Recently, I watched a clip on YouTube of Bill O’Reilly talking to Bill Maher about various issues, but mainly Christianity. I know where Bill Maher stands, but I had a hard time understanding Bill O’Reilly’s position. I disagree with many of O’Reilly’s answers to Maher’s questions. Therefore, I have decided to give my own response to the questions Bill Maher presented. Consequntly, it will highlight why some of O’Reilly’s statements are false.
Let us begin with the shift in the conversation to Noah’s Ark. As a side note, I never receive any of these national polls that ask about the economy or if I believe the account of Noah’s Ark in the Bible as literally true. Bill O’Reilly responded by basically saying the account of Noah’s Ark is fiction. It is simply another story included in the Bible to teach us some moral or important lesson. Bill Maher was correct in responding, if you believe in the Bible, you cannot look at it as fictional because it is the Word of God.
Bill Maher brings up a tough point that too many Christians do seem to overlook, ignore, or treat as fictional. I am not certain which chapter and verse in the book of Deuteronomy states you should kill your neighbor if you see them working on the Sabbath (“Sunday”). However, I did find these verses:
“Suppose a man meets a young woman, a virgin who is engaged to be married, and he has sexual intercourse with her. If this happens within a town, you must take both of them to the gates of that town and stone them to death. The woman is guilty because she did not scream for help. The man must die because he violated another man’s wife. In this way, you will purge this evil from among you.” – Deuteronomy 22:23-24 (NLT)
There are detailed commands throughout the book of Deuteronomy where the Lord is giving instruction on how human beings should live their lives. Clear lines are drawn to highlight what is right and what is wrong. Furthermore, sin, disobeying any of these laws, has serious consequences. In short, the Israelites were commanded to kill those who broke certain laws.
Of course, my first reaction was similar to Bill Maher’s. This is entirely too harsh for God to ask of them to do. However, God was making a clear point. Sin is not to be taken likely. Today, in 2011, what the Bible calls “sexual sin” is seen as the normal thing people do. And it is seen as people having to right to do it without consequences because it’s not a big deal. Yet, in the Word of God, any type of sin is a huge problem that has to be dealt with strictly. In my own life, reading Old Testament scriptures like this, helped me realize how serious sin is and how it negatively impacts my life. Mr. Maher sees the stoning as immoral. The fact is, because of the immorality committed, stoning became a form a capital punishment for the crime.
This pattern holds true throughout the Bible. Sin leads to death. This is the very reason God commanded Noah to build an Ark. The people on Earth were committing sins without any regard for God’s laws. The “only” ones who were seen as right in God’s sight were Noah and his family. You see, human beings are not the problem. The problem is when human beings cling to sin, unwilling to let go and obey God. Immorality speads and God will not tolerate this. Everyone on Earth, except for the few who decided to follow God instead of being dominated by their sinful nature, were on the Ark, saved from the Flood. The bottom line is, sin will always be judged. Let go of it before it’s too late.
Now, I would like to directly address Bill Maher’s question of why we, as Christians, don’t follow certain laws like the ones that are listed in Deuteronomy. Yes, it is in the Bible. Yes, it is supposed to be interpreted literally. And yes, we are following the Bible correctly today, in 2011, even though we don’t kill our neighbor if we see them committing a certain sin. I’ll give a clear explanation.
From the Old Testament to the New Testament, God’s laws never changed. He still refuses to tolerate sin. However, when Jesus died on the cross, the covenant was altered, essentially new. One example is, in the Old Testament, in order to approach God, you specifically had to go through the Levite priests. They approached God on your behalf. Also, an animal sacrifice was made on the altar. The blood of that animal covered your sins. You cannot have a solid relationship with God with sins in your life. Therefore, the animal’s blood “temporarily covered” your faults. In the new covenant, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came from Heaven to Earth, to become the last sacrifice we ever need. This is why He is called “The Lamb of God.” Jesus was beaten beyond recognition and nailed to a cross, naked. His blood did more than “cover” our sins, His blood “took away” our sins, as if they were never there. That was His purpose for coming here.
In the Old Testament, the Israelites had to follow 613 laws. Six hundred and thirteen! Obviously, no one can successfully follow all of these laws and if you broke one law, you were guilty of breaking them all. The Lord purposefully made it this way so we would understand that we cannot follow a bunch of rules and think we’re holy. This brings us to the “Golden Rule” of the New Testament. Jesus commanded us to love God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. These two laws cover all 613 laws of the Old Testament. These two laws, of course, are still literal.
Next, the question is: why do you believe in the Bible? I have long gone passed the days when I believed in the Bible because someone told me to or simply because it’s in the Bible. There are things in the Word of God that I see as “wacky.” I do not have the stomach to stone anyone. Ever. Still, I do understand the mentality God wants us to have towards sin. Personally, I believe in the Bible because the laws do make sense and the principles help me keep my life together. Letting go of my sin is not a bad thing. I lived in sin before, I fed my lust, and I found out there are consequences to my bad decisions whether I believe in God or not. Therefore, I started paying attention and following the Bible more and my life has greatly benefited from it. I would be foolish to go back to how I used to be because my sins were destroying my life.
Today, I still sin, everyday, but it does not control my life anymore. I don’t give-in to my lust or anger or unforgiveness nearly as much as I used to. I’ve seen a definite, positive change in me and this is why I believe in God’s laws are relevant to everyone. Not to mention the countless times He has answered my prayers. If my prayers were never answered, I wouldn’t pray because I do not like wasting my time. If I felt that God wasn’t here listening to me, I wouldn’t try to talk to Him. But I have gone through enough life experiences that have proven to me, He is real, He is God. Bill Maher has to go through the same life experiences. You can’t go by what someone told you or by what you’ve read. If the Bible is true, you will see it in the reality I call life. I see it everyday, that is why I believe.
Mr. Maher says that “faith is the purposeful suspension of critical thinking.” My response is, because I am thinking critically about the world around me, I have faith in God. The more scientists and physicists learn about us, as human beings, the world, and the universe around us, the more I am amazed at how beautiful and complex everything is. It is logical, to me, to believe a self-aware, intelligent being, had to create it all. It makes perfect sense. And when I read the Word of God, begin to understand how much wisdom and knowledge God has, and how He has a purpose for everything created, including my own life, I trust the decision I’ve made because I have not blindly walked into my faith without any grounds for why I believe what I do.
In conclusion, I would like to say, I am a human being first. When I was a little kid, I thought about being a Nascar drive (I loved watching the cars speed around the track). I loved candy, football (go 49ers), and figured I would be married by the age of 25. Yes, the mind of a six-year-old. My point is, at no time in my life did I think, “I want to be a religious person.” Instead, as a reached my teenage years and beyond, the questions came: Why am I here? Is there purpose and meaning to my life? Is there something specific I’m supposed to do with my life? How did life begin in the first place? What will happen to me when I die? You can push these questions away for a time, but they inevitably come back. I was not satisfied with saying, “I don’t know.” I needed to know because it would direct how I would live my entire life.
I was searching and basically examining the people, the world around me. I found out having tons of money, feeding my lust, or being popular, didn’t answer any of my questions and only gave temporal satisfaction. There had to be more, but I didn’t know what to look for or where to find it. In short, when I began to read the Bible, learn about Jesus Christ, the Word of God answered all my questions and it made logical sense to me. I know why I’m here; I know the meaning and purpose to my life; I know how the universe began; I know what will happen when I die. Pages written centuries ago by men inspired by God, answered 21st Century questions. I put it to the test. The laws, the principles, the promises of God, I put them to the test to see if they led to a better “me” like they say. They were right. They are true. Somehow, God changed me to be more like Christ and is still changing me. I will never “arrive” at perfection on Earth.
For anyone who doesn’t believe in the Bible because of the amount of killing and what you don’t understand, I encourage you to look at it differently. The Old Testament is not holy because a bunch of happy instances take place through perfect people. It is holy because the holy God inspired people to write it. The Bible is really an accurate historical account of the Jews’ experiences centuries ago. They were not perfect, but God chose them to be His people, living by His standards, even when they didn’t want to. Throughout human history, there have been wars, so naturally this was recorded in the Bible. They were chosen to carry out God’s judgement towards sins, which involved killing people they knew because of the people’s sin. I want to point out, God does not punish you without cause. He does not enjoy seeing people die because, if He did, we’d all be dead by now. However, this was the justice system He required Israel to implement in the Old Testament because no amount of love can turn wrong into right. The sins committed may not be a big deal to us or warrant such strict punishment, but we’re not going by our own standards.
The New Testament is not the “happy” side of the Bible either. It’s recorded in the Gospels of Jesus warning people of Judgement Day. Thoughout Paul’s writing to the churches, he clearly acknowledges that sin has its dire consequences. And the Book of Revelation clearly states that all sin will be eternally punished. In the end, there is no happy side to the Bible. Right now, we simply have a period of grace. Jesus’ sacrifice has provided a free gift of salvation to us all, which you can accept or reject. The choice is yours. But the day will come when this period of grace is over and sin will be strictly judged for the last time. The punishment is still suffering, tormented for eternity.
If I met Bill Maher I would say, I understand your position and I don’t look down on you for it. The truth, life in general, is not easy to swallow all the time. The only thing you can do is make a decision on what you’re going to do with it. Yes, Jesus still loves you, but in the end, sin will be done away with. I encourage you to search your own life as I still do, recognize how what God calls sin is negatively effecting your life, and consider changing, not because you want to be religious, but because you want to be the best Bill Maher you can be. This is accomplished through Jesus Christ alone. He suffered so much and died for your sins, so you wouldn’t have to. This was His choice. Now it’s up to you to decide.