Mostly, yes, each person is responsible for knowing the context of why and where scripture was written. Without that knowledge how can they hope to understand what is really being said? This knowledge can largely be gained though talking with each other and study groups but in the end it is ultimately up to the individual. That doesn't mean you have to be an expert on each culture as a whole. That just means you should take care enough to look into the issues of the times and situations that lead to it being written. It's like people in the future looking at us in the States for passing the Patriot Act without knowing the facts about 9/11 and determining that ALL people should be subject to the Patriot Act even though all crime has been solved at that time. It's just plainly irresponsible.
The mandates that are man-made are the ones that have no basis is scripture. For you to be able to pin point which ones those are will take your study of the scriptures. Don't expect an easy out. It is up to you to discover and read for yourself.
You said yourself the scripture is man-made and context-specific. Are you saying the New Testament is God's Word but it must be read through a filter of understanding that it specifically applies to the culture and time at which it was written? Does that mean each person is personally responsible for studying that culture and time to know how much of a grain of salt to take when reading the New Testament? What about the various cultures who have translated the New Testament before it reached your eyes? How is a Good Christian to know what is legitimately God's word and what they inserted, distorted, or removed?
She is to be as submissive as he is to her. Again, the bible is clear on this.
How is a Good Christian woman supposed to know how deferential and submissive she should be to her husband, for example? The New Testament is pretty clear that a woman should obey her husband, but is that not simply the way things were then? Haven't we come a long way since then? But how do we know that's not what God wants? How can a Good Christian tell?
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
In there there is no greater and there is no lesser. They are equal for in order to love you do not seek to take advantage, to consider her, to do things for her, etc.
As far as knowing when to tell that is only determined through careful consideration, collaboration with other believers and most importantly prayer.
My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,
While you could do that it is better to remove yourself from being tempted than to lose limbs. Cutting off an appendage is an easy way out. Christ said that it is the lust in the heart that causes a man to stumble and it's hate in the heart that causes him to murder. The Bible is about reconciling the inner self with our creator. We are internally broken and through Christ we can be healed. That's the ultimate message of the Bible.
What about the Old Testament? How do you pick and choose what to believe from that? That's obviously written to a culture much older than the New Testament, and with very different ideas... and yet, Jesus said:Matthew 5:17-19 (NIV)
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
How does a Good Christian know whether to cut off his own hand for masturbating, or whether to gouge his own eye out for lusting?
Don't divorce? If there's an issue of violence or other abuse then just leave.
How does a Good Christian know whether he or she will spend eternity in Hell for the sin of divorce?
You're not remembering the scripture correctly here.
How does a Good Christian know whether The Pledge of Allegiance is a sin, since he specifically says that to make an oath comes from the evil one?
Above all, my brothers, do not swear--not by heaven or by earth or by
anything else. Let your "Yes" be yes, and your "No," no, or you will be
This is speaking about making promises. The Pledge of Allegiance is okay I suppose. Your pledging to a nation under God and I see no issue with that. The verse you're quoting is framed around being patient. You should simply do it or not. You should recognize that there is nothing that is yours that you can pledge in place of your honor.
It is clear. All you have to do is read it. That's not to say there aren't things that aren't immediately understood. However, given our culture has largely thrown out the Bible, there are few resources we can draw on. That is why reading and prayer is very important as is talking to those of the same faith. The Bible is a compendium of man. It is not God's fault we stopped recording and compiling the works he does for others to read. As far as versions go pick the one that is easiest for you to understand and listen to all it's parts. Perhaps a good idea for you to do is to read the Bible from cover to cover once not drawing conclusions. Just read it and take note of what's going on. Then, reread it and actively think "what's being said here?" or "with everything else I've read what is God trying to say here?" and go from there.
Above all, why is it so confusing? Why doesn't God make his Word clear by providing us with a magical changing bible that modifies itself with the times? Why are we forced to choose between different versions? Why are we forced to choose which parts to listen to?
I think Christianity is very logical. There is God. He made man. We sinned. He sent is son to save us. Through him we are saved. End of story. I don't get into a lot of nitpicking with issues because largely that is a practice in futility and even banned in the Bible.
Why is nothing in Christianity logical? Have you ever wondered that?
But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and
quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless.
All that is important is your relationship with Christ. Love God first. Love your neighbor as yourself second. Done.
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”