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Welcome to the God Dam Blog


If you’re reading this blog it’s probably because you are curious and that’s totally understandable. You might be asking yourself, “Why would someone have a blog called God Dam?”  “They didn’t even spell it right?” “Plus it’s kind of tacky and it might even be a little offensive.”

Well, here’s the truth.  We didn’t spell it wrong.  What we are referring to with the term God Dam are the barriers, walls, or dams that have been set up theologically and culturally which tend to exclude people from fellowship in the church.  These dams are often built with the greatest of intentions, but are more often than not, built on tradition and pious doctrine. They are rarely, if ever, helpful in the endeavor of encouraging current Christians and/or reaching out to the lost.  The goal of the four authors and various guest authors of this blog is to break down these barriers by asking the questions that aren’t allowed to be asked, challenging the doctrines that aren’t allowed to be challenged, and creating a community where genuine fellowship and dialogue can take place in a safe, fun and stimulating environment.  We want to give Christians, ourselves included, an outlet and opportunity to vent frustrations with the church, discuss difficult theology on both a philosophical and practical level, and fellowship with other people struggling with the same, or similar questions.It might get tacky, It might get offensive, and it will probably get intense but the desired goal is authentic discussion and fellowship.  In a culture that is so focused on answers, we want to take some time to ask the questions.

Don’t forget to subscribe to receive the God Dam Blog by e-mail.  Just click the button to your right that says, “Let’s do this thing”

~The GDB Team

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2011 in Bible, Logic, Philosophy, Religion, Uncategorized

 

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Homosexuality: Can Christians agree to disagree?

Homosexuality: Can Christians agree to disagree?

Mentors are awesome!!!!

As a pastor, sometimes it’s tough to ask questions because I’m supposed to be the guy that has the answers to the questions.  That’s part of why I started this blog.  Sometimes I need the dialogue and unfortunately I sometimes have to resort to anonymity in order to get that honest dialogue.

My mentor though, is another great resource.  He lets me use him as a sounding board.  He’s somebody that I can ask questions without being judged.  Somebody that I can ask questions that other people would be offended by.

This is a conversation that he and I had last week via text message.  I tried to clean up the text language a bit but it’s still kinda rough.  You should be able to get the idea though.

Me: Okay so I’m trying to figure out where the line is.  Romans 14 says don’t judge one another, especially when it comes to Christian Freedom.  1Cor 5 Paul calls out a guy in sin and says kick him out.  Where’s the line, we are allowed to disagree on the Ten Commandments (sabbath) and on clean food but not on other things.  I’m struggling to see the difference.  Could homosexuality by a “Christian Freedom”? If not… Why?

Him: I think the line is where there is clear do’s and don’ts in the Bible.  Don’t murder is pretty clear.  But no clear teaching on smoking for instance.  Of course, some see the sexuality passages as nebulous but they really aren’t.

Me: So Christians can disagree on food and the Sabbath but can Christians disagree on hermeneutics?  Cause I think that’s what a lot of the sexuality stuff is.

Him: Hmmmm.  How is it hermeneutics?  Do you think it’s a matter of interpretation?  Or do you think that it is an issue of bibliology/authority of Scripture?  Trying to understand.

Me: I think there is a growing group within the church that holds to the authority of scripture but doesn’t see the bible condemning monogamous homosexual relationships.  They are reading the same Bible as me but they are reading it differently.

Him: Well I agree those folks are growing in number.  The issue is what is causing them to read it differently?  What commitments do u/they have that are different?  Those differences are not necessarily just hermeneutic in nature.  Could be value of scripture, theory of inspiration, etc. See what I mean?

Me:  I get what you mean but I don’t know that I see them making a different decision related to inspiration, or authority, it’s cultural context, that is debated.  Namely that orientation wasn’t a thing first century and that homosexuality then was predominantly homosexual rape.  If that’s the case, which I’m not yet convinced of, then I can see how they can argue that the Bible doesn’t condemn same sex monogamy but rather same sex rape.  At the end of the day I’m not convinced by their arguments but I’m also not convinced by Calvinism or Complementarianism.

Him: Hmmmm Interesting but nothing in the Biblical passages speaks of coercion or forced sex.  I think you have to eisegete that into the text.  The OT condemns rape and then separately condemns homosexuality.  It would then follow that prohibitions against homosexuality in the OT don’t assume non consesual sex.  First century Jews were more shaped by the OT than Greco Roman categories.  So as Paul writes he is more likely to be thinking OT than cultural practices.  Their argument requires eisegesis and special pleading and is just thin – nearly an argument from silence.

Me: I agree that the argument is thin but how do we deal with those that don’t agree.  Romans 14 principle seems to say don’t judge, let God deal with them.  1 Cor 5 principle seems to say kick them out.

Him: Well don’t judge doesn’t mean don’t condemn sin.  We are supposed to correct those who don’t repent of sin (Matt 18) even to the point of denying them fellowship (1 Cor 5).  Condemnation/judging seems to be final declaration of eternal death sentence with no intent to further encouragement to repent and return to God.

Me: Any possibility that the issue of homosexuality is the modern equivalent of first century circumcision?  I don’t want to be the foolish Galatian that adds being straight to the gospel of faith alone in Christ alone.  Matthew 18 seems to be someone who has offended and refuses to strive for unity intentionally dividing the body.  Modern homosexual Christians seem to be fighting for unity while conservatives push them away.  Maybe I’m off track but it seems different.

Him: Different categories.  Jesus and Paul base their sexual ethics on creation order.  That is the standard and basis they continually go back to.  This isn’t a unity issue.  My citation of Matt 18 was simply to show that sin is to be confronted.  There is no doubt in my mind that homosexual behavior is sin based upon my exegesis and consideration of the other interpretations as well.  You know me.  I am always open to revisit positions. I have on this issue and I have just not been convinced by the new understanding.

Me:  That’s why I process with you and not somebody else.  1st century Jews were pretty convinced that circumcision was significant.  Also pretty passionate about their view of the Sabbath.  Paul said that neither issue was as important as they thought.

Him:  Because they had been fulfilled by Jesus – not because they weren’t initially important.  Jesus met the requirement of the ritual law.  All believers were still called to recognize the morality of God’s values.  Plus in the circumcision debate at the Jerusalem council gentiles were still asked to abstain from sexual immorality (according to Jewish preconceptions of that category) in acts 15.

Me: Okay that makes sense, so what do I do with someone like Rachel Evans.  Evangelical, holds to biblical authority but is convinced by the new pro homosexual arguments.  Is she still a Christian, is she still evangelical, can I treat her and those that agree with her as brothers and sisters or do I call out sin and then distance myself from those who refuse to repent?

Him: Well her interpretation is wrong and you can recognize that as such.  Is she a Christian?  I would think so.  She is just in error.  And we are called to reprove, rebuke and admonish etc.. (2 Tim 3:16-17).  But here’s reality, she is probably not going to agree with you.  I read lots of authors I disagree with.  But honestly with her I think her doctrine of inspiration might not be just like mine so I recognize that when I read and spit out the bones as I digest what she wants me to hear.

Me: Cause for break of fellowship if it’s somebody in my church?

Him: I need to ponder that.  I would probably preclude them from teaching and sit down and study the issue with them.

So here are my takeaways.

The categorical stuff makes sense to me now but hadn’t been explained before.

Homosexuality is in a different category than circumcision or Sabbath rules because it falls under sexual ethics rather than OT law.  If we put it in the OT law category, then maybe we can throw it out when we throw out the no bacon rule.  But if we put it in the sexual ethics category, which both Paul and Jesus link to the creation order, it’s something that sticks around.

What I loved most about my mentors responses is something that I’ve always respected about him.  When I asked if this issue was a cause for break of fellowship his response was not yes or no.  It was let’s sit down and talk about it.  I think that’s the thing that is missing most in this debate.  There are lots of people talking AT each other or worse hurling insults, but there are very few people that are publicly discussing it and in love, working through the issues.  I’m not saying that it will be easy but I think hearts on both sides need to soften a bit and fight for unity in an attempt to understand and support one another.

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2015 in Bible, church, Religion, Sex

 

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No longer “recently” divorced.

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So I realized today that I am no longer “recently” divorced.  I’m just plain divorced.  I’m not sure why that hit me today but it did and it kind of rocked me emotionally in a way that I can’t really explain. 

 

I’m no longer “recently” 

 

 With this new epiphany, I think that it might be okay to maybe talk about it a bit now.  I don’t think I’ve written a word on this or any other blog since I found out she was leaving cause the only thing that I could think about to write was the “recently” and it was just

still

too

“recent”. 

I’ve used it as an excuse for quite some time and it’s time to put the excuse away.  Here’s the honest truth.  
I’m divorced and it fucking sucks!  It’s hard.  It continues to knock me on my ass at least once a month when I least expect it.  I’ll read an article about a cancer patient that “wouldn’t have made it without their spouse” and just collapse because she wont be there for me if I get cancer.  I’ll see a couple happily walking down the street and just loose it.  2 years later.  No longer “recently”.  Just plain old divorced.  

I write this not to wine or gain your pity because that’s really not something that I or really any divorced person needs but to encourage those that are in the same boat.  You are not alone.  

I also write this less for you and more for me because I’ve just gotta get it out.

Here’s where I’m at almost 2 years later.  

There are nights, and sometimes days that I’m very lonely.  I’m bitter a lot, angry some, and a lot more emotional than I’m comfortable with.  I’m a bit jaded, less of a romantic than I was, and much more cynical.  But I’m not planning on staying here.  

Though the last 2 years have been 2 of the roughest of my life they have still been 2 years of LIFE.  I’ve had much more one on one time with my daughter than I probably would have and for that I am so greatful.  I’ve been surrounded by a freaking amazing church and an awesome group of elders and pastors.  I’ve strengthened friendships and developed new ones that are so precious to me.  And to be honest, I’ve cut loose, had more fun, and been way easier on myself in the past two years. 

I am not my divorce, it is something that happened to me and though I may never get over it, I’m gonna get through it.  

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2013 in Religion

 

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The Bible is Not a Text Book: canonicity

I haven’t done enough study on canonicity to do a full-fledged article on that topic specifically, so this won’t be addressing that issue alone. What I’m really getting at with this topic is the affect of canonicity on the way we read the Bible. It’s interesting that we didn’t only choose which books we would put in the Bible but in what order they would go as well. We have the Old Testament books that stumble through biblical history, randomly throwing in Leviticus and Ruth which seem wildly out of place, and then we jumble around the Major and Minor Prophets and hope that in a straight read through we will understand it all. In the New Testament it only gets worse, we have the retelling of the gospel, a re-retelling of the gospel and two more after that, which all have different stories and agendas. Then rather abruptly we jump to the book of acts and all these letters to churches and groups and it can be extremely difficult to wrap your head around it all.

            Focusing on the New Testament specifically, the main thing that you have to avoid is thinking of it as a book which was written from start to finish all at once. Each of the gospels was meant to be a separate documentation of the life of Jesus and each of the letters were written separately with difference purposes and audiences in mind. If we try to break up the Bible in to a title, thesis, body paragraph, level two title type of book then we will only be met with frustration. In order to understand each of these books they must be read as separate books (the way they were written). In order to understand the gospels and the epistles we need to read them as if we were the churches and people that were meant to be receiving them.

            The other thing about canonicity that we can not overlook is that the ESV canon as we know it is not the only one out there. Many different groups also contain the book of Enoch, stories about Solomon, different iterations of the Gospels as told by Thomas and Marry Magdalene and a whole bunch of crazy stuff that many Christians completely overlook.

            The issue isn’t whether or not you believe in these controversial books. The issue is that people don’t realize that Bibles have a history of how they got to us. They didn’t just descend from heaven in the English Standard Version with all the red letters and place holding ribbons. What we need to do now, is recognize that the Bible was meant to be read a certain way and we must not try to change that way to suit what we want in our modern lives today.

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2012 in Religion

 

Family Ministry

During the time of Martin Luther there was no such thing as youth group.  There was no children’s ministry either and I think it’s safe to say that Luther would not have been in favor of either institution.  Luther’s ministry philosophy was to teach and disciple parents and empower them to teach and disciple their own children. “Abraham had in his tent a house of God and a church, just as today any godly and pious head of a household instructs his children… in godliness.” (Lectures on Genesis, Chapters 21-25 (1539)

The idea of Sunday School wasn’t even invented until the late 1700’s by a man named Robert Raikes.  Raikes had a passion to reach out to inner city boys.  Young men that either didn’t have fathers or didn’t have Godly fathers.  Over time this vision spread and eventually Youth Groups and Children’s ministries were birthed with the intent to come alongside parents and “HELP” disciple and train children and prepare them for mature Christian lives.

Now most churches have segregated ministries but back in Luthers time there was no segregation for ministry.  Everyone came to church and everyone heard the same message but there were pros and cons to that approach so newer approaches were developed.  Now many churches are so segregated that they fail to find any type of unity between groups.  HS students graduate and never come back because they were never connected to the church in the first place.  Small churches that can’t afford a college pastor expect 18 year old students to make the jump into either men’s or women’s ministry but they haven’t created the avenues for this to happen naturally.  And to be honest as a young man I’m not really exited about joining the men at 6 o’clock on Saturday morning for Men’s breakfast.  Some of the young women from my youth group have found ways to get involved with our women’s ministry but the events and studies that most of our women do are usually not anywhere near interesting for the young women that graduate from my youth group.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Luther’s vision was perfect but I think the lack of segregation had some benefits.  I think there is a huge need for age specific and sometimes even gender specific ministries but they cannot break away from the rest of the church to do their own thing and with changes in modern family structures, they cannot be designed around the stereotypical mother, father, and 2.5 children ideal of a family.  Many churches have Men’s ministries, women’s ministries, JH ministries, HS ministries, college ministries, single adult ministries (aka meat markets), etc, etc, etc… and what these ministries have become is mini-churches that are almost completely separated from the main church.  A similar problem exists with churches that focus on things like Marriage ministries which leave out those that are single or divorced or widowed.

So should churches segregate their ministries in order to specifically reach targeted groups of people?  I think so but proceed with caution.  There are numerous advantages to targeting certain age groups and there are times where segregating by gender can be helpful, but this segregation must be monitored and kept under control to keep the rogue youth group from becoming completely detached from the body. We also need to make sure that any segregation that we build into our churches is wide enough to accept those that may not fit the stereotypes.

James says that pure and un-defiled religion is taking care of orphans and widows in their distress (James 1:27).  How often do you come across an orphans ministry at a local church? How ’bout a widows ministry?  Sadly it’s probably not as often as it should be.

Check out these articles on Family Ministry:

http://david-inrepair.blogspot.com/2012/04/tapping-breaks-on-family-based-ministry.html

http://sojournkids.com/2010/04/history-of-family-ministry-part-1-the-reformation-the-home-as-a-little-church/

http://sojournkids.com/2010/04/history-of-family-ministry-part-2-sunday-school-the-industrial-revolution/

http://sojournkids.com/2010/04/history-of-family-ministry-part-3-the-invention-of-the-teenager/

http://sojournkids.com/2010/05/the-history-of-family-ministry-part-4-the-family-ministry-movement/

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2012 in church

 

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Response to “House Churches”

This is a blog response for a post that was put up back in November. GDB has been out of commission for a while so we have a lot of catching up to do. You can’t find the original post on rough-hewn blog. It is written by David Hoopingarner and you can follow this link to get to it, http://javaman56.wordpress.com/house-churches/

First off I want to say that I am extremely blessed to have read the article. It is great to see that there are other people out there who share my passion for ministry and my ideas for discipleship. The one thing that is driving me crazy is that I have never been to a house church before. I wouldn’t quite call what we do at GDB to be a house church but we do meet weekly to talk about our faith, grow in fellowship, and enjoy the company of friends, family and the Lord.

We at GDB have seen first hand the incredible positive affects of this kind of group and my favorite portion of the article “House Churches” talks about something that we have been trying to get at for a long time, the alienation of new coming Christians within the mainstream evangelical churches. David talks about going to new churches and sitting in rows, “… politely waiting for the service to be over.” It might seem ridiculous for me to rhetorically ask if that’s the kind of service we want to be having but it is constantly the kind that we are putting out there. The personal relationship between the pastor and his congregation often ends abruptly at a handshake.

It really makes me sad to know that for most of my life I have experienced this kind of relationship with my pastor. Until just recently when I moved from Colorado to Arizona I knew my pastor as, “The preacher man that talks loud on Sundays.” When I transitioned to the new church I realized that I had a much more personal connection with my pastor. We go shooting and talk about guns, and then stop to get coffee and discuss theology. This kind of relationship has definitely caused incredible changes in the way I view how a church ought to be run.

I’m extremely excited to see that David is on the same page with GDB and hope to have more exchanges with him in the future. If you haven’t checked out his blog then you definitely should and make sure to check in with GDB next week for our continuation of “The Bible is Not a Text Book.”

 

~Arayl

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2012 in Bible, church, disillusionment, Failure, Religion

 

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The Bible is Not a Text Book

I wrote a paper a while back on the westerner’s needs to quantify and enumerate the vast expanse of eastern philosophies. Being an avid martial artist and a Hapkido teacher, this was a topic that I was extremely passionate about. It’s interesting to me that throughout the process of writing that paper I never once took a look at that same concept applied to the way that people look at the Bible. The Bible is such a vast and incredible book but there are so many people who try to break it down to the basics and read it in the sections that it has been broken up into.

These sections that we now call chapters of the Bible weren’t actually seen as separated until the fourteenth century and it wasn’t until the sixteenth century that we separated the chapters out into verses. Recently, another type of division in the form of story titles has come in and separated the text another time, which can often cause a lot of confusion as to what was actually meant in the original writing. We see this type of thing happen in Ephesians 5 and 6 when titles and chapters separate the passages between husbands and wives, children and parents, and slaves and masters.

It would appear in these passages that, because of these separations, each of these portions of Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus were meant to be separate statements. This makes it seem like when Paul says, “Wives submit to your own husbands… and husbands love your wives.” (ESV eph. 5:22 &25) he is setting out a hierarchy of authority with which to structure the family and appeals to the complimentarian philosophy.

If we take away these separations; however, (and get back to the way it was written) we see that Paul is repetitively scolding the men of the house. He first says, yeah wives need to submit to your husbands, but HUSBANDS love your wives. Then he say, yeah kids need to obey their parents, but FATHERS do not provoke your children. He finishes with, yeah slaves need to obey their master, but MASTERS treat your slaves with respect. If we notice these sections without the separations we see that Paul is continually harping on the man of the house to be loving, un-provoking, and respectful and he is not at all describing how women are beneath their husbands.

Now we could argue about this particular issue all day but the main point isn’t about the egalitarian debate. What I’m trying to make very clear to you is that these separations, the one’s which were not originally written into the Bible are causing us too look at the word in a way which was not originally intended. We now see our Bible as a text book rather than a powerful weapon, which is, “Living and active, and sharper than any double edged sword.” We need to break away from thinking of these texts as we have them today and try to imagine their history and what they would have meant when they were originally written.

 

If you guys have any questions don’t hesitate to comment and check us out next week to read more on this topic.

 

~Arayl

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2012 in Religion

 

Letter to the Readers

Howdy ya’ll,

I know that we’ve been out of the loop for a while but I personally am trying to pull the GDB team back together to get this blog rolling again. First off I’d like to request that any one who has a particular topic that they would like to discuss with the GDB team or who knows the kind of stuff that we write about and wants to pitch in would please send us a message, comment on a post, or email us to let us know what your ideas are. We want to be writing about stuff that matters to you. Also the smallest amount of conversation from you guys helps. We want to know that we are having an impact on at least one person out there. Hopefully I can assemble the rest of the team and we can get this thing going again but until then, look for my new post, “The Bible is Not a Text Book.” And please know that I personally appreciate you’re comments.

~Arayl

P.S. I’m thinking of a good sign off, any ideas?

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

 
 
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