Every Christian teacher I know says you have to believe “what the Bible says.” I agree. The Bible is the authority in the Christ-follower’s life. Whatever subject you choose, it’s not your personal opinion that matters, it’s “what the Bible says.” Of course, this is a flawed view at interpretation. After all, none of us are simply believing what the Bible says, but rather our opinion on what the Bible says. Our experiences filter the truth of the Scripture whether we like it or not. As experiences change, so does our view of Scripture. We do our best to be as objective as we can, but none of us are completely unbiased.

I think it’s important to constantly rethink what the Bible is saying versus what we’ve been taught the Bible is saying. There is no one I respect more than my spiritual and theological mentors — both in my childhood and my adult life. But there are some things they taught me that I’ve changed views on.

Here are three (and yes, my view on LGBT issues is one of them), along with one thing that hasn’t changed in the slightest.

Drinking Alcohol

I was taught by multiple people growing up that the wine mentioned in the Bible was basically like our grape juice, so there was no allowance for alcohol in the life of a Christian. I now know that there is no way first century wine was grape juice, because they didn’t have all those processed sugars back in the day. And, even if it was watered down compared to what we have now, I don’t believe the Bible prohibits in any way the drinking of alcohol. Drunkenness? For sure wrong. And flirting with the line between drinking and getting drunk is unwise. But consuming alcohol is not prohibited like I once thought it was. The behavior, like every behavior for a Christ follower, should be lived out with personal freedom but also a bondage to Jesus and to one another. Wisdom and temperance should prevail. But I don’t think it’s wrong to have a drink.

(Scriptures that have shaped my view: Proverbs 20:1, 1 Timothy 5:23, Proverbs 23:31, Psalm 104:14-15, John 2:3-11, 1 Corinthians 10:23-24)

Women Preaching 

I was taught that women should not preach from the pulpit and should not teach adult men. This was always a little confusing to me, because I knew a lot of really smart, Jesus-loving women. It was also confusing because I wasn’t sure when I stopped being a boy (and it was okay for women to teach me) and when I started becoming a man (and it was no longer okay). The arrival of underarm hair? When I was taller than them? I never knew. But I just went along with it.

The woman’s role in the church is (still) a hot button issue and deserving of its own treatment, but I’ll say this: the only thing I’m still wrestling with is whether or not women should serve as elders in the church. I see no other role where it’s even up for debate, including preaching. I think the church, especially the tradition of churches I come from, is slow to adapt in this area, and I hope we’ll take strides in the next decade to refine our view and be more inclusive to women preaching. We have a lot to gain if we can take this key step forward.

(Scriptures that have shaped my view: 1 Timothy 2, Romans 16:1, 1 Corinthians 11:5, Proverbs 31, Judges 4, Galatians 3:28, Acts 18:26)

LGBT Issues

I don’t know of a faster-changing viewpoint in the church and society than the homosexual “issue.” That may reveal the main way my mind has changed, in fact: this is no longer an “issue” for me, but one of profound personal impact. I have friends who are gay and have had students who struggled with their sexuality. This is a complex discussion that deserves nuance (and plenty of smart, meaningful nuance is easy to find elsewhere), but here are the main ways my views have changed:

  • I believe some people are born with same-sex attraction, not that it’s simply a choice as I once believed.
  • I believe that gay couples deserve full civil rights, including the right to marry, something I have not always agreed with.
  • I believe that the Bible distinguishes between homosexual attraction and homosexual behavior, something I did not always recognize.
  • I believe that gender dysphoria is a real thing and that gender and sex are not the same thing, biologically speaking, something I did not always know.
  • I believe that the Church has spent a lot of time having wrong conversations with each other about an issue instead of having the right conversations with gay & transgender people.

(Scriptures that have shaped my view: James 4:12, Hebrews 13:1-5, Romans 1:26-28, 1 Timothy 1:8-11, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

While my views on those three topics have evolved, here’s one thing that hasn’t:

Jesus Knows Better Than Me

I have to (we all have to) start from a position of humility — that we may not know what we’re talking about at all. In my quest to understand Scripture in a deep way, I have to admit I’m simply forming an opinion — as well informed or studied out as it may be — on what I think the Bible says. That’s all any Christian since the time we first held the Scriptures has done. What was once settled in regal church councils is now debated online, but we’re all just trying to figure stuff out. There is good news, however.

Jesus knows better than all of us. 

As such, I think he’s honored in our wrestling with his word. I don’t think he’s offended if I’m wrong about something I think I’m right about. He knows. My doubts don’t rattle him. And as I grow closer to him, I think I’m getting closer to the truth, because he is the Truth (John 14:6). His word is timeless and instructive and convicting (1 Timothy 3:16). His Spirit is in me (1 Corinthians 3:16) and in you, and with that guidance I don’t have to fear that I’m going to screw anything up. It’s not up to me. Jesus will do his thing with me if I’m willing and in spite of me if I’m not — even if that unwillingness is out of ignorance.

So I keep striving to know Christ and I keep studying his Scripture and it’s okay if my views on things change, but the one thing that hasn’t changed is that I trust him, because he knows better (he is better) than me.

Titus Benton is the co-founder and executive director of The 25 Group, a nonprofit making less least of these all over the world. He writes, preaches, and teaches from Katy, TX.

16 thoughts on “3 Things I’ve Changed My Mind About & One Thing I Haven’t

    1. Thanks, Pat! Hope the insight is helpful. I’m a work in progress. Glad your plugged in to a great local church where you can be a work in progress with other great folks!

  1. I wish we could grab a cup of coffee and chat about this post. There is so much I love about it and some things I have questions about but would love to understand how you came to that conclusion- I read through your scripture references. (Not because I want to argue about it, but because I want to be able to come to that same conclusion while being true to scripture, if I understand it correctly. ) Which is what I loved the most about this post….can we all just admit that we might not KNOW exactly what God meant by how we have translated and interpreted certain verses? And that even if I have the “right” interpretation, I still have to love everyone as Jesus would. What I do know and have continued to grow in the knowledge of is that I love way less than Jesus did and judge way more. I want to learn to have HIS balance of truth and grace in how I interact with people. I know I will always fall short of that, but man, do I want to increase in that. Thank you for being brave enough to say what you think, but in a way that invites honest discussion. I have followed your blog for sometime because you often put into words what I think but don’t quite know how to express. Also, I NEVER comment on blogs. So I’m not sure why I felt compelled to do so today! 🙂

    1. Corri,
      I really appreciate you commenting. When you said “you often put into words what I think but don’t quite know how to express” my heart just about burst — that is exactly why I write! If you have any specific questions, there’s obviously more that informed my views and I can share those resources. Hit me up: titus.j.benton@gmail.com or find me on social media. Thanks again for reading/reacting. Blessings.

  2. Good stuff here… I too have changed my position on the first two, on the third my position has changed as well, though not to the extent it has with you. If I were writing my third position change would have to be Hell as Eternal Conscience Torment. Keep writing!

  3. This is great! Micah Murray did a talk about the difference between following Jesus and following the Bible. A lot of terrible things have been done (slavery, misogyny, homophobia, etc) by following the Bible, that cannot be done if you are following Jesus. There is a difference!! Thanks for your honesty and humility. We are all doing the best we can with where we are, and hopefully open to learning and growing and EVOLVING. One of the biggest things that wrecks me is to think of those who loved God and prayed for the Messiah to come – and then when Jesus showed up, they missed him. They were angry about him breaking the Sabbath rather than being thrilled that someone got healed. I don’t want to have such a firm image – based on what I think – and miss him like that. Thanks for your words! Sherri

    1. Thanks, Sherri. I have a high view of the Bible, and I’ve wondered recently what to make of the “follow Jesus, not the Bible” stuff. I think what causes some of the terrible things that have been done is poor interpretation of the Bible. When I think back on the times when people did awful things in the name of obeying Scripture, I often wonder what we’re getting wrong in our current era. I really appreciate you reading and commenting…gives me much to consider. Blessings!

  4. Gay couples may deserve to marry under the federal law, as the law of the United States is not governed by the Bible or by biblical standards. But according to God’s law, their marriage would be a no-marriage. The very idea of marriage originated with God and we can attempt to pervert it and change it and adjust it to fit our needs and our culture, but it’s God’s views, opinions and interests about a topic that matter over our own. You weren’t very clear in this blog post if you believe gay couples deserve to be married in a bible-believing church and/or if you, as an ordained minister, would officiate the ceremony of a gay couple. Seems like that should be more clear in your writing.

  5. Also, this blog post is a bit of a contradiction. How is it possible to state at the end “His word is timeless” and then leave by the wayside the “timeless” truths about these issues based upon your views changing with the times? That doesn’t make sense…just because people have debated, whether in person or now online, about these specific topics doesn’t mean God has any debate in His mind or intentions about these issues. For the record, the Bible never states anywhere drinking was/is unlawful so no idea how anyone would come to that conclusion in any church or why that was never something taught at Bible college?

    In my humble opinion, this kind of blog post is extremely divisive because you set apart those with opposing views as the ones who are not ready to “adapt” when there is no need for any type of adaptation to be made (aside perhaps in approach to conversing with people about these topics – we can all improve our communication skills.) But this is the current cultural landscape – those who submit to the orthodox views of biblical Christianity are intolerant. And this kind of blog post promotes that belief and opinion.

    1. Kim,

      I read your comments and because I have a strong respect for you I went back and read my piece again. I’ve got to say, you are completely within your rights to disagree with my conclusions, but I don’t see any divisive rhetoric here. This blog is about how I have changed my mind on some things, and how I think we’re all forming opinions about what the Bible says based on study, prayer, and — try as we may to avoid it — our experiences. I know not everyone is where I am, and that’s okay. I think we must be able to disagree on stuff like this and still be united.

      I don’t think God’s word has changed, but I do think individual and corporate understanding of it has. That’s certainly true for me. Some of the experiences that have shaped my thinking have caused me to delay further study. I was taught by REALLY INCREDIBLE people, so I took their word as the absolute truth. The drinking topic is a great example of that. Only when I finally got around to further study of my own did my opinion change (I think, to a more accurate scriptural view).

      And yes, there is some stuff in this piece that is not clear. That may be bad writing, which I’m certainly capable of! 🙂 , or it may be that I was unclear on some things because I don’t know some things for sure yet. I haven’t settled on certain aspects of some of these topics. For example, I say in the piece that I’ms till wrestling with the biblical allowance, if it exists, of women as elders.

      A lot of online writing is strong, rigid, loud opinion. You’ve interacted enough with my writing (and with me personally) to know that’s not really my jam. So yes, there is some vague stuff here, but that’s because my viewpoint is still being shaped, and I don’t have it all figured out. I’m still learning.

      So, I promise I’m not trying to be vague and divisive, but rather I’m attempting to ask good questions, seek Truth, and start good conversations.

      I appreciate you being a part of that conversation, as always. You bring a lot to the dialogue.


      1. This is one example of what I mean re: divisiveness and perhaps that word is too strong but it was the first that came to mind: “I think the church, especially the tradition of churches I come from, is slow to adapt in this area, and I hope we’ll take strides in the next decade to refine our view and be more inclusive to women preaching.” Your statement implies that the churches that stand firm in the traditional, orthodox teaching stated in the Bible that men are only to be preachers/pastors need to be refined and adapted because they (the churches) are incorrect or mistaken and need to refine their view. That because you and perhaps others have a new, enlightened view of who should be allowed to preach at and/or pastor a church, other churches should adjust to this as well and become “more inclusive to women preaching.” That’s divisive. And to be fair, you’re allowed that view, but not to the point where it’s your suggestion that churches should make adjustments for your view when scripture identifies in numerous places the qualifications for pastors/preachers/elders – and that women, no matter how smart, tall, educated, accomplished, etc. – are not called to pastor churches. Be deaconesses, be teachers, be leaders/ministers of other ministries, yes, I see God’s word giving the green light to those roles. I did not grow up in the church, I am a woman who was saved at a later age and I don’t want a female pastor because God’s word has called for male pastors/preachers (while I will read books and listen to podcasts from female bible teachers). That’s not sexist or discriminatory or hateful.

        Also, as you cited 1 Timothy 1 above under your changing view on homosexuality, those verses there identify homosexuality (among many other things) as being in opposition and contrary to sound teaching (whole and healthy biblical doctrine). How do those verses support your new view? From where I stand, we can try to adjust the Greek of that word or look into commentaries or rely upon 80-year-old bible scholars, but the word ‘homosexual’ is the same word understood through every cultural and means the same thing. A genuine pastor of sound teaching and doctrine will not want to lead homosexual couples astray by condoning relationships or a “marriage” that is harmful to their true worship of God. That’s another thing that’s baffling. This is so much more than just people who deserve to be married or deserve to have that right to be together. And marriage is actually not a right – definitely a privilege. Same-sex attraction does not always lead to homosexual behavior, yes, just like heterosexual attraction does not always lead to extramarital or premarital sexual behavior. Honestly, I’m finding it difficult to understand how to be united when one set of Christians says homosexuality is not sinful while another set is saying it is sinful. How do you unite there? This is not a secondary issue, say like baptizing infants or offering weekly vs. monthly communion or using instruments in your service or not. This goes back, again, to the worship of God in spirit and in truth. If anything, these kinds of blog posts from committed Christians just leave people more confused.

        I completely understand wrestling with scripture and truly believe God welcomes that seeking and searching and even doubting. He’s greater than our hearts and can handle all of it. But we should be extremely cautious in how we report and state what God’s word actually says – for He Himself has said to not add to His world lest we are proven to be liars. I’d much rather err on the side of caution and take His word at face value for what it says and for how the Spirit leads, taking into consideration the whole counsel of God’s word from the Old and New testaments, than allow my views and experiences to dictate my theological direction and therefore lead others astray. There’s so much at stake here.

      2. I get all that Kim. I really do. At the root of it all is this question you asked:

        “How do you unite there?”

        I think we can unite there — you can think women shouldn’t be pastors and I think they can, and we can be united. You can think gay marriage should be illegal and I can think it should be legal. We can still stand side by side and worship, serve together, talk about such things without removing our support of one another, and continue to sharpen each other with our views even in the midst of disagreement.

        Others think we cannot unite there — if we disagree on these issues, we cannot be united. We cannot serve together, support each other, or talk without it getting heated.

        How, then, am I being the divisive one. I desire unity. I do not think disagreement equals disunity.

        I, for one, will refuse to break fellowship with folks that disagree with me. I do think whether or not we can drink, women an preach, or gay people are legally permitted to get married are secondary issues, and I won’t hold anyone at arm’s length if they disagree.

        I hope you won’t hold me at arm’s length, either, because I sure think the Pina’s are fantastic folks.

      3. I’ll have to do some more thinking about where homosexuality falls within the categories of primary vs. secondary issues. Or if it should be categorized at all as I fall in line with where the bible outlines it as sin and just another part of the downfall of a culture (history repeats itself if we want to go back in time and look at the Romans.)

        Biblically speaking, sound doctrine leads to sound living (as your Bible book’s namesake states repeatedly) so a Christian who considers homosexuality OK’d by God is one who may have some faulty understanding re: sound doctrine. But maybe that’s where this conversation is at a crossroads – it sounds like you’re speaking from a secular standpoint re: homosexual marriage, saying you think homosexual couples should be legally permitted to marry (in any church or just by the law via a marriage certificate?). I have no desire to require biblical conformity from secular society – for some in this country the desire for gay marriage is their pursuit of happiness.

        But from a biblical standpoint, it doesn’t seem that you’ve stated your stance clearly here. And again that’s your choice as your views appear to be fluid as you think through them.

        I have no intention of holding anyone at arm’s length – it would certainly be unproductive. It’s just been a confusing conversation among Christians in an already confusing culture and climate. I don’t believe this should be the case from professing believers.

        Thanks for the conversation and I’ll be chatting more about it all with Laz.

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