What holy verse have you struggled with?
Bishop Harrison Hale, pastor, Cornerstone Church of God in Christ, Medford:
Romans 8:28: And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
I know people who love God, and things didn't happen that were good. Some bad things happened to some good people who love God.
In my personal testimony, some bad things happened to me, and I know I love God. If this text is true, why do bad things happen to good people who love God? He used the word all, which made me understand that all things are of God and are good.
I wrestled with this scripture. God told me to read the rest of his text.
The revelation he gave me was this: All things come together for the good to them that love God. We are called according to his purpose.
He explained to me: The reason some bad things happen to good people who love me is because at a certain point, you've done things outside my purpose. As long as you're in my purpose, all things are together for the good.
I realized that if I remain in his purpose -- his intended usage -- then good things will happen in my life.
God has a preplanned agenda for my life. If I stay in his purpose, even if something looks to have turned out badly, it will turn out for my good. The key word is purpose.
Rabbi Alan Stein, Temple Shalom, which meets in The Historical Chapel, Woodbury:
Deuteronomy 22: 14-21, particularly verses 20-21:
20 But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel:
21 Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father's house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you.
This section of the Bible deals with different areas where a divorce could take place. One question deals with what should happen when the groom claims the bride is not a virgin when she has represented herself as a one. If this fraud is found to be true, then the men of the town would stone her to death.
I understand that a death penalty should be appropriate in some circumstances in life. But, certainly this is not one of them.
In this case, if the groom is found to be wrong, he's fined 100 shekels that he has to pay to the woman's father for the father's embarrassment. He only has to apologize to the wife.
Think about it. As a man, I get to not only hit you with a rock, but kill you. As the wronged wife, I just get an apology and then have to go home and wash dishes.
Of course, you can look at it as God explaining the importance of honesty. You can see throughout the Torah examples of the importance of honesty. And, these particular scriptures show the importance of honesty in marital relationships.
1 Corinthians 14: 34-35: Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. (34). And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church (35).
As a young girl growing up in the church, I saw more women than men working in the church. If we're supposed to be silent, and our role was supposed to be restricted, why are there not more men in the church?
Scripturally, woman could not do these things, and yet, they were doing all that in the church. I didn't understand it.
When I was growing up, these verses were used at times to prevent women from doing things, and from preaching, in the church. Even in current time, if you go to church on Sunday, you often still see more women than men.
Al-Haaj Ghazi Khankan, director, The Voice of Al-Islaam, and an Islamic marriage officiant, Long Beach:
The Muslim Statement of Faith: I bear witness that there is only one God, Allah, and that Prophet Muhammad is the messenger and servant of Allah.
When I was young, I thought it meant that there was only one prophet. As I grew older and studied the Quran more, I understood that there are many more prophets mentioned in the Quran -- Adam, Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, Jesus and Muhammad, peace be upon them all.
It is explained in the Quran in An-Nisa (The Chapter of the Women) verses 163-165 that God gave good news and warnings to all these messengers. Muhammed was the final prophet of Allah.
You learn as you grow in faith that there were many messengers who carried the word of God.