Friday, July 3, 2015

When faith and higher thinking collide

The Holy Bible: Guidelines or rulebook?
Society is at war with religion. Many conservative Christians feel like the American culture is trying to demonize or criminalize Christians. But why is this?

As someone who experienced years of physical abuse at a Lutheran school, I know how hard the barbs that hide behind the guise of Christian love can sting. I was a Catholic in a Lutheran school, therefore I was not as “good” a Christian as the Lutherans. I deserved abuse and ridicule for my beliefs.

I can see the irony of a society, that for a long time condemned others who do not fall in line with their beliefs, is now being persecuted for those beliefs.

Yesterday I was talking with a woman who is strict Catholic and very against gay marriage. I know I am not going to convince her otherwise, but still I had a conversation with her. I did not rise up or get angry when she made accusations, but rather tried to put an intellectual debate forward.

This conversation eventually addressed the “slippery slope” that legalizing gay marriage would lead to: i.e. marrying animals and young children. I quickly addressed the very simple point that adults can give consent, animals and children cannot, and how I greatly doubted that any state or the Supreme Court would allow marriage between a human and animal or human and child. To which she quickly claimed that there was nothing to prevent child brides in our nation.

Well, I knew that was not right and tried to correct this individual, but she staunchly denied me. A quick Google search confirmed what I believed: an individual must be at least 18 to consent to marry. One state allows marriage as young as 15 with a parent’s consent, most require 16 with parent’s consent. (I might have to return with some handouts.) Therefore there will be no child brides because a 10 year old cannot give consent to marry, nor can a parent grant consent for a child that young.

The conversation shifted to how it will be a slippery slope with businesses being forced to serve gay people even if it goes against their religion. I stated that I personally did not think businesses should be able to discriminate against customers, that it was no different than telling a black man to frequent the black bathroom or sit in the back of the bus.

“Yes it is,” she claimed. “That is race, not sexual orientation.”
It appears this person does not view denying someone service based on their sexual orientation as discrimination; discrimination is solely a race thing.

I had nothing more to say on that topic. After all, how can you have an intelligent conversation and merging of the minds when one person does not even acknowledge that denying someone equal treatment based on some facet of their existence - be it race, gender, social orientation, etc. - is in fact discrimination?

We also discussed certain Biblical practices - such as the polygamy that was rampant in the Bible, or the fact that if a husband died before the wife had children to carry on his name, she was supposed to marry and procreate with the husband’s brother. (See Deuteronomy 25:5) This person denied reading about that, along with certain Biblical stories - such as Jacob, husband of Leah/Rachel and the father of Joseph. As a matter of fact, she could not remember the whole Joseph story (Jacob/Joseph story is Genesis 29 to the end). As she said, “you and I must have read different Bibles.” She said if she had taught those concepts during Bible study their church probably would have gone under.

That tells me that people do indeed cherry pick the Bible, remembering the passages that suit their own beliefs and narratives and denying the ugly parts.

Deuteronomy 25:11-12

Ironically, if you look at Deuteronomy 27:15-26, it lists a bunch of commandments from the Lord. There is nothing in there about man lying with man or woman lying with woman, but it does prohibit the following: sleeping with your father’s wife; sexual relations with an animal; sleeping with your sister; and sleeping with your mother-in-law. (Basically, no incest or bestiality, but if God was against gays why was it not included?) Failure to adhere to the commandments will result in a curse and numerous bad things, including “You will be pledged to be married to a woman, but another will take her and rape her.” (Deuteronomy 28:30 - seriously, it punishes the man by punishing the woman, because women are property and not individuals. This is the standard you want to live by??)

There are certain Biblical practices that are no longer common today, and for that I am thankful. Deuteronomy 25:11-12 brings us this gem: “If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, you shall cut of her hand. Show her no pity.” (I seriously think Deuteronomy needs to just be removed due to utter insanity.)

Which brings me back to my initial point. As the lady accused me of being atheist, which I am not, I could not help musing why so many people have trouble with organized religion today.

Mainstream religion demands total belief, there is no room for skepticism. The Bible is law, and anything deviating from that law is wrong. (No word of if kicking your husband’s assailant in the privates will result in the removal of your leg.) There is no room for societal advancement/adjustment, no room for personal morals or a sense of right and wrong. You must totally devote yourself to following everything the Bible says, whether you agree with it or not.

Through the ages, there have always been people who challenged the beliefs of the land. There are some on the fringe, but most people believe the Earth is round, for example.

Even Artemis knows you need to be patient and flexible.

People like me, who use intelligent discourse and believe that everyone should be treated fairly and not discriminated against, often fall in conflict with the tomes of organized religion. And without room for acceptance, without wiggle room, you get stuck. Roads travel in multiple directions, and offer passing lanes; clothing comes in different colors; there are multiple learning strategies in education. Very little of what we do in life has a strict rigidity to it. Things that do not have a little give or flexibility to them eventually break.

So it is that society has reached the breaking point with many organized religions. The strict conservative Christians are feeling that breaking point, and are upset. A more flexibility society that embraces acceptance is stepping forward.

Is this check or checkmate? Only time will tell.

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