Friday, October 26, 2007 11:46 pm Daniel J. Summers
There is something that has been bugging me, and thanks to an episode of Real Time with Bill Maher, I'm getting around to addressing it. Here is the transcript which we'll be discussing - a strong language warning is in effect. (Quoted portions here will be sanitized.) I'll state up front that Bill Maher is a comedian, so I understand that some of this is his schtick. I'll also state that I'm not picking on him, just using what he said as an example of an argument I've heard hundreds of time. The argument is this - current practitioners of Christianity have it all wrong. Jesus was accepting and loving, not full of hate like today's Christians.
We'll start with Maher's monologue…
And finally, New Rule: If the choice in '08 is between Rudy and Hillary, “values voters” must do the Christian thing and choose Hillary. Of course, I think all religion is nuts, but at least she practices it the way Jesus suggested: privately. Like a Dick Cheney energy meeting.
I'll certainly grant him one thing - though Hillary's husband is a louse, they are both still married in their first marriage. But, apart from that, the only time Hillary goes to church is when there's a good photo op, whereas Giuliani has not pretended to be religious.
Plus, she's raised an admirable daughter, while Rudy's kids couldn't hate him more if they were New York City firefighters.
And let's not forget, Hillary didn't commit adultery. Her husband did. And afterwards, she did the Christian thing and forgave him. And then she had a GPS unit implanted in his [manhood]. But the important thing is, she forgave him!
I included these just for a chuckle or two. He does make a few good points. Some may speculate about whether her forgiveness was politically calculated or not, but regardless, she did forgive him, even after the one reason given in Scripture as allowing divorce (more on that later).
Now, I bring all this up because this weekend in Washington is the “Values Voters Convention.” Three days of peace, love and hypocrisy. Where the Republican frontrunners will spend the week kissing the [backsides] of 2,000 social conservatives who despise liberals, homosexuals, Muslims, Mexicans and Nobel Prize winners. And who believe the sound of a condom wrapper being opened makes angels die.
Now we start with the elitism and name-calling. I listen to and read conservative commentary, I am friends with many conservatives, and I consider myself to be a conservative as well. I don't despise liberals, though I do despise their viewpoints. I don't despise homosexuals. I'll admit that I'm a little apprehensive of Muslims, but living and working around them for four months while I was deployed certainly helped ease that apprehension. I have no problems with Mexicans at all - however, I believe they should emigrate to this country according to our laws. And the last line isn't even worthy of a comment. :)
It's kind of like a “Star Trek” convention, only the virgins are angry - and they think outer space is just a theory. So, Ann Coulter, if you've got any more “[queer]” jokes, this is the room for you.
On the contrary, most “values voters” are not virgins; they just ascribe to God's version of sexuality. And, they know that outer space isn't just a theory; God created it. And, most conservatives I know can parse words well enough to realize that what Ann Coulter was making fun of the railroading of Isaiah Washington and the lack of manliness of John Edwards - not using the slur against Edwards.
And I know that if you can look at the war in Iraq, the melting environments and the descent of America into “idiocracy,” and still think our biggest problems are boobies during the Super Bowl and the “war on Christmas,” then you don't have values, you have issues.
We disagree on the war in Iraq. Global warming is a religion, not science, and information keeps coming out every week disproving this religion, with it's “indulgences” in the form of carbon credits. Conservatives are also concerned about the lack of knowledge amongst the public, which is why we are in favor of trying other alternatives to the proven failed government school system. Broadcast standards are what they are - whine all you want, that's why your show is on HBO. And the “war on Christmas” is an assault on freedom of religion, one of the bedrock principles of this country. I'll agree, “we” have issues, but by “we” I mean this entire nation.
If you had “values,” you'd draw the line at torture. But a startling number of people who call themselves Christians don't. And I'm pretty sure if you asked, “What would Jesus veto,” it wouldn't be health care for sick kids.
Sure, we'll draw the line at torture - but not your definition of torture, which is “pretty much anything that makes the detainee uncomfortable.” And I'm pretty sure Jesus would have vetoed this latest S-CHIP bill, which isn't health care for sick kids, it's health insurance for middle-class kids.
Let me take this opportunity for a rabbit-trail rant. What is it with liberals and dishonest euphemisms? “Taxes” become “contributions”, health “insurance” becomes health “care”, “religion” becomes “hate” (unless it's Islam, then it's hallowed and is not to be trifled with), and “interrogation” is “torture”. As the Godfather has said, “Words mean things.” If they were honest about their agenda, the public would never buy it. Who here is against “health care for children”? (crickets chirping) Who here is against “taxpayer (that's you and me, by the way)-funded health insurance for children of middle-class families through age 25”? (show of hands) That's what I thought.
But back to Bill - here it is, folks, his grand finale…
Why, it's almost like “values voters” don't really believe Jesus was right about anything. [in mock attack ad voice] “Jesus Christ: wrong on gays, wrong on taxes, wrong on torture, and wrong for America.”
Here's a passage I've heard I don't know how many times, used to prove this exact point. It's from John 8, where the people brought a woman caught in the act of adultery to Jesus. Their law said she should be stoned, but they wanted to see what Jesus would say. We'll look at John 8:3-11 from the Holman Christian Standard Bible (click the link to read them, if you think I'm quoting them incorrectly, or to read it in a different translation).
3 Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, making her stand in the center. 4 “Teacher,” they said to Him, “this woman was caught in the act of committing adultery. 5 In the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do You say?” 6 They asked this to trap Him, in order that they might have evidence to accuse Him.
Jesus stooped down and started writing on the ground with His finger. 7 When they persisted in questioning Him, He stood up and said to them, "The one without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her."
Oooh, that's good! That's usually where the argument ends. “You're not sinless, so who are you to “cast stones” at me?” They interpret “casting stones” as “saying what I'm doing is wrong.” Rather than excusing sin, though, this is a prohibition against meting out punishment. Casting stones was executing a death-sentence judgment against someone. But there's more!
8 Then He stooped down again and continued writing on the ground. 9 When they heard this, they left one by one, starting with the older men. Only He was left, with the woman in the center. 10 When Jesus stood up, He said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"
11 “No one, Lord,” she answered.
"Neither do I condemn you," said Jesus.
“But look! Jesus SAID ‘I don't condemn you’!!!” Again, calling a sin a sin is not condemnation. But, there's one part of this verse that conveniently gets snipped, and it's the part that we as Christians believe is the most important part.
"Go, and from now on do not sin any more."
The emphasis in the above is, of course, mine. Jesus did not condemn her, but He also did not say that what she was doing was “just the way she was, and we should accept it” or “fine with Him as long as she wasn't hurting anyone else.” He forgave, then gave her the charge of turning away from that sin. That is the truly beautiful part of this story - we don't have to continue sinning, to continue to be a slave to sin, once we have met the saving power of Christ.
In logic, a “straw man” is a fallacious argument of an opponent's position that is misconstrued but argued as fact. That is what people who espouse these arguments are doing. They are setting up a straw man of this religion that Jesus never taught, so they can tear down our practice of it. They're wrong, and we should call them on it. There is a difference between being meek and defending the faith. :)
So, the next time someone tells you what Jesus would do, (as Paul Harvey would say) now you know the rest of the story.