Reverent Responses

You Make Me Want to Puke!:
Peter Padilla Responds

[Posted on October 16, 2000]

To our dear Christian friend:

I'm so glad that your first thought is for the love you have for your brother, since that is the underlying message in all of Christianity. At every juncture in the New Testament, where the disciples were tempted to pass judgment on the community around them, Christ admonished them that the greatest commandment of all was love.

Christ's presence as a human on this earth formed a new covenant between God and His creation, and we are wise to seek the full knowledge and benefit of that covenant. Many specific instructions found in the Old Testament must be read with the wisdom God has granted us today. Many Christians, fully aware of the instructions in Leviticus and Deuteronomy, eat pork and shellfish, cut their hair, and wear blended fabric without fear of judgment or retribution from God. The very passage you cite in your letter has often been used to deny women equal leadership roles in the church, and condemns women for wearing pants instead of dresses. Mainline Christianity no longer cites Old Testament support of slavery, polygamy, or the subjugation of women. It is odd to choose a few sentences from among so many, and believe that God now finds only a few once-forbidden activities to be an abomination.

Christians have been studying the Bible for 2,000 years; our Jewish friends for nearly 6,000 years. I am amazed when I see people claim to have perfect understanding of every word in the Bible: How can so many people know "exactly" what God meant, but have such different beliefs about God's Word? We are only human. We must apply our knowledge and experience to the words in Scripture, and reach the best conclusion about how to lead Christian lives.

Our place is not to judge; we are placed upon this earth for whatever purpose God intends our lives to serve. And not one of us is perfect; each of us commits sins and harms the people around us, no matter our intent to do only good. Deuteronomy gives us instruction to be fair and honest, a message we can take to heart. We should not cause harm to others, at the least. A man's desire to wear women's clothing is no more harmful than a woman's desire to wear denim jeans. I have a hard time believing that this is the principal concern of our loving Creator.

Please continue to show your love for your brother, and pray for him as you would all others for whom you care deeply. He is deserving of your love and compassion. We will be praying for God to grant you that compassion and His love.

In God's love,

Peter Padilla