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Context

October 29, 2014

Taking words out of context bothers me.

Words are powerful and context is important.

Sometimes I see the Koran quoted out of context and these scriptural snippets can be used to portray Islam as promoting violence. This bothers me. And this misquoting is a big deal because wars are fought over this kind of misinformation.

Christians, please, I implore you to do your research before you insite fear against 1.5 billion Muslims based on misinformation.

As I wrestle through the pain it causes me to see all of Islam judged by a few verses pulled out of context from a scriptural text, I am also reading my own faith’s scripture, the Bible, and my heart of broken in two. I feel like my gut is being ripped out.

In my faith, I have preferred the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament over the teachings of the Old Testament because the Old Testament is nasty, brutal and sickening. I want to believe that the God I follow is only the peaceful, sacrificial, loving Jesus and not the one that brutally called for the murder of innocent people in the Old Testament.

As I read about God called for the killing of every 1st born son of the Egyptians in Exodus and the calling of the Levites to slaughter 3,000 of their own people as just a few examples, I can’t help but want to reject these actions as coming from the same God I follow.

How could my God of love do this?

And yet, I know that I am not allowed to take the bits and pieces I like and reject the other parts. I have to take the whole context of my faith. I cannot pretend like these things did not happen. If I am going to love God, I have to take all of Him. And there are parts I don’t like. Does that make me a bad Christian to say that? Will God strike me down for my lack of blind faith? Am I allowed to say to God: “What you did was awful God! It hurts my heart!”?

My heart breaks for those Egyptian mothers who lost their sons. Did those innocent babies deserve to die because Pharaoh was having an argument with his brother Moses? I bet at least one of those babies was just an innocent child with hardworking parents that had not, on purpose, sinned against God. Why did they have to be punished and why did those mothers have to wail in anguish? And why do I have to accept that as ok?

I don’t. You know what, it is not ok. None of this brutality is ok. I am a horrible person if I try to tell you that the slaughter of children is fine because God called for it and that the tears of those mothers don’t break my heart because they were “infidels” and didn’t follow my God. I could not say that because it’s not true.

The Levites killed their own sons and brothers. That is brutal. That is not ok. And I know that all of the violence of the Old Testament is redeemed thousands of years later by my sweet Jesus, but that does not mean that I have to think the brutality was good.

I do however still love my God even though I hurt when I see His actions.

And He still loves me even though I hurt Him.

That’s the reality of love. To really love a person, we can’t just pick out the parts we like and ignore the “bad” parts. We have to love all of them.

God loves all of me. I love all of Him.

But I can cry and say, “I don’t like this God. I don’t like how you killed those babies in Exodus; I don’t like how you let ISIS continue; I don’t like how you let my friends’ daughter die; I don’t like this pain; I don’t think it is ok.” A real relationship allows that conversation to happen.

The whole context is important when talking about any faith. The real histories of any religion are filled with both the good and the bad and if you subscribe to a faith, you don’t get to choose to only recognize the good; you also cannot look at only the bad in a faith that is not your own. There is good and bad in the Bible, Koran and Torah because these are the stories of people following God. People are violent and peaceful. People are loving and hateful. You cannot separate the good from the bad because we all have good and bad side; humanity is both good and evil. To love each other, we must accept this.

I cannot go as far as to say God is not good because I fully believe that He is sovereign and that I just do not understand some of the things He does. God is GOOD. I am a Christian after all. I do subscribe to a Christian belief system. What I can say though is that some of the things He does causes me pain. I love Him still.

Some of the things you fellow humans do cause me pain; I love you still.

And I cause all sorts of pain for others; I hope you can love me in my bad and not just in my good.

I hope we can all take the whole context of each other.

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