Thursday, December 29, 2005

A conservative argument against a marriage amendment

A big thanks to a friend of mine in Wisconsin for pointing me toward this editorial by conservative Christian Dean Mundy. It says exactly what I've been saying all along: you can believe same-sex relationships are sinful and still be against amending the constitution against them.

I admit that the Bible, for me, clearly teaches that marriage is between a man and a woman only. You don't have to read far to see that. In several places....

But I'm not in favor of this amendment. For me, it's a matter of fairness and justice. Homosexuals should have the same opportunities that heterosexuals do. It's as simple as that....

As one seeking to minister Christianity, I have to go back to how Jesus lived his life on Earth. Contrary to the opinion of most, it's not that Jesus never got angry (look at how he cleansed the temple and condemned religious leaders, for example).

But he did respond to the down and out with compassion. The adulterous woman was saved from her rightful doom. Lepers, prostitutes, tax collectors, drunks - he sought them all out to do good to them. I cannot do less to those who are homosexual.

As I've mentioned, other people whom I believe are living wrongly are free to do so legally. Why shouldn't homosexuals have that opportunity?

It's only fair, really.

I could argue all day with Mr. Mundy about whether or not same-sex relationships are sinful, but to be honest, I don't feel particularly compelled to do so. He has his views of sin and I have mine. I don't have a problem with that.

I do have a problem with those who, unlike Mr. Mundy, think they need to legislate their definition of sin for others. They're missing the point that Mundy so eloquently makes: that's not what Jesus would do.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

No one has all the answers

I tend to rant a lot about Christian fundamentalism because as a Christian I feel doubly attacked by it. First by its insistence that it and only it is perfectly right. Second, by its claim to be from my faith, my God. When Pat Robertson makes yet another idiotic statement in the name of Christianity, it makes us all look bad.

This guest editorial in my local paper, however, makes a more accurate point: it isn't just Christian fundamentalism that's a problem. Fundamentalism in all its forms is dangerous.

We all fall into certain categories; I am liberal more than conservative, Democrat more than Republican, Blue more than Red. But the differences between these ends of a spectrum aren't the problem.

Many bright and highly functional people are on the other end of each of these spectra from me; I admire them, and they me.

And that's the way it should be. Our differences are functional. But let's explore a deeper, more transcendent issue.

The real problem is fundamentalism. Not specifically Muslim nor Jewish nor Christian fundamentalism, but the more general fundamentalism of "I have the answers and no longer need to think about the questions."

The arrogance here is the core of the problem. The fundamentalist will argue that it isn't they that are perfect, but their God. The problem is, God cannot be known objectively. We can't observe God and analyze God scientifically. God can only be known through the filter of subject personal experiences. Even Scripture comes to us through many, many filters. The human writers, the human editors, the humans who chose what was canon and what was not, the human translators. God may be perfect and have all the answers, but no human interpretation of God can possibly achieve that perfection. Even Paul, who was pretty much a fundamentalist himself, wrote that now we can only see as if in a dark mirror.

The editorial ends as something of an advertisement for the writer's theories on education, but I think he makes a good point.

First, we can recognize our own fundamentalism or rigidity and do our best to be open-minded, to listen to the other person, to remain in dialogue.

But beyond that, we can deliberately cultivate a learning style for ourselves and our children that leads to self- reliance, so that we increasingly find our solutions from our own experiences, from which we can develop our own generalities....

We can learn, and help our children to learn, to be thinkers and feelers, to be seekers of information from many sources and not depend on only one source, be it a book or parent or teacher or political leader or even someone's view of God's wishes.

Good suggestions for all of us. Even us fundamentalist liberal Christians.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

The problem with "getting saved."

Okay, I admit it. I'm an unabashed Slacktivist fangirl. Too many of my blog posts are basically "Go read Slacktivist! He makes X point brilliantly!"

This is gonna be another one of those times. Go read this Slacktivist post. What point does he make brilliantly? Exactly why the "get saved" theology so prevalent with today's evangelical/fundamentalist Christians is so disturbing. Because "How do I get saved?" isn't the question we should be asking to begin with.

"What must I do to be saved?" the young ruler asked Jesus.

"Sell all you have and give it to the poor, then come, follow me," Jesus replied.

[Left Behind authors Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins'] reply is quite different. They're not alone in this -- I've heard thousands of evangelistic sermons, but I've never heard an evangelist answer the young man's question the way Jesus did. Evangelists don't like Jesus' answer because they're intent on asking the same question the young man asked, and the whole point of Jesus' answer is that it's the wrong question. If your concern is with yourself and securing salvation for yourself, you're going to ask the wrong questions.

"What must I do to make sure that I, myself get a seat on the ark?" the young man asked.

"Oh Me H. Tapdancing Me!" Jesus says. "It's not always about you, you know. Think about somebody else for a change."

That's a paraphrase, but it's not like this was an isolated case. Jesus was always saying this kind of thing: You want to live? Die to yourself. You want to be first? Be last. Want to come out on top? Head for the bottom. Want to win? Surrender.

You want to get saved? Get lost.

Which brings us to what is, for my money, the greatest scene of salvation and redemption in literature:

It was a close place. I took it up, and held it in my hand. I was a-trembling, because I'd got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself:

"All right, then, I'll go to Hell" -- and tore it up.

It was awful thoughts and awful words, but they was said. And I let them stay said; and never thought no more about reforming. ... And for a starter I would go to work and steal Jim out of slavery again; and if I could think up anything worse, I would do that, too; because as long as I was in, and in for good, I might as well go the whole hog.

This is, of course, from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The piece of paper that poor Huck tore up was the letter he had written to turn in his friend, the escaped slave Jim. Huck had been taught, and he sincerely believed, that doing so was his duty as a good Christian (and as a good, law-abiding American). He had been taught, and he sincerely believed, that failing to do so would damn his soul to Hell.

Study that a minute. Turning in Jim would condemn his friend to years of misery in this world, but his own immortal soul would be damned for eternity -- and what are a few mortal years compared with that? Weigh such a choice on the scales that L&J use in Left Behind and Huck's choice is clear. But that is not the choice he makes.

"All right, then, I'll go to Hell!" he says. And the angels in heaven rejoice.


Thursday, December 22, 2005

What good does it do?

After reading this article about a local lesbian couple that is moving to California where they can both legally adopt their daughter, I am feeling very frustrated. I mean, it should be a no-brainer. Kids are better off with two parents if at all possible. In cases where there are two people who both want to be parents to a given child, why would we put legal barriers here?

So I'm asking. If you think same-sex couples should not be allowed to adopt children, can you please explain what good the legal barriers will do? Because all I see is familes getting torn apart and I can't understand what good can come of that.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


An historic moment as the first civil union is performed in the U.K.
"It was really lovely. It was very joyful," reported Rita Wild, one of the guests. "There was lots of cheering, lots of clapping, lots of singing."

The couple recited vows to each other and exchanged rings made locally in Belfast.

Ms Wild had enjoyed every moment: "It's momentous and we'll be remembering this day. It will be taught in children's history lessons in the future."

Beautiful. So naturally, there were protesters.
As the taxi carrying the couple edged its way through the crowd, the jeers from protesters competed with the cheers from supporters.
I don't get it. Jeering someone else's joy? How can they not see it? How can they not see the love? How can they not see the face of God? It's much more on these two women exchanging vows of love than on the "Christian" protestors jeers of hate. Sounds an awful lot like the mob at the crucifixion, doesn't it?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The British solution

Why can't we just do what Great Britain is doing about same-sex marriage.

Gay couples began registering for civil partnerships at town halls across Britain on Monday as a law took effect giving them many of the same legal rights as married heterosexuals.

Although the law stops short of allowing same-sex couples to marry, many said they were still eager to claim the benefits and official recognition of their relationships.

If calling it "marriage" is a problem, then let's just have fully equal civil unions and be done with it. But let's not deny those equal rights in the name of "protecting" marriage. And let's not pretend that anything short of the same full and equal rights is fair.

Merry Holiday Greetings

Loved this editorial about the quandary we get into around this time of year. How do we greet people without offending them? If you say "Merry Christmas" to a non-Christian, are they going to think you're proselytizing? If you say "Season's Greetings" to a Christian, are they going to think you're trying to strip the Reason from the Season? Or maybe, just maybe we should all stop being so easily offended.

Christmas, the holidays — however you choose to refer to the season — is supposed to be a time of peace and good will toward all.

Exercise that sentiment by assuming positive intent in giving and receiving yuletime greetings. The person who says "Merry Christmas" is probably not trying to convert you. Likewise, the store that promotes "happy holidays" isn't dismissing the reason for the season; it's just trying to appeal to a broad segment of the population.

There is plenty to worry about this month. Sharing a sentiment doesn't need to be one of them.

Amen. And Merry Christmas.