The Man in the Ditch
You seem rather enamored of Paul's letters while paying less attention to what Jesus taught us.
When the lawyer asked Jesus, "Who is our neighbor?" Christ responded with the story of the Samaritan, or as the Living Bible says, the despised Samaritan. He wanted to point out that the neighbor could be anyone who had compassion for the one who had fallen among thieves. Yet we could also look at this situation the other way and ask, "Who is the man in the ditch?"
Here in Rhea County we have our own bigot in residence, I call her "Ms. June." She doesn't think too highly of blacks, gays, Jews, Catholics or foreigners (I'm OK so far) or people who don't take the Bible literally (oops, she got me on that one.) When Gore chose his running mate in 2000, the sign in front of her little store read, "GORE CHOOSES ANTI-CHRIST." Apparently it slipped her mind that Jesus was Jewish.
So I'm driving down Toestring Valley Road one evening after dark and I see an old car by the side of the road and a man standing there, arms akimbo, looking down at a flat tire. Who was this man standing there by the ditch? Would it matter to me (or to you) if I saw he were black or knew he was gay, Catholic or Jewish. What if he were a Mexican here picking tomatoes?
He doesn't have a spare, it turns out, so we remove the tire and head to town where we get the flat fixed and I return him to his car afterward. He offers me a few dollars, but I told him no need since I was heading to town and back anyway. I ask if he has children waiting for him at home and he tells me three, so I remind him he's late, that they will have been worried, so I ask him to give them each an extra long hug when he gets there and that will be thanks enough for my efforts.
So who was this man standing there by the ditch? Why it was Jesus, of course. Remember the part about "the least of these, my brethren?" Some day when I meet Him face to face, He'll smile and say, "Oh, you were the fellow who stopped and helped me that night when I had the flat tire. Please stand over here on my right with the rest of the people who were good neighbors to others."
So we see, understanding what the Bible teaches is really quite simple:
STEP 1: Love God without reservation.
STEP 2: Love our neighbors as Jesus taught us.
STEP 3: Repeat over and over.
One doesn't have to remember every verse, jot or tittle. Living God's word is a matter of applying these principles as each new situation arises. So when Ms. June and others make nasty misstatements about the gays and lesbians here in Rhea County, I respond with letters to the editor speaking truth to these prejudices. That's what the Bible tells me being a good neighbor is all about.