Thursday, June 07, 2007

Questioning the Translations

What does the word “evil” mean? In the dictionary, it says this:

e·vil /ˈi vəl/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[ee-vuh l] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
1. morally wrong or bad; immoral; wicked: evil deeds; an evil life.

2. harmful; injurious: evil laws.

3. characterized or accompanied by misfortune or suffering; unfortunate; disastrous: to be fallen on evil days.

4. due to actual or imputed bad conduct or character: an evil reputation.

5. marked by anger, irritability, irascibility, etc.: He is known for his evil disposition.

In the “religious” context, it means not following God- anything against God’s will. Then you have those who believe that homosexual relationships are “evil”. I know both words, “evil” and “wicked” can mean immoral, however, there are plenty of immoral people out there who are promiscuous and those who don’t care about their bodies. Even when I think of the words, “evil” or “wicked”, I think of immorality as well as evil motives.

But that is immorality?

im·mo·ral·i·ty /ˌɪm əˈræl ɪ ti, ˌɪm ɔ-/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[im-uh-ral-i-tee, im-aw-] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
–noun, plural -ties.
1. immoral quality, character, or conduct; wickedness; evilness.

2. sexual misconduct.

3. an immoral act.

Let’s focus on #2 for a moment. Sexual immorality. What does it consist of? Does it mean that we’re immoral of we engage in sexual activities if it’s with someone that we love? Heterosexuals and homosexuals have been persecuted and called, “adulterers” due to having an intimate relationship with someone they’ve been monogamous with. Marriage is the only way that will save them{us}. Then, you have to think about what it truly means to be married.

mar·riage /ˈmær ɪdʒ/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[mar-ij] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
1. the social institution under which a man and woman establish their decision to live as husband and wife by legal commitments, religious ceremonies, etc.

2. the state, condition, or relationship of being married; wedlock: a happy marriage.

3. the legal or religious ceremony that formalizes the decision of a man and woman to live as husband and wife, including the accompanying social festivities: to officiate at a marriage.

4. a relationship in which two people have pledged themselves to each other in the manner of a husband and wife, without legal sanction: trial marriage; homosexual marriage.

Everything points out to legality. A marriage, in my opinion, is a union between two people who are blessed by God. And, if they are atheists, then it’s a union between the both of them. It’s a “relationship”. It’s being monogamous and having only that one person to be with for the rest of your life. It’s not “evil” or “wicked” to love someone. It’s evil to destroy your body with sexual practices of many partners though. That’s physically and immorally dangerous.

I have so many questions still, mainly on religious topics of course. I’m writing this post because I still need concrete answers. I don’t think I’ll ever get them, since everyone interprets the bible, the meaning of words and their version of what it means to be married in a different ways. No one will ever agree upon one thing. It’s nearly impossible, since there are so many meanings for one word in the dictionary, and there are so many interpretations and translations of the bible.

Which one’s the truth?

What do we have to go on? Do we trust what another has interpreted? Or do we trust what God tells us in our hearts? A lot of fundamentalists will rant off, “Well if it feels good, then do it”, in order to tell homosexuals that we’re only after the same sex because it “feels good”. Well, for a lack of better words, it feels “right”. Maybe for some, it feels wrong, but for me, it’s the right thing to do. If I were to become an “ex-gay” and try to conform my life to how a lot of “Christians” would want me to, I’d be unhappy, resentful and full of anger. It’s not me. I’m hiding myself. I’d be back in the closet with the door locked.

We’re not much different from one another in terms of male and female. Of course, we have different genitalia- that’s a given, but all of us, male or female, have emotions, feelings, different opinions, intellect and personal relationships with God and people. We go through the same struggles. (Except for PMS guys!) We get sad over the same things, we fight over similar reasons and we love for the right reasons. We love who we love. Who am I to judge a heterosexual for loving a person of the opposite sex? What if this woman was once married? In the words of the bible, it’s a sin to marry a divorcee whose husband is still alive. So do I tell him that he’s evil for being with this woman? No. He fell in love with her and wants to be with her in a monogamous relationship. I see nothing wrong with that. Divorce has been confused many times in the bible about what it truly means. The Catholics have it down to a science and have the nice luxury of “annulments” handed out if the marriage doesn’t succeed.

I’ve been told a few times by other Christian readers that my version of the bible wasn’t good enough. I have the NLT (New Living Translation) bible. It speaks clearly, with simple words to understand the meaning from the old King James version, to the everyday language that we speak now. Are the words of my bible wrong? Have they translated it incorrectly?

In this website, it states, “The King James Version (KJV) is excellent, but you must use a dictionary as you read because it uses language typical of the time it was translated (1611). I recommend you purchase a more recent translation. The New American Standard Version (NASV) is believed by many to be one of the most accurate translations and is an excellent study Bible. The American Standard Version (ASV) is also excellent and highly accurate. The New King James Version (NKJV) is high on the recommended list. The New International Version (NIV) tries to make the text as easy to understand as possible and is an excellent reading Bible, but not a good study Bible.”

Why isn’t the NIV a good study bible? (The NLT is similar to the NIV.) If I was new in Christ- a born again, and needed to understand the words clearly, I would definitely pick up the NIV or the “Promise Bible” in order to better understand what these words mean. Thus, thou, ye, -- I just can’t read that without having to think, “What does this mean?” I get lost in the Old English way of talking. I could conform to it, but I couldn’t relate to it. I’d feel lost. I was taught to speak today’s English, therefore, I need to read it that way, and so do many other people.

But why would reading the NIV version be wrong or “not good” to study with? In my own opinion, the important thing is to pray and meditate before reading any bible. God will translate the message for you. Listen to God when you read the bible. Read the text, take it in, but most of all, pray for understanding. Even with the King James version, if you’re stuck reading that one- pray to God that He gives you the wisdom and understanding to translate it into His message to you.

Too many people are twisting the scriptures to fit their needs of teaching. But, it’s up to “you” to determine if the message is right for you. Just because I write, “Well this is right for me”, doesn’t mean that it may be right for you. Only GOD can tell you that. That’s why I feel it’s so important to have a personal relationship with God and forget about what other Christians or Catholics want to bog you down with. God’s word is true, not people’s.


tkkerouac said...

Good VS Evil
Angel VS Devil
there are consequences to both ways of life.

Natalia said...

Language is created by man. Language evolves as civilizations evolve. It's all a bit more complex, methinks.


Enemy of the Republic said...

Oh, my friend and sharing of brain waves, I have much to say. Comment coming soon!

~Deb said...

Everything does evolve, right? Everything changes. The good becomes the bad, vise/versa. That's why I'm asking questions.

Gary Baker said...

I would characterize the "committed monogamous relationship" as necessary, but not sufficient, for a moral relationship. For example, a person could dedicate themselves to a committed, monogamous relationship with one of their adult children. I still don't think that would pass the morality test. Or in the example you gave about a divorced person: Suppose that the divorce was related specifically to the man developing feelings for the other woman (or woman developing feelings for the other man, if you like). I'm not sure what you mean by "judge", but if I was a friend of the person about to end a marriage for those reasons, I would tell him he was royally messed up and acting in a completely selfish and immoral way. His feelings and intentions toward the other woman could be completely genuine. His could have no love left for his existing wife at all. Tough. He made a commitment to preserve the relationship. That's where his energy needs to go.

Gary Baker said...

BTW - Deb, I thoroughly disagree with at least part of your last statement. Living things can evolve. Most things do change. I don't accept for a minute that good becomes bad or vise/versa. Only what people define as good or bad changes. I still believe in the absolute standard. So it goes.

~Deb said...
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~Deb said...

Gary: If you characterize the committed monogamous relationship as necessary, yet not sufficient for a moral relationship, then what does define a “moral relationship”? Even heterosexual relationships outside of “marriage” is considered immoral to a lot of Christians out there. How many of them waited until marriage to become sexually intimate? Now you’re headed into incest with the comment you left. Incest has consequences, such as child deformity and birth defects if they were going to have children. Of course, they can do what others do, adopt and what have you, but it’s totally different. I’m speaking of those outside the family tree who love one another. Legality has taken on a new definition of what it means to be in a “moral relationship”. Also, what about those who are living together for more than seven years (I believe) and it then becomes a common-law marriage? They don’t even have to seek a pastor or the justice of the peace.

And that’s my question too, Gary—what if the “man” had no more feelings left for his ex-wife? I’m speaking in terms of the man being already divorced. It didn’t work out or what have you. His ex-wife is still alive though. Does it make him truly an adulterer if he seeks out a new wife? I don’t see it as so. I think that if they’re divorced, then it’s okay. But, in the bible, it clearly states that if you marry or have a relationship with a divorcee who has an ex still alive, then both parties are committing adultery.

Hard laws to live by, huh?

Natalia said...

I don't think a person should stay in a relationship because they made a commitment. We make choices based on who we are, but we evolve. Staying in a marriage out of commitment would be insulting to the partner who is no longer loved. I certainly don't want anyone to stay with me out of a sense of duty. Only out of wanting to be with me.

But we are not all the same.


~Deb said...

Natalia: I totally agree with you. It's not fair to both parties. People do evolve.

Gary Baker said...

In the strict sense, a single person can't evolve. People live and die; species evolve. People adapt to different situations by making choices. Think about the implications of what you are saying. The basic line is that if you made a bad choice in a partner, then it is all right to back out. If that's the case, then what does your commitment mean?

My parents went through two divorces. The first one was after a year or so, followed shortly by a remarriage. The second was after 27 years. Along the way, there was depression, alcoholism, physical and verbal abuse, you name it. The second divorce was necessary, but I am not willing to say that it was "good." "Good" would have been the two of them being able to work it out and live in peace and love. They couldn't make that happen, so we live with "necessary." Does God forgive us we when do things like that? Certainly. But that doesn't make it good.

Deb, you know what I classify as a moral relationship, and we disagree, so let's see where your logic leads. Do you really want to establish "consequences" or lack thereof as a criteria for what makes a moral relationship? Lots of people have babies with birth defects that would have a moral relationship by anyone's standards. On the other hand, incestuous relationships don't always lead to birth defects, though there is a tendency for the defects to increase in successive generations as the relationships add up.

Likewise, the law is a flawed standard for deciding what a moral relationship is. Some years ago in the south, interacial marriage was unlawful in the south. Some claim that it is immoral as well, though I have never found any prohibition in the scriptures where gentiles are concerned. There are admonitions about being "unequally yoked", though in context that seems to refer to serious religious differences.

You are perfectly correct in pointing out that a lot of times in the US (and probably most of the world) marriage is a matter or law, not morality. Once it was regulated a great deal more from a moral standpoint. The continuing association is more of a relic than anything else. So that leaves the question: what makes a relationship moral? My opinion is a relationship as described in the early chapters of Genesis.

Hard laws to live by, indeed. But with God, all things are possible.

~Deb said...
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~Deb said...

” People adapt to different situations by making choices.”

By that, I define that as evolving in itself.

” The basic line is that if you made a bad choice in a partner, then it is all right to back out. If that's the case, then what does your commitment mean?”

What if, at the time, we felt that it was the right thing to do “at that time in our lives”? How do we know for sure that “this is the one forever”?

” Do you really want to establish "consequences" or lack thereof as a criteria for what makes a moral relationship?”

Well, in the spiritual realm of beliefs, you know where I stand. I think two loving partners of the same sex is okay in God’s eyes. People have so many different interpretations of what the bible speaks of. But in a “consequence” type of scenario, for me, I would “hope” for a happy life, a best friend for life and a intimate relationship that is equal to a marriage.

There are a lot of Hasidim Jews that marry within their family to keep the inheritance within the klan. They don’t branch out to other families. And, in the Old Testament, which they follow, it’s totally forbidden. I’m not judging, but it’s true.

” …what makes a relationship moral? My opinion is a relationship as described in the early chapters of Genesis.”

Love. Love makes it moral. Not lust or sexual feelings. Love, monogamy, family, peace, loyalty and friendship. That’s what makes it moral to me. I believe that God has blessed my relationship due to speaking to Him as well as listening to Him. That’s my own personalized relationship that I have with Him. Is “my God” real? Maybe some would say that I’m speaking to another God. I’ve been told that before. I firmly believe in the trinity, regardless of what the Old Testament has to say about it.

And yes, I totally believe that all things are possible with God. I wouldn’t be here today without His help.

Gary Baker said...


"Love. Love makes it moral. Not lust or sexual feelings. Love, monogamy, family, peace, loyalty and friendship. "

Okay, so following that logic we can still make the case for incest as a moral pairing if "love" is real. For that matter, outside of the first few chapters of Genesis and a few references people with positions of authority in the church in the NT, there's nothing wrong with polygamy.

"What if, at the time, we felt that it was the right thing to do “at that time in our lives”? How do we know for sure that “this is the one forever”? "

How indeed? You can't "know." To me, that is where the word "committed" comes in. I'm not trying to pick on you, but based on what you've written, there really isn't a guideline for a "committed, monogamous relationship" outside of not being with several people at the same time. If a person can "morally" leave if they've lost "that lovin' feeling", then how is that committed or moral? They may have pretty much shattered the spouse, family, etc., that they've left behind. What you are saying essentially is that the happiness of the individual, from their own perspective, is the highest value. What kind of relationship can set that standard, and lay any claim to being "moral"?

~Deb said...

Gary: Here’s the thing though. A family love is different than an intimate love, in my opinion. If you’re getting into polygamy, I think it holds some consequences, such as bringing home a disease, hurtful feelings as well as betrayal. I base my love on loyalty.

I know you’re not trying to pick on me, but you’re picking my brain here! (Which is a good thing!) See, many people believe that a commitment should be made without love. For example, those who live in Pakistan are usually set up with a wife that they haven’t even met yet. The commitment is made, and then love follows (or they think that it does) afterwards.

”What you are saying essentially is that the happiness of the individual, from their own perspective, is the highest value. “

YES! I do believe that. Don’t you think that God wants us to have loving relationships that make us happy? I totally believe He does. Would God want us to commit to someone who we don’t love- by our own means of standards? It wouldn’t make sense to me. A lot of Christians believe that the primary focus on a marriage is only between a man and a woman to strictly reproduce. But what about those couples who are married who cannot reproduce. (I know, I’m all over the place here.)

mor·al - Show Spelled Pronunciation[mawr-uh l, mor-] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
1.of, pertaining to, or concerned with the principles or rules of right conduct or the distinction between right and wrong; ethical: moral attitudes.
2.expressing or conveying truths or counsel as to right conduct, as a speaker or a literary work; moralizing: a moral novel.
3.founded on the fundamental principles of right conduct rather than on legalities, enactment, or custom: moral obligations.
4.capable of conforming to the rules of right conduct: a moral being.
5.conforming to the rules of right conduct (opposed to IMMORAL): a moral man.
6.virtuous in sexual matters; chaste.
7.of, pertaining to, or acting on the mind, feelings, will, or character: moral support.
8.resting upon convincing grounds of probability; virtual: a moral certainty.
9.the moral teaching or practical lesson contained in a fable, tale, experience, etc.
10.the embodiment or type of something.
11.morals, principles or habits with respect to right or wrong conduct.

Who defines what moral is? And which of these 11 definitions fits the word best? There are way too many definitions, translations and interpretations for me just to say, “Ah well, it means this”, and then shut the door on it. I have questions that will never, ever be fully answered.

Help me!

Crassius Maximus said...

The problem is the fact that these translations are done by several humans , from one to the next, and you know there are changes (in the translation) made along the way. I personally believe that this is in play when we talk of reforming the youngest of the major faiths, Islam.

Gary Baker said...

Hey Deb,

Sorry this reply has been so long delayed. It has been one busy afternoon. Anyway, I can definitely get into love and loyalty. I've taken several of those personality tests that tell you whether you are an otter, lion, etc. I'm the Golden Retriever. I took another one, and it basically said I would die before turn on someone. I think that's pretty much true, though I've taken some actions that have made my wife or friends feel like I have turned on them (stories for different time)...

Anyway, I can see polygamy having consequences, but again I don't think that consequences are necessarily a determining factor where morality is concerned.

"Don’t you think that God wants us to have loving relationships that make us happy? I totally believe He does."

I do believe that God wants us to have loving relationships that make us happy. Do I believe that is the highest value, or even one of the highest? No. Here's why...

As usual, I go back to the scriptures. What does God say that he wants for us? He says he wants to prosper us, to give us a hope and a future. He says he wants us to love justice and mercy, and walk humbly with him. He wants us to be a servant, to come as a child, to go and make disciples, on and on and on...

So what about happiness? Where does that come in? God doesn't tell us to look for it. In fact, God warns us about running after the kinds of things that worldly people associate with happiness. His message is seek first the kingdom of heaven and its righteousness, and all other things will be added. That means if we make our number one commitment to do things God's way, then happiness will follow. Actually, I don't much care for the term "happiness." I picture zombies with smiley faces walking around. I strive for that quite feeling of peace, joy, and contentment that comes with God.

Logically, to me anyway, that love and joy in marriage or a relationship comes from putting God first. Is this the person God wants me with? I've pretty much answered that question. From there, the scriptures say what God puts together, don't pull apart. If I'm striving for that Godly happiness in my marriage, and my life, then I stay. If the going gets rough, I stay and work on it. When the going is good, I stay and enjoy it. In sickness and health, better or worse.

Now you bring up the idea "What if the love doesn't last?" There is a secret here. Some people don't believe it, but it's true. And this is it: Love is a choice. Oh, there are certain biological responses that help the passion along, but those fade over time even in the greatest of relationships. Looks fade. Abilities fade. Even mental faculties fade. But love is still a choice.

There's another secret involved here too: No one just wakes up one morning suddenly out of love. If there was ever the feeling to begin with, it faded slowly. And people know along the way that it is happening. They can choose to let it continue to slide, or they can work at rebuilding, strengthening, and improving what is there. That's why I have no sympathy (or little, anyway) for people who walk out because they don't have that feeling anymore. This was not a sudden shift. This was something they knew was happening, and they didn't do what they needed to do to stop it.

Sometimes there is necessity. If a person is destructive to themselves or the family, there may be no way to stay together. But aside from that, I know that God wants us not just to be happy, but to preserve a happiness through the sweat of our brow if need be. Men are told to love their wives the way Christ loved loved the church. Christ demonstrated that love by dying for the church. That's the ideal, and that's what I'm pulling for. Not to preserve misery, but to grow in joy through commitment, service and dedication.

I have to retire the soapbox for the evening. Have a good one, Deb.

just me said...

When I was in Seminary we talked in the New Testament 1 class about our "lenses". The fact that our environment, how we were raised and taught, our language, personalities, and culture... all created the lenses we read scripture by. I think there is a biblical right an wrong, moral, immoral... but I also find the whole conversation about lenses so important. Especially when it comes to being gay and christian or living a moral life. My longing from this conversation is for a machine that can look at my lense and say, this lense is x,y, and z. And you will read what scripture and define morality based on a 10% nearsightedness. Now that would be useful when having these types of conversations.

The Rev. Dr. Kate said...

Deb - On the technical level , the New Revised Standard Version of the Scriptures is considered the scholarly acceptable standard for translation. It might be of help to pick up either the New Oxford Annotated New Revised Standard Edition or the Harper Collins Study Bible NRSV edition. Both of these are annotated and will give you in depth information about the ways terms have been used over time, the social world at the time of their origin, etc.

GW Mush said...

ahhh translation problems.. that reminds me of the time that.....

I decided to go in the confessional booth in church, havent did that in last 15 years.

Before the priest slid open his little secret window, I had to choose what button to push.

#1 was for English,
#2 was for spanish,
#3 was for blogger sins,
#4 was for sexual sins,
#5 was for felonies.
#6 was for none of the above, so go away.. God and us and busy.

Next time I will be prepared!

~Deb said...

Just got home - I will comment tomorrow morning. Thank you for your input! I'll be back!!! Sorry for my delay!

Catch said...

I think your relationship is between you and God. I dont think you can listen to everyone else b/c of all the difference in opinions. I think you have to do a lot of praying and talking to God. He knows what is truly in your heart and he will judge you accordingly. No one else can or should judge you. I think God see's that you are struggling with this...and I truly believe he will show you the way.

Dr. Deb said...

Very interesting and thought provoking post, Deb.

Enemy of the Republic said...

About translation: part of my job is translating texts. And there are some words that translate poorly; they don't carry the nuances of the original tongue. In the case of the old King James, there were obvious errors, stemming from some poor documentation, but also politics. Some of this was out of a desire not to anger King James, and in England, there was a struggle between Catholics, Anglecians and Puritans. I actually don't envy those translators. I work with a man who is always showing me the original Hebrew along with the OT when we discuss it. He is a minister of a Baptist church, but studies the Bible in the original in order to determine what it is saying. I admire that. Scholars have often said that the Revised Standard is the most correct. Perhaps, but I use the NIV. But I have so many translations in my house, plus I also read the original Hebrew (not Greek, unfortunately), so I am constantly comparing.

~Deb said...

Crass: This is why so many people new to the Christian faith or any faith have a hard time reading the scriptures and truly knowing what it means.

Gary: When you speak about happiness, “So what about happiness? Where does that come in? God doesn't tell us to look for it. In fact, God warns us about running after the kinds of things that worldly people associate with happiness. His message is seek first the kingdom of heaven and its righteousness, and all other things will be added. That means if we make our number one commitment to do things God's way, then happiness will follow. Actually, I don't much care for the term "happiness." I picture zombies with smiley faces walking around. I strive for that quite feeling of peace, joy, and contentment that comes with God.”

What if I were to tell you that I seek God first with anything I do, or any relationship I’m in? God is first in my life, and the happiness then came afterwards.

I do believe that love is a choice, however sexual orientation isn’t, in my opinion. I’m not attracted to the opposite sex- I have no desire to live with a man or be married to one. However, when I chose to love my partner, choice came into play, of what type of person she was, her ability to love back and care for me, her emotional connection with me and most of all, our continued friendship. I make the conscious effort to keep our relationship alive by doing things for her, and she does the same, by doing things for me, based upon our love. We both put God first in our lives. In fact, before our day starts, we pray to God first, and then greet one another and have breakfast and talk about God and our relationship with Him. He’s #1. Most relationships and marriages fail because they don’t understand that a relationship needs work. Love doesn’t just flow freely without any work involved. It has to be a two way street. Both parties need to make an effort to make it last. This is where patience, tolerance, unconditional love and acceptance comes into play.

I do agree upon some things you’ve stated. I also wanted to explain to you that I do make God first, and everything else is secondary in my life. I hope my response back to you made a lick of sense. Thank you so much for taking the time out to explain your views, because I do understand what you mean and I agree on a lot of it! You’re great! Stop by anytime! Enjoy your weekend!

Just me: It’s so weird how people would interpret the bible and still do- and how others see the scriptures so differently. Are any of them wrong? Who knows. But, when I read the scriptures, (and not out of my own desires as most would say)---I see the passages in a much different light. It’s amazing what each person gets out of it. And, what I’ve done is, I’ve asked 5 people to read scripture and I got numerous answers! So who’s right and who’s wrong?

Rev. Kate: It just amazes me how much the bible itself evolved.

GW Mush: And how long were you in that booth for my friend? (hehe)

Catch: I totally agree, but I want to point out certain issues that most Christians feel they know how I live. They think I put God second, when in fact, I put God first above all.

Dr. Deb: Thank you!

Enemy: That’s just it! There are words that are translated into other verses that don’t mean anything of what they reference. So how can we know if ‘this is the truth’ or ‘that’s the truth’? It baffles me. And then, when I read all of them, they say the same thing to me in different ways. Some differ from another, yet I grasp what it’s meant for. I’m not fond of cherry picking the Scriptures – which most do to judge you with.

Gary Baker said...


Thanks. I hope you realize that none of our disagreements change my respect or affection for you. I would disagree with Billy Graham, Mother Theresa, and the Pope if I thought they were wrong on the scriptures, but at the end of the day we are still the servants. I'm okay with that.