My Way or the Highway
Apr 05, 2013 | 1402 views | 5 5 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print

My Way or the Highway

Pastor Steve Ellison


You may think “My Way or the Highway” is good leadership strategy but it is not.  You may think that it is a sign of strength but it is not.  Does the Bible direct us to stand strong, immovable, and uncompromising on every belief that we have?  Does the Bible direct us to try to please others, always giving in to others regarding their beliefs? Are those two ideas incompatible and conflicting?  These are important questions.  Our ideas about these questions can easily lead to either of two extremes.  On the one hand, we can wind up with no doctrinal foundation at all. On the other hand, we can find ourselves in a never ending series of destructive conflicts.  Both of these extremes do great danger to the Church, which Christ died for and dearly loves.


The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 15:1-6 that “each of us is to please his neighbor for his edification” and that “we are to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus”.   He went on to say that we are to “with one accord and one voice glorify God”.   Thus, the Bible directs us to both please our neighbor and to be in line with Christ’s teaching.  A couple of events in the life of the Apostle Paul are very instructive.  Paul had two young protégés, Timothy and Titus.  In addition to all of Paul’s evangelism and church wide discipleship activities, he was busily trying to invest in the lives of these two men. He wanted to equip them to carry on his work.   Circumcision was a big deal to many of the Jews who had become followers of Jesus.  There were a lot of strong feelings in several points to the circumcision issue.  Neither, Timothy or Titus had been circumcised as children.   Acts 16 tells us that Paul had Timothy circumcised.  Galatians 2 states that Paul refused to have Titus circumcised.  Did Paul at some point between these two events change his opinion about circumcision?


No, Paul clearly understood that circumcision meant nothing.  One of his earliest epistles, 1 Corinthians is very explicit about that in chapter seven.  Paul knew very well that circumcision was a matter of personal preference only.  What then is at the root of his two very different responses to this matter concerning Timothy and Titus?  In Acts 16, Paul was in the process of hand delivering the decree from the Council of Jerusalem which stated that circumcision was not a requirement for salvation.  Knowing that this decree would be troublesome (if not downright offensive) to many of the churches to whom he was delivering it, Paul had Timothy (who was traveling with him) circumcised to promote unity and peace.  In Galatians 2, Paul was specifically dealing with the heresy that circumcision was a requirement for salvation.  When these Judaizers demanded that Titus be circumcised, Paul immediately and emphatically refused because it would have promoted a destructive heresy which said that Christ’s work on the cross was not a finished work.  Circumcising Titus would have indicated that man would be saved by works.


As believers in Christ, we need to be careful about what we affirm and what we deny.  The stakes are high.  The damage to Christ’s church can be great regardless of which way that we err.   We ought to carefully examine our own hearts and our own agendas to be sure that we are not seeking to simply please ourselves.  We ought to carefully examine our hearts to make sure that we are not seeking to please men without the accompanying requirement that it be for their edification and for pleasing Christ.  If we fail in this regard, the church we hurt will be our own. ….…….…

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Steve Ellison
April 06, 2013
I must do a better job of writing with more clarity. The two who have posted seem to have totally missed my point.
April 07, 2013
Christian leaders could be a lot more clear that infant circumcision is NOT a part of your religion. A woman posted on Facebook last night that

1) She would circumcise her son because she was Christian

2) It had something to do with his eternal soul

3) To prefer New Testament teachings - in fact the whole theme of the New Testament, that Jesus had made a new covenant, superceding the old one - over a literal reading of Genesis, was "picking and choosing.

4) She would cut a daughter too, if the bible said so

5) She would KILL a son if (she thought) God told her to (cf Gen 22)

6) If her mother had cut her genitals for religious reasons, she would be glad. She left before we could find out if this would still be true if her mother had embraced the horrors of sub-Saharan Africa.

She seems to have totally missed the point of Christianity - and it seems her son will miss his point as a result.

April 06, 2013
Intelligent Christians and Jews worldwide should be leading the repudiation of this ridiculous primitive Bronze Age blood ritual.
Ron Low
April 06, 2013
I think it's more about submitting to the willofo authority. Here's Paul telling others to get the best part their bodies cut off (Timothy) or not (Titus).

Modern ethics dictate that proxy (parental) consent for an irreversible intervention is only valid if waiting for the patient’s own rational informed consent would lead to harm, and if non-destructive options are exhausted.

Forced genital cutting of healthy normal males fails this test decidedly. There are ZERO supposed benefits of circumcision that can’t be easily realized through non-destructive means.
April 06, 2013

Making it a taboo to compare male with female sexual mutilation is the biggest scandal of the controversy. In both instances the most sensitive and most erogenous zone of the human body is amputated and severely damaged. In both instances, what counts primarily is the cutting of human sexuality. The imposition of control by the patriarchy. A good look at a book on embryology will show the development of the nerves and tissue and how they are the same.

What is lacking in all the talk about circumcision is discussion of its archeological dimension - that it is the left over of human sacrifice. What kind of god is it that demands that of an infant? If the Bris constitutes the identity of the male, what about the identity of a Jewish girl? Or is this an entirely homosexual ceremony?

Also, unfortunately it is / has been circumcision that has MADE for no end of anti-semitic sentiments. Freud found that it was the chief reason for unconscious anti-Semitism. And the myths surrounding it are at the core of the “blood libel.” Thus, it's time to eliminate the Brit Milah because if that is the chief reason for being anti-Semitic or anti-Abrahamic [Islam too practices the rite] then why hang on to this left-over of human sacrifice? that traumatizes the child, cutting off 5,000 nerves, that is the equivalent of female circumcision in the sense that it eliminates everything but the clitoris,and only serves the Ultra Orthodox to maintain their power? After all, reform Judaism sought to eliminate the rite in the 19th century, and Jewish identity depends on being born by a Jewish mother, or converting. Here a link to an archive of the entire German and then some debate, note especially Michael Wolffsohn's two pieces . Circumcision has been controversial also within Jewry forever.