To interpret the Bible, one must first decide to conform with the literal or the contextual meanings. These meaning are very different in many aspects, for example in PSALM 23:1 "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want." If interpreted literally, the speaker is constituted as a sheep. If interpreted contextually the Lord is an all mighty being who watches over us, if you believe in the Lord then you will get everything you need. In my opinion, the Bible today must be looked at in its contextual form. There are many reasons why the Bible does not fit into the modern language and therefore, cannot be interpreted literally. Although the literal meaning is good to look at for history corresponding past events, the contextual meaning is a good base to live your life by.
It is said "that Jesus taught in parables." These stories, in my opinion, must be looked at as lesson with an overall message. The Bible should be looked at the same way and be regarded as a lesson from the word of the Lord. These stories can be looked at to find answers to your questions in life. Although not in literal language, to read the Bible one must read in-between the lines. Although the Bible does not answer your specific questions of today, the Bible is a reference to the questions of life. The stories that are told in the Bible are reference to follow, and how you interpret these stories is how you will respond to the question at hand.
When looking at the Bible in the contextual form, the meaning can be applied more for the individual. The Protestant faith is similar; they look to their conscious to find the meaning within themselves. The Catholic faith, on the other hand, looks to the Pope for decisions in their life. A major problem with looking to the Pope for decisions is that people sometimes use the Pope as a "crutch," instead of taking responsibility for their actions. In essence they are making life decisions on what one man says. Just as in the Bible, if read literally, it is a good reference for the whole but not for the individual. In some circumstances the literal meaning is opposite of what an individual may believe. Thus, looking at the contextual form you are more open to make decisions based on the overall messages of the Bible. When looking at the Bible in its contextual form, you interpret the passages that you read.
Today in the time of our society and time the literal meaning is out-dated and does not fit with our lifestyles. The Bible was written primarily in the Middle East in a time during which technology was not present and America was not even known. The literal interpretation is just to extreme for the society in which live in. People are busier and more aware the events going on within the world and are familiar with the different religions of world. This new knowledge has turned people away from a specific religion. Now, people read the Bible, but the person may not go to church to hear the sermon, instead they interpret the Bible according to their contextual meaning.
The editor has a big part in re-writing the Bible, and each Bible translated is a little different. Through my eyes, if a person their life by the literal meaning, knowing that the Bible has been altered from its original form, is morally wrong. The overall message hopefully has stayed the same with the editing and only the literal meaning has been changed. If only one word has been altered since the original document the literal meaning has still been modified. This redaction criticism is believed to a major problem with interpreting the Bible literally.
If you lived by the literal meaning of the Bible, life would be too restrictive in contemporary society. One example includes the dilemma concerning a person who is homosexual and they want to be a Christian, why can’t they be? The overall message of the Bible says Love thy neighbor, as thy self. It does not say love thy neighbor only if he/she is not gay. These are people trying to live wholesome lives still under the word of the Lord. It is now proven that homosexuality has to do with genetics and a part of the brain. These people are children of the Lord just as anyone else. How can the literal meaning of the Bible say that their lifestyle is a sinful act? When we are all sons of the Lord and we are expected to live by the ‘Golden Rule,’ and the Bible contradicts itself, how can one interpret the Bible literally?
There are many reasons why one would look at the Bible both literally and contextually. Hopefully through the reasons that I have mentioned, one will now look at the Bible within the correct form; the contextual one. The world has changed too much and people are too educated to look at the Bible only in its literal form. By looking at the Bible and its contextual form, one may find happiness by living out what they believe.