Posts tagged “religion”

Popesplaining

September 26, 2015   5:44 am

Has anyone coined the term “Popesplaining” yet? If not, allow me. (If so - well, hey, my server, my rules. Why am I asking for permission, anyway?)

Popesplaining (n.)

  1. A politically conservative Roman Catholic justifying the public papal positions that disagree with their political positions and/or established church theology.
  2. A politically liberal person, typically allergic to anything religious entering the public square, justifying the papal message that coincide with their political views, while failing to recognize his message as a theological one.

(Spoiler alert: I’m not a fan of either one.)

The Mirror

October 1, 2013   10:04 am

To my friends blaming the Democrats for the shutdown - you’re right. To my friends blaming the Republicans for the shutdown - you’re right. We should not still be operating on a 5-year series of continuing resolutions; all this does is prove that we earned our credit downgrade.

Both sides were elected, and virulent dissent is not incompatible with our system of government; both sides have their talking points down pretty well. It truly is a shame that arguing these back and forth is what passes for debate. It certainly doesn’t inspire much confidence for the future.

In a way, though, this just reflects our society. Schools don’t teach reasoning and logic, they are simple regurgitation centers. Instead of encouraging debate and outside-the-box thinking, the only questions allowed are those that question the institutions and traditions on which our country is founded. We allowed people to say “Freedom from religion is the same as freedom of religion” without saying back “Uh, no, it’s not; prepositions have definite meanings and were selected based on those definitions.”

IMO, this was the beginning of the intellectual weakness that is now writ large on our society. The pseudo-intellectuals use derision and contempt as their go-to weapons when they do not want to deal with opposing viewpoints. In that way, the last week in Washington has been merely a mirror to show us how ugly we’ve become.

The only thing Idiocracy missed was how long it will take us to get there.

My Problem with So-Called "Gay Marriage" (Part 1)

May 10, 2012   7:45 am

This is long, and it’s just part one; strap in.

Today, our president announced that, in a 180-degree turn from his previous statements, he now favors “gay marriage.” There are several things about this entire situation that boggle the mind about this, and most of them come back to the inescapable fact that few other religions would permit such bigotry against them. For the vast majority of opponents to same-sex marriage, their opposition is not rooted in hate, but in their religious beliefs. The insistence of these activists to literally re-define marriage is what makes this most distasteful. In future parts, I’ll also deal with the fact that they are not honest in their arguments; they cannot be, or they will have to cede what they feel are their strongest points. Finally, I have an opinion (bet you didn’t see that coming, huh?) of how I believe government can both respect religion and get the vast majority of what the “gay marriage” activists want; that will be part 3.

Imagine, if you will, that our founding fathers were Jews rather than Christians and Deists. They set up our government to honor Passover above any and all other days, requiring that employers give Jewish employees time off from sundown to sundown on Passover, provided they attend the special services at the temple. This worked well for over 200 years, as some people got a day off each year, and other’s didn’t. It didn’t occur to them to mind; this is just the way it’s always been. There’s a program out there for which they don’t qualify, but it didn’t bother them, the same way that it didn’t bother them that they weren’t eligible for food stamps because their income was too high.

Then, one day, the Protestant population started wondering why they didn’t have this same protection - “Why can’t I demand a free day off a year, just because I don’t hold to that ancient, antiquated religion?” They go to the government and say “Hey, this doesn’t seem fair - why can’t we get a free day off each year?” The government says, “Well, what do you have in mind?” The people reply “Passover should be for all! We want a Protestant Passover, except without that temple requirement; we just want a free day off like them!” The government promptly laughs them out of its offices.

These Protestants aren’t done yet, though. Prestigious universities have been teaching Protestantism as an equally valid alternative to Judaism for many years, and now these university-educated people are educating an increasing number of the nation’s children. They decide to lay the groundwork by starting to normalize Protestantism. They find some inspiring stories about Protestants throughout history; they speculate that others may have been &“closet” Protestants, even though they never really said for sure. Finally, they follow this up with people who were “unfairly” treated simply because they were Protestant. If it’s one thing kids understand, it’s “that’s not FAIR!”, and this plan has wildly-successful results. The reasons given tend to evolve as well; in the beginning, it’s fear; a few years later, it’s bigotry; a few years after that, it’s just hate.

Finally, this so-called Protestant Passover movement really starts to have some legs. Politicians are asked their view of this, even when the nation is facing far more pressing issues. The Jews are livid about the government defining a “Protestant Passover” that confers all the rights of the free-day-off Passover, but is celebrated by people who have no clue what it is they’re celebrating, and without the worship requirement (which was the original reason behind the law in the first place). They would base their complaints on the free exercise of religion, and they would be told to stop hating.

You see where I’m going with this. There is absolutely no way our fictional government would even consider something so ludicrous as Protestant Passover; but, with two generations of conditioning by partial parties, now it doesn’t seem ludicrous. I believe this is the point we have reached in our nation today; those who are for “gay marriage” cannot fathom any motivation other than hate in their opposition, no matter how little sense this makes. (“But wait,” you say, “wouldn’t the original Passover law constitute an establishment of religion?” One could make that argument; come back for part 3, my friend.)

The word “marriage” means something to the Christian faith. Through the several Scriptures that follow, we survey some of the verses that establish marriage as having special significance; this is my proof that the “gay marriage” push is offensive to Christianity. We’ll start with two verses that are central to this argument.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

These two verses establish the sufficiency and completeness of Scripture. Either it’s all true, or none of it is; I hold to the former view. What was written was written, and the omission of what was not written is also significant. We also see that the purpose of Scripture is to equip man through teaching (education), reproof (some versions translate this “rebuke”), correction (a change of course), and training (“here is how you do it”). This means that, although Jesus has come and fulfilled the law, reading the law still has value; it gives us insight into how God thinks. Studying how God dealt with people and nations can show us His patience, mercy, and judgment all at the same time.

I think that this is where many of the Christians who identify themselves on the “pro” side of this argument go astray. They focus on one verse or passage, to the exclusion of all others. They may give special emphasis to the words of Jesus - most Bibles do, by putting His words in red! However, these verses tell us that all Scriptures is profitable. If Jesus said something, Paul echoed it, and Peter explained it, Peter’s explanation is not “one of many interpretations” of Jesus’ words; it is the explanation that God has preserved in His Word!

With that being said, let’s take a look first at some pro-marriage verses. From the very beginning, God created male and female (yes, “Adam and Eve” not “Adam and Steve”), and near the end of Genesis 2, we read

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

Genesis 2:24

Later, Solomon has this advice for his son:

Let your fountain be blessed,
and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
a lovely deer, a graceful doe.
Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight;
be intoxicated always in her love.

Proverbs 5:18-19

(Am I the only one noticing that not only are they supposed to be husband and wife, but they’re supposed to keep the fire burning? Ever read the book Song of Solomon? Yowza!)

Now, sure, those are both Old Testament. But, when Jesus quotes these words (and not in the “It has been said…but I say” way)…

He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?..”

Matthew 19:4-5

…well, that would seem to make them doubly-important in my book. Paul, who was one of the last people to see Jesus, found himself in the position of educating new believers who came from a background of hedonism. We’ll deal with the "don’t"s here in a bit, but let’s look at how he summarizes his instructions on roles in marriage.

However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Ephesians 5:33

Husband with masculine pronoun, wife with a feminine pronoun - it’s almost like there’s a secret message there. No, I kid; it’s no secret at all. Keep in mind this was written in Greek, when the Greek culture had just recently begun to fade. There was certainly plenty of homosexuality and pederasty in Greece; if there had been something positive to say about either of these things, Paul had the perfect opportunity. However, he had a different take.

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

Romans 1:26-27

(Could that last part be talking about venereal disease or AIDS? Probably shouldn’t go there; this is already long enough as it is.)

Paul is not a lone wolf on this; the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and the prohibitions in the Levitical law on not only homosexuality, but also bestiality, incest, and adultery are consistent with this. Incidentally, these laws are given as a group, lending a certain “they’re all the same sin” feel to that list. Non-marital sexual activity was prohibited.

Marriage was the first institution established by God, followed closely by the family. The reason our government issues marriage licenses in the first place is a carry-over from the Church of England (more on that in part 3). It is significant in the Christian faith. The fact that it has been abused and devalued by Christians and non-Christians alike does not change that. In fact, let’s go ahead and get that red herring out of the way here. Remember above, where Jesus quoted the Old Testament? Let’s pull that passage over here in with a bit more context.

And Pharisees came up to Him and tested Him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?”

He answered, “Have you not read that He Who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?”

He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so….”

Matthew 19:3-8

Here, Jesus not only recognizes the institution of marriage, He reinforces it, tearing down an “out” that Moses had permitted, and had been a part of their law ever since. Now, I personally believe that it’s a good thing that divorcees aren’t shunned; Jesus doesn’t indicate that divorce is better or worse than any other sin, but He does call it out as sin. If sin is forgiven and forsaken, my reading of Scripture tells me that’s good enough for God, and if it’s good enough for Him, it’s good enough for me. However, the modern church has swung too far away from shunning to the point that divorce is common and accepted; it makes the argument for the sanctity of marriage weaker, especially in the eyes of the non-believing world. However, it does nothing to dilute the words of Jesus here.

Marriage is significant to the Christian faith. I believe I’ve demonstrated above that “gay marriage” is an oxymoron; how do you have “prohibited-activity sacred-institution”? Just as Muslims would fight a move to classify pulled pork as a halal dish, or Catholics would not want to receive a Big Mac as the Eucharist, Christians who oppose “;gay marriage” are simply defending their faith. Redefining a word that currently denotes the first institution ordained by God should be met with strong resistance by all Christians. Maybe this assault is what we need to recognize how far we’ve drifted from what the Word says should be the way. Forget about the sins of the past; we should determine what God says, then stand for it.

(This is part 1 of a 3-part series. The other parts will be linked here as they are published. The other parts will remain in my head.)

Selective Religion

October 26, 2007   10:46 pm

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.

Moving along…

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.