that of unbelievers. Suicide is an unbelieving act. One thing you can be absolutely sure of that the thought to kill oneself is never of God, comes from God, or is a godly thought. That thought is always of Satan, by Satan, for Satan. This being said, historically – I could have taught you this too – the church treated the suicide differently at burial. The bells weren’t tolled and rather than either being feet first to the altar (laity) or head first (clergy) they were placed sideways. Now most place everyone sidewise being ignorant, like yourself, of basic historical liturgics. Luther thought an otherwise faithful Christian who went to church, received the sacrament, etc., could be overwhelmed suddenly by Satan and driven to the act. That is why good counselors try to illicit the promise from you to call them before you do anything sudden.

  • What if I can never exist in a church the way I used to? What if I never feel that peace again? Does that mean I’m no longer as close to God as I was? Am I truly at risk of losing my faith if I don’t attend church? I know technically the answer to that would be yes, but what about when you take into consideration all the painful memories that come back when I’m in a church? Isn’t that detrimental to my faith as well?  The standard answer to this is: You don’t have to be in church to be a Christian anymore than a fish has to be in water. A fish out of water is still a fish, a dead fish. Same with the ‘Christian’. Remember your catechism, which I suspect you either didn’t learn or scorned, “in this Christian Church (i.e. not outside of it) He daily and richly forgives the sins of me and all believers in Christ”. Second, did you stop eating cookies just because your mom burned them? What about the time you got a stomach bug after eating your favorite food? Eventually, you grew out of it and ate the food again. If I had one thing to say to you Pauline it would be: grow up. Stop acting like a middle schooler. Stop being content with your milksop Christianity in general and Lutheranism in particular. Start eating some meat!
  • If we are saying that there are other ways to read these verses about homosexuality, about women serving in the church, about women wearing jewelry, where does it stop? At what point do we stop reinterpreting what the Scriptures say? Because I have friends who believe it’s not a sin to have sex outside of marriage because “that’s not the way it is anymore.” Which I don’t believe is necessarily a reason to forgo God’s commandments, until I consider that the very reason I wear earrings despite Paul’s preaching is the very same reason that women are comfortable assuming that sex outside of marriage is no longer a sin: because we just don’t do it that way anymore. So where does it stop? Are we just saying that the sin of wearing earrings is acceptable whereas the sin of having sex outside of marriage is not? But I thought all sins were equally wrong in God’s eyes. Here you go again. Equating ceremonial and civil OT Law to the moral law written in the heart of all people of all times. Yes, the spirit of the age has moved way beyond Biblical right and wrong, but the person who marries the spirit of the age will find herself a widow in no time.
  • When I was in middle school, our Sunday School class went on field trips to the services of difference denominations, but one thing that was very clear was that we were not supposed to take Communion while we were visiting the different churches. My understanding is that taking Communion with a group of people is a way of saying that I believe what they do, and I don’t want to say that if I’m worshipping with a different denomination. For the LCMS, I believe the rule is that we believe it is spiritually detrimental to someone to take Communion with a different denomination. I guess this kind of goes back to my question about how theology impacts salvation. How do I know which denomination has it right? And does it matter? Isn’t the part that really matters the core of our beliefs that cross denominational boundaries? The belief that if you believe that Jesus Christ died to save you from death, and that repenting of your sins is the only way to eternal life, is what matters. Is everything else just…extra? How many less conservative people are experiencing a detrimental impact on their spiritual life on a regular basis by communing with other denominations? Part of me wants, needs, to break away from the LCMS and go to a less conservative denomination, but the Lutheran traditions are just so deeply embedded in me that I am constantly worried that I might do something to hurt my faith. But again, isn’t it my belief in Christ’s death and resurrection as my only way to salvation what truly matters? Other people commune with different denominations all the time, and God hasn’t rained hellfire down on them yet. So what gives? If it’s so important for LCMS members to do it, why hasn’t it had a negative impact on anyone who’s not following the LCMS rules? You suffer from synoditus. The condition of being infected with the need to be in a synod. You are not saved by membership in a synod. Read Damned Through the Church. Also, you are arguing that the hub of all Christianity is that we are saved by God’s grace for Christ’s sake through faith. All those other teachings are nothing but spokes on the wheel. True enough. I doubt the thief on the cross knew of Baptism, Communion, that woman can’t be pastors, or that God created in 6 days. The spokes don’t save, but spokes can get lose. False teaching loosens spokes. Eventually, they can become so lose that the wheel wobbles. It can wobble so much that the hub, faith in Christ, is destroyed. False teaching never leads toward the true Christ, but away from Him. Always.
  • Some of the verses I’ve written about here are never brought up in church, at least not that I’ve ever heard. I’ve never heard some of these verses during Old or New Testament readings. And it almost feels like The Church is trying to hide them so they don’t have to deal with them, or deal with explaining them. Why? Because they think people will be so offended? I am. But I’d be fine if someone would explain them to me. Does The Church think no one will be able to fathom what’s happening even if it’s explained? I have taught in Bible class on every single one of these multiple times. People like yourself who scorn and spurn Bible class have no complaint. You have ended up right where you chose to be.
  • Psalm 103:13 – As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear Him.

Isaiah 63:16 – For You are our Father, though Abraham does not know us, and Israel does not acknowledge us; You, O Lord, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is Your name.

Matthew 6:9 – Pray then like this: Our Father in heaven…

Matthew 23:9 – And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven.

2 Thessalonians 2: 16-17 – Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

1 John 3:1 – See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.

Those verses are beautiful, aren’t they? They give me some hope that maybe it won’t be like this forever.

As you may have surmised, I want to end on questions about my father and how it relates to my relationship with God. How do I do this? How do I see God as a father when I can’t even put into words how angry and hurt I am by what my father has done? I cannot even fathom not feeling this way. As much therapy as I have had, as much work as I have put into it, I can’t forget it. I can’t get over it. No matter how many times I said I didn’t care. No matter how many times I said it didn’t matter. No matter what I’ve ever said to cover it up, I know all the anger and pain is still there. It’s just easier to deny it. I don’t feel it the way I used to. I’m numb to the pain. I don’t feel it as deeply when he hurts me now. But I’ve built so many walls between me and that pain that I can’t even access it anymore in order to deal with it. How can I see God as a father when my father has done so much damage? How can I understand God’s unconditional love, the love of a father, when I don’t even know for sure if my father even loves me at all? And how do I relate to what’s being said in church if I don’t understand it? If every comparison is something them dredges up unbearable memories and pain? How can I fight past that, how can I ignore the things that cause me pain, in order to see what’s really there and hear God’s word? I want so badly to feel that kind of love and forgiveness, but how will I know when or if I feel it if I don’t even know what I’m looking for? If I don’t know what it feels like, how do I know when I’ve found it? And how can I not let it grate on my nerves every time I have to listen to people talk about God the Father as though it’s a concept that’s so warm and inviting?

Going back to the verse in Matthew, Jesus says that “if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14). I have tried so many times to forgive, but I don’t even feel the pain my father has caused anymore. It’s just a part of me. I don’t remember life without it. Some days I think I’ve forgiven him because I don’t feel angry. Maybe it’s a good day when he and I happen to be getting along. But really, it’s impossible to tell because the anger comes back so quickly when my mom calls me in tears saying she’s so unhappy. I want to forgive, but I don’t know how. I don’t know how to let it go when I’m so angry and hurt that all I want to do is fight and scream and make him pay for what he’s done. If you imagine it as a stain on a piece of cloth, that stain has become so much a part of who I am, that I can’t see the difference between the stain and the cloth. And if I can’t see it, how can I cut it out from the cloth to forgive it and throw it away? My therapists have told me so many times that forgiveness is a process, but how does God feel about that? What if I die in the middle of the process and haven’t fully forgiven my father? Will God then not forgive me for my sins?  There have always been rotten fathers, sinful fathers, abusive fathers. But man’s sinfulness doesn’t destroy God’s faithfulness. The sinful fatherhood of men doesn’t do anything to the faithful, powerful, compassionate God the Father. If you have really listened, most times when I make a reference to fathers and God the Father I qualify that with “loving” as “a loving father is like God”. However, when Jesus brings up a father he says in Luke 11:11-13, “What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”  And what about Psalm 27:10? “When my father and my mother forsake me, Then the Lord will take care of me.” Seems like Jesus knew us fathers quite accurately.

My dear Pauline: I was going to answer you with the oft misquoted Augustine answer to those who asked the question: “’What was God doing before he made heaven and earth?’” Augustine is said to have answered: “‘He was preparing hell for people who pry into mysteries’.”  But that’s not what he really said. He said that he would “rather say that before God made heaven and earth he made nothing rather than ‘making a laughing-stock out of a man who asks a serious question’” (Augustine, Confessions, XI, 12, 262). I have tried to do this in your case, but I’m not Augustine. I will close by reminding you of  the adage that holding a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting the person you have a grudge against to die. Bitterness with God doesn’t do a thing to Him, but it destroys our relationship with Him and those around us. I pray that our Lord Jesus turn you back to Him, to do for you what the pastors who failed you so miserably before didn’t do.

About Paul Harris

Pastor Harris retired from congregational ministry after 40 years in office on 31 December 2023. He is now devoting himself to being a husband, father, and grandfather. He still thinks cenobitic monasticism is overrated and cave dwelling under.
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