Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

What God had to say when He came to town

with 7 comments

I’m going to make a few statements about religion and people’s religious beliefs, and I want to point out at the outset that such statements are always imprecise because of the usual normal distribution of observations. For example, if I write “people in general hold the same religious outlook and beliefs as their families” that’s only approximately true—perhaps something like a Pareto’s rule applies so that the statement is (say) 80% true, with the other 20% being individuals whose beliefs are strongly at variance with those of their families.

Christians have a special advantage over other religions in that for Christians, God Himself came to town (in the Person of Jesus: God the Son). So God (as Christians view it) got to speak directly to us about what He considers important. We don’t have to guess, we just have to observe and listen: “Those who have eyes, let them see; those who have ears, let them hear.”

This is particularly useful because we are told repeatedly that God works in mysterious ways, we often don’t understand His plan or why things happen, and so on. Indeed, we are often told that by the same people who proclaim that they happen to know exactly what God wants in certain areas (and, astonishingly, it frequently turns out that God wants exactly what those people themselves want—e.g., for homosexuals to be put to death, as in the fundamentalist-supported legislation in Uganda).

But let’s take a look at what God did talk about when He came to town. (Cf. the Jefferson Bible.)

First, it should be noted that God Himself apparently doesn’t give a damn one way or another about homosexuality. He Himself never bothered to so much as mention it while He was around. (OTOH, He talked about wealth quite a bit: he was against it—and He was quite clear on that. Not many sermons in the US speak out against wealth, however.) I suspect that your sexual orientation, much like your height, is a matter of indifference to God—if not, it at least was certainly and clearly a matter He didn’t consider worth mentioning.

Second, when people actually did ask God, “Well, what are we supposed to do?”, He replied that we should love God as we love ourselves and treat people with decency and respect, as we ourselves would like to be treated. He was quite clear, too: the conversation as reported in Luke:

25And one day an authority on the law stood up to put Jesus to the test. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to receive eternal life?”

26What is written in the Law?” Jesus replied. “How do you understand it?” 27He answered, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Love him with all your strength and with all your mind.’ (Deuteronomy 6:5) And, ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ ”

28“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do that, and you will live.”

That’s clear enough, seems to me.

God also had strong words about loving your enemy and the like. He was called Prince of Peace for a reason, though the Strategic Air Command apparently has a special New Testament to which I am not privy:

The above came to mind on reading looking at this story in the NY Times.

It’s worth noting the incident occurs in the Catholic church, whose leadership actively protected and promoted pedophile priests and bishops and which still would make divorce, birth control, and abortion illegal (in the secular state)—not just illegal for those in their own congregations but for anyone, regardless of the individual’s own religious beliefs or lack thereof.

The Catholic church has frequently demonstrated throughout history how little tolerance it has for individual freedom. At the link is a case in point. It also is an example that strikes me as totally inconsistent with what God had to say when He did come to town. Many who believe (as do Catholics) that Jesus is God have no problem at all with the varieties of sexual orientation that humans exhibit—at least, no more problem than did God Himself. So the intolerant attitude specifically condemned by God is not uniform across the Christian world, but where the attitude exists (as in the Catholic church), it’s strong. I think it’s more about power, though, than love.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 March 2012 at 4:51 pm

Posted in Daily life, Law, Religion

7 Responses

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  1. “So the intolerant attitude specifically condemned by God is not uniform across the Christian world”

    Thanks that — it was mighty big of you to admit we are not uniformly scum.

    Tyd

    9 March 2012 at 6:18 pm

  2. I don’t think Christians are uniformly scum. Don’t know how you got that from the post. Perhaps you have not observed intolerant attitudes among groups of self-identified Christians, but I have.

    In fact, as I reread the post, I see that I am commenting on a specific instance of an intolerant attitude among some Christians. Was it wrong to note that this attitude does not extend to all Christians? I don’t get your point. Do you believe that the story does not show an intolerant attitude?

    I would be interested to read a clarifying comment, but not snark. Because I am not being snarky, just trying to be accurate.

    LeisureGuy

    9 March 2012 at 6:45 pm

  3. The more I think about it, the more puzzled I become. I would think the statement to which you object is one with which you yourself agree. Am I wrong? I don’t understand what’s going on here.

    LeisureGuy

    9 March 2012 at 6:58 pm

  4. Let’s see — every time you generalize about religion, it is about something negative (yes, you concede that it doesn’t apply to all folks belonging in that category, just some –but the negative is your consistent focus). And acknowledging exceptions does nothing to lessen the clear and apparent bias. Yes, there are bad people and actions in every group but to always focus on the bad … Well I guess we each have blinders to our own bigotries. I didn’t say you thought that all Christians were scum , just calling attention in fact that your rhetoric needed such a hedge as assuring your reader that you didn’t think these bad negatively about all members of the group uniformly.

    Tyd

    9 March 2012 at 7:23 pm

  5. Christianity isn’t the only religion which believes that “God came to town” — I know some Hindus who’ll tell you, very sincerely, that _their_ religion is the only one which claims that any goe(s) ever assumed a human form and interacted with humans on equal terms or otherwise.

  6. I assume the Hindus you mention are simply ignorant of Christian theology: no shame in that, I’m pretty ignorant of Hindu theology. But in Christian theology it’s quite clear that Jesus is God and came among us and interacted with humans (as a teacher, no less), and answered direct questions (as quoted) about how we should live our lives.

    LeisureGuy

    10 March 2012 at 9:07 am

  7. I’ll reply at greater length later, but I believe what you see as bias is simply a matter of blogging situations that are comment-worthy due to (for example) blatant contradiction between stated values and actual behavior. This is no different than blogging about Obama’s (continual) anti-human-rights and anti-Constitutional actions, about businesses going to great lengths to stifle competition (while continually talking about how good competition is), and so on. It’s much the same thing that leads newspapers to put on the front page stories about plane crashes, while not writing stories about the thousands of successful flights made daily: not a bias for the negative, but for news.

    Perhaps fortunately, it’s still not so rare as to be comment-worthy when religious organizations act in accordance with their values—though I do recall blogging about the United Churches of Christ making the TV spot about welcoming gay people to their congregations. However, I wasn’t blogging about the religious organization in that case—not worth blogging, since they were simply doing what a church observing the teachings of Jesus would naturally do—but about the refusal of the major media companies to run the spot: that was what was worth comment. When an organization clearly is doing something it should not be doing: that’s interesting. When an organization is clearly doing something it should be doing: so? Not much of interest in that fact.

    Many Christian religious organizations, doubtless influenced by the structure of the Catholic church (which probably in turn was influenced by the structure of the Roman Empire—mere speculation here), are strongly hierarchical, and such organizational structures can easily go awry: individuals control strongly their parts of the pyramid and can take the organization in odd directions: cf. the Catholic hierarchy’s determination to limit (and ideally end) access to birth control, while the Catholic church as a whole (i.e., including the congregations) readily accept the use of birth control and clearly have decided (through their actions) that birth control is fine.

    Of course, should the Christian religious organizations ever reach the stage in which a church that follows the precepts that it preaches is rare, then such adherence to doctrine would be comment-worthy, but (thankfully) that situation is still more or less normal. I blog about the abnormal—not from bias, but in search of the contrast that makes the post of interest.

    When I wrote this post, I thought at the time that you would be in agreement with it. I am sorry to read that you disagree with the content.

    LeisureGuy

    11 March 2012 at 7:20 am


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