When reading the Bible it is important to remember that this book has depth. One cannot read all passages at the same level. There are some passages the trump other passages. There is an order and a priority to the books, and they must be read with these things in mind. If one does not understand how to read the Bible, it is very easy to make poor or incorrect interpretations of what this all important book is saying.
Let me explain this concept this way. If you were to read the book of Leviticus, you would eventually come to chapter 11. In this chapter, you'll find a series of instructions on what animals that the Israelites are allowed to eat. Everything that is ok, is classified as "clean" and everything that is not ok to eat, is classified as "unclean." The chapter ends by telling the people that "they must distinguish between the clean and unclean..."
Acts 11, seems to indicate something else. The apostle Peter has a vision where a sheet is lowered filled with all types of animals that were declared by the Torah as unclean. A voice from Heaven declares: "Get up, Peter. Kill and eat!" As a good Jew Peter refuses to eat these unclean animals. The voice responds, "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean." The obvious interpretation is that this story seems to indicate that Peter is now allowed to eat these unclean animals. No longer must he distinguish between that which is clean or unclean.
At first glance, these passages conflict with each other. At second glance they still do. The issue then is which has priority. In orthodox Christian teaching, it is understood that the passage in Acts 11 is the passage that we should follow; and that no longer should we think of animals as"clean or unclean." Indeed, everything that God has made has been made clean.
The Bible needs to be read with movement. One cannot simply read the letters of Paul and expect to have a full understanding of the Gospel, we must also read the Gospels & General Epistles. We cannot just read the New Testaments; we probably should have a full understanding of the other 2/3rds of the Bible as well. The Bible is a 66 part book, and we need to understand each of the 66 parts in order to have a full understanding of its message.
A good exercise would be to read some of the "obscure" books of the Bible. Books that you don't normally read. Books that aren't normally talked about in church...
[more to come on this topic]