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"The Big One" : Christianity and homosexuality.

Christianity

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1timspalding
May 10, 2012, 12:43am Top

Good piece by Rachel Held Evans
http://rachelheldevans.com/win-culture-war-lose-generation-amendment-one-north-c...

Sobering numbers:
"When asked by The Barna Group what words or phrases best describe Christianity, the top response among Americans ages 16-29 was “antihomosexual.” For a staggering 91 percent of non-Christians, this was the first word that came to their mind when asked about the Christian faith. The same was true for 80 percent of young churchgoers."


From the same blog post, quoting from UnChristian:
"The gay issue has become the ‘big one, the negative image most likely to be intertwined with Christianity’s reputation. It is also the dimensions that most clearly demonstrates the unchristian faith to young people today, surfacing in a spate of negative perceptions: judgmental, bigoted, sheltered, right-wingers, hypocritical, insincere, and uncaring. Outsiders say Christian hostility toward gays...has become virtually synonymous with the Christian faith."


I've expressed this opinion before—and been pooh-poohed to some degree. I think these numbers, and the progress of events, including North Carolina and Obama, underscore just how serious the situation is. The gay question is indeed "the big one." It's a new sort of problem, and a very serious one. It's going to grind American Christianity down.

Agree? Disagree? What can realistically be done?

Note: I'm leaving out the rights or wrongs of the question, and encourage others to do the same. I have my opinions there, as do we all. But my church isn't going to change its mind any time soon, despite my opinion. And we've had enough arguments on that question.

2Osbaldistone
May 10, 2012, 2:03am Top

I think the importance/weight given this issue in American politics and religious dialogue are way over the top when you look at the main issues that the Bible calls Christians to be about - justice, love, forgiveness, care for the least among us, walking humbly with God. None of the Gospel writers considered this issue worthy of even one sentence. This is either because they saw no importance in it, because God did not inspire them to consider it, and/or because Christ never commented on the subject. Yet look at the focus on this issue at the cost of resources, energy, and time that Christ calls us to spend in other areas.

Even if I consider marriage in need of our energies and resources to protect, the issues that most threaten marriage would be adultery, materialism, consumerism, and divorce. I just don't see Christians marching in the streets decrying adultery in this country (and it's on the top 10 list in my Bible, along with covetousness). Instead, we have serious contendors for political office touting their Christian and family values credentials while waving off (often successfully) their multiple marriage/multiple adultery histories.

Os.

3barney67
Edited: May 10, 2012, 10:39am Top

Well, it's odd because first you said this: "It's a new sort of problem, and a very serious one. It's going to grind American Christianity down." and then you said this: "I'm leaving out the rights or wrongs of the question, and encourage others to do the same."

So I don't really know how to respond. You've tied my hands. The problem isn't new or serious nor will it "grind down" Christianity anywhere.

Very likey Obama is flip flopping on the issue because he is merely thinking of the next election and what will win him votes. I don't think his position is sincere. He's been in election mode for, well, most of his presidency. This is not a significant event, nor is the vote in North Carolina against gay marriage. Such votes are now common among the states.

4madpoet
May 10, 2012, 11:15am Top

It's surprising how quickly the majority opinion has changed regarding homosexuality. A generation ago, it was considered immoral. Now, if anyone suggests there is anything wrong with homosexuality, he or she is labelled a 'bigot'.

Now, there is suddenly a big disconnect between what most of society believes is moral, and what many Christians believe the Bible teaches on the subject. Should Christians conform to society's viewpoint, or stand by their convictions? It would be easy to just give in, and accept homosexuality, to appease the world. But 'friendship with the world is enmity to God' the Bible says. Perhaps this is one of those cases where Christians should stand firm.

The question I have is: are Christians changing their position on homosexuality because they have re-examined the Bible and believe the Bible condones it, or are they just giving in to social pressure?

5timspalding
Edited: May 10, 2012, 11:53am Top

The problem isn't new or serious

Opinions about homosexuality have changed very rapidly. In just the last twelve years national polls on gay marriage have risen from 27% to 50%. Pollsters have a hard time coming up with any issue that's had that rate of change. And there is no going back. Young people (18-34) nationally are already 70% in favor of gay marriage—a 44% gap with the top age cohort! Each new generation will be more and more accepting. Older generations die.

As Agent Smith put it, "That is the sound of inevitability."

The question I have is: are Christians changing their position on homosexuality because they have re-examined the Bible and believe the Bible condones it, or are they just giving in to social pressure?

I suspect that most of the change has come from people whose understanding of the source and progress of doctrine is not fundamentalist. Even though their church condemns it, US Catholics are now more supportive of gay marriage (54%) than the nation at large. I suspect that social pressure plays a role. But fundamentalist hermeneutics surely played no part in their movement, and one shouldn't discount the possibility that they learned their lesson well, and are seeking to bring their views in line with justice and love.

6barney67
May 10, 2012, 11:54am Top

When you say, "more accepting," that's commenting on "the rights or wrongs of the question" isn't it?

Over half the states have voted against gay marriage.

I am always skeptical when people say something is "inevitable."

7timspalding
May 10, 2012, 12:14pm Top

more accepting

Actually, not necessarily.

I am always skeptical when people say something is "inevitable."

But you don't actually have any arguments or, say, poll data to pack up your admitted cognitive prejudice here, do you?

8barney67
Edited: May 10, 2012, 1:24pm Top

Poll data? No. When you said "new" you meant there have been documented changes in the last twelve years according to a poll of young people. I was thinking, poll-less, of "new" in a much more recent way. I still can't go along with saying something is inevitable. We really don't know what the future will bring. I figure I'm no more prejudiced than you are.

9timspalding
Edited: May 10, 2012, 2:12pm Top

>8 barney67:

The reference to "prejudice" was in your saying you're skeptical of things that are inevitable—and providing no evidence when the direction of the polls and of the demographics indicate that only a end to pregnancy is likely to even slow the numbers. I apologize if you understood it to mean that you are prejudiced.

As regards the speed of changes, I suspect that while Obama's announcement is a boon to gay-marriage supporters, it may also "freeze" things--making it a consistent partisan thing may make it harder for Republicans to change their mind.

10lawecon
May 10, 2012, 2:19pm Top

Interesting to me that this is perceived as the central issue of Christianity when the biblical verses relied upon are not even a part of the Christian Scriptures.

11richardbsmith
Edited: May 10, 2012, 2:34pm Top

The real central issue for Christianity is whether or not women must wear a hat in order to prophesy, or whether or not they are to be allowed to prophesy at all.

Once we decide those questions, then we may be able to move on to the lesser pressing questions related to homosexuality.

12Osbaldistone
May 10, 2012, 3:58pm Top

>10 lawecon:
The vocal, anti-homosexual Christians, if they read it at all, read the text, below, from Paul's rant about Godless and wicked people (from Romans 1; New International) and, somehow, out of all of the behaviours that Paul says result from God's wrath, select "Men committing shameful acts with other men" as the one act demanding legal action, demonstrations, and persecution. Even for this one item on the list, Paul seems to say what is shameful is that men abandoned natural relations with women (meaning they were naturally heterosexual) and were inflamed with lust for other men as a result of God's wrath, because they know the truth of God and suppress it. This hardly seems to be related to the natural, committed, loving relationship that gays and lesbians are striving to have legally recognized.

Meanwhile, at least here in the US, we elect to office the greedy, the deceitful, the gossips, the slanderers, the insolent, the arrogant, and the boastful; having no love, no mercy, and no fidelity; the sexually impure; worshipping and serving created things rather than the Creator. I'd bet that at least five of these items are characteristics of the majority of successful US politicians (though not always the same five).

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. 26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. 28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.


Os.

13richardbsmith
May 10, 2012, 4:13pm Top

Os,

Do not think you can sidestep the issue over women and hats.

14richardbsmith
Edited: May 10, 2012, 4:14pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

15Osbaldistone
May 10, 2012, 5:55pm Top

>13 richardbsmith:
Oh, yeah. I forgot about that one. Well, Paul seemed to have a problem with women to begin with (something to do, perhaps, with that famous thorn in his side?), so I don't spend much time worrying about that hat thing.

Of course, early on, he was against marriage of any kind (hetero- or homo-) unless it was the only way one could avoid fornication. But he, like all of us hope to do, grew in his knowledge and understanding of God and his writings tend to reflect this evolution.

When you get right down to it, the entire OT and NT shows a maturing of God's people and a growth in their ability to walk with God. Lots of rules and punishments early on, but by the time Christ comes, mature enough to be entrusted with simply 1) Love God, 2) Love your neighbor as yourself. Even so, the Church has spent 2000 years working through a 1st half of life maturing process, establishing a power base, amassing wealth, building up credentials and credibility, lots of rules and punishments. The past few hundred years seem to indicate, possibly, a Church that is moving into the 2nd half of life, where justice, kindness and walking humbly with God is enough, with enough wisdom to know how/when to break the rules...perhaps.

The Dalai Lama said "Learn and obey the rules very well, so you will know how to break them properly." Perhaps the rapid change in attitudes within the Church regarding same-sex marriage reflects such a maturing from rule based decision making to love based, much like the rapid change in attitudes about slavery 150-200 years ago (regardless of the biblical rules about slaves).

Os.

("Church" = the universal Church; as opposed to "church" = whatever congregation/denomination one may belong to)

16richardbsmith
May 10, 2012, 6:14pm Top

One of my favorite jokes:

Heing and Sheing
The minister, all fired up because of recent obvious problems of infidelity, shouted out, "I want everyone who has been heing and sheing to stand up!" Half of his congregation stood up.

He then shouted out, "I want everyone who has been heing and heing to stand up!" A couple of men stood up.

He then shouted out, "I want everyone who has been sheing and sheing to stand up!" Several women stood up. The minister looked over his congregation and noticed that everyone was standing except Little Johnny.

The minister shouted out, "Brothers and Sisters, look at Little Johnny, can he be the only one without sin? Little Johnny, stand up.....I guess you are the only one here who isn't preoccupied with sex and committing sins. What do you have to say!"

Little Johnny replied, "Reverend, you ain't said nothing about meing and meing!

18MyopicBookworm
May 10, 2012, 7:55pm Top

I wonder if one reason for the precipitous change in acceptance of homosexuality is the snowball effect of people coming out, and other people thus discovering that gay people can be ordinary people, or even your friends. When I was at university in the early 1980s, I knew scarcely anyone who was openly gay. (Moving in largely Christian circles, even increasingly liberal ones, probably didn't help.) During the late 80s, more and more people felt able to admit to it, and I discovered how many of my acquaintance had been in the closet. My wife, some years younger, knew far more gays at college (including the first practising transvestite that I ever met).

19richardbsmith
May 10, 2012, 7:56pm Top

Familiarity breeds acceptance.

20Jesse_wiedinmyer
May 10, 2012, 7:58pm Top

I wonder if one reason for the precipitous change in acceptance of homosexuality is the snowball effect of people coming out, and other people thus discovering that gay people can be ordinary people, or even your friends.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/118931/knowing-someone-gay-lesbian-affects-views-gay-...

21timspalding
Edited: May 10, 2012, 8:45pm Top

>18 MyopicBookworm:-20

Definitely so. I know a number of people for whom this was, I hazard, a decisive factor. There was a good NYT piece about it on TV shows too—The Will and Grace factor. (I never saw a single episode of Will and Grace and, I suspect, that's a good thing.)

The effect is so strong that, on average, Americans now estimate that 25% of people are gay (Source: Gallup), with lower-incomes and lesser-educated people giving the higher estimates. This is way out of what social scientists actually believe, and has accordingly meant that Americans are getting worse and worse at estimating the gay population. But it's par for the course too—most Americans have no idea what percentage of Americans are black, or, switching gears, what percentage of the federal budget goes for this and that, overestimating the ones in the news, like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I think it demonstrates what a large profile the issue has now.

22barney67
May 10, 2012, 9:05pm Top

Has this part been abandoned now?

"I'm leaving out the rights or wrongs of the question, and encourage others to do the same"

23timspalding
May 10, 2012, 9:22pm Top

>22 barney67:

What part of 21 addresses the rights of wrongs of the question? Whether familiarity with gays breeds acceptance is an empirical question. That I know people for whom this seems to have been operative is not, I think, a value judgment either. Indeed, the only value judgment in that message was about the value of watching network sitcoms.

24Osbaldistone
May 10, 2012, 9:59pm Top

>22 barney67:, 23
Perhaps my fault (post 12). I was responding to the statement that " biblical verses relied upon are not even a part of the Christian Scriptures" by posting the Romans verses, but didn't want to do so without some expression of what I believe these passages are talking about. Perhaps it sounded like a right/wrong argument, but that was not the intent.

Os.

25madpoet
May 10, 2012, 10:03pm Top

Whatever your views on homosexuality, you have to hand it to the homosexual lobby. Few PR campaigns in history have been so successful at changing public perceptions so completely, so fast.

Like Tim said, I think TV has a lot to do with it. It's not just Will and Grace: it seems like every TV show, and most movies (especially romantic comedies), have at least one gay character. It's almost like 'product placement'. Just as viewers who see their favourite character in a TV show using a product think, "Oh, I have to try that!" So, viewers who see gay or lesbian characters in every TV show come to accept them, and even overestimate how common homosexuality is in society.

26theoria
Edited: May 10, 2012, 11:56pm Top

So, viewers who see gay or lesbian characters in every TV show come to accept them, and even overestimate how common homosexuality is in society.

Not to mention the history of philosophy, i.e., the ancient Greeks from whom we inherited our political tradition. Socrates is quite a lobbyist!

“For each soul only returns to the place from which it has come after ten thousand years; it does not become winged before then, except in the case of the soul of the man who had lived the philosophical life without guile or who has united his love of boys with philosophy. These souls, with the third circuit of a thousand years, if the choose this life three times in succession, on the condition become winged and depart, in the three-thousandth year. But the rest, when they finish their first life, undergo judgement, and after judgement some of them go to places of correction under the earth and pay their penalty, while others are lifted up by Justice into some region of the heavens and live a life of a kind merited by their life in human form…”

Socrates conversing with Phaedrus in Phaedrus (248e5-249b1)

27johnthefireman
May 11, 2012, 1:09am Top

>15 Osbaldistone: But he {Paul}, like all of us hope to do, grew in his knowledge and understanding of God and his writings tend to reflect this evolution. When you get right down to it, the entire OT and NT shows a maturing of God's people and a growth in their ability to walk with God

Thank you, Os, for such a clear articulation of a truth which is so often overlooked.

28timspalding
May 11, 2012, 1:25am Top

>27 johnthefireman:

Right. What else does one do with Paul's occasional reversals, statements that a given opinion does or does not come from himself and etc. The guy was a human being.

29lawecon
Edited: May 11, 2012, 1:38am Top

~24

I do find it somewhat peculiar that while you try to soften what Paul has to say you repeat the old lies about Judaism and Christianity, to whit:

"When you get right down to it, the entire OT and NT shows a maturing of God's people and a growth in their ability to walk with God. Lots of rules and punishments early on, but by the time Christ comes, mature enough to be entrusted with simply 1) Love God, 2) Love your neighbor as yourself."

Perhaps you might want to look into this a bit more. For instance:

(1) Deuteronomy 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: 5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

(2) Leviticus 19:18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.

(3) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hillel_the_Elder

(4) You might also find this thread http://www.librarything.com/topic/136222 - which contains considerable comment on the true differences between Judaism and Christianity - somewhat educational .

30Osbaldistone
Edited: May 11, 2012, 2:25am Top

>29 lawecon:
I believe what I said, that by the time of Christ (also the time of Hillel) God's people had matured enough to be entrusted with simply Love God and Love your neighbor, does not lie about Judaism nor Christianity. Hillel's famous "the rest is the explanation" is consistent with the similar teachings of Christ, as you would expect for a people who had grown in their faith, ready for and in need of Christ. I did not intend to suggest that only Christians knew what the greatest of God's commandments were; obviously these were known by the average Jew on the streets of Jerusalem. Nor did I intend to suggest that these did not appear until Christ spoke them. Simply that Christ seemed to see that the simple people he called to spread the Gospel were ready to do so without the extensive rules and laws given by God (Deut, Levit, Numb, Exodus) in addition to the commandments from Torah to love God and love neighbor.

As far as similar text in Deut. and Levit., the difference is the page after page of other rules that God deemed necessary to ensure that a people who had just come out of slavery (never having experienced freedom of choice, and with little concept of this God who had freed them) would/could treat their neighbor as God desired, and walk with God in the way He desired. Jesus practically states that mankind is ready when he says "I did not come to destroy [the law] but to fulfill".

If there are still 'old lies about Judaism and Christianity' in what I've said, I guess I need some enlightenment.

Os.

31richardbsmith
Edited: May 11, 2012, 7:43am Top

We had a similar discussion in my Sunday School class recently. Most of the class (well all but me and the other heretic Jay who is more heretical than I), focused on the 613 rules and the OT God of vengeance contrasted with the God of love in the NT.

I asked them to compare the NT God of eternal hell with the OT God of Micah 6.8.

I think the standing idea that the OT God is more legalistic and vengeful than the NT God is misleading.

The idea that man's understanding of God has changed is evident I think. Perhaps a consideration of the OT v NT is that the OT covers a much longer time frame, includes much earlier writing and many different writers and sources, each with different purposes and perspectives.

Some of them were legalistic, but Judaism is an ancient tradition with various manifestations.

Paul did not mind putting out some of his own rules, certainly a good many for a freedom in faith kind of guy.

>28 timspalding: Two choices - Paul did not write everything attributed to him or Paul is inconsistent and wrong at times. I don't think Paul deserves to have some of his statements explained away.

32richardbsmith
May 11, 2012, 7:49am Top

1C 11.29-30
For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment upon himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.

God of the NT making people ill and causing them to die for not taking communion seriously enough.

33richardbsmith
May 11, 2012, 8:07am Top

And I don't understand why most artwork of Jesus shows him with long hair, clearly against Paul's teaching?

34MyopicBookworm
May 11, 2012, 9:45am Top

32: That could just be a description based on holistic/psychosomatic medicine: if you live in hypocrisy, joining the feast of fellowship without actually being in and of the communion, then you may be physicaly affected by your spiritual dis-ease.

33: It is often noted that most of the earliest images of Jesus (in catacomb drawings, mosaics, etc.) depict him in Roman style with short hair and no beard (despite his Jewishness). I think the long-haired Christ dates from 6th century iconography. I guess that by then they thought that rules made for the Corinthians didn't apply to Jesus, and the artistic convention was so powerful that after a few centuries no one questioned it (especially after some icons were attributed by pious Orthodox to the hand of St Luke himself).

35walk2work
Edited: May 11, 2012, 2:23pm Top

Chiming in a bit late in the discussion, I would say that it's been my experience that modern Christianity is certainly anti-homosexual. Individual persons, congregations, and denominations may not be; but the overall bias against homosexuality as an acceptable affectional orientation is very apparent to me. It was not always so, in part because the practice of identifying as exclusively "gay" or "lesbian" etc. did not really appear until (relatively late) modernity. Until then, people simply did what they did, often quite episodically; but not claiming an identity from it.

There are three main aspects to the Biblical condemnation of same-sex sexual activity:
1) It cannot lead to successful reproduction. This criticism is particularly sharp within communities that are at risk of extinction, either biologically or culturally. This seems to be a particularly strong element in the Hebrew scriptures; however, it is usually articulated as an objection to people acting outside of their "natural" gender roles.

2) It is an activity that empowers one participant over another, in a way that is particularly damaging in the social context. This is part of the objection in the Christian scriptures, since one of the most important facets of Christian social thinking is that all are equal in importance.

3) It is a metaphor for idolatry, or worship of gods/goddesses other than God. This, because of the sacral practices of certain pagan cults.

Contrasting with these, what I have seen in modern Christian thinking is a predominance of the "yuck" factor, a claim that homosexuality cannot be accepted because it's "unnatural." I know this post is verging on the boundary set up in the OP - whether or not the bias is justifiable. But what I mean to point out is, I am not convinced that the bias in modern Christianity is really based on Biblical principles. And if it isn't, then I'm not sure that the founders of Christianity would intend the faith to be anti-homosexual, as "homosexuality" is defined today.

36Osbaldistone
May 11, 2012, 4:57pm Top

>1 timspalding: and 35
Being an active adult in several mainstream protestant churches over the past 30 years, I've heard pro, con, and uncertain opinions expressed about this topic by many. However, the overriding characteristic is that, regardless of where one falls on the spectrum, it's mostly a non-issue (or minor, at most). It's just not what we are called to direct our energies.

I'm not sure if I'd fully agree with the three points in post 35, but there is probably some truth to it. The 'yuck' factor seems to drive people to activism against it more than any thoughtful study of scripture. However, again, homosexuality is mostly a non-issue in the Bible and in Jewish and Christian history (until the last 200 years or so).

The problem is that, being a non-issue, the large percentage of Christians in the US are mostly silent about it, while the media and public only hear the voices of the rabid minority. Thus the remarkabley skewed percentages mentioned in post 1.

Os.

37Jesse_wiedinmyer
May 11, 2012, 4:59pm Top

while the media and public only hear the voices of the rabid minority.

The 31% of the people that claim to be stridently opposed to gay marriage?

38johnthefireman
May 14, 2012, 1:14am Top

It's even found its way into the British press - see Gay rights in the US, state by state in the Guardian.

39jburlinson
May 14, 2012, 8:39pm Top

> 1 The gay question is indeed "the big one." It's a new sort of problem, and a very serious one. It's going to grind American Christianity down. Agree? Disagree? What can realistically be done?

The gay question isn't a problem at all, it's a fantastic opportunity to practice the fundamentals of Christianity -- "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:34-5.

Many churches have taken advantage of this opportunity, to the great benefit of all concerned.

40Osbaldistone
Edited: May 14, 2012, 8:56pm Top

>37 Jesse_wiedinmyer: The 31% of the people that claim to be stridently opposed to gay marriage?
Not sure why you cite a stat like this regarding my post 36.

First, I wasn't talking about gay marriage, but the OP topic - the gay issue in general - and the vocal minority whose opinions are heard in the media. Second, whatever percent is opposed to whatever issue, a far lower (minority) is what I referred to as the rabid minority (those for whom it is the issue which swamps all others, is the sole determiner of how they vote, and about which they are heard shouting in the streets and shouting down speakers in public forums).

Sorry if I was too vague in my original comment. I in no way intended to suggest that the minority opinion is, by definition, the rabid minority.

Os.

41johnthefireman
May 20, 2012, 5:30am Top

Psychiatrist who championed 'gay cure' admits he was wrong (Guardian)

Dr Robert Spitzer apologises for 'fatally flawed' study, published in 2001, which claimed gay people could be 'cured' if properly motivated

42jburlinson
May 20, 2012, 6:08pm Top

> 41. I wonder if the good doctor is willing to refund the costs of anyone's "reparative therapy" or to repay any speaking fees he might have earned on the basis of his "fatal flaw."

I love the way the article concludes with Dr. Spitzer saying: "I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a scientist write a letter saying that the data were all there but were totally misinterpreted. Who admitted that and who apologized to his readers. That’s something, don’t you think?”

Yeah, it's something when a quack turns an apology into a boast about his own integrity. What that something is, I hesitate to say.

43walk2work
Edited: May 20, 2012, 6:44pm Top

It's interesting that you call him a quack after reading the article, which I assume is the same as the New York Times article I read. What is it that causes you to draw that conclusion? Was it that he published the original study without a thorough peer-review process (which is not necessarily uncommon)? Or do you hold him personally responsible for the reparative therapies that he was clumsily trying to study - therapies that he did not have any control over?

It does seem clear in hindsight that it probably would have been better if the original study had not been published. But such anecdotal research is often the first step toward more thorough investigation. It's a relatively inexpensive way to introduce a study topic to the broader scientific community.

44jburlinson
May 20, 2012, 6:55pm Top

> 43. I call him a quack because he's a quack -- as in "mountebank", a person who deceives others, esp. in order to trick them out of their money; a charlatan. His article did/does wonders for the "reparative therapy" industry, which continues to dupe people into believing that sexual orientation can be "cured."

Publishing unsubstantiated self-testimony is about as unscientific as you can get, more or less on a par with the "I lost 30 pounds in 30 days" scam.

45timspalding
May 20, 2012, 7:54pm Top

Unless jburlinson has knowledge exterior to these articles—quite possible—I see no reason to unhesitatingly brand him a mountebank and charlatan. Is there such evidence?

46AsYouKnow_Bob
May 20, 2012, 11:32pm Top

Ehhh, I'm inclined to cut Spitzer a break - in the ideal, this is how science is supposed to work: when the data doesn't fit the hypothesis, you ditch the hypothesis and try something else that does fit.

He gets points for admitting he was wrong.

47jburlinson
May 20, 2012, 11:59pm Top

> 45. s there such evidence?

As reported by the AP at the time, 43% of the sample in Dr. Spitzer's "study" had been referred to Spitzer by "ex-gay ministries" that offered fee-based programs to gay people who seek to change, organizations chiefly sponsored by religious conservatives. Another 23% were referred by the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), a notorious anti-gay bunch. Here's a snippet from NARTH's mission statement: "NARTH is a professional, scientific organization that offers hope to those who struggle with unwanted homosexuality. As an organization, we disseminate educational information, conduct and collect scientific research, promote effective therapeutic treatment, and provide referrals to those who seek our assistance. NARTH upholds the rights of individuals with unwanted homosexual attraction to receive effective psychological care and the right of professionals to offer that care."

So 65% of Dr. Spitzer's "research sample" has highly dubious antecedents.

> 46. He gets points for admitting he was wrong.

He certainly claims points for admitting he was wrong. In my rule book, anyone who claims points is automatically disqualified from cashing in on his points.

48timspalding
May 21, 2012, 1:13am Top

>47 jburlinson:

Wait. Wouldn't most objects of study—people who tried to change their orientation—come from such organizations? Secular organizations almost never get involved in trying to make gay people straight. That's hardly a very good argument that efforts to change sexuality cannot succeed.

It seems to me he might be right that there's no way of determining if people's reports of change were self-deception or lying. Well, I suppose one could use a penile plethysmograph (Wikipedia). Apparently they've been used in a limited way. There's a 1996 study suggesting that homophobes are sexually aroused by gay sex images ( http://www.psychologytoday.com/files/u47/Henry_et_al.pdf ).

49aulsmith
May 21, 2012, 9:08am Top

48: There were, at the time of Spitzer's sample, a large number of people who had been through "reparative therapy" and said it didn't work. I believe that some of them were even organized into ex-ex-gay groups from which he could have drawn samples. Also, it was a pretty odd study to begin with. No one disputes that a gay person can successfully live as a heterosexual, even be married (to someone of the opposite sex) and have (biological) kids. Gay people have been doing this probably since the beginning of time. Since the only measures we currently have of sexual orientation are self-reporting, there would have been no way for Spitzer to sort out who was being self-deceptive and who had actually been changed by the therapy (well, maybe a long-term study might have revealed something, but that's not the kind of study he did.) So, to my mind, his study was ill-conceived to answer any interesting questions to begin with.

Still a public repudiation by the author when they're wrong is always helpful.

50timspalding
May 21, 2012, 9:53am Top

Since the only measures we currently have of sexual orientation are self-reporting

As noted above, you can objectively measure arousal(1). But I agree with your overall point. It might well be useful to interview "ex-gays" (and "ex-ex-gays") but doesn't sound like a study that could prove it either worked or didn't.

1. The person is still conscious, however, and, to reinforce their self-deception, might resort to thinking about baseball, or whatever.

51jburlinson
May 21, 2012, 11:18am Top

> 50. The person is still conscious, however, and, to reinforce their self-deception, might resort to thinking about baseball, or whatever.

Thinking of baseball doesn't work -- all those men carrying phallic symbols and grabbing their crotches.

521sunnygyrl
May 21, 2012, 11:36am Top

I don't understand why this topic is still a big deal. Why does it matter how Christians believe? It people's own personal business how or what they want to believe in. And who cares, who loves/marries who. Why is that anyone's business either?

who cares? why don't people worry about something MUCH more important like how our economy still sucks and nothing is getting better, even though they want to tell us it is. THAT is much more important than Homosexuality and Christianity or both!

There are so much more important issues in this world, and our government to worry about.

This is just my opinion.

53faceinbook
May 21, 2012, 12:03pm Top

Does anyone in this discussion have a family member who is gay ? Or has any one had a close relationship with a gay individual ?

54jburlinson
May 21, 2012, 12:04pm Top

> 52. our economy still sucks and nothing is getting better

While it may seem to you and me that this is a much more important issue than homosexuality and Christianity, there are those that believe that all of this is part and parcel of the same crisis -- in that there's a feeling out there that God is punishing America with economic distress, natural disasters, and acts of terrorism because the country has turned its back on Jesus Christ and is embracing godless secularism, with toleration of gay rights as sin # 1.

One of our two dominant political parties has decided it's in their interest to court the favor of people who believe this stuff. The larger and stronger that political party becomes, the more and more issues like homosexuality, Christianity, abortion, contraception, teaching evolution in the schools, yada yada will dominate all other political considerations.

55jburlinson
May 21, 2012, 12:04pm Top

> 53. Yes.

56nathanielcampbell
Edited: May 21, 2012, 12:44pm Top

>53 faceinbook:: Yes. My advisor and closest mentor in college (a Catholic university in Massachusetts) was gay and in a decades-long committed relationship with another professor (at another school); they did get married when Massachusetts allowed them to. It is my experiences with them that moved me to recognize that, while theologically, it is not within mine or the Church's power to declare homosexual sex virtuous; ethically, it is my duty to treat them as I treat any other sinner like me: with compassion and dignity. In other words, they struggle with sin; I struggle with sin; we all struggle with sin. Who am I to declare homosexuality its own category of sin worth far greater recriminations than we assign to many other sins?

Indeed, again speaking as a historical theologian, I will tell you that sexual sin has usually been considered one of the lesser pecadillos. If we want to talk about the really harmful sins that plague our society, we need to move on to discussing things like pride and greed.

I also worked and was friends with a number of gay men and lesbian women in graduate school; they were all excellent scholars and good people--not that I would have expected anything else.

57StormRaven
May 21, 2012, 12:40pm Top

53: Does bisexual count? Because if so, yes to both.

58aulsmith
May 21, 2012, 1:07pm Top

50: I also thought that arousal studies of women weren't very useful, but I haven't looked at anything related to that for years.

53: Yes. I'm queer. Almost all of my chosen family is queer. I used to be a Christian and have been lurking because I'm interested in the divisions within Christianity and the attempts at reconciliation/moving the conversation along/changing the conversations that are currently going on around this issue.

59faceinbook
May 21, 2012, 1:18pm Top

>55 jburlinson:,56 & 57

Do you believe that the individuals you know who are gay can be "cured" ? Or that it is anyone's business to try and make them feel that they should ? Do you feel that these individuals chose to be gay or bisexual ?

One of my brothers is gay. He is younger than me and I know for a fact, he was different since the day he was born. There was no amount of therapy or praying that could have, or will "change" my brother. He may have choosen to deny what he is but he is not a heterosexual man, he is gay.

" Indeed, again speaking as a historical theologian, I will tell you that sexual sin has usually been considered one of the lesser pecadillos. "

If this is your belief, I do hope you are not sponsoring lawmakers who are wiling to make amendmants to constitutions that are dictating issues revolving around sexual orientation .
Guess the point I am making is that very very often, gay people are not all that hard to recognize as being gay. Parents often know something isn't the same with a child before the child knows themselves. What is it about differences that is so dang scary ? It has to be the issue of "difference" cause there is no way that gays being allowed to marry is going to affect any one but those gay individuals who decide to marry.


60aulsmith
May 21, 2012, 1:31pm Top

59: I think you need to read the thread again carefully, from the beginning. Many of us are on your side. Some of us only got involved when the topic changed to Spitzer's study, which even Spitzer now acknowledges to be wrong.

61StormRaven
May 21, 2012, 1:35pm Top

"Do you believe that the individuals you know who are gay can be "cured" ? Or that it is anyone's business to try and make them feel that they should ? Do you feel that these individuals chose to be gay or bisexual ?"

No, no, and no.

62theoria
May 21, 2012, 2:04pm Top

One would think, post-Inquisition, that more priority would be placed on finding a cure for non-belief.

63Tigercrane
May 21, 2012, 2:12pm Top

35: 2) It is an activity that empowers one participant over another, in a way that is particularly damaging in the social context. This is part of the objection in the Christian scriptures, since one of the most important facets of Christian social thinking is that all are equal in importance.

Why would this be true of homosexual sex, but not of heterosexual sex?

64faceinbook
May 21, 2012, 3:07pm Top

>60 aulsmith:
I think I got that impression. However, still feel that many people think that there is some sort of "choice" taking place in regards to sexual preference, no matter what side of the issue they find themselves supporting. I don't believe that most often there is a choice.
Guess I was preaching to the choir a bit but I am always amazed by how many people refuse to acknowledge that homosexuals are created differently in some ways.

>63 Tigercrane:
Good question !

Some Christian social thinking does NOT see women as equal in importance, in fact, just the opposite.

65jburlinson
May 21, 2012, 3:42pm Top

> 64. many people think that there is some sort of "choice" taking place in regards to sexual preference, no matter what side of the issue they find themselves supporting.

For many conservative types, the "choice" is not so much the sexual preference or the impulse, it's the choice of whether or not to act on that preference/impulse. Some of these folks also apply the same strictures on heterosexuals, who shouldn't act on their impulses unless it's under the right circumstances (e.g., within marriage, to procreate, etc.) Homosexuals are just given the extra blessing of having more choices to make.

66eclecticdodo
May 21, 2012, 5:44pm Top

I thought the point of this topic was to look at why some Christians/the media are so obsessed with homosexuality being a huge issue, instead of arguing the rights and wrongs?

It seems to me, homosexual thoughts and feelings are just another way for us to be tempted (there's nothing wrong with the initial thought, but dwelling on it, fantasising, or acting on it would be wrong). Some people are more prone to some temptations than others. For those of us who do have heterosexual feelings (alone, or alongside homosexual) we are very fortunate to have the option to act on those in a right way, through monogamous lifelong marriage (not that that is easy). But we are all tempted to some extent to act in the wrong way, be it homosexual acts, adultery, lusting, whatever.

I was trying to get to the point wasn't I? Instead of arguing about the rights and wrongs...

Well, my point is this - it's just a sin, like all the other sins, we shouldn't make it into the big deal. When I say "just a sin" I don't mean it's not important, all sin grieves God and needs repentance, but there isn't a hierarchy of sins in order of sinfulness, and even if there was, homosexual fantasies and acts would hardly be at the top.

Christians should be outraged about a lot of things - poverty, injustice, war... Everyday women parade the streets near my home selling themselves for their next fix because they don't think they're worth anything better... Children and vulnerable adults are neglected and de-humanised... Asylum seekers are vilified when all they want is to start a new life away from persecution... Men, women and children are raped, murdered... People are starving to death or dying from easily preventable diseases... And what am I doing about it?

Or what about closer to home? Are share dividends more important than corporate responsibility? Do we value cheap goods over the hands that made them? Do we get angry? Are we jealous of others possessions and lifestyles? Do we put ourselves first? Do we slack off at work? Call a sickie? Or steal stationery?

67Arctic-Stranger
May 21, 2012, 5:53pm Top

I think the whole process through which someone comes out as gay is a very complicated and varied process.

On the whole, I think that a great deal of sexual preference is hard-wired. I know gay people who have tried everything under the sun to stop being gay, and nothing worked. I did not say "genetic" because I think a lot goes into the hardwiring, including environment, culture, experiences, religious background, etc.

To say it was 100 percent genetic seems to ignore certain factors. I had one graduate student tell me she was a lesbian as an undergrad, but "everyone was at my school," and she grew out of it. In ancient Greece and 16th century Florence homosexuality was accepted and possibly much more widely prevalent than it is today. (The Florentine army had a difficult time fielding soldiers, and "sodomy" was given as the major reason why.)

This is not to say that I think a person can just stop being gay. I have heard of people who did it, but it was more like being on a dry drunk than an actual conversion.

On the whole I think the Church should be more focused on building healthy relationships, and less focused on the plumbing of the people in the relationships. Some same-sex relationships are very healthy, and others are not. I have seen both. If the church cares about preserving marriage, it should work on helping people understand what a healthy relationship is.

68jburlinson
Edited: May 21, 2012, 6:16pm Top

When people go to prison, many of the heretofore straight folks suddenly "choose" homosexuality. Somebody ought to look into that.

Release from prison is often excellent reparative therapy.

ETA -- Perhaps if Dr. Spitzer had included ex-convicts in his research sample, his findings would have been even more conclusive about the benefits of this type of reorientation therapy.

69faceinbook
May 21, 2012, 8:02pm Top

>66 eclecticdodo:
You are making the case that sexual activity is "sinful" (in other words, wrong) unless one engages in sex as perscribed by a set of rules and morals that you have chosen to follow.
Sexual activity is biological in nature. The rules you wish to adhere to are YOUR rules. Not everyone follows the same set of rules. One can not look at this issue without addressing "right" or "wrong", mainly because a small percentage of the population of this country want equal treatment and they are being refused this under the premise that they are somehow "wrong"
And yes, we do have much more to worry about than gay marriage, or contraceptive rights for women but if you check the records of the Tea Party members of Congress, you will see how many new laws are on the books dealing with these issues while the jobless rate is still shameful. This agenda has been pushed by Republican/Tea Party lawmakers and in areas where Democrats are not paying attention, people are finding that the government is involved in their lives in ways that are as you put it, not all that important yet somehow, they still can not afford their healthcare or find a job with a decent wage.

>67 Arctic-Stranger:
Thank you.

>68 jburlinson:
The point you made really has nothing to do with homosexuality. Prisoners are just doing what men have done forever (I suspect that some women do as well but not so sure it happens as often) engaging in "available sex".
Homosexuality and prisoners having sex is not the same thing at all.

Maybe one should think about how strong is the biological urge to have sex . So strong that men will do what it is they do when living only with other men. Rather than deny that we are sexual beings maybe we should, as long as we respect others, inflict no harm or physically abuse anyone, keep our noses out of the sexual lives of others.

70Arctic-Stranger
May 21, 2012, 9:05pm Top

I deliberately left prisoners out of the post in 66 for two reasons; first, it is an artificial environment, which some may argue is not much different from an all girls schools, but also because second, what often happens in prison is rape, and rape is about power, not sex.

71Osbaldistone
May 21, 2012, 9:07pm Top

>68 jburlinson:, 69
Often, sex is more related to the need to establish power over another more than biological urges, lust, or love. This is simply magnified in a prison setting. Not that prison sex is never due to homosexual drives; simply that often it's about power. My understanding from limited exposure to psychological studies is that rape is typically not about sex, but about power.

Os.

72Osbaldistone
May 21, 2012, 9:17pm Top

>53 faceinbook:
Yes. My first known homosexual friend was my highschool sweatheart's sister. Around the same time, I had a passing acquantance with a celebate, homosexual Catholic priest who served the gay/lesbian community.

I have several friends who are protestant pastors, one of whom is an uncloseted gay. There are at least two gay/lesbian couples who are active members of our Methodist church. One of the couples have become pretty good friends with me and my spouse.

A former co-worker of mine went through a sex-change operation and the related medical and psychological care while remaining on the job. It was quite a growth opportunity for all of us, but mostly a non-event as far as the everyday operations were concerned.

In the 30-40 years I've been active in the church, I've known many straight Christians who have turned away from their anger towards and rejection of homosexuals, either after a family member came out or due to a positive, personal relationship with an 'out' homosexual, or both. It's quite something to watch people grow in their faith and learn to practice the primary command to Christians - love.

Os.

73johnthefireman
May 22, 2012, 1:24am Top

>53 faceinbook: In some ways I find this a strange question, as I have so many friends and colleagues who are gay that it just seems normal to me. Does anyone not have a close acquaintance who is gay?

74timspalding
Edited: May 22, 2012, 2:04am Top

>73 johnthefireman:

People vary with respect to their social circle. Apart from work, which I don't feel appropriate to discuss, though some on LT love to bring it up, and high school—I had a personal No Exit going on—my most significant gay contact was my mother's godson, a Frenchman (Breton) who worked as an interpreter for various international bodies. He was brilliant—ran circles around me in languages I was trying to get a PhD in and were just a hobby for him. He died of AIDS just a few years before people stopped dying from AIDS automatically. (Talk about the problem of evil. A little longer and he'd probably still be alive.) Anyway, by French custom (?) my mother was the closest living relative, so the death notices went out in her name. In his will he left my mother and our extended family a trip through France, visiting his former lovers and friends. That's how to die, ladies and gentlemen. Apologies for the TMI :)

75eclecticdodo
May 22, 2012, 7:45am Top

>69 faceinbook:
Yes, of course, not everyone agrees with the same rules. And that's just one of the reasons we shouldn't hold people criminally responsible for moral offences (how many countries do people face death for being gay, or Christian for that matter?).

As far as legislation goes, gay marriage is a huge issue here at the moment. My feeling is that marriage is based in the scriptural tradition shared by Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In all those contexts it is between a man and woman. I think it should stay that way. I think there should be an equal arrangement for gay or lesbian couples (totally legally equivalent), but I don't think it can be accurately called marriage. Of course those of us who think this way are in the minority, so I'm pretty sure the legislation will pass.

FYI I'm not American, and if I was I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't support the Republicans or Tea Party.

76eclecticdodo
May 22, 2012, 7:45am Top

>73 johnthefireman:
Good point. I did find it a rather strange question

77lawecon
May 22, 2012, 7:58am Top

~52

Actually, I care a lot, but kinda in a reverse way. It horrifies me that people believe that it is any of the public's business what private, consensual and personal actions other people are engaged in. Perhaps we will next have a public controversy over how people wipe themselves after defecating - you know, there is a right way and a wrong way. And, of course, sexual positions matter a lot - remember the higher virtue of the missionary position.

This would not be half so silly if the majority of scholars of the religion whose texts are in question didn't think that the texts are being grossly misused. But even if that were not true, anyone who would suggest that keeping Kosher is a proper subject of legislation would probably be institutionalized.

78faceinbook
May 22, 2012, 8:39am Top

>70 Arctic-Stranger:
The reason I asked posters if they actually "knew" someone who is gay was because as indicated in jburlinson's post, there seems to be some confusion as to what being "homosexual" means. Homosexual's do not choose to be gay. There may be those who choose to live a homosexual life style but homosexuals do not have a "choice". According to some this should mean a life of abstinence as they were created "sinners" and are not entitled to the rights of those who were created properly.

>75 eclecticdodo:
Just curious and not to be snarky but what do you think marriage means to those who are not Christian/Jewish or Islam. Human's have been paring off since time began without the definition of scriptural tradition. Many tribes practiced polygamy, often because is was necessary for survival of the tribe.
According to the Old Testament women were akin to bargining chips when it came to land ownership. So I am assuming that you have chosen to follow the New Testament definition ? Are you content to allow those who choose to define marriage by their own terms the freedom to do so ? It sounds to me as if you personal would, but many who feel the way that you do have tried to mold our government around their belief system, forgetting that their definition is not the ONLY definition.

79StormRaven
May 22, 2012, 9:46am Top

My feeling is that marriage is based in the scriptural tradition shared by Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In all those contexts it is between a man and woman.

Unless it is between a man, his ugly wife and her pretty sister. Or a man, his wife, and her servant. Or a man, his seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines. Or numerous other arrangements found in the Bible.

Whenever people try and claim that "Biblical" marriage is "between a man and a woman", I always laugh.

80barney67
Edited: May 22, 2012, 10:35am Top

Does anyone not have a close acquaintance who is gay?
That's me, though I have met homosexuals.

Apart from work, which I don't feel appropriate to discuss, though some on LT love to bring it up,
Also me. It was a damn good guess, you've got to admit. I knew there was a reason you felt so strongly about it. It had to be personal.

I don't think it can be accurately called marriage. Of course those of us who think this way are in the minority, so I'm pretty sure the legislation will pass
Actually, those against gay marriage are in the majority, given the legislation that has already past 30 states, with more likely on the way.

This thread has strayed from its original, rather odd restrictions, restrictions which I knew would never work.

81timspalding
May 22, 2012, 10:35am Top

>79 StormRaven:

There's definitely an element of dishonesty there, particularly when one makes it explicitly "one man and one woman." But the male/female aspect is constant. And, strictly speaking, each marriage is between a man and a woman. You just do it multiple times.

It's worth noting that marriage changed—it went from being optionally polygamous to being monogamous. This change would not have happened if people had been shouting "no, I'm for BIBLICAL marriage!" The Bible was in favor of it. Until, later, it wasn't. The fundamentalist principle is, therefore, anti-biblical :)

82eclecticdodo
May 22, 2012, 11:20am Top

>80 barney67: "Actually, those against gay marriage are in the majority, given the legislation that has already past 30 states, with more likely on the way."

I was talking about the UK. There's a consultation going on at the moment and the vast majority are either in the "yes" camp or couldn't give a monkey. The principal "no" campaigning organisation (christian) has been branded homophobic. The consultation website where you can put your reaction has blocked a large number of the "no" vote comments as spam (they promise they're fixing this "bug", but what about all the lost submissions?). All major political parties are in favour, it's even the official policy of the Conservatives (our right wing, more traditional party).

>79 StormRaven: & 81
Yes, you have a point about the marriages in the Bible. To be honest I struggle with it. But then I come back to Genesis where we see that God's design was for one man and one woman. I *think* I'm right that there are no instances in the Bible where people were commanded by God to take more than one wife (concubine, etc.) And where I've studied it in detail (admittedly not all cases) there seems to be some criticism implicit in the narrative, for example Abraham failed to wait on the Lord to fulfil His promises and took matters into his own hands, with difficult consequences.

83faceinbook
May 22, 2012, 12:02pm Top

>80 barney67:
I don't think that much of our current legislation is a reflection of the majority. Actually I think many of the majority that put some of these lawmakers in office are going to be sorry they did so in the not too distant future.

>82 eclecticdodo:
I believe Genesis to be a portrayal of how God insured the survival of the species. Yes male and female, but I'm not sure it addresses human sexuality. Or the desire to coexist with someone you are comfortable with. In fact, given our expanding population, perhaps God intended for some individuals to NOT procreate ? Certainly don't know the mind of God but it would make sense to me that this may be the case. Since I am clueless as to the mind of God and can only interpret the stories that have been handed down and I would guess that I am also clueless as to what exactly is considered "right" and what is not. One thing I think is a general rule of thumb is that all humans are created equally whether they be homosexual or not. The question goes right back to denying the rights of other humans to engage in something we feel entitled to while they are not, especially when their right to do so has no personal effect on us what so ever.

84StormRaven
May 22, 2012, 12:09pm Top

Actually, those against gay marriage are in the majority, given the legislation that has already past 30 states, with more likely on the way.

Polling data shows you're simply wrong on this.

85StormRaven
May 22, 2012, 12:10pm Top

I believe Genesis to be a portrayal of how God insured the survival of the species.

That's a different claim than the one you advanced earlier. Now you're just picking and choosing which parts of the Bible you want to follow based on your current cultural surroundings. Once you start doing that, your objections to expanding the definition of marriage to include same-sex unions seem hypocritical.

86fuzzi
May 22, 2012, 12:21pm Top

(82) You are correct, that in the Bible God set up man and woman in a monogamous relationship.

I do not recall any law or statute in the Bible outlining anything but 'one man/one woman' as the standard or norm. If someone can give me BCV (book, chapter, verse) for something that promotes polygamy, I would appreciate it.

Jesus Christ is quoted:

And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. Matthew 19:4-6

But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.
For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;
And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. Mark 10:6-8


Shall cleave to his wife (singular), and twain (two) shall be one.

Now, people are free to do as they choose...in fact they have done so since the beginning, but that does not make it right or correct or something we should promote.

87faceinbook
May 22, 2012, 12:22pm Top

>85 StormRaven:
I did not use the Bible as a bench mark for defining marriage...if Genesis is to be considered as a bench mark for anything regarding man and woman, to me, it would be survival of the species. The Bible has so many conflicting points of view regarding many things, I'm not too sure that it should be a bench mark for any behavior other than on a personal level. Certainly not as basis for laws that perhibit others from having equal rights under the laws of the land.

Don't "follow" the Bible. If anything I tend to use the Tao as a personal guide. Are you responding to me or someone else ?

88faceinbook
May 22, 2012, 12:29pm Top

>86 fuzzi:
"Now, people are free to do as they choose...in fact they have done so since the beginning, but that does not make it right or correct or something we should promote."

Or judge ??

Don't see the issue of same sex marriage as a promotion of marriage by people of the same sex. If promotion is involved at all, it would the promotion of "equal rights" which I do believe the Higher Power would be in favor of. Like Artic, I tend to believe that God is more interested in how you treat your partner than who or what your partner is, male or female or multiple partners...if that is something you are comfortable with. Not my business, nor anyone other than those who are directly involved. It IS God's job to judge what they do so they should have the freedom to do what it is they feel is right.

89StormRaven
May 22, 2012, 12:30pm Top

I do not recall any law or statute in the Bible outlining anything but 'one man/one woman' as the standard or norm.

Exodus 21:10
Deuteronomy 21:15

90johnthefireman
May 22, 2012, 12:34pm Top

>86 fuzzi: fuzzi, doesn't 1 Timothy 3:2, A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach (KJV), imply that other Christians who are not bishops might be the husbands of more than one wife?

91jburlinson
May 22, 2012, 12:38pm Top

> 78. as indicated in jburlinson's post, there seems to be some confusion as to what being "homosexual" means.

The confusion is all around whether we're talking about what a person IS as opposed to what a person DOES. It's entirely possible that a person who might self-identify as "homosexual" actually never or rarely performs a homosexual sex act. Another person might strongly resist calling themselves "homosexual", and yet they perform homosexual sex acts frequently.

It seems to me that many people (most?) are capable of all kinds of urges and impulses. These urges are pretty undisciplined and can run the gamut. For some people sexual urges seem primarily to be directed at same-sex individuals, for other people their urges typically focus on other-sex individuals. But, under the right (wrong?) circumstances, anything might happen.

I personally, feel somewhat uncomfortable in herding people into one of two categories, with a potential overlap category for "bi-sexual". Apparently, others feel more comfortable with this kind of categorization, so more power to them. I guess my only point would be that the boundary lines are a whole lot more vague than it might appear.

92faceinbook
May 22, 2012, 12:42pm Top

>89 StormRaven:
That wasn't from me !

93faceinbook
May 22, 2012, 12:48pm Top

>91 jburlinson:
"I personally, feel somewhat uncomfortable in herding people into one of two categories, with a potential overlap category for "bi-sexual". Apparently, others feel more comfortable with this kind of categorization, so more power to them. I guess my only point would be that the boundary lines are a whole lot more vague than it might appear."

With this I agree.
Which would indicate to me that it is even harder to judge others based on a set of principles that one interprets from any given text. Obviously there are blantant cases of sexual misbehavior such as rape or using children but for the most part if a person is not "hurting" anyone else , especially if one is not being personally affected in a negative way, why is it such a big deal ? Should the "rights" of one be allowed to dictate the "rights" of any individuals in the "grey" areas ?

94fuzzi
May 22, 2012, 12:51pm Top

(90)
It could be implying that some men in the church are the husband of more than one wife, but it's not granting permission, condoning or promoting polygamy.

A bishop is held to a higher standard, something that which we all should try to attain.

See the rest of the passage from 1 Timothy 3:

Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;
4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.
7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.


That's a pretty high standard:

Verse 3
a. Not given to wine
b. Not a 'striker', someone who hits others (not even wives)
c. Not greedy for money
d. Patient
e. Not one to brawl/fight
f. Not covetousness, wanting 'stuff'

Verse 4
a. In control of his house/family (kids and wife don't run things)
b. Having obedient children

Verse 6
Not young/novice

Verse 7:
Have a good reputation

95faceinbook
May 22, 2012, 12:59pm Top

>94 fuzzi:
At one point in time, polygamy was a means to survival of the species. Women, with children, who lost their partners to accidents or war, would not have survived without being accepted into the household of another man. Not too sure they were sinning or disobeying God...they were doing what was best in a given situation.

As we have evolved as a society, so to has our definition of marriage. When did it stop evolving and why ?

96jburlinson
May 22, 2012, 1:04pm Top

> 94. A bishop is held to a higher standard, something that which we all should try to attain.

I wonder why, since "good works" are of no consequence in regards to salvation.

97fuzzi
May 22, 2012, 1:05pm Top

(95) I disagree with your 'history' as stated in this post.

However, as many of us have have differing beliefs, and are unlikely to change them, we just need to agree to disagree.

98faceinbook
May 22, 2012, 1:14pm Top

>97 fuzzi:
It is a fact fuzzi....a man's brother was obligated to take his brother's wife and children as his own should anything happen to the man. It was survival....men were hunters and gathers....women were not and they would not have survived without the insurance that they and their children would be cared for.

Amazing how one can "overlook" facts.

http://facts.randomhistory.com/interesting-facts-about-marriage.html

Please note number 62 and 63. The Bible once again contradicts itself. Though you may not agree with these "facts" they do exist. As the saying goes "You are entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts"

As you can see...marriage has been messed with plenty. It changes and evolves and will continue to do so.

99johnthefireman
May 22, 2012, 1:19pm Top

>95 faceinbook: We had a situation in Sudan a few years back where the bishops of one church decided it was time to remind people that polygamy is not allowed, and it was the Christian women who stood up to them and argued that since so many of the men had died in the civil war, how would they get children if the remaining men were only allowed to marry one woman?

>96 jburlinson: Funnily enough while I was flicking through the bible today I came across James 2:14, 17-20 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?... Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? (KJV)

100timspalding
May 22, 2012, 1:20pm Top

>90 johnthefireman:

No, it's about surely about remarriage, not polygamy. Polygamy was almost dead among Jews in NT times.

101faceinbook
May 22, 2012, 1:20pm Top

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/pastor-delivers-anti-gay-rant-suggests-build...

A perfect example of why Christianity should not decide that it is the job of it's members to make decisions regarding the lives of homosexuals. Apparently ALL life is sacred unless the life in question does not fit the definition they feel to be THE proper definition.

Christianity, as I see it should be about ourselves and not about others. God takes care of the others we have enough to do to take care of ourselves. All persons being equal under the laws of the land and not inhibited by our definiton of who God is or what God wants.

102Arctic-Stranger
May 22, 2012, 1:29pm Top

100

Except this is Paul, writing Timothy, (well, traditionally it is) and Timothy was not serving a Jewish congregation. So it could refer to polygamy. Although given what Paul said about remarriage, I don't dispute your statement too much.

103timspalding
May 22, 2012, 1:33pm Top

>102 Arctic-Stranger:

No, Greeks at the time did not practice polygamy either.

104jburlinson
May 22, 2012, 1:36pm Top

> 101. Christianity, as I see it should be about ourselves and not about others.

Here we disagree. Christianity is all about others -- starting with the ultimate Other. Commandment # 1 -- love God. Commandment # 2 -- love your neighbor.

105Arctic-Stranger
May 22, 2012, 1:37pm Top

A few glances at some references prove you right. I stand corrected.

106StormRaven
May 22, 2012, 1:39pm Top

92: I know. The quote is from fuzzi, our resident "Bible believing Christian" who doesn't seem to actually know what is in the Bible she believes in.

107faceinbook
May 22, 2012, 2:03pm Top

>104 jburlinson:
Not sure about anyone else but it will take me a life time to "love my neighbor as myself" and I wouldn't consider it a very good start if I were to make all kinds of rules and regulations my neighbors will need to follow if they do not want to hear from me as to how they are going to be judged by my God. I don't know God's plan for them....not my business.
Chrisianity is a guideline for how to treat others but that means paying attention to what I am doing and not worrying so much about someone else's actions. Don't believe that there were any conditions placed on that "love"

Going back to the gay marriage issue....If God indeed is going to damn those who engage in a same sex marriage, how does this affect anyone other than the two who are married ? What is wrong with making the marriage legal ? It isn't NOT affecting anyone at all. God will handle the situation. Seems to me that some people want to play God !

108johnthefireman
May 22, 2012, 2:16pm Top

How much of it is just about the word "marriage"? As far as I know, in some countries (including UK) gay couples have all the same rights as a heterosexual couple but it is called "civil union" rather than "marriage". Is it so important to use the word "marriage"? Maybe it is for some; for others, maybe the fact that they have the same rights is more important than what it is called.

109Arctic-Stranger
May 22, 2012, 2:29pm Top

If I could do one thing to change Church/State statutes in this country, I would make weddings a function of the state, not of churches. It is that way in Europe. You can obviously have a church wedding, but that is not a legal wedding. The legal wedding is done at the court house.

This serves two purposes. First, churches (i.e. pastors) can be more choosy in who they marry. Their ceremony is purely a religious ceremony. People shop for someone to marry them the same way they shop for flowers sometimes. If the church wedding were optional, I would imagine less people who have no interest in being in a church would have church weddings.

Also, if marriage is a function of the state, the church is no longer responsible for who the state marries. If a state chooses to allow gays and lesbians to marry, the churches can do what they please about that. The state is making absolutely no religious pronouncement if it legalizes gay marriage.

This is the way most European countries do it. I always feel a little strange when, as a minister, I say, "As a representative of the State of Alaska and the Gospel of Jesus, I now pronounce you husband and wife."

110timspalding
May 22, 2012, 2:40pm Top

Is there any federal marriage law. How about soliders married by captains and chaplains. Do they all need marriage facility in a state, or is there a default federal one?

111Tigercrane
May 22, 2012, 2:52pm Top

Family law is reserved to the states. Federal involvement in family law has been limited to the "full faith and credit clause." Or it was, until DOMA. DOMA is most likely unconstitutional because it conflicts with the full faith and credit clause, but the issue hasn't been presented to the Supreme Court yet.

112Arctic-Stranger
May 22, 2012, 2:58pm Top

I would guess that the chaplains are registered by their denominations in their home state. (All chaplains are also "ordained" ministers. The quotes are around "ordained" because some traditions do not ordain, but they have to be certified.)

So I would imagine that the rules of the home state of the ordained persons apply.

113eclecticdodo
May 22, 2012, 3:11pm Top

>109 Arctic-Stranger:
"If I could do one thing to change Church/State statutes in this country, I would make weddings a function of the state, not of churches. It is that way in Europe. You can obviously have a church wedding, but that is not a legal wedding. The legal wedding is done at the court house."

That's what I'm leaning towards too. I think the legal and religious meanings of marriage are so different that the two functions could easily be separated.

"If the church wedding were optional, I would imagine less people who have no interest in being in a church would have church weddings."

This doesn't necessarily follow. In the UK there has been the option of a "registry office" marriage for decades now, where you have a non religious ceremony and sign the paperwork in a local government building, and more recently hotels, historic buildings, etc. have been licensed. Yet many non-believers still want to marry in church. For some it's about the pretty buildings, but even in non-conformist chapels and modern buildings they get a lot of requests. There is a lot of pressure not to refuse, particularly for "parish churches" (not sure if you have those in US - basically the whole country is divided into parishes each with a church of england church serving it). There are a number of marriage preparation courses aimed specifically for churches to use with non-believers (as well as ones like we did, aimed at Christians)

114Arctic-Stranger
Edited: May 22, 2012, 3:30pm Top

In Germany the churches are pretty strict on who they marry. They learned, as I did when I first became a pastor, that the time and effort that goes into a wedding usually does not do much to get people to attend your church...ever.

I married eight people my first year, none of them church attenders, and at the end of the year exactly zero of them ever set foot in my church again. Given that the average wedding took up about 15 hrs of my time, I think I could have been more productive doing something else.

Don't get me wrong. I have gladly married people who never attended my church, but these were people I either knew before hand, had circumstances that merited it, or just hit me on the right day.

In September I will be marrying a couple who are refugees from the Catholic church. (The church has pissed her off one too many times, although she does not want to leave it for another.) I married a couple on Friday, after the groom called me on Wednesday. (She was heading to Seattle for cancer emergency cancer surgery, and was not expected to live long, even if it was successful.)

Usually I LOVE doing weddings, but that is because I weed out the people who just want me as window dressing.

115StormRaven
May 22, 2012, 3:39pm Top

If I could do one thing to change Church/State statutes in this country, I would make weddings a function of the state, not of churches.

That's more or less the way it is in the U.S. When a religious authority performs a marriage, they do so because the state has essentially deputized them to do so. Marriages are licensed by the states, and participants always have the option of having a purely civil ceremony.

116faceinbook
May 22, 2012, 4:04pm Top

>114 Arctic-Stranger:
"Usually I LOVE doing weddings, but that is because I weed out the people who just want me as window dressing."

My dad did his fair share of weddings for people he never saw again. Also when my stepson was killed in a auto crash at the age of 22 it fell to me to do the funeral arrangements as I was the only person in the entire family who had any church background at all. Was interesting. My stepson was not baptized and this weighs in quite heavily when it comes to funerals. Since the distant side of his family was Catholic, I started there and worked my way through several churches and pastors. The one who finally did his service was a gay pastor who has been "defrocked ?" (is that how you say it ?) since then. Pastor Mike got involved in a divorcing couple debacle, helped the woman and her children out somehow. There were two children a fourteen yr old boy and a seven yr old girl. . He got way too involved with the family, I am quite certain that the woman was very fond of him. The husband then accused him of molesting their teenage son. I am not sure what the facts really were in the case but it did not end very nicely for the pastor. He is now working for the city of Milwaukee counseling unwed teen mothers. Off subject a bit but fits with the shopping around theme. Not quite certain why people feel the need to sanction such things as weddings and funerals when they do not care enough to attend church or even adhere to any type of faith. Maybe just covering their bases ?

No church wedding required in Wisconsin. My first marriage was in church, my second one was in a court room by the justice of the peace. Figured that I had screwed up the first one and since my vows were not kept I couldn't very well go back and say the same thing the second time in a meaningful way. I may not be a practicing Christian but the fact that I took vows and then could not follow through actually meant something. I also see a hypocrisy in proclaiming a sanctity in marriage that doesn't seem to exist any longer for a great deal of people. Probably one of the reasons I say hands off to those who want to refuse marriage to gays . Don't feel comfortable in picking and chosing what remains sacred and what doesn't. In fact there may be gay couples who have done far better than me when it comes to marriage.
Does Alaska require a marriage in a church ?

117Arctic-Stranger
May 22, 2012, 5:19pm Top

I am not aware of any state that requires a church wedding, but I believe in every state a church wedding is a legal wedding. SR apparently did not read my post. I would make it so that church wedding are no longer legal weddings. They are purely ecclesiastical functions, like baptism or communion.

As to funerals, I had a policy. I would do any funeral that came my way, at absolutely no charge for either my services of the church facilities. I figure people choose to marry. They do not choose to have loved ones die. I didn't care if they never set foot in a church, or how they died.

Consequently I ended with a lot of difficult funerals--suicides mostly, but also people who had been in comas the last twenty years of their lives, people who drank themselves to death, and people who no other pastor would touch. (At one funeral, during the sharing time, one of the sons of the deceased announced they would scatter the ashes on one of the local rock outcroppings, then get high, and he had enough pot for everyone, per his mother's last wishes.)

118faceinbook
May 22, 2012, 6:02pm Top

>117 Arctic-Stranger:"
"I would make it so that church wedding are no longer legal weddings. They are purely ecclesiastical functions, like baptism or communion."

Now that is an outstanding idea, since marriage as defined by the state, is regarding the legal aspect of a partnership and is as important as anything else governing the relationship. People could then add the religious dimension of their partnership if they choose to.

"As to funerals, I had a policy. I would do any funeral that came my way"

That was nice, cause actually when refusing to do a funeral because of actions or lack of action on the part of the deceased, you are really only punishing the survivors.

119StormRaven
May 22, 2012, 6:46pm Top

"I am not aware of any state that requires a church wedding, but I believe in every state a church wedding is a legal wedding."

It is only a legal wedding because it is licensed by the state and the religious figure presiding has been empowered by the state. Someone could not show up at your door without a wedding license and get legally married.

SR apparently did not read my post.

I did. You implied that somehow church weddings exist outside the civil process. They do not.

120Arctic-Stranger
May 22, 2012, 6:51pm Top

No I said they WERE a part of the civil process, and I would take them out of that.

121Osbaldistone
May 22, 2012, 10:23pm Top

>86 fuzzi: (fuzzi) Need a citation that God commanded polygamy?

The Genesis requirement that a man marry his brother's widow if necessary to ensure a male heir for his brother would frequently result in a requirement for polygymy. I can't find that citation right now, but it is referred to indirectly in Genesis 38:8 - Then Judah said to Onan, “Sleep with your brother’s wife and fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to raise up offspring for your brother.”

Arguing that because Biblical marriage is always between a man and woman/women, it can never change from that without violating God's will is like arguing that because Biblical land ownership is always by a man, so land ownership by a woman violates God's will. The Old Testament even went so far as to have YHWH requiring a woman whose father had no sons to marry a member of her own tribe (regardless of who she might love) to ensure that the father's land would remain in the tribe - that is, the husband would get the land through the daughter and it must remain in the tribe.

My point is, our understanding of what God requires of a Christian has evolved over the millenia, including marriage (polygamy to monogomy), slavery, land ownership, the role of women in Christianity, revenge killing even for an accidental killing (just fine according to Numbers as long as the killer is not holed up in a 'sanctuary' town), etc. And the writings of the church since the canon was established indicates that our understanding of what God wants of us continues to evolve. Besides, there's plenty of evidence (I think I said this in a very early post on this topic) that God was far more demanding of strict adherence to rules when his children were spiritually infants and has allowed a loosening of the rules as his children have grown to the spiritual adolescents we mostly are today. Much as a human parent does with their children. The Torah is nearly half rules and consequences, but Jesus said love God, love your neighbor, and not much else except for specific direction given to individuals who needed specific guidance on how to follow Him.

Os.

Just a fun historical aside - England's Henry VIII used the Genesis rule about your brother's wife to justify marrying Arthur's widow, then used other text from the Septuagent to prove that this marriage was not lawful, trying to taking advantage of an apparent conflict between two books of the OT. Old Henry had a pretty powerful legal mind, which he seemed to use mostly to get what he wanted.

122Osbaldistone
May 22, 2012, 10:26pm Top

>119 StormRaven:
Texas (at least until recently) allowed for common-law marriage to be in force with no marriage license, no civil ceremony, no religious ceremony - just live together as husband and wife for others to witness. Remnents of the frontier days, I believe, when it might be awhile before a preacher would be around and it was a long way to the nearest courthouse.

Os.

123Osbaldistone
May 22, 2012, 10:30pm Top

>119 StormRaven:
Church weddings can exist outside the civil process, but it would be hard to get a mainstream pastor to participate. If common-law marriage is accepted, it would work just fine. If not, the state would not recognize it, but the state cannot tell a Christian what is or is not marriage in God's eyes, right? So, a hetero couple that married in accordance with God's law but without a civil license in a state that denies common-law marriage would have the same equality issues under the law that a same-sex committed, loving, lifelong union has. That would be an interesting test for the religious right anti-same-sex marriage crowd.

Os.

124walk2work
May 22, 2012, 10:38pm Top

As ordained clergy, my experience is very similar to A-S's when it comes to weddings and funerals. If I perform the wedding of a couple who is already part of the church, they have continued to be active; but no one outside of our congregation has ever yet become active or joined, simply from being married by me in our sanctuary. Furthermore, I just wouldn't expect it - and I've only been a pastor for 5 years!

We talked a fair bit about this issue when I was in seminary, in part because I serve in a denomination which does allow churches to perform same-sex weddings and/or union ceremonies (regardless of whether such ceremonies hold any legal weight in our respective states). As clergy, I would really rather not act as an agent of the state. I don't help people write or execute wills; I don't help people draw up articles of incorporation or partnership in business situations; nor do I do any other legal function that would normally be the purview of a LAWYER. Why on earth should I be involved in civil marriage, which is essentially a legal contract?

Unless our role is simply to acknowledge that the marrying couple signed the license. And that cheapens our calling and our education, to be used by the state essentially as a notary public. I say: let legal people handle legal matters, and let religious people handle religious matters. If the US really had "separation of church and state," people would get married at a registry office or justice of the peace, and their union would be blessed by the church.

125walk2work
May 22, 2012, 10:38pm Top

> 124 Or not, as the case may be.

126johnthefireman
May 23, 2012, 2:11am Top

I suspect that (outside the USA?) church weddings which in themselves are not legal weddings are more common than this thread suggests. Not all religious ministers are civil marriage registrars. It is not uncommon in my experience for people to have a church wedding followed (or preceded) by a civil marriage at the registry office. I'll be attending a wedding in Austria in July and as far as I know that will be the procedure. I've also been to a number of weddings in the UK where a civil registrar attended the church service and there was a little hiatus at some point in the religious service where the legal stuff was done.

In many parts of Africa there are three types of marriage - traditional, civil and religious. Often the traditional one is done first. In many cultures it is a process rather than an event, and the couple may live together for years and produce several children before reaching a stage in their marriage where they feel they can go on to a church wedding. The traditional marriage will often be recognised without the need for a civil marriage (a bit like common law marriage?), but in some cases the certificate that you get from a civil or religious marriage is very useful, eg if a government employee wants to qualify for married housing. There have been cases of parishes being robbed and the only items taken were blank baptism and marriage certificates and the parish rubber stamp. Baptism certificates are often recognised as equivalent to birth certificates in countries where births are generally not registered by the government.

127fuzzi
May 23, 2012, 7:41am Top

(121) Os, thank you for your reply.

However, polygamy is not commanded in the OT, and there is nothing about a man marrying his brother's wife example that indicates that the man is already married.

It's not wise to create doctrine from silence.

There are many instances of men having more than one wife in the Bible, but it is not taught as doctrine, only the one man/one woman example is.

Jesus said that in the beginning, divorce was 'not so', and that a man and a woman should 'cleave' and become 'one'.

In Acts 17, Paul explains that there are things that men have done 'in ignorance', that God looked over, 'winked at', but now that Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead, all men are expected to repent and look toward their day of judgement.

And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.


I'll go with what Jesus taught over what men and what kings and priests and popes and scholars teach any day:

Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?

Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.

Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.

This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.


Thanks again for your civil and thoughtful discourse.

128eclecticdodo
May 23, 2012, 7:41am Top

>126 johnthefireman:
"I suspect that (outside the USA?) church weddings which in themselves are not legal weddings are more common than this thread suggests."
They are very common among Muslim communities in the UK, where the Islamic obligation is fulfilled, but no legal marriage takes place. It can be a huge issue for women if they are abandoned or if the husband takes another (not legally registered) wife in addition, or if the husband dies intestate. They just have no rights.

"I've also been to a number of weddings in the UK where a civil registrar attended the church service and there was a little hiatus at some point in the religious service where the legal stuff was done."
There are strict rules about the signing of the register, I think it has to be done in a separate room with witnesses, no photos are allowed of people while signing (you pose afterwards with a fancy pen!), and it's usually a different person to the pastor/vicar/whatever who acts as registrar (often it's the church secretary or an elder or deacon, it may be possible to hire someone in for the day). It's always a little disruptive when the wedding party has to dissappear out the back for 10 mins in the middle of the service, most people choose some music to entertain the guests.

129faceinbook
May 23, 2012, 8:53am Top

>127 fuzzi:
The thing is this....Is it not possible that there are more than one way of doing things ? and that neither way is "wrong" or less "right" than another ? That good, kind, spiritual people have traditions and cultures that dictate to them ways of honoring God that are different than "one way" The meaning may be the same, the way of accomplishing that meaning may be different....and perhaps for a reason. Since all of us do not live in the same manner, not all cultures are as literate, nor do they have the same perspective with which to interpret that which God demands, it makes sense to me that when it comes to our faith "right" and "wrong" are pretty basic and when we start to nit pick as to interpretation we are doing exactly the opposite of what "Jesus" expects ?

He contradicts himself in that he demands compliance and acceptance. I choose acceptance. Seems a gentler way of dealing with my "neighbor".

What is it to me if my "neighbor" has six wives and treats them all with love and respect ? Would bother me far more if my neighbor has one wife who he beats up on a daily basis. Which neighbor is actually in need of spiritual help ? Who is WRONG ?
It would seem to me that according to your belief system they would fall into the same catagory. "Sinners" ! Can't find it in my heart to go there. Refuse to make that judgement based on a text that has been written and rewritten, interpreted and reinterpreted no matter how beautiful the words or how much I think I know their meaning. To me, they are not a tool to be used with which to judge others but a guide as to how I should conduct myself.

Do you really believe that God would condemn a man to hell for treating six women with love and respect right along with the wife beater ? Doesn't make much sense to me.

130timspalding
Edited: May 23, 2012, 12:05pm Top

However, polygamy is not commanded in the OT, and there is nothing about a man marrying his brother's wife example that indicates that the man is already married.

I'm not in the mood to fight this, but this is not what most interpreters believe. It's clear from various internal evidence, that Levirite marriage could produce polygamy. That's also how Jewish legal commentary from the centuries in and after Jesus' life understood it. By that time polygamy was almost dead, and the rabbis recommended a formal renunciation ceremony, not marriage, but the legal possibility of Levirite marriage and polygamy from it was understood to be live.

The situation is actually an excellent one for showing that such a thing can change, and why. Fundamentally, Levirite marriage was a justice-producing situation. People back then didn't have insurance policies; without a husband and possibly pregnant, widows were in deep trouble. Levirite marriage required a brother to take formal, legal and financial responsibility for his brother's wife. More, rather than simply getting his brother's property on marriage—marry his widow and get all his property!—the law required that the brother's property be kept separate and given to the first child of the Levirite marriage which in any case might be from either partner. From our perspective we see "he gets to bang his brother's wife—woo-hoo!" From an ancient perspective I suspect people would see "his brother's wife won't starve, his line will live on and his property won't be appropriated by the future husband." This difference in perspective is no doubt why Deuteronomy has a procedure for the woman to claim her right to her brother-in-law's protection and support in marriage.

With this in mind, to adapt Jesus, maybe "the family was made for man, not man for the family." The goal is love and justice. The institution is for that, rather than being an absolute in its own right.

131faceinbook
May 23, 2012, 10:07am Top

>130 timspalding:
The American romantisized version of marriage says little about what marriage really was for centuries. Marriage was about far more than love and romance as you just pointed out.

In Most Native American tribes a man's brother was responsible for his brother's widow and her children. Many tribes were polygamist as the population of the tribe was important, children often did not survive and one woman could not always insure the bloodline.

We tend to see marriage through the tiny lens of what we know today and then draw conclusions as to what it "should be". When in fact, marriage is different things to different people even today. It can be health issurance or citizenship.
When the issue of sex pops up it's misbegotten head all kinds of things are attached to marriage that are not neccessarly true.
Men actually had MORE responsibility to provide for their extended families in the distant past, it wasn't about sex, it was about survival....maybe the new wife was unappealing ? This did not excuse the man from his duty to her and her children.
Was watching the show "Sister Wives" the other night. The husband is older....four wives I think, can't rightly remember but one thing stood out for me. One of the younger women said that none of the wives will ever have to worry about being without care or support. They are bound to care for each other when the husband is gone. This sounds a bit romantic as well and maybe it is but the principle is good. If all are happy.....what is the problem ?
Polygamy like everything else was twisted and abused. It became a way to control and use young girls and women as well as young men who were shunned out of communities. However, I don't think that there is any form of marriage that hasn't in some way been abused. Women were married to cousins to insure land ownership or alliances between kings. Native American women were given as gifts to other tribes or to white settlers.

I don't really care what other people do about their marriages, why they enter into a partnership or what their definition of that partnership may be but it does bother me that there are those who feel that their definition should be the only definition and laws must be in place to insure that this happen. One's definition is right for themselves but not neccessarly for everyone else. This does not make one definition right and one of them wrong.

132jburlinson
Edited: May 23, 2012, 11:11am Top

> 127. This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

I sometimes get the feeling that these words were directed specifically at contemporary evangelical fundamentalists.

edited to force italics to behave

133faceinbook
May 23, 2012, 11:47am Top

>132 jburlinson:
Nicely done !

134Arctic-Stranger
Edited: May 23, 2012, 1:20pm Top

Getting italics to behave can be tricky. Very tricky.

I was in my favorite bookstore when the manager, who was Australian, said (with more enthusiasm than I usually hear with those words), "You are a minister!"

She wanted to vote absentee in Australia, but needed the form signed by a public official or a minister. I was sure they wanted a minister of government, but no, they accepted my credentials as an ordained Presbyterian minister.

135johnthefireman
May 23, 2012, 1:46pm Top

>130 timspalding:, 131 The dynamics to which you both refer would still be easily recognisable in many parts of Africa.

136Osbaldistone
May 23, 2012, 4:50pm Top

>127 fuzzi: However, polygamy is not commanded in the OT, and there is nothing about a man marrying his brother's wife example that indicates that the man is already married.
It's not wise to create doctrine from silence.


timspalding probably did a better job than I can regarding the Levrite marriage requirement. But, given that I grew up in a tradition which says (and I still hold strongly to this) "Where the Bible speaks, we speak; where the Bible is silent, we are silent", I feel I must at least be clear.

The Levrite requirement is not specifically a requirement for polygamy. But it offers no release from the requirement when the brother is already married. Thus, to meet the requirement, the living brother MUST practice polygamy. If polygamy was not God's intent in cases of a married brother, His law would provide instruction for an alternative.

Yes, I hold to "where the Bible is silent, we are silent", but not when it flies in the face of logic. On the other hand, I can clearly see how you can read the same text and not come to your conclusion. I think it comes down to your word 'commandment'. I see the commandment (Levrite marriage) which often results in polygamy as meeting the criterion of your question - you see the lack of a direct commandment and reach the opposite conclusion. Actually, this common result (two different conclusions after prayerful study) is an important lesson in the role of the Bible in a life of faith and striving to move closer to God.

Os.

137timspalding
Edited: May 23, 2012, 4:56pm Top

>136 Osbaldistone:

I don't think the issue is a lack of a direct commandment, but the notion that Levirite marriage must have an implied "unless he's already married." Although the text doesn't say this, it makes a lot of sense from our perspective—assuming polygamous marriage is both marginal and wrong. But it just doesn't wash within the mental world of its time. When Deuteronomy was written/compiled, polygamy wasn't marginal, so such a "but not for married people" would have had to be spelled out for anyone to assume it. That ancient Jewish sages, living in a largely monogamous culture, understood it could require polygamy underscores this.

138fuzzi
May 23, 2012, 6:25pm Top

Nice civil discussion, thank you tim and Os. :)

139faceinbook
May 23, 2012, 8:17pm Top

>138 fuzzi:
Civility is a matter of perspective I guess :>0 or are those who base their opinions regarding monogamy on something other than the Bible less than civil ?

140Osbaldistone
Edited: May 23, 2012, 10:59pm Top

>139 faceinbook:
Civility is a matter of perspective I guess

Stating the blindingly obvious.

are those who base their opinions regarding monogamy on something other than the Bible less than civil ?

Sorry, faceinbook. I'm sure you're capable of being civil too, and I'm sure fuzzi would agree. Now, does that feel better?

Os.

141johnthefireman
May 24, 2012, 1:58am Top

fuzzi, a couple of questions, which I hope you will consider civil.

How do you react to Os' statement in >136 Osbaldistone:: this common result (two different conclusions after prayerful study) is an important lesson in the role of the Bible in a life of faith and striving to move closer to God? I think this is a question which has been asked of you over and over again in different words in different LT threads. Your response appears to be that your conclusion is always the right one and represents God's will (correct me if I am misrepresenting you). Does that mean Os' conclusion is wrong and isn't God's will?

I'd still be interested in your take on James 2:14, 17-20, quoted in >99 johnthefireman: above, in regard to the faith and works question.

142fuzzi
May 24, 2012, 7:42am Top

(141) john, your questions are, indeed, "civil", and I will consider them well before answering. :)

I will add that I have answered the James question(s) so many times to so many people, well, so that it gets tiring, but I don't think I've answered it for you, yet. I'll endeavor to do that later today: I don't have the time right now to answer as I'd like.

143fuzzi
Edited: May 24, 2012, 7:46am Top

Os quoted faceinbook: >139 faceinbook:
are those who base their opinions regarding monogamy on something other than the Bible less than civil ?


Not necessarily, not any more than those who base their beliefs on the Bible.

It is an individual choice to be civil or not. I choose to be civil until it is obvious that the person isn't interested. Then I put them on ignore. Life's too short to waste time on those who aren't interested in a polite and mature discussion.

144faceinbook
May 24, 2012, 8:04am Top

>143 fuzzi:
"It is an individual choice to be civil or not. I choose to be civil until it is obvious that the person isn't interested"

Isn't interested in what ? the subject at hand ? the answers I don't agree with ? an individual poster ? (have never ever put anyone on ignore...ever. Every person has an opinion and we have no way of knowing why or where it may come from but dissing them is not going to help us understand where they are coming from)

What about my opinion regarding monogomy is immature ? Or not civil ? Called you on the fact that historically monogomy was a practice that servered a purpose when you did not agree with my "history" but when one discusses something unless all are in agreement, one should expect to be called out. I get it all of the time....tend to be opinionated and I am often wrong or misinformed.
Clearly I have an interest in monogomy and polygamy.....thought about it quite a bit, especially since I started learning Native history. Grew up with the "ick" factor, the cult association and the sexual implications of polygamy. There is much more to the subject than that. Guess I didn't just hit the ignore button when my belief system was challenged.

145johnthefireman
May 24, 2012, 11:52am Top

>144 faceinbook: I live in a society where polygamy is considered normal. Monogamy is the "new" idea, although it's been around for a hundred years or more so it's also considered normal enough. I suppose you could say both are normal.

146faceinbook
May 24, 2012, 12:16pm Top

>145 johnthefireman:
Does this affect you in a negative manner in any way ? Be it either polygamy or monogomy ?

147johnthefireman
Edited: May 24, 2012, 12:41pm Top

>146 faceinbook: It doesn't affect me personally - I have only one wife. I suppose both monogamy and polygamy have their pros and cons. Polygamy does provide a social safety net in some cultures, and enhances the ability to produce children in a society where women outnumber men due to war, amongst other factors. It can also be a bonding between communities. On the other hand it can be negative for the women (but not automatically so - there are a lot of variables) and expensive for the men. Monogamy is great as an ideal, but even in Europe and north America it often seems just to lead to "serial polygamy" (marriage, divorce, remarriage, divorce, remarriage...), and in Africa for a man to have other women outside his marriage is probably the norm rather than the exception. In Kenya they call it "dogging".

148timspalding
May 24, 2012, 12:46pm Top

>147 johnthefireman:

Who are the women men have outside of marriage, exactly? I mean, what's the profile of the mistresses—age, marital status, etc.

149fuzzi
May 24, 2012, 1:01pm Top

1. Sodomy is now 'okay' (homosexuality)

Next

2. Polygamy is 'okay'

Then

3. Pederasty will be 'okay'

And

4. Bestiality will be 'okay'

Where does it stop?

150faceinbook
May 24, 2012, 1:22pm Top

>149 fuzzi:
"Where does it stop?"

When a guy decides he loves ice cream and wants to marry it !

151Arctic-Stranger
Edited: May 24, 2012, 1:26pm Top

No, I don't think the slippery slope argument prevails here. I can partly understand why you see it that way, but look at it this way.

Marriage is an institution that creates stability in relationships. Once married, it is much harder to walk away. (Believe me, I know this. I was married for 27 years, of which I would say five were pretty good. When I did leave, I didn't just walk out, I had counseling, and a group of pastor who met with me on a very regular and lengthy basis to talk things out.)

I think we can agree that healthy relationships are a good thing. Gay people will be get together, that is a fact. (There will always be gay people, until straight people stop having gay babies.)

If gay people are going to form relationships, it is not better for them to have healthy, caring, stable relationships?

Also one can support gay marriage and still condemn pederasty without contradiction. A healthy gay or lesbian relationship does not involve power inequalities. Pederasty, by definition ALWAYS does. As does any relationship, straight or otherwise between a pastor and a parishioner, a counselor and a client, or a professor and a student.

I support the right for my girlfriend's daughter to have a healthy relationship, even to get married, but I would never support the right for her to be abused by anyone. Or to abuse anyone.

ETA: Next will be Mitt Romney divorcing Ann to marry Bain Capital. (Inspired by 150)

152StormRaven
Edited: May 24, 2012, 1:26pm Top

fuzzi, you made the following inane argument:

"1. Sodomy is now 'okay' (homosexuality)

Next

2. Polygamy is 'okay'

Then

3. Pederasty will be 'okay'

And

4. Bestiality will be 'okay'
"

I love how you conflate two situations involving people who are consenting adults with two situations that by definition involve at least one entity who cannot give consent. The emptiness of your "argument" is thereby made readily apparent to anyone who has half a brain.

153Arctic-Stranger
May 24, 2012, 1:26pm Top

There goes civility.

154StormRaven
May 24, 2012, 1:27pm Top

152: fuzzi dropped civility when she made an argument that implied that homosexuality would lead to bestiality. She claims to be civil, but when she puts up posts like that, she's just spouting hateful bigotry.

155faceinbook
Edited: May 24, 2012, 1:47pm Top

>147 johnthefireman:
The point I was trying to make is that the fact that your neighbor has more than one wife or that the couple next door may both be of the same sex has no affect on your life what so ever. You may not like looking at it or it may make you uncomfortable but it doesn't affect how you conduct your life.

>149 fuzzi:
Homosexuality has been around since humans walked upright. Take note of number 63 off of the list I sent :
63.The first recorded mention of same-sex marriage occurs in Ancient Rome and seems to have occurred without too much debate until Christianity became the official religion. In 1989, Denmark was the first post-Christianity nation to legally recognize same-sex marriage.

It has been discussed on this thread that historicaly there was a reason for polygamy. Take note of number 62 off of the list I sent a link to:
62.Levirate marriage, where a man is obligated to marry his brother’s widow if she had no sons to care for her, is sometimes required in the Bible (as in Deuteronomy) and sometimes prohibited (as in Leviticus).e

The other two are unnatural and though I am sure they exist, are against the law. They also have nothing to do with marriage or relationships, only sex....which is something that seems to creep into many religious discussions. We are not discussing SEX.....we are talking about relationships and marriage. There is more to a marriage than sex, whether one is married to many wives, one wife or a person of the same sex.
You just implied that any homosexual relationship was on the same order as bestiality or pederasty. That was a bit less than kind.

156Arctic-Stranger
May 24, 2012, 2:03pm Top

Anyone with half a brain can see that responding in kind is pretty much doing the same thing. Oh, wait. Now I am doing it.

Never mind.

157Arctic-Stranger
May 24, 2012, 2:11pm Top

#155

You raise an interesting point, one that I guess I was aware of, but never quite fully let surface. IF we view marriage as merely sanctifying sex, then my some people's standards gay marriage would be very wrong.

However if we view marriage as the field wherein a complex, committed, creative, nurturing, dynamic, and sometimes fragile relationship takes place, a relationship with may include sex, but which is not based on sex, then we seem to have a little different ball game.

Not that this will change any minds.

158jburlinson
May 24, 2012, 2:21pm Top

It's interesting that, in the Bible, there's really nothing prohibiting lesbianism. As far as I know, the only reference to it is in Romans 1:26 -- "For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature." KJV.

Even that reference isn't condemnatory of lesbian practice; it's more of an observation that if men have sex with each other, women will have to turn to their own sex for satisfaction/intimacy.

So, would it be fair to say that, biblically, women get a free ride on this, so to speak?

159jburlinson
May 24, 2012, 2:24pm Top

> 155. The point I was trying to make is that the fact that your neighbor has more than one wife or that the couple next door may both be of the same sex has no affect on your life what so ever. You may not like looking at it or it may make you uncomfortable but it doesn't affect how you conduct your life.

The same would be true if your neighbor had a torture chamber in his basement, as long as he didn't use it on you.

160StormRaven
May 24, 2012, 2:34pm Top

"Anyone with half a brain can see that responding in kind is pretty much doing the same thing."

Did I make the claim that I was being "civil" to fuzzi with my response? The only person hypocritically claiming "civility" in this thread is fuzzi.

Asserting that if we allow two consenting adults to marry one another that this is tantamount to legalizing bestiality is decidedly uncivil. There's a reason that Santorum's name is now a synonym for lube mixed with fecal matter.

161faceinbook
May 24, 2012, 2:38pm Top

>157 Arctic-Stranger:
"However if we view marriage as the field wherein a complex, committed, creative, nurturing, dynamic, and sometimes fragile relationship takes place"

In other words : A Lot of Hard Work ! (not that this is a bad thing)

Sex is easy. Nothing to it. It is a biological function of the human body. When coupled with intense feelings it can be beautiful but it certainly isn't all there to a marriage. At least as I understand marriage to be.

Was trying to make that point a bit on another thread regarding polygamy.....it has been viewed as something perverse because of the sexual aspect but when viewed in the light of survival and/or security it isn't the repulsive "cult" type of thing that first comes to mind. (not to say that pologomy hasn't been abused but then what form of relationship hasn't ?)

Guess I remain confused as to why people worry so much about how other people choose to define thier relationships. It makes no difference in my life what so ever if a man has five wives or my friends who are same sex couples should aquire a marriage license. (wouldn't matter about the ice cream guy either)
Have A Lot of Hard Work on my hands as it is, don't need to worry about somebody else's type of relationship.


162Tigercrane
May 24, 2012, 2:45pm Top

>159 jburlinson: Torture is a crime because it is non-consensual.

163jburlinson
May 24, 2012, 2:45pm Top

Luke 17:34 -- "I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left."

Does that mean that exactly 50% of gay people will be saved?

If so, that's better than the average for the population at large.

164jburlinson
May 24, 2012, 2:48pm Top

> 162. What difference does it make to you if other people perform non-consensual acts?

165Tigercrane
May 24, 2012, 3:15pm Top

>164 jburlinson: It makes a difference to them. It's called assault and battery.

166jburlinson
May 24, 2012, 3:24pm Top

> 165. Call it what you will -- but how does it affect you?

167eclecticdodo
May 24, 2012, 3:27pm Top

>158 jburlinson:
I would have thought the description of "vile affections" and "that which is against nature" makes it clear it is seen as wrong. I don't have time for a full word study, but a quick internet search shows other versions have "shameful...unnatural" (NIV), "vile...degrading...unnatural...abnormal" (amplified), "dishonourable...contrary to nature" (ESV). All pretty negative.

168jburlinson
May 24, 2012, 3:35pm Top

> 167. The "vile affections" and all your other epithets refer specifically to male homosexuality. Because men give way to "vile affections," women are left to fend for themselves "against nature."

In other words, lesbianism is nothing but an inevitable consequence of male homosexuality.

169eclecticdodo
May 24, 2012, 3:40pm Top

>157 Arctic-Stranger:, 161, etc.
of course relationships, whether gay or straight, are about far more than just sex. It's just easier to focus on the physical bits, like physical abuse is talked of far more than emotional or other kinds.
The bible teaches that men and women are built to complement each other, sexually yes, but in so many other ways too.

>162 Tigercrane:, 164, etc.
sodomy, whether consensual or not, is physically harmful to the body. Is it ok for a person to hit me because I've given them permission?

170Tigercrane
May 24, 2012, 3:41pm Top

>166 jburlinson: What difference does it make whether it affects me or not? The division between consensual and non-consensual acts is clear. If your question is supposed to somehow lead into the idea that some people should get to police the sexual acts of other consenting adults because they themselves find the acts personally distasteful or immoral even though the actual parties involved do not, I don't see how you get there from here without addressing the consent issue.

171Tigercrane
May 24, 2012, 3:42pm Top

>169 eclecticdodo: Yes, actually it is okay for someone to hit you because you've given them permission. Otherwise, we wouldn't have boxing or football.

172eclecticdodo
May 24, 2012, 3:42pm Top

>168 jburlinson:
interesting thought. I suppose in a male centred culture it's not altogether surprising that issues effecting solely women aren't discussed? I still think the point stands that lesbianism is a sin from the descriptions used.

173eclecticdodo
May 24, 2012, 3:47pm Top

>171 Tigercrane:
But sodomy is not a sport. It would be more equivalent to me getting sexual gratification from punching someone without them fighting back, even if they get their turn to punch me, does that make it right? I'm not asking "is it something the law should prevent?" (that is a whole other question), but "is it morally right to do that?"

174StormRaven
Edited: May 24, 2012, 3:53pm Top

Is it ok for a person to hit me because I've given them permission?

Yes. There are many contexts in which people do this every day. Have you ever seen an MMA match for example? Have you ever heard of consensual BDSM?

1751sunnygyrl
May 24, 2012, 3:55pm Top

I didn't get to read all of the entries since I posted, "why is it anyones business". I skimmed a little.

I know I am opening up a whole can of worms here.... oh well here goes:

I was raised Pentecostal in a small town in central Missouri. I was raised with BOTH biological heterosexual parents in the same home. They were together 46 years until my father just passed away 2 years ago. I am now in my mid 30's. My family still lives in that small town, I do not. I came out to my family and friends when I was 21 and moved out of the small town to the largest city near me. Now I live in another state. My family was and still is completely accepting and supporting of me. They do not judge me, so why should anyone else? My family is still Pentecostal and they believe that in the end I answer to God and no one else.

I am married to a woman. Yes, I am a lesbian. OH MY! I live in a state, now where civil unions are recognized, and I have ALMOST the same rights as a married couple. I have a an adopted daughter (with an ex-partner) that we share custody of. Just like a heterosexual married couple.

I still believe in God. I still pray and thank God every day for allowing me another day on this earth. I do not need to attend church, as my direct line of communication doesn't have to be only in the house of God. My 5 year old daughter goes to a private Christian School. Everyone in her school knows she has two moms. We are accepted, and not judged. And I am well aware what they teach her. As I grew up in a religious household.

My daughter is a well-rounded child. She loves EVERYONE no matter what. Even though she has two homes, as most heterosexual divorced parents provide, she see's and spends time with both of us every day. My daughter will be taught to be herself and to not judge anyone. Not by race, religion, sexual preference, or even by the color of their hair or how many tattoos they have. As long as my daughter grows up to be a HAPPY, productive, contributing member of society, nothing else matters.

We don't do drugs, we don't drink. I don't smoke cigarettes, her other mom does. We are pedophiles and we don't recruit straight people to come to the dark side.

We all are productive contributing members of society (ie: we have jobs and pay our bils). We pray at our meals, and reinforce good behavior and manners. She is taught about how to express her feelings with words instead of physical confrontation like hitting or pinching or kicking... like most kids do nowadays.

I guess what I am trying to 'get at' with my story is that .... why does it matter who marries who, if it isn't hurting anyone. I explained my story because some people have this idea that gay people are screwed up. Well I have to say, in my experience, in the gay community.... gays are no more screwed up than the straights.

And this is not a choice... I didn't become gay because it was cool. I don't want to be judged, put down, degraded and overall looked down upon, because I am gay. I think it would be so much easier and acceptable to be hetero. But again, this is NOT my choice. I have NO attraction whatsoever to a man. I don't even find them 'eye candy' as some women call them. Men do nothing for me.

I am a person. I am a woman. I love just like the rest of the world. I work just like everyone else. I am a mom and raise my daughter with morals, manners and good behavior.

The only difference between me and you is, is who I love. Can I tell you who to love, can I decide that you can't marry who you love, can I deny your rights to be equal because of who you love? Can I judge and condemn you for who you love because I think my God is better than yours?

1761sunnygyrl
May 24, 2012, 4:05pm Top

WE ARE NOT PEDOPHILES !!! I missed the word NOT in there... NOT PEDOPHILES!!!

177faceinbook
May 24, 2012, 4:12pm Top

>176 1sunnygyrl:
Kind of figured you meant that ! And....

Thank you ! Your daughter has much to be proud of !

178johnthefireman
May 24, 2012, 4:35pm Top

>148 timspalding: Very varied, as far as I can see.

>149 fuzzi: fuzzi, polygamy is not "now" OK. In many cultures polygamy has always been and still is OK. It is only relatively recently that it is being compared, or perhaps judged, against a new standard, that of monogamy.

>155 faceinbook: Oh, I see what you mean. Of course you're right. Whether someone else is polygamous or straight or gay or whatever doesn't affect me.

>161 faceinbook: polygamy..... has been viewed as something perverse because of the sexual aspect

I think you would need to add the qualifier "only in certain cultures". In many cultures it has never been viewed as perverse and still isn't.

>175 1sunnygyrl: Thank you for sharing, 1sunnygyrl. I know a number of gay couples who could share equally inspiring stories, although I'm not sure that all of them have found such support as you have from their families and churches. Some have.

179faceinbook
May 24, 2012, 4:35pm Top

>167 eclecticdodo:
It appears to me that you are using only one form of reference. To see an issue clearly from more than one point of view, one needs to find other reference points. There are some very good novels written on the subject of gay love. There are gays who are also very open about their struggle to live in a society that has been uptight about the sexual aspect of their relationships for a long time. Talk to some of them. Sex is not the only aspect of their lives, they do have other things going on....families, jobs, friends, problems and accomplishments.

How much beauty would not exist in this world if not for homosexuals ?
Think about it !

Music
Art
Literature

You could start with the lists on this site. There are quite a few.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_gay,_lesbian_or_bisexual_people

If all of these people are sinners...Hell is going to be one heck of a place !

180eclecticdodo
May 24, 2012, 4:54pm Top

>179 faceinbook:
Yes, I am using only one reference. We are discussing Christianity and homosexuality, not homosexuality in modern literature. Of course I "talk to some of them", of course sex is not the only aspect of their lives (see post 169), of course they are productive members of society.
As for all those people being sinners, the whole point of Christianity is that we are ALL sinners. Have a look at post 66

181Tigercrane
May 24, 2012, 4:59pm Top

>180 eclecticdodo: But I think the basic problem is that not everyone agrees on what sin is. I'm not a Christian. The things I think are immoral, you might not think are, and vice versa. I doubt very much you'd feel comfortable living in a world that I got to arrange to my specifications, if I had the desire and the ability to impose my beliefs on everyone else.

1821sunnygyrl
May 24, 2012, 5:01pm Top

My sins are exactly that. MINE. Not yours, not the pastor, preacher or pope. Nobody but mine.

Do these high and mighty so-called 'CHRISTIANS' want us to know their sins? And condemn them for it? EVERYONE SINS!

I may be a lesbian, but I can guarantee that I am a better Christian than the people that condemn and judge me. And yet, I don't condemn or judge them for THEIR sins.

1831sunnygyrl
May 24, 2012, 5:07pm Top

#181. "I doubt very much you'd feel comfortable living in a world that I got to arrange to my specifications, if I had the desire and the ability to impose my beliefs on everyone else."

And that is exactly what is happening in our society. Just as homosexuality is becoming more (for lack of better words) in-your-face, it is being battled by Christianity. Whatever happened to separation of church and state?

Why are they refusing to change laws based on religion, when religion should not even be a part of it.

1841sunnygyrl
May 24, 2012, 5:08pm Top

Why are the 'Christians' deciding on what is good or bad for this country?

185faceinbook
May 24, 2012, 5:16pm Top

>180 eclecticdodo:
Then it is a "degree" of sin we are talking about ? If a man cheats on his wife with the office girl is that as bad as a gay couple having sex ?
If it is perhaps we should have some sort of legislation regarding men and office girls ? A Constitutional amendment of some sort.
I know I am being snarky but really....why is it the job of Christians to set down the laws for others ? Do your thing the way you feel it should be done and let God sort out the rest.
If gays want to have the same exact rights as everyone else in this society, what is it to you ?

>184 1sunnygyrl:
Because Bush was a Born Again ?

186eclecticdodo
May 24, 2012, 5:33pm Top

>181 Tigercrane:, 185
I know this has been a long thread, but have either of you read my earlier contributions? post 66 & 75 for example.

I think there are FAR more important things than a person's sexual preferences or acts!

"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye." Matthew 7: 3-5

187eclecticdodo
May 24, 2012, 5:35pm Top

> 185
Bush was a *$%@

188eclecticdodo
May 24, 2012, 5:36pm Top

sorry, probably shouldn't have said that. As a non-American I am frequently reminded I have no right to hold an opinion...

1891sunnygyrl
May 24, 2012, 5:39pm Top

eclecticdodo.... well I am an American and obviously my opinion doesn't count either! :)

190faceinbook
May 24, 2012, 5:57pm Top

186
This is a long thread and I may have you confused with someone else, if so, I apologize. It appears that I may have.

I am not one to quote scripture. The Bible is beautiful in parts but it's words have too often been used as weapons depending on individual interpretation. Taking Christ as a "personal" savior seems a significant idea within the Christian faith, in that we don't all read the same thing into the words we read, nor do we apply them to our selves in exactly the same manner. And most importantly, since it is the word personal that I find to be of great importance, nor should we judge others or attempt to decree how others should conduct themselves based on our personal relationship to Christ or interpretation of the words in the Bible.

>187 eclecticdodo:
Well, that too.

He was a born again Christian and he did make all kinds of promises to all sorts of Christian based groups. He instituted most of the abstenince programs throughout the country (dismal failures) and brought religion right up front and center in the government. 1sunnygyrl was wondering why this was happening. I think in part it had to do with G.W. and his promises. Not that this hasn't always been a struggle but it has been heightened lately.

191jburlinson
May 24, 2012, 7:42pm Top

> 172. I still think the point stands that lesbianism is a sin from the descriptions used.

You could very well be overinterpreting those descriptions. There is no place in the Bible that explicitly condemns lesbianism. Even if you take the Bible literally, actually especially if you take the Bible literally, you have to admit that there's nothing about lesbianism. The Bible is essentially silent on the issue. And, as # 127 points out: It's not wise to create doctrine from silence.

192fuzzi
Edited: May 24, 2012, 9:03pm Top

(151) Just because people get married does not mean that it will ensure a stable or healthy relationship.

(162) Well, so is necrophilia, but in another thread here on LT sex with a dead spouse was touted as being 'okay' because the person who died might have given permission before she died...

(167) What you read in (158) is an example of taking verses out of context and wresting scriptures to make something that is not allowed suddenly be 'okay'. Agendas, agendas...

What is sad is that so many people know what the Bible teaches, and yet they decide that they'll do what they want to do anyway, because "it's not hurting anyone". What they don't seem to realize is that it does hurt someone, themselves, or family members.

We could say that a person who drinks until they pass out but never abuses their spouse or children or drive drunk should be encouraged to continue to do so, because it's not hurting anyone.

(175) sunny, there is one thing you said that was exactly right: "...they believe that in the end I answer to God and no one else."

Absolutely right, as we all will. None of us is good or righteous, only God is. And He'll judge us based upon what we did with what He gave us.

193fuzzi
Edited: May 24, 2012, 9:03pm Top

(191) The Bible teaches against fornication (sex outside of marriage) and against adultery, which is having sex with someone other than your spouse.

The Bible also teaches that God made man and woman, for them to cleave to each other, and become one.

I don't see any over-interpreting there, it's pretty clear....

...that is, if someone WANTS to see it. Most don't. They'd rather do what they want to do and damn the consequences.

So, do what you want to do. Just don't expect me to condone it or applaud it or promote it. And that's what is happening today.

194clif_hiker
Edited: May 24, 2012, 9:12pm Top

pretty clear IF you accept the bible as the last and only word. For those of us who don't, it's pretty clear that what one does in the bedroom is none of your or my damn business.

oh and a big thank you for allowing us to do what we want to do. And I could care less if you condone applaud promote or shit little green apples about it.

195lawecon
Edited: May 24, 2012, 9:40pm Top

~149

1. Sticking your nose into the personal affairs of others (judging so you will be judged) is now okay.

2. Promoting intolerance of others based on matters that are none of your business is now "okay."

3. Advocating discrimination against and hatred of others is now "okay."

4. Soon, treating others as "vermin" will be "okay" (e.g., http://www2.mcdowellnews.com/news/2012/may/22/nc-pastor-lock-gays-let-them-die-o... )

Where does it stop?

Oh, wait, we already know, don't we - it doesn't.

196faceinbook
Edited: May 24, 2012, 9:50pm Top

>193 fuzzi:
"So, do what you want to do. Just don't expect me to condone it or applaud it or promote it. And that's what is happening today."

Nobody is asking you to condone it or applaud it or promote it. What is being asked of you,(and others such as yourself) is that, as part of a bigger whole, a society of varied beliefs and life styles, you accept that everyone is entitled to the same freedoms you enjoy, without judgement, harrassment or prejudices. God will sort it out....you don't need to.
That should take a weight off your shoulders ? No more worrying if this law passes or that law doesn't pass....man doesn't need to muck about in God's business he only needs to respect that everyone be given the same freedoms as they themselves expect to enjoy. Along with a little goodwill, if you take the the teachings of Christ, to heart.

197walk2work
May 24, 2012, 11:06pm Top

>196 faceinbook: Beautifully stated. I have long thought that part of the issue in legalizing same-sex marriage is that opponents don't want to pay benefits for same-sex couples and their families.

Well, I'm not so crazy about paying taxes that subsidize the cleanup of Superfund sites across the US. I figure the companies that polluted should pay. But they won't; and overall it's better for everyone if we have fewer toxic waste sites. Besides, the people who live there (usually impoverished, "the least of these") deserve to live in as clean an environment as I do. So I pay.

Sometimes Christ calls us to love our neighbors even if we're not so comfortable around them.

198jburlinson
May 25, 2012, 12:46am Top

> 193. Performing homosexual sex acts is not committing adultery; so says the New Hampshire Supreme Court, which ruled in 2003 that a man could not divorce his wife on grounds of adultery because of her lesbian affair. The Court looked up the word "adultery" in Webster's 3rd International and found that it referred only to intercourse between people of opposite genders. The justices further relied on case law from the period when the 1842 divorce law was drafted and concluded that the definition of "adultery" as it was applied in State v. Wallace in 1838 and State v. Taylor in 1878 was “intercourse from which a spurious issue may arise.” They deduced that because a “spurious issue” can only arise from intercourse between a man and a woman, “criminal adultery could only be committed with a person of the opposite gender.”

199lawecon
May 25, 2012, 12:48am Top

~173

"But sodomy is not a sport. It would be more equivalent to me getting sexual gratification from punching someone without them fighting back, even if they get their turn to punch me, does that make it right? I'm not asking "is it something the law should prevent?" (that is a whole other question), but "is it morally right to do that?""

I am curious what your answer is to the above question. It seems that you are making some sort of argument about physical harm. If so, I wonder how you distinguish from straight sex or even from non sexual hard play between a father and son or siblings etc. In each case there is consensual - indeed, more than consensual - physical contact between two persons. In each case there may be some level of pain (albeit not very much). So what, specifically, are you contending?

I'll tell you it sounds like a rather strange thing to say. It sounds like you are contending that "I wouldn't like to do that, so it is immoral for other people to engage in it." But perhaps you can clarify in a way so it doesn't sound so strange. Or perhaps not.

200lawecon
Edited: May 25, 2012, 1:16am Top

~193

"So, do what you want to do. Just don't expect me to condone it or applaud it or promote it. And that's what is happening today."

Could you give us some examples of that "happening today"?

Perhaps you could start with your term "condone." (Since it is pretty clear what "applaud" or "promote" means, and we all know that it is factually false that "anyone" expects you to affirmatively applaud or promote what you don't agree with. )

Does "condone" mean simply that it is generally considered bad manners for you to publically demean someone with different sexual habit than yourself? If so, then you are probably right. You are expected not to do that or you are expected not to whine and to not act surprised if people react negatively if you do demean such people.

The same is true of interracial marriage - which some contend is forbidden by the Bible - or to Blacks holding positions of authority and influence - again, contended by many to be condemned by the Bible. It is even true of people having different religious view than yours - albeit you have told all of us many times that such people are evil and going to Hell because the Holy Spirit has told you that is what the Bible says.

So yes, you go around ranting about how people of mixed racial background being married is evil, many people will react negatively. You go around ranting about how Black people shouldn't be Senators or Presidents, many people will react negatively. You go around telling Jews and Catholics and Mormons and Muslims that they are going to hell, many people will react negatively. So if that is what you mean by "condone," you're right. You can't engage in those speech acts and expect many people to cheer.

You're also expected by many people today not to publically demean gay people because they are gay. You can, of course, do so in the closed circle of your "loving Church," but not in "mixed company," or many people will be negative to you. So in that sense, yes, you are expected to "condone" homosexuality (by not engaging in public rants about its sinful nature) or you are expected not to whine about the negative behaviors that you will elicit.

If that isn't what you mean by "condone," then I would appreciate knowing what you do mean.

201lawecon
Edited: May 25, 2012, 1:23am Top

~198

"Performing homosexual sex acts is not committing adultery; so says the New Hampshire Supreme Court, which ruled in 2003 that a man could not divorce his wife on grounds of adultery because of her lesbian affair. The Court looked up the word "adultery" in Webster's 3rd International and found that it referred only to intercourse between people of opposite genders. The justices further relied on case law from the period when the 1842 divorce law was drafted and concluded that the definition of "adultery" as it was applied in State v. Wallace in 1838 and State v. Taylor in 1878 was “intercourse from which a spurious issue may arise.” They deduced that because a “spurious issue” can only arise from intercourse between a man and a woman, “criminal adultery could only be committed with a person of the opposite gender.”

Cool. I bet you'd also like the classical case that is always taught in first year law classes where the court opines that it can't be defamation to publically call a woman a "bitch," since the dictionary defines "bitch" as a female dog and "it is evident that the plaintiff is not a dog."

On the other hand, an internet search turns up the following contrary authority:

" FWIW, in Marshall v. Mehaffy, 974 S.W.2d 942, 949-50 (Tex. App.—Beaumont 1998, pet'n denied), in order to determine whether venue requirements had been met, the appellate court had to examine the plaintiff's pleadings and prima facie evidence to decide whether she had a viable slander claim. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant had referred to her as "sleazy," a "slut," a "gold-digger," and a "pole dancer." The appellate court summarized the applicable Texas law as follows (citations omitted):

"Slander is a defamatory statement that is communicated or published to a third person without legal excuse. A statement that tends to injure a person's reputation, exposing her to public hatred, contempt, ridicule, or financial injury is defamatory. A statement is also defamatory if it tends to impeach that person's honesty, integrity, or virtue. Imputation of sexual misconduct is slander per se and thus actionable without proof of damage."

The court went on to hold that as a matter of law, the statements about the plaintiff were "capable of the defamatory meaning" that the plaintiffs alleged; that those statements "questioned the plaintiff's honesty, integrity, and virtue, and impute sexual misconduct"; and that the defendant's "language was not ambiguous or doubtful and implied false statements of objective fact." Based on these findings (and others relating to publication, the appellate court ruled that the record "supported the existence of a cause of action for slander."

202timspalding
Edited: May 25, 2012, 2:08am Top

Performing homosexual sex acts is not committing adultery; so says the New Hampshire Supreme Court, which ruled in 2003 that a man could not divorce his wife on grounds of adultery because of her lesbian affair

The social conservatives said it would happen, and apparently it has—the first verified case of "special rights for gays." Well, I'm not sure I want to pass a Constitutional amendment on the topic, but that's just bullshit.

203johnthefireman
May 25, 2012, 2:17am Top

>193 fuzzi: ...that is, if someone WANTS to see it. Most don't. They'd rather do what they want to do and damn the consequences.

No, not true. Most Christians are trying to interpret the bible as conscientiously as you are. They come to a different interpretation from you. It's quite insulting as well as erroneous for you to keep insinuating (on this and other threads) that the only reason they come to a different conclusion from you is because they are lazy, just doing "what they want to do and damn the consequences", etc. Maybe you are just plain wrong in your interpretation. Maybe God is inspiring them with a different interpretation from what you believe God is inspiring you. You are of course entitled to your interpretation of the bible just as I am entitled to mine, fuzzi, but whether deliberately or unconsciously you appear to be attempting to take the moral high ground and put down any Christian who disagrees with your interpretation.

204eclecticdodo
May 25, 2012, 7:37am Top

>199 lawecon: "I am curious what your answer is to the above question. It seems that you are making some sort of argument about physical harm. If so, I wonder how you distinguish from straight sex or even from non sexual hard play between a father and son or siblings etc. In each case there is consensual - indeed, more than consensual - physical contact between two persons. In each case there may be some level of pain (albeit not very much). So what, specifically, are you contending? "

I've never thought this through before so my arguments are not well developed.
I suppose I do think it would be wrong to deliberately inflict harm on someone even with their consent. What I mean by inflicting harm is more than just causing pain, since pain is just a more pronounced version of an ordinary sensation (a biologist may correct me on that?). Instead I am talking about causing damage to a person. We could get bogged down in examples of medical procedures that cause harm as well as good, but that's not what I mean either. I mean knowingly inflicting damage on another person for your own enjoyment.

Another illustration could be self-harm. It doesn't hurt anyone but the consenting individual. You do it because it makes you feel good. But it damages your body and mind - it does you harm. Is it right? Unfortunately there is a loud group of "self-injurers" who see it as a perfectly acceptable form of coping strategy, but my question is: would you let a close friend or family member continue on that path without trying to help them?

"I'll tell you it sounds like a rather strange thing to say. It sounds like you are contending that "I wouldn't like to do that, so it is immoral for other people to engage in it." But perhaps you can clarify in a way so it doesn't sound so strange. Or perhaps not."

It is not because I wouldn't like to do it that it is immoral. I believe we are called to do good. Anything that falls short of that ideal is contrary to God's will and therefore sin.

205fuzzi
May 25, 2012, 7:44am Top

(196) faceinbook wrote Nobody is asking you to condone it or applaud it or promote it.

Sure they are. The society, as a whole, is being forced into accepting something that a minority have decreed is good and correct and should be the 'norm'. Why else are children required to read and learn about the 'virtues' of homosexuality in the schools, despite their parents' objections?

What is being asked of you,(and others such as yourself) is that, as part of a bigger whole, a society of varied beliefs and life styles, you accept that everyone is entitled to the same freedoms you enjoy, without judgement, harrassment or prejudices."

According to the Declaration of Independence, we are created equal, and are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness:

"...We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. ..."

I don't judge homosexuals, that is up to the Lord, and is stated in His book, the Bible.

I don't harass homosexuals, or anyone.

And prejudice is not applicable here, because according to Webster's, prejudice is "...an opinion or decision of mind, formed without due examination of the facts or arguments which are necessary to a just and impartial determination."

I have plenty of information, and have decided that homosexuality is not something to be condoned or approved or promoted as a healthy alternative lifestyle (read statistics on life span and disease).

"God will sort it out....you don't need to.
That should take a weight off your shoulders ? No more worrying if this law passes or that law doesn't pass....man doesn't need to muck about in God's business he only needs to respect that everyone be given the same freedoms as they themselves expect to enjoy. Along with a little goodwill, if you take the the teachings of Christ, to heart.


Yes, those who disagree are being forced to condone it.

It is being promoted to our children and to us despite our objections.

As a part of our employment requirements, we have to attend "diversity" workshops despite our religious beliefs stating that homosexuality is wrong.

Our churches have to "marry" homosexuals even though it is contrary to our religious beliefs.

I am, for the most part, a "live and let live" person. I really don't care what people do in the privacy of their bedroom. However, when it affects me, then I object. The freedom for you to swing your fist stops before it hits my face.

I was not worried about the law passing, because I know that ultimately God will judge, it's not up to me to judge. However, it is up to me to stand up for my beliefs, that's part of the beauty of the United States of America that I have loved.

I wrote: "So, do what you want to do. Just don't expect me to condone it or applaud it or promote it. And that's what is happening today."

And I truly mean that. Do what you want to do, just don't force me to accept your actions as normal and good and to be promoted as a healthy and alternative lifestyle when I know that they aren't.

206fuzzi
May 25, 2012, 7:59am Top

johnthefireman: I've not forgotten your civil questions, have them put aside for later today, okay? :)

207johnthefireman
May 25, 2012, 8:08am Top

>205 fuzzi: Our churches have to "marry" homosexuals even though it is contrary to our religious beliefs.

Has any church been forced to marry homosexuals? I was not aware of that.

208faceinbook
May 25, 2012, 8:34am Top

>205 fuzzi: "Sure they are. The society, as a whole, is being forced into accepting something that a minority have decreed is good and correct and should be the 'norm'. Why else are children required to read and learn about the 'virtues' of homosexuality in the schools, despite their parents' objections?"

This is wrong on so many levels I don't even know where to begin ! There is a HUGE difference between teaching children that something exists and actually promoting "virtues" in regards to it's existance. Teaching children about sexually transmitted diseases is not "condoning" sexually transmitted diseases. Teaching kids about pedophiles is not condoning the actions of those who prey on children.

"I have plenty of information, and have decided that homosexuality is not something to be condoned or approved or promoted as a healthy alternative lifestyle (read statistics on life span and disease)."

If the first statement above is your "information" fuzzi, your decision about homosexuality carries little or no weight what so ever.

Nobody is forcing you to do anything....just because there are laws in place that allow people to race horses...do you feel "forced" to own, ride or otherwise do anything in regards to racing horses ? Sounds REALLY stupid but your arguement is just as founded as my example..

Accepting that others have a right to their own decisions does not mean that you are "condoning" anything. It sounds like you want the country to be dictated by what you condone or do not condone. That is not fair fuzzi.
This is a big world with many different types of people.....your way is not the only way....time to forget about things that really have no affect on you and allow others the freedom to do what they want whether you think it is a mistake or not.

As to statement two above....is there not somewhere in the Bible where one is cautioned not to "judge" lest ye be judged ? Matthew 7:1 I think.

"should be the 'norm" No not the norm....different. Different does not equal wrong !

Posters are probably more than tired of my reference to Native Americans but none the less......the Natives recognized that homosexuals were not the "same". What they did believe is that they were blessed by the Creator. Natives believed that every human was born with a spirit....homosexuals were given two spirits, both a male and a female spirit. They were left alone and were viewed to be "special" for some reason....The Creator doesn't make mistakes and isn't to be questioned in regards to his creations.

A view that certainly differes from yours ! Why would thier view be wrong and yours correct ?





209walk2work
May 25, 2012, 8:40am Top

> 207 That particular charge is ludicrous.Marriage as a civil, legal contract is what GLBT advocates are seeking. Few if any could give a rat's patootie whether any church is legally involved in the process. In fact, most of the GLBT folks I've known have been so wounded by the church that they won't step through the doors except for funerals.

IMO, fuzzi doesn't know what she's talking about, unless she lives in a state with some extreme law that I haven't heard of. Which would amaze me, given the professional journals I subscribe to.

210johnthefireman
May 25, 2012, 8:49am Top

>209 walk2work: Thought so. I had certainly never heard of any law anywhere in the world forcing churches to marry homosexuals. In fact, I don't think churches are forced to marry anyone, including heterosexuals - I think the church has freedom to choose who it marries and to set conditions.

211faceinbook
May 25, 2012, 8:53am Top

>208 faceinbook:
Better add that I am not comparing homosexuality to STDs or pedophiles....just making the point that teaching children about something is not the same as suggesting they try to become something they are not. One can not close one's eyes and pretend what you don't like doesn't exist. (ask any Republican if it has worked in regards to Obama)
Obviously fuzzi believes that homosexuals have a choice....which is a problem from the get go !

212LucasTrask
May 25, 2012, 9:16am Top

sunnygyrl, in post 182 your wrote:
I may be a lesbian, but I can guarantee that I am a better Christian than the people that condemn and judge me. And yet, I don't condemn or judge them for THEIR sins.


You may not be condemning them, but you are clearly judging them.

213lawecon
May 25, 2012, 10:19am Top

~202

"The social conservatives said it would happen, and apparently it has—the first verified case of "special rights for gays." Well, I'm not sure I want to pass a Constitutional amendment on the topic, but that's just bullshit."

Excuse me, what?? The "social conservatives" (read bigots) have maintained for years, and still maintain that homosexual acts are not entitled to the same legal status as hetrosexual acts. (See the associated thread on homosexual marriage.) Now we have a court opinion that apparently says the same thing. (I say "apparently" because I don't trust newsreports on that sort of thing.)- Apparently a "lesbian affair" is much like an affection for tree holes and is therefore not adultery. But you see this as a leftwing triumph? What are you drinking?

214lawecon
May 25, 2012, 10:26am Top



~204

"Instead I am talking about causing damage to a person. We could get bogged down in examples of medical procedures that cause harm as well as good, but that's not what I mean either. I mean knowingly inflicting damage on another person for your own enjoyment.

"Another illustration could be self-harm. It doesn't hurt anyone but the consenting individual. You do it because it makes you feel good. But it damages your body and mind - it does you harm. Is it right? Unfortunately there is a loud group of "self-injurers" who see it as a perfectly acceptable form of coping strategy, but my question is: would you let a close friend or family member continue on that path without trying to help them?

"It is not because I wouldn't like to do it that it is immoral. I believe we are called to do good. Anything that falls short of that ideal is contrary to God's will and therefore sin."

So, basically, what is going on is that your "argument" is totally definitional and circular. Homosexuality is sin. Sin is harmful. Indeed, it is "damaging" to the other person. Therefore it is wrong. It is wrong because it is sinful and harmful and......... I'm sure you get the point. Or maybe not.

215lawecon
May 25, 2012, 10:28am Top

~205

"Why else are children required to read and learn about the 'virtues' of homosexuality in the schools, despite their parents' objections?"

This is just so typical. Don't have a fact, make something up.

216timspalding
May 25, 2012, 10:28am Top

>213 lawecon:

I'm sorry you don't get that I was joking. But, indeed, it's an application of the same idea that denies gay marriage--that gay relationships are not meaningful. In this case, paradoxically, the benefit accrues exclusively to gays--gays can cheat on their spouses without legal consequence. This is, obviously, wrong. But to admit so goes a long way toward admitting that gay marriage itself should be allowed.

217lawecon
May 25, 2012, 10:34am Top

~203

"No, not true. Most Christians are trying to interpret the bible as conscientiously as you are. They come to a different interpretation from you. It's quite insulting as well as erroneous for you to keep insinuating (on this and other threads) that the only reason they come to a different conclusion from you is because they are lazy, just doing "what they want to do and damn the consequences", etc. Maybe you are just plain wrong in your interpretation. Maybe God is inspiring them with a different interpretation from what you believe God is inspiring you."

I think that you are missing an obvious step in the argument here, John. As fuzzi has also told us many many times, when she reads the Bible the Holy Spirit speaks to her about its TRUE MEANING. That is why she is not at all concerned about the correctness of translations, about the formation of the text, about the transmission of the text. She could read any Bible and know THE TRUTH.

Now I, for one, don't believe she is lying when she tells us this. Nor do I believe that she is delusional. I think that something really is speaking to her, and given what it is saying, I don't think that it is G-d.

218Osbaldistone
Edited: May 25, 2012, 11:23am Top

>197 walk2work:
Your intent in the Superfund example is clear, but it doesn't actually work because 'Superfund' is paid for by fees imposed on all generators of hazardous wastes (that's the 'fund' in 'Superfund'). Essentially, you pay when you generate so the money is there to clean up your mess should you disappear during the night or go bankrupt. There may have been some taxpayer dollars spent to fill in the gaps occasionally, especially at the start, but it's designed to be paid for by the potential polluters.

So, if it helps, that bit of your taxes that you thought was going to environmental cleanup is probably goint to subsidize drilling for oil on federal lands instead. :-)

Os.

219walk2work
Edited: May 25, 2012, 11:41am Top

>218 Osbaldistone: Thanks for the clarification, Os. My knowledge of Superfund was based on the early days, so that's where my thinking was. I was just trying to find a kind of "public works" example. But since I am a strong supporter of public works, I had a hard time finding things to criticize.

(As an aside- I think taxpayer money still goes to clean up DOD-generated Superfund sites on Native American reservation lands. Which I hate. Let that come out of the military budgets, and let the populace see more of the true costs of war. But that's another thread.)

220Osbaldistone
May 25, 2012, 11:39am Top

>204 eclecticdodo:
Part of me sees some sense in eclecticdodo's feeling that physical harm, concensual, self-induced, or not, is wrong. Not for the reasons stated, but consistent existing and fairly well accepted law. In many if not most states, a motorcycle driver must wear a helmet. Now, ignoring the evidence that a helmet can actually increase the chances of spinal damage when one is sliding along the pavement, the only person injured by not wearing a helmet is the consenting adult who chose not to wear it. When this was a big issue in Texas, the main argument that the State can regulate something that did not physical harm to others is that the incredible cost of care for those suffering from head injuries invariably results in the taxpayers paying for signficiant medical care as a result of this personal choice, plus everyone's insurance rates go up based upon the cost of paying for such accidents.

However, I came down on the side of freedom of choice here, because freedom of choice in our constitution should sin out over purely fiscal concerns. There is probably a limit to how far the costs can go before they begin to outweight the freedom of choice issues, but in the absence of hard data, helmet laws (for consenting adults) are a no go for me. Similarly, I'd be against laws against consenting self harm, as long as there is no evidence that such self harm (or consenting harm) is actually coerced.

Os.

221barney67
May 25, 2012, 11:39am Top

Whatever happened to this from the OP:

"Note: I'm leaving out the rights or wrongs of the question, and encourage others to do the same. I have my opinions there, as do we all. But my church isn't going to change its mind any time soon, despite my opinion. And we've had enough arguments on that question."

222walk2work
May 25, 2012, 11:45am Top

>220 Osbaldistone: This is LT, after all. ;)

223timspalding
Edited: May 25, 2012, 11:49am Top

>221 barney67:

It went away. We're 200 in. Nobody really wanted to talk about the issue I raised—what does this actually mean for the progress or decline of Christianity in the US.

224Osbaldistone
Edited: May 25, 2012, 12:25pm Top

Some comments related to ideas floating around in this thread (I just can't track down all the specific posts):

1. Regarding Romans 1:26 (post 158), If one is expecting a condemnation of homosexuality, it's easy to read lesbianism in this verse. If not, it is easy to see that lesbianism is only one of many possible acts that it could be referring to. The complete citation should be :

22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones.
27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

The thrust of this passage is that they worshiped idols and possessions rather than the Creator, so God "gave them over in the sinful desires...". The examples give some insight into what the writer of Romans believed was 'sinful' (though it may not be all they they were given over to - sexual impurity (not defined, but, according to the OT, could mean sex with your wife during her monthly cycle, for example, which required a purification ritual afterwards before entering the Temple); shameful lusts (no way to know if this is even about sex, since one may lust after food, possessions, power, etc); unnatural sexual relations (again, it is not stated here what is an unnatural sexual relation, but it could mean masterbation or bestiality); Men were inflamed with lust for other men (is it the lust that is wrong, or the other men? not stated here); Men committed shameful acts with other men (this does not mean that they could not have, if they had remained true to God, committed non-shameful acts with other men - we are just assuming that it means any homosexual act, but this text refers only to the shameful ones).

2. Also related to the Romans passage - many seem to have assumed that the statement about men at the end (v27) is what caused the women to do what they did in v26. I don't see that at all. At most, the men are at fault because, in this patriarchal society, it was the men turning away from their creator that caused the women to exchange natural relations for unnatural ones.

3. It may have already been said, but fuzzi continues to state that those in favor of equal rights for gays/lesbians want to require everyone to 'condone' these acts. This seems simply to be trying to find ways to make this about violating rights when all that is required is that one accept that that is how some live their lives. You may continue to consider it a sin, continue to live a heterosexual or a-sexual life - no condoning is required.

4. I also fear that fuzzi has fallen prey to the less ethical folks who, while claiming to be Christian, will put out completely false 'facts' for the propoganda benefit - such as churches being required to marry same-sex couples, hand omosexuality being 'promoted' to our children (the problem here being the assumption that stating the statistics regarding the population and the homosexual portion and defining scientifically what homosexuality is, somehow, promotes it).

5. The fact that fuzzin states her beliefs and concerns honestly, even if they do offend many on this thread that disagree, doesn't mean that she's not trying to maintain a civil discourse, and I resent the personal insults she has received when simply stating her opinion about behaviour in general (even if mistaken, misguided, or simply out of line with the opinion of the respondent).

6. Related to comments in item 1, above, in the rare occasions that the Bible explicitly refers to homosexuality, the text more often than not, can be seen to refer to promiscuous behavior, and not necessarily any and all same-sex sexual acts (example - the Romans passage, above)

I'm sure there are others that I've already forgotten, but there it is.

Os.

(edited to fix typos and add item 6)

225faceinbook
May 25, 2012, 12:48pm Top

>223 timspalding:

You would have to defind what you think is progress and what is decline...you may find you are smaller in numbers but stronger in faith.....not sure what defines what you are looking at.

Guess part of the answer to your question was apparent in this thread. It would seem that Christians are of two mindsets regarding homosexuality, just as they are on many issues, evolution being another. Whether the Christian faith grows or shrinks will depend on who is the loudest. If indeed that many individuals feel Christianity is antihomosexual, I would guess we know who the loudest are at this point in time.
An example would be the Tea Party and the Republican Party. The first tending to make up their own facts as they go along and allowing for no compromise what so ever. Stubbornly adhering to an agenda when all evidence points to the opposite. Personally, I feel this will shrink the Republican Party or divide it to the point where it will lose some of it's power.
Would the same not hold true for the Christian faith ? Those Christian's who continue to close their eyes to change, and refuse to see "facts" for what they are, will become a faction of the faith. Which makes for two groups rather than one. Not sure whether it will make the faith stronger or weaker but it will "change" what has always been the largest faith in America.
Since we are an evolving country, becoming more diverse all of the time, it would seem to me part of the answer for the Christian faith is the willingness to compromise. Contrary to today's attitude, compromise can be a strength, when there is a refusal to allow for differences it is often a sure way to a downfall. The Christian faith, instead of being a big fish in a small pond may have to view itself as one of many various sized fish in a big pond.

If anything this thread pointed out the irrationality behind some of the bias held by some Christians towards what is, in my opinion, inevitable. Too much knowledge out there now that refuses to be ignored, doing so can make one appear quite irrational.

In fact ignoring the facts and refusing to bend appears a lot like prejudice and bigotry in the name of God. Which can not be good for an organized faith.

One of the reasons the Catholic faith is going to continue to have problems was just made perfectly clear during the contraception debacle....half the members of that faith are women, they had a chance to speak out about a policy that is outdated and extremely patriarcal. They were not the loudest. Not enough voices.

226johnthefireman
May 25, 2012, 12:57pm Top

>225 faceinbook: the contraception debacle

They (both men and women) "speak" by their actions. It is generally held that the Catholic Church's teaching on contraception is one of the most widely ignored of all its teachings - plenty of "voices"! But many of them don't feel it is important enough to leave the Church. Nobody forces you not to use contraception, and many priests and bishops will give pastoral advice which is different from the general teaching. Christians can hold different positions on many issues; Catholicism teaches the primacy of individual conscience.

227faceinbook
May 25, 2012, 1:04pm Top

>224 Osbaldistone:
"5. The fact that fuzzin states her beliefs and concerns honestly, even if they do offend many on this thread that disagree, doesn't mean that she's not trying to maintain a civil discourse, and I resent the personal insults she has received when simply stating her opinion about behaviour in general (even if mistaken, misguided, or simply out of line with the opinion of the respondent)."

This is a two way street. Fuzzi has been offended herself and she is willing to share that quite freely.

One can not have a discourse where one of the participants ignores what they do not want to hear. That is not a discourse. Nor is it ever pleasent to hear a comment that contains a fair amount of bigotry. Tends to get a lot of reaction...sometimes an over reaction.
Humoring someone when the basis of their opinion is so off base as to be jaw dropping, just because they are being "honest", is not really doing them any favors. They will repeat that misguided assumption until eventually someone calls them on it.

wondering why fuzzi wants a "discourse" in the first place ? It seems she knows how she feels and isn't much interested in hearing anything else. Which is fine, but she needs to know when she puts herself out there that way there will be blow back.

In all reality, nobody that I am aware of on these threads, knows fuzzi personally. If this tread appeared to be an attack it would be an attack on what fuzzi has said on this (and other) subjects, not on fuzzi.

Been there myself, know what I am speaking of.

228faceinbook
May 25, 2012, 1:16pm Top

>226 johnthefireman:
"and many priests and bishops will give pastoral advice which is different from the general teaching. Christians can hold different positions on many issues; Catholicism teaches the primacy of individual conscience."

BUT, when it comes to women's health care coverage they are going to hold to the original principle ? Good Lord ! This is why I don't go to church.
My conscience says that I can take birth control pills but it also says that I am a Catholic and so you can't have them available to you. Is that how it goes ? That is BS ! If I were a Catholic woman I would say it was BS...wouldn't stop either.

Do you think that young people don't see this as something kind of foolish ? Faith either stands for something or it doesn't. If Christianity is going to hang on the it's midevil views on sexuality, they are going to experience problems. This is the 21st century. Christians would do themselves a favor if they were to leave sex out of the whole shee bang. Sex has little to do with what kind of person you really are. If you use sex as a weapon or misuse people with sex, you do it in other ways as well. Faith should be about the soul......if the soul or spirit is in a good spot, sex will take care of itself.

229Arctic-Stranger
Edited: May 25, 2012, 1:31pm Top

/insert tongue in cheek

Jesus said that we should render unto Caesar that which belongs to Caesar. I am tired of non-biblical people trying to get tax breaks FOR EVERYONE, thus preventing me from carrying out my biblical mandate.

/remove tongue in cheek

Seriously though, there are many things the Bible calls Christians to do. And there are many things that the Bible calls Christians to condemn. Homosexuality is low hanging fruit for most Christians. It is easy to be self-righteous about something you do not struggle with. I am not gay, nor do I ever struggle with my sexual orientation. I don't have to. I also don't gamble, and the idea of throwing away money like that is personally repugnant to me. I can afford to be self-righteous about both of those issues.

I am however, in the midst of a divorce. I am not a fan of divorce, but I have absolutely no business being self-righteous about THAT issue.

IF the church really wanted to address sexuality in a meaningful way, rather than just throw brickbats to make themselves feel better, the church would address divorce and porn. Especially porn. Both are much more widespread, and both are a much bigger threat to marriage than whether Bruce and Tom can marry. As far as I can tell the church has tried to make meaningful advances in addressing divorce, but finds it is too complicated, and has basically ignored porn.

Whether the state allows gays to marry or not should really not be much of an issue. The state allows a lot of things some Christians might find morally wrong.

If I could call the church to address a burning issue, it would be helping the unemployed. Why can't churches start job centers, where people can learn new job skills, AND be given the opportunity to volunteer doing meaningful "work" while they are waiting for a regular income? THAT would be impressive. Or let's just take the old stand bys; hunger, prisoners, the sick. There are clear biblical word to the effect that Christians should be at least somewhat concerned with these populations, given that their Lord strongly identifies with them.

Just my two cents.

230jburlinson
May 25, 2012, 2:32pm Top

> 220. I came down on the side of freedom of choice here, because freedom of choice in our constitution should sin out over purely fiscal concerns.

How about the freedom not to pay for someone else's mistakes?

231Tigercrane
May 25, 2012, 2:35pm Top

Penis-in-vagina intercourse is a well-known transmitter of disease. If done without consent, or done too roughly, it causes physical and psychological harm. It can also result in pregnancy, which can cause many physical problems for women, up to and including death. It also results in unwanted children, who are a burden on their families and society's resources. We have in-vitro fertilization now; perhaps someday we'll have completely artificial wombs and the entire physical process can be eliminated entirely, but until then, people can choose to minimize the harm from penis-in-vagina intercourse. Loving people, therefore, would never engage in it. There's no reason to do it outside of procreation, and we can rely on technology for that.

And also, no kissing. The mouth is full of germs and transmits many diseases. The mouth was created for eating.

232jburlinson
May 25, 2012, 2:40pm Top

> 223. Nobody really wanted to talk about the issue I raised—what does this actually mean for the progress or decline of Christianity in the US.

No, "nobody" didn't want to talk about it -- I did, and expressed an opinion in # 39. I'll state my 2 cents again and say that this issue is excellent for the progress of Christianity in the US. (1) It gives Christians a chance to live their core beliefs -- love your neighbor, judge not, etc. etc. (2) It stirs the embers of controversy, which has been the vital flame enlivening Christianity since its inception. The call of Christ is always to reach higher, strive harder, become more perfect -- never to sit back and be satisfied with what is.

233faceinbook
May 25, 2012, 3:04pm Top

>232 jburlinson:
I hear you. But, sadly, I don't think you are the loudest.

Take a look at the record of the faith based politicians who have just been elected into office. It seems that the faith is taking great strides in straightening out a few things making this country a more Godly place but, there will be a backlash at some point in time. As far as I can see it hasn't been about "love your neighbor" or "judge not"......the loudest have been about "do as I say not as I do" and "if I don't like it I will make a law or an amendment to make sure it goes away" That is about power and control and has nothing to do with faith or Christ.

That is why I wondered what Tim meant about progress....is gaining power and control progress ? Or is gaining hearts and minds considered progress. It looks to me that there is simply more polarization.

234eclecticdodo
May 25, 2012, 3:13pm Top

>214 lawecon: "So, basically, what is going on is that your "argument" is totally definitional and circular. Homosexuality is sin. Sin is harmful. Indeed, it is "damaging" to the other person. Therefore it is wrong. It is wrong because it is sinful and harmful and......... I'm sure you get the point. Or maybe not. "

No, we started talking about doing harm because I raised the point that sodomy is physically damaging to the body.

235StormRaven
Edited: May 25, 2012, 3:23pm Top

"No, we started talking about doing harm because I raised the point that sodomy is physically damaging to the body."

So is penis-vagina sex. So is running. And riding bicycles. And motorcycles. And eating red meat. And drinking coffee. And everything else.

Your argument is ridiculous on its face.

And that doesn't even consider that "sodomy" isn't necessarily what gay men do with one another.

236eclecticdodo
May 25, 2012, 3:26pm Top

>231 Tigercrane:
Have you ever watched Demolition Man?

237StormRaven
Edited: May 25, 2012, 3:32pm Top

236: You do realize that Tigercrane was making fun of you in post 231, right?

238eclecticdodo
May 25, 2012, 3:36pm Top

>235 StormRaven:
starting with your last comment first...

"And that doesn't even consider that "sodomy" isn't necessarily what gay men do with one another."

Of course, I didn't mean it's what every gay couple does (or even not what straight couples do). I just thought it was an interesting illustration of how God designed men and women to complement each other, not men and men.

"Your argument is ridiculous on its face."
I would argue that there is a difference in degree, but then where do you set the line?

239eclecticdodo
May 25, 2012, 3:44pm Top

>237 StormRaven: "You do realize that Tigercrane was making fun of you in post 231, right?"

that was pretty obvious.

but seriously, have you ever seen demolition man? They take the argument to it's conclusion and show how ridiculous it is.

As I said elsewhere, I've never thought this through before - your questions and comments are making me do that.
I don't think homosexuality is wrong because anal sex is physically damaging. I believe it is wrong because it doesn't fit God's plan for creation. I brought up the harm aspect as an illustration of the fact God designed men to be with women.

240johnthefireman
May 25, 2012, 3:47pm Top

>228 faceinbook: I don't really know what you mean about health coverage. I think that refers to a particular US issue. It's probably not something that would worry Catholic women (or men) in most of Europe, where health care is free and universal, or in Africa, where there is very little health care anyway.

>229 Arctic-Stranger: Sex is not an issue which the Church in Sudan and South Sudan spend much time and energy worrying about - our big issues include peace, justice, poverty, education, health care, good governance, democracy, development, etc.

241Tigercrane
May 25, 2012, 4:02pm Top

Actually, I'm rather serious. The harms of intercourse, particularly to women, are real. Now that we have reproductive technologies, surely no one need run the risks, or ask someone else to run them? Surely this would be more pleasing to God, if God is concerned about people's health and sex is only supposed to be about reproduction anyway?

242StormRaven
May 25, 2012, 4:07pm Top

I believe it is wrong because it doesn't fit God's plan for creation.

I see. So you are claiming to know Gods plan for creation.

I brought up the harm aspect as an illustration of the fact God designed men to be with women.

Human reproduction is such a slip-shod affair that claiming that it was "designed" is laughable.

243eclecticdodo
May 25, 2012, 4:09pm Top

>241 Tigercrane: "and sex is only supposed to be about reproduction anyway?"
I don't think anyone is arguing that. Sex is about way more than just procreation. There's this assumption that Christians are somehow anti-sex, but that's just not true. Sex is great, it is a gift from God. We just believe that God designed for it to be in the context of a loving marriage

244Tigercrane
May 25, 2012, 4:16pm Top

Ah, I see. So sometimes sex is just for pleasure, not for reproduction? I don't see why "pleasure" trumps the proved harms resulting from intercourse, when we could eliminate the need for intercourse entirely. Why would a man risk a woman's health for his momentary pleasure? Is he not concerned about the harm that could result? I say this as a woman who had a high-risk pregnancy, and who has known two other women who nearly died in childbirth.

245eclecticdodo
May 25, 2012, 4:20pm Top

>242 StormRaven:

I don't claim to know God's whole plan for creation. But Christians believe God has revealed parts of it* through his word, the Bible. The Bible teaches that God is the creator of all. Creator includes designer (otherwise it would be manufacturer/fabricator). The Bible teaches that man and woman were made to go together. That is what I believe.

This is after all a Christianity board.

*obviously not his entire detailed plan for everything as it would be infinitely long, but he's revealed what we need to know - we've had that argument before so please don't let's have it again!

246faceinbook
May 25, 2012, 4:25pm Top

>240 johnthefireman:
I was referring to the US because the question posed at the beginning of the thread was about the strengthing or weakening of faith in the US.

Lately, past couple of years, the Church in the US has spent a lot of time and effort on sexual matters. Abortion, contraception, gay issues, equal pay for women have all been primary targets for faith based Tea Party lawmakers. Forgot how many bills have passed, some 400 with another 600 waiting. Rediculous ! and shameful really. Our "religious Right" could stand a reality check....maybe they all need to go to the Sudan for a while.

247eclecticdodo
May 25, 2012, 4:27pm Top

>244 Tigercrane:
It's not just pleasure either, there's the bonding between husband and wife, the spiritual union, whatever you want to call it.

But I suppose I see your point. At the end of the day it's up to each individual to make a choice.

(I also had a high risk pregnancy and serious complications at the birth)

248faceinbook
May 25, 2012, 4:28pm Top

>245 eclecticdodo:

"The Bible teaches that God is the creator of all.

homosexuals as well ? or was that a mistake ?

249johnthefireman
Edited: May 25, 2012, 4:32pm Top

>246 faceinbook: No, please don't send them here! Actually we are now seeing US evangelical churches in South Sudan, and it is one of the factors weakening the ecumenical consensus that we used to have amongst our churches, even the indigenous evangelical denominations.

250eclecticdodo
May 25, 2012, 4:38pm Top

>248 faceinbook:
The doctrine of the fall. God created perfection. Man sinned and since then things haven't been right. We are all sinners, just some are more prone to one sin over another.

251StormRaven
May 25, 2012, 4:43pm Top

"The Bible teaches that man and woman were made to go together."

Well, no. You interpret passages that don't really say that to mean that because of the culture you've grown up in. One could easily read those passages to say entirely different things.

252StormRaven
May 25, 2012, 4:45pm Top

God created perfection. Man sinned and since then things haven't been right.

These two statements contradict one another. If God created perfection, then man was perfect. But man sinned, therefore man could not have been perfect. Consequently, God did not create perfection.

253eclecticdodo
May 25, 2012, 4:53pm Top

>251 StormRaven:
A matter of opinion.

>252 StormRaven:
God gave us free will and one rule, man rebelled against God and broke that rule. I don't think the possibility of doing something wrong means the world was not perfect. You could be a top student with 100% marks on all tests, then you get one wrong, does that mean you weren't 100% before?

Not sure I'm making sense. I'll think about this tomorrow. I must go to bed, it's been such a long and busy day. My answers are getting shorter and blunter. I don't mean to sound stroppy, I'm just so tired. And it's not even 10 pm yet!
By the way, sorry I was the same last night (particularly to tigercrane and faceinbook, post 186) - I didn't mean to be rude

254jburlinson
May 25, 2012, 4:53pm Top

> 239. I believe it is wrong because it doesn't fit God's plan for creation.

I don't see how homosexual acts affect God's plan for creation at all. any more than going to the movies or washing the dishes. Nobody's going to propagate the species by doing any of these things.

It seems to me that abstinence and celibacy interfere much more with God's plan for creation.

255faceinbook
May 25, 2012, 4:59pm Top

>250 eclecticdodo:
"things haven't been right."

Homosexual's are not homosexuals because they are sinners ! Am I woman because I sinned (believe me when I say, sometimes it feels like a punishment !) Is my husband a male cause he sinned ?
If we are all sinners than having a loving marriage should be a institution we can all enjoy with out exclusion. So too should we all be able to express our sexuality in ways that compliment who we are even if sin made us a homosexual.

" just some are more prone to one sin over another."

Is there some sort of "sin hierarchy" ?
Is one sin is worse than another sin. If we ALL sin, how is it we worry about the sins committed by anyone else.

Good grief !

256jburlinson
May 25, 2012, 4:59pm Top

> 252. But man sinned, therefore man could not have been perfect. Consequently, God did not create perfection.

Man's being imperfect was part of the perfect plan. For the whole to be perfect, at least one constituent part of the whole must be imperfect.

257lawecon
May 25, 2012, 5:05pm Top

~220

"Part of me sees some sense in eclecticdodo's feeling that physical harm, concensual, self-induced, or not, is wrong."

I think you are missing the point. The question is not whether the law should or should not deal with acts which are consensual. The question is whether gay sex is per se harmful. eclecticdodo obviously believes that it is harmful - specifically to the "other person," but also, I guess, to the "perpetrator". The only evidence presented for that conclusion, however, has been that in a certain interpretation of certain Biblical texts gay sex is sinful.

However, as I've pointed out previously, the Bible is also rather unmistakable in stating that eating certain foods is sinful, that envying your neighbor is sinful, that disrespecting your parents is sinful, etc. Are those acts also, therefore "harmful"? It would seem, logically, that they would have to be.

258faceinbook
May 25, 2012, 5:11pm Top

259lawecon
May 25, 2012, 5:12pm Top

~234

"No, we started talking about doing harm because I raised the point that sodomy is physically damaging to the body."

What evidence do you have for that statement, and how do you CONTRAST it with hetrosexual sex, given the points made in post ~231 above? Or is hetrosexual sex also "physically damaging to the body"?

Again, we seem to be getting off into territory where some of us "just know" a certain thing is true. In a somewhat similar vein, I recall a family friend telling me some 50 years ago that Black people were carriers of certain infectious diseases. "It isn't their fault" he stressed, "but they just are."

260jburlinson
May 25, 2012, 5:15pm Top

> 257. the Bible is also rather unmistakable in stating that eating certain foods is sinful, that envying your neighbor is sinful, that disrespecting your parents is sinful, etc.

So why don't we have laws against coveting, lying, dishonoring parents, taking the Lord's name in vain, worshiping other Gods, eating certain foods, etc. etc.?

The answer is simple: it's because politicians and the people who give them money actually DO these things. The only things they want to be illegal are the things they DON'T do. I guarantee you that Pat Robertson doesn't want anyone to pass a law that would send him to jail for eating his pork chops.

261timspalding
Edited: May 25, 2012, 5:20pm Top

and it is one of the factors weakening the ecumenical consensus

What especially do you think it threatens? What do they change?

sodomy

Let's trade, then. Sodomy will no longer be permitted in government buildings, but gays can get marriage licenses there.

262faceinbook
May 25, 2012, 5:18pm Top

>260 jburlinson:
No it is worse than that.
Politicians who pass laws regulating the behavior of others actually do DO these things. They are either so egocentric that they think they will never get caught or they are fooling themselves into thinking that what they are doing isn't really what they are doing.

263lawecon
May 25, 2012, 5:19pm Top

~239

"I don't think homosexuality is wrong because anal sex is physically damaging. I believe it is wrong because it doesn't fit God's plan for creation. I brought up the harm aspect as an illustration of the fact God designed men to be with women."

Could you settle on one argument or the other? You just told me in your post ~234 that my criticism of what I thought was your view (i,e., that homosexual sex was "damaging because it was sinful") was an incorrect criticism because "we started talking about doing harm because I raised the point that sodomy is physically damaging to the body." Now you say that: "I don't think homosexuality is wrong because anal sex is physically damaging."

Now it is either wrong because it is physically damaging (an assertion for which you are yet to give any evidence). Or it is wrong because your interpretation of the Bible is that it is sinful. Which is it?

264lawecon
May 25, 2012, 5:22pm Top

~245

"The Bible teaches that man and woman were made to go together. That is what I believe.

This is after all a Christianity board."

Well then, what Paul actually says is that if you truly want to live a righteous life you will give up sex entirely. However, if you are too weak to follow that advice and can't control yourself like he does, you should marry. That appears to be quite a bit different than what you are asserting.

265timspalding
Edited: May 25, 2012, 5:51pm Top

>262 faceinbook: etc.

There's real evidence here. Unprotected anal sex spreads diseases like AIDS more readily than vaginal sex. Both vaginal and anal sex do, of course, but one can quantify the relative danger.

That said, if that's the standard, government would ban all sorts of things—eating meat, drinking alcohol, being fat, owning a pool, etc. Pushed to its logical conclusion the government might require us not to have sex at all, or, better yet, only lesbian sex--lesbians have lower rates of STDs than straight people. This argument doesn't go anywhere but absurdity or totalitarianism.

266faceinbook
May 25, 2012, 5:35pm Top

>265 timspalding:
What ?
260 asserted that politicans only make laws regarding things they don't do....I assumed he was talking about all the sex related issues on this thread.
My response was my response. 262

Dismissed all the other things mentioned as his point didn't make any sense.

267timspalding
May 25, 2012, 5:50pm Top

Sorry. My numbering was off. I was replying to the general point about "harming."

268fuzzi
May 25, 2012, 5:58pm Top

And dozens of posts later, I am answering johnthefireman...

(141) johnthefireman wrote: How do you react to Os' statement in >136 Osbaldistone:: this common result (two different conclusions after prayerful study) is an important lesson in the role of the Bible in a life of faith and striving to move closer to God? I think this is a question which has been asked of you over and over again in different words in different LT threads. Your response appears to be that your conclusion is always the right one and represents God's will (correct me if I am misrepresenting you). Does that mean Os' conclusion is wrong and isn't God's will?

Either I am right or he is right, but we both can’t be right. A is not equal to non-A.

If Os believes that being baptized in water ‘saves’ a person, and I say it doesn’t, then either he is right and I am wrong, or he is wrong and I am right. We can’t both be right.

Where the Bible is clear (“Ye must be born again”), we can be sure of what we believe, IF we believe the Bible is the inerrant preserved word of God. When the text we read appears confusing or ambiguous, it’s best to not only pray and study about it, but also to search for other scriptures within the Bible that clarify it.

(99) johnthefireman wrote: Funnily enough while I was flicking through the bible today I came across James 2:14, 17-20 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?... Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? (KJV)

(141) I'd still be interested in your take on James 2:14, 17-20, quoted in >99 johnthefireman: above, in regard to the faith and works question.


Okay, let's see James 2:14-20 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.


James 2:18 is important. We are saved through faith, as is written clearly elsewhere in the Bible, but if we do not show any works, any fruit, any proof that we are, indeed, saved, then it is quite likely that we are not.

In James 2:14, we are asked if a man SAYS he has faith, but shows no outward works or a change in life, his claim of ‘faith’ cannot be real, it does not save him.

It is written that when we are born again, in Christ, we are a new creature, we are changed, and it shows. People who have experienced being ‘born again’ will tell you about what they were like before they ‘got saved’. Many will no longer do those things which they did before their conversion. It’s not just trying to keep resolutions, but a real change in the behavior of the new Christian.

The other thing about the book of James is that it is unclear in many passages. When one is doing Bible study, or just reading the Bible, one should never base beliefs on an unclear passage or two, but on the body of scripture that is contained in the Bible.

So when we read Galatians 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. and Galatians 3:11-12, 22, 23, 26But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. … But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. …For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. and Colossians 1:5, 6 whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth: (see how since the day the believer heard and knew the grace of God in truth he/she has brought forth ‘fruit’, works, proof of a changed life) and Romans 3:27-28 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. (no works) and Romans 4:24-5:1 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: and Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. we see that there are many, many, MANY verses on how it is faith, not works, that saves a person from Hell.

I could go find more, but I think I've made my point.

269fuzzi
May 25, 2012, 5:58pm Top

BTW, Os? Thank you for your civil and thoughtful posts. I did appreciate them, even if I can't find them easily again. :)

270jburlinson
May 25, 2012, 6:04pm Top

Re: God's plan for creation.

God's very first commandment to human beings was: "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth." Gen. 1:28. NASB.

We Americans have done a very miserable job of following this command. Drive across Texas, especially west Texas, and you'll find that, far from filling the earth, there's hardly anybody there at all. The same is true of the Grand Canyon and lots of other places I can think of. On top of that, birds and fish generally go around doing exactly what they want, with nobody saying boo about it. Sure, Texans like to go dove hunting, but that's just a drop in a very big bucket. Not that Americans bear sole blame for this, people in all other countries have a lot to answer for as well.

There's only one thing to do about it: we need to radically re-design our global society to put top priority on fulfilling God's prime directive. Once a girl reaches fertility, she must be impregnated post haste and must stay that way for as long as she is capable of childbearing. This will necessitate major changes in our educational policies as well as our fashion industry. To ensure that there is no wasted time, males of all ages must continually have sex with any and every female within running distance. This must be a man's sole occupation. So there goes football.

For pregnant women and women who have passed menopause and men who are waiting for sperm regeneration, we must all spend our time educating fish and birds in appropriate behavior. This will require us to organize our efforts for maximum efficiency. The young women and the men should probably specialize in capturing the creatures and preparing them for instruction. Fortunately, God has already ordained that fish travel in schools: it's part of his plan. Birds are tougher nuts to crack. The older women should then deliver the curriculum, since they will have more time to ensure that lessons are well and truly learned. Once fish and birds have demonstrated adequate subjugation, they can be safely returned to their habitats, where, hopefully, their good examples will be of benefit to their fellows.

271faceinbook
May 25, 2012, 6:27pm Top

>266 faceinbook:
"Dismissed all the other things mentioned as his point didn't make any sense."

But then, that was the point !

272johnthefireman
Edited: May 26, 2012, 2:33am Top

>261 timspalding: What especially do you think {US evangelical churches coming to South Sudan} threatens? What do they change?

Off topic, perhaps, and difficult to answer in a few words. There are many of them (we now have more than 60 new denominations on top of the 14 or so which were there before) and they are not as interested in ecumenical engagement. Their pastors often have a low level of scriptural and theological education, and indeed general education. They are more prone to getting involved in business and politics. They often involve a single ethnic or geographical community. They are often formed out of a split from an existing church, often a pastor who has had problems with his own church. They tend to view the council of churches as a source of funds rather than a service to the faith community, although some of them are well-funded by their US friends. There is little accountability in the funds they receive from well-meaning overseas churches. Many of the US evangelical missionaries who come here (usually for a very short period to "plant" a church, rather than a long-term, life-time even, commitment which you tend to find with, say, Catholic and Anglican missionaries) are woefully naive and ignorant about South Sudan, about the languages, cultures, history and politics, about relationships between churches and problems such as ethnicity, about best practice in development, aid and accountability, and much more. They often exacerbate existing tensions as well as creating new ones. They often bring the "gospel of prosperity". I could go on. It's an issue which is really worrying the mainstream churches (which includes the old indigenous Sudanese evangelical churches, which are much closer to "mainstream" than the new imports, and which have traditionally been part of the ecumenical community).

The above may sound critical, but then I'm part of the mainstream ecumenical community so I do see much of this as negative. Others may interpret it differently.

One amusing vignette. The small churches have gradually learned that archbishops get more attention than moderators, elders, pastors, etc, so we see churches whose theology doesn't actually accept bishops now being led by self-proclaimed archbishops. During the Independence Day celebrations in Juba on 9th July 2011 I watched the Anglican archbishop ascend the podium along with the Catholic archbishop and a cardinal from Kenya who was representing the pope, all in full regalia. To everyone's surprise they were then followed by several other "archbishops" wearing frocks that were far more eye-catching than the Catholics and Anglicans could muster; one even wore a mitre and chasuble. Enquiring later who they were, nobody even knew.

273timspalding
May 26, 2012, 2:24am Top

A titular arms race? Get ahead of them. Declare a pope!

274johnthefireman
May 26, 2012, 2:27am Top

>256 jburlinson: It could also be said that humanity's attempts to understand God's plan are based on trying to understand reality, not theory. Human beings appear to be alienated from God, from self, from others, from nature even. This is what the writers of scripture and the theologians who followed them were/are trying to understand and to develop a theology to explain.

275johnthefireman
May 26, 2012, 2:32am Top

>268 fuzzi: Thanks, fuzzi, as always, for taking the trouble to explain. As I have said elsewhere, I have had little contact with your brand of Christianity, so I always find it interesting to try to understand where you are coming from. As usual, I still disagree, of course!

I certainly don't think works replace faith; both are important. To that extent we probably agree. I disagree, however, with your attempt to minimise the importance of James because it is unclear in places. There are plenty of references to "works" in the NT. Matthew 5:2-11 is one; Matthew 25:31-46 is another. These are clear, powerful and authoritative statements.

276clif_hiker
Edited: May 26, 2012, 8:16am Top

>168 jburlinson:

"Either I am right (1% chance) or he is right (1% chance), but we both can’t be right. A is not equal to non-A."

or you're both wrong... 98% chance

percentages are my personal estimates, not based on any concrete facts but rather personal desires for there to be something beyond death.

seems nobody else caught this gem, wherein fuzzi attempts to use the D of I to support her position:

"...We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. ..."

she of course emphasizes the bit about the Creator (not her God btw... just a generic "their Creator"), and fails to notice the bit about "all men"... by her own reference she (as in the female fuzzi) was apparently NOT created equal and in the time of the writing of the D of I (or at least not many decades before), could have been pilloried for daring to argue with men about it...

Now I personally don't believe this, but one does like a little consistency in one's opponents arguments...

2771sunnygyrl
May 26, 2012, 10:02am Top

~~212

I am not judging the Christians that judge or condemn me, by saying I am a better Christian than they are, because of their words and actions. It is my opinion, that I am better than that!

I don't feel that I am better than anyone. I feel I conduct myself better because I don't judge or condemn others, no matter what.

If I judge or condemn someone that means I am not a good Christian. Can I get a scripture for that?

I am sure someone on this thread can give me a scripture for that. :) I don't have my Bible handy.

278lawecon
Edited: May 26, 2012, 2:36pm Top

~277

I think that it is important not to "judge" someone's "heart". You are not G-d, nor is anyone else.

That doesn't mean you it is improper to judge a person's actions, including their verbal acts. Indeed, civil order requires that such judgments be made.

It also doesn't mean that the judge won't be judged for his or her conclusions and what he or she says about the rationales for their judgments or that this is a bad thing. I think we've see that extensively illustrated above.

279theoria
May 26, 2012, 2:59pm Top

Religion within the limits of reason alone http://youtu.be/d2n7vSPwhSU

280eclecticdodo
May 26, 2012, 3:34pm Top

oh dear, I seem to have muddied the waters...

>259 lawecon: "What evidence do you have for that statement, and how do you CONTRAST it with hetrosexual sex, given the points made in post ~231 above? Or is hetrosexual sex also "physically damaging to the body"?"

There is a lot of evidence that anal sex damages the body, and not just higher risk of STDs (post 265). I'm not going to do a google search for the evidence, because I know I will get mostly porn sites. One example is the damage done to the muscles of the back passage and the high incidence of faecal incontinence in older gay men. Heterosexual sex is not damaging like that; child bearing can have similar or worse consequences, but I'd say that's a separate issue.

>263 lawecon: "Could you settle on one argument or the other? You just told me in your post ~234 that my criticism of what I thought was your view (i,e., that homosexual sex was "damaging because it was sinful") was an incorrect criticism because "we started talking about doing harm because I raised the point that sodomy is physically damaging to the body." Now you say that: "I don't think homosexuality is wrong because anal sex is physically damaging."
Now it is either wrong because it is physically damaging (an assertion for which you are yet to give any evidence). Or it is wrong because your interpretation of the Bible is that it is sinful. Which is it?"

I'm getting a bit confused. I thought you were saying I was saying (oh dear) that's it's wrong because it's damaging and it's damaging because it's wrong, a circular argument. I was trying to make clear I think it is wrong because that's what the Bible teaches, because it goes against God's plan, sin is rebellion against God. Kind of separately, things which are sinning against God are generally (or always? I haven't thought this through yet) also harmful against a person or other part of God's creation. Sodomy is physically damaging, this should act as a hint to us that it is not what God intended, not part of his plan, therefore sinful. Now, you could follow the same argument and say therefore childbearing isn't part of God's plan, or any number of other things. That demonstrates to me the importance of following God's word for guidance, not just our own logic. So really this whole issue of causing harm is a huge tangent!

281clif_hiker
Edited: May 26, 2012, 3:57pm Top

are you suggesting that smoking, eating a diet loaded with high fructose sugars, driving without a seatbelt, etc etc (even though NOT specifically mentioned in the bible) are equally 'sinful' or just the sexual stuff?

On the other hand, wearing clothes made of different types of fibers, eating shellfish, and working on Sunday, etc., all seem to be perfectly harmless in today's world... even though they ARE specifically mentioned in the bible.

282eclecticdodo
May 26, 2012, 4:03pm Top

As I said, applying the same logic to other things shows it not to be a particularly useful way to determine right and wrong. Fortunately God has given us the Bible instead.

283clif_hiker
Edited: May 26, 2012, 4:47pm Top

never mind

284faceinbook
May 26, 2012, 7:36pm Top

>283 clif_hiker:
So soon you give up ??

285StormRaven
May 26, 2012, 8:02pm Top

As I said, applying the same logic to other things shows it not to be a particularly useful way to determine right and wrong. Fortunately God has given us the Bible instead.

So let's see if I've got your reasoning right. God has given us the Bible, which contains a pile of instructions that have no bearing on anything useful to the modern world, and don't actually seem to sort out what is harmful and what is not. But anal sex is supposedly harmful, except you don't actually have any evidence for that. So gay marriage is bad, because the Bible, which has a bunch of ridiculous rules about wearing fibers made from different fibers and eating shellfish, bans harmful things, but those things aren't actually harmful. And you wouldn't base the ban on harm anyway. But its bad, but those other things aren't. Because you know it is.

I don't think I've seen anyone make a more ridiculous argument than you are trying to make now.

286faceinbook
May 26, 2012, 8:10pm Top

>285 StormRaven:
"I don't think I've seen anyone make a more ridiculous argument than you are trying to make now."

Doesn't matter.....not only does it not matter if it makes sense of not, we should have a Constitutional amendment to support that argument.

287Osbaldistone
May 26, 2012, 9:19pm Top

>277 1sunnygyrl:
someone asked for scripture about Christians not judging?

Matthew 7
1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye."


288Osbaldistone
May 26, 2012, 9:23pm Top

>243 eclecticdodo: eclecticdodo said "Sex is great, it is a gift from God. We just believe that God designed for it to be in the context of a loving marriage"

I think there are plenty of same-sex couples who would be happy to limit sex to "the context of a loving marriage".

Os.

289Osbaldistone
May 26, 2012, 9:39pm Top

>229 Arctic-Stranger: Arctic-Stranger said "Why can't churches start job centers, where people can learn new job skills, AND be given the opportunity to volunteer doing meaningful "work" while they are waiting for a regular income? THAT would be impressive. Or let's just take the old stand bys; hunger, prisoners, the sick. "

I don't understand this question. It seems to be asking why something that happens all the time is not happening. I'm currently unemployed, and the three or four job centers close enough for me to attend all meet in churches. Most of the work that my local church (Methodist) does is by volunteers, and we'd be thrilled to have anyone unemployed pitch it where they have skills to share. I've been able to do more during my period of unemployment, primarily supporting working folks with kids by filling in as the afternoon carpool driver. One of our members was nursing at a local prison facility until his own health problems made that impossible. About 20 or 30 of our members recently ran a giant garage sale that raised about $10,000 for the local food bank, plus donated the unsold merchandise to the local Goodwill store. We also have a full-time nurse practitioner on staff to provide basic health care services and reduced or free prescriptions to those in the area in financial difficulty. Twice a year, our youth groups spend a week or a weekend in hands on service to the needy - painting and reparing homes for the elderly; painting and assembling hand powered trikes to be shipped to war-torn regions with a high incidence of lost legs; etc.

Of the three churches I've been a member of as an adult, two were routinely involved in supporting the community in similar ways. Based on what I know of that is going on out the the wider community, I think this kind of activity is pretty typical of local churches.

Unfortunately, there are still members of churches who have time to spend spouting hatred of sinners in visible demonstrations and radio/TV broadcasts. The volunteers I've described are generally pretty quiet folk who just want to serve.

Os.

290Osbaldistone
May 26, 2012, 9:53pm Top

>239 eclecticdodo: eclecticdodo gave us "an illustration of the fact God designed men to be with women"

A good bit of this thread has been driven by opinions that are based on the assumption that if one concept/idea/position is right, the others must be wrong. This dualistic view of the world is not Biblical, and is often not Christian. Your statement makes a thinking Christian wonder why, if this is true (and the only true position regarding men and women and lifelong committed relationships), God designed/created some men to desire to be with men. And why Paul directed men and women to abstain from marriage and sex all together. Paul's direction flies in the face of God's design, if your statement is the only truth. God created man (men/women) to be many things, and none of us to be all things. So I don't have to feel guilty for not preaching, and a priest does not have to feel guilty for not procreating.

I think a better way to view all of this is that God's purposes are quite complex, long-ranging, and are revealed in small steps over long periods of time. As long as we see Creation in a non-dualistic way, we are open to see God's demands/expectations varying from culture to culture, people to people, and over time. Thus we don't have to get all twisted up over slavery, polygamy, monarchy, and brutal genocide in the OT when trying to understand Christ's commands to love God; love your enemy; turn the other cheek; be a witness.

Os.

291timspalding
Edited: May 26, 2012, 10:28pm Top

It would be unfair of me to accuse anyone here specifically of this. And indeed it's dyspeptic to say, but I shall:

I continually notice that highly secularized people accuse Christianity of neglecting basic charity—hunger, sick, prisoners, etc. This strikes me as utterly bizarre and out of touch. I mean, of the three closest food pantries, two are run by Catholic churches and the third, while not run by any one church, is called "The Good Shepherd" for a reason! At the same time, most of the highly secular people I know are not involved in any of these services themselves. They've never volunteered at a food pantry, so they don't know who runs them. But, well, I guess they're sure the Christians aren't doing it!

On the topic of job counseling, while churches should and do much, it's not, perhaps, the best thing for them. Churches draw a lot of their strength from older people--older people go to church more and retirees have time to volunteer. On average they are often not the people you want training new workers. Sure, there are retired accountants who can help new businesses, etc., but overall it's not their strength. At my church, for example, you'll find dozens of people who'll feed the sick, but I'm one of only a few people who know how to send an email to multiple people correctly. Helping the hungry, visiting prisoners, visiting the sick and so forth are more about time, money and empathy, so they are—in my opinion—a more natural fit.

292lawecon
Edited: May 27, 2012, 12:25am Top

~291

"I continually notice that highly secularized people accuse Christianity of neglecting basic charity—hunger, sick, prisoners, etc. This strikes me as utterly bizarre and out of touch. I mean, of the three closest food pantries, two are run by Catholic churches and the third, while not run by any one church, is called "The Good Shepherd" for a reason! At the same time, most of the highly secular people I know are not involved in any of these services themselves. They've never volunteered at a food pantry, so they don't know who runs them. But, well, I guess they're sure the Christians aren't doing it"

I am not quite sure where that came from. However, if you would like to proceed in that vein, let's do so: Most of the people in America today who are vehemently for cutting any sort of public aid to the hungry and sick, who want to see more and more prisoners created for more and more crimes, and who are, plainly speaking, bigots, say that they do those things and they want/believe those things on the basis that they are Christians.

True, most of those sorts are "born again" "plain meaning" Christians, not Roman Catholic Christians. But they say that they are Christians, and I haven't seen any of the other Christians in this thread or otherwise say "No, you're not." In fact, every time the discussion comes near to that point we hear some babble about the "true Scotsman fallacy" or other techie slogan for not thinking, or we see "respect" for the "other sort" of Christian, rather than dismissal.

So here is the problem, Tim: if you want credit for the many good things Christians do, you have to start defining "Christian" so it excludes those people who consistently do really bad things. Until you do the latter, people are going to be ungenerous in giving you the credit you want.

Waiting. (Incidentally, if you want reciprocity from me regarding certain pretend Jews, just ask.)

293timspalding
Edited: May 27, 2012, 1:20am Top

I think there's some justice in what you say. "Christians also do bad things", perhaps. But that misses the point. If secular America was ignorant of the role that conservative Christians play in conservative politics then, surely, they would be deserving of correction. It would be foolish—a foolish misperception of others. But that's not the case. The problem is rather the opposite, that many secular Americans only see the political dimension of Christianity, and are unaware of the role churches play in other spheres. Some imagine Christians aren't helping charities when the simple data shows that religious adherence is correlated with not only vastly higher charitable giving overall, but higher charitable giving to secular charities as well. (Overview.)

So here is the problem, Tim: if you want credit for the many good things Christians do, you have to start defining "Christian" so it excludes those people who consistently do really bad things. Until you do the latter, people are going to be ungenerous in giving you the credit you want.

Actually, I disagree. I don't think it's good for people to have a distorted understanding of others, even if this distortion arises from some understandable cause.

294johnthefireman
Edited: May 27, 2012, 2:29am Top

>289 Osbaldistone:, 291 Thanks, Os and Tim. A lot of the criticism of churches is based on extreme ignorance of what churches actually do. The type of Church which you describe has been my experience not only in Africa but also in parishes in which I have worked in England and the USA. Which is not to deny that the vocal and visible minority exists.

>292 lawecon: if you want credit for the many good things Christians do, you have to start defining "Christian" so it excludes those people who consistently do really bad things

I disagree. First of all, I don't want "credit" for anything, just that debates recognise that the reality is more complex than what is often presented by either "side". But secondly, why on earth should credit for someone who does something good depend on what anybody else does, regardless of how they define themselves? Human beings (or US citizens or Christians or garbage collectors or whatever) who do something good get credit for it; human beings (or US citizens or Christians or garbage collectors) who do something bad get criticised or put in prison. Do the good ones have to argue that the bad ones are not human beings (or US citizens or Christians or garbage collectors) in order to get any credit?

As far as I can see, most "mainstream" (for want of a better word) Christians do not spend a lot of time criticising the other Christians per se, but line up, vote with their feet, put their money where their mouth is, etc on the actual issues. "By their fruits you shall know them", I believe a certain religious teacher once said.

295faceinbook
May 27, 2012, 8:56am Top

>291 timspalding:
Your statement goes back to what I said...."Whoever is the loudest is going to be what we think of when someone mentions Christianity"

A good start for Christians would be to stay out of government. Christianity need not be a test as to what kind of lawmaker one would be either.
AND again, hypocrisy.....tiring of me to hammer on this I know but the Catholic Church had a perfect chance to do itself a big favor when the issue of contraception came up. They could have acknowledged that most of it's female members made up their own minds and hence they would allow others the same freedom by providing their female employees the same coverage that the average American woman would receive under the standards of most insurance companies in this country.

Hard to say but I would guess that if the church did not have it's nose so firmly planted in government affairs this may have been the case. Not sure but the very idea that this is still an issue at all makes my head hurt.

All of my dad's churches were small. MOST of the members of these churches were good people. Taking care of their community in an unassuming way. But, based on my experience, it only takes one or two loud mouth individuals with an agenda of some sort to muck up the whole works. The mystery to me was why many of the quiet unassuming individuals would even listen to the loud mouths....but they do. And isn't that a bit of what is going on today only on a national scale ?
This doesn't make the quiet Christians "bad" so much as perhaps "weak", or unable for some reason to recognize a power grab when they see it. OR maybe they are just afraid to open their mouths. Said it before, if I were a Catholic woman I would be yammering non stop about the insanity around 21st century birth control issues....not much of a peep from the pill popping Catholic female population. Why is this ?
Unfortuantely, these are the things that make the news, this is what is heard by most of the population and many form their opinions on Christianity based on these type of situations.

296lawecon
Edited: May 27, 2012, 10:01am Top

~293

The first part of what you say makes a great deal of sense. If Americans are generally not aware of the great good that Christians, particularly your sort of Christians, do, then they are truly ignorant.

The second part of what you say makes no sense at all. It is not a "distorted understanding" of the Christians I speak of above to say that they are mean spirited, usually willfully ignorant, bigots, and fanatics. A recent example: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/articles/344047/20120522/preacher-charles-worley-calls-...

If you and the other praiseworthy Christians can't find the capacity to condemn such people, then you belong in the same category as those Muslims who can't bring themselves to condemn their purported co-religionists who blow up other peoples' children. And I'm sure that the real Muslims also do great charitable works.

297lawecon
May 27, 2012, 9:57am Top

~294

"As far as I can see, most "mainstream" (for want of a better word) Christians do not spend a lot of time criticising the other Christians per se, but line up, vote with their feet, put their money where their mouth is, etc on the actual issues. "By their fruits you shall know them", I believe a certain religious teacher once said."

Precisely. And the fruits of the most vocal Christians in the US are evil fruits. Why is it that you can speak against evil elsewhere, but not among those who you persist in claiming as your own, despite the fact that they show every evidence of being opposed to and acting against everything you believe?

298jburlinson
May 27, 2012, 11:50am Top

> 297. the fruits of the most vocal Christians in the US are evil fruits.

Look at it from the point of view of these evil Christians. Suppose you were convinced of the fact of biblical inerrancy and had undergone one or more "mountain top" experiences that further solidified your commitment to a fundamentalist understanding of scripture.

So you're absolutely convinced that homosexuality is a great sin, that people who repudiate Jesus Christ are damning themselves for eternity, and that women shouldn't cut their hair short.

What in the world do you do about it? If you care a fig for other people, wouldn't you try to intervene? Would you just stand by and let bad things happen to people if there was a chance that, through your good offices, they might change and consequently bring great blessings upon themselves?

I'm not talking about whether or not the beliefs of evil Christians are right or wrong. All I'm saying is that they believe implicitly in these things.

299faceinbook
May 27, 2012, 12:08pm Top

>298 jburlinson:
Agree that they believe implicitly in these things but they are picking and choosing which parts of their faith to follow. They forget that "judging their neighbor is not their job, nor is politics....Render unto Ceasar...." The best way to spread the word is to walk the walk. Sadly the loudest of them usually do a rather poor job of that.
Given human nature, perhaps the reason for this is to, as was mentioned in this tread or one similar, make themselves "look" better by pointing out the flaws of others.

Faith is a personal issue....it is quite obvious that all members of one faith can not even agree on interpretation.

Find what fits you "personally" and LIVE it......leave the rest to God. When one starts to exert power in the form of laws dictating their personal belief system (when it comes to the rights and freedoms of others to enjoy that which they have)...it would seem that they are trying to play God.

Redundant !!!

300johnthefireman
Edited: May 27, 2012, 1:25pm Top

>295 faceinbook: if I were a Catholic woman I would be yammering non stop about the insanity around 21st century birth control issues.

But you're not, and it seems to me that the majority of Catholic women are just quietly getting on with their lives and using birth control and don't feel the need to yammer non-stop about it. Why should they? If they have decided to obey the Church's teaching about the primacy of individual conscience and to follow their consciences instead of the teaching on birth control, then maybe they feel there's no need for them to make a fuss about it. As faceinbook says in >299 faceinbook:, Find what fits you "personally" and LIVE it......leave the rest to God.

301faceinbook
May 27, 2012, 2:37pm Top

>295 faceinbook:
But, the church they belong to, a church that receives government funds to run schools and charities. These entities hire employees and the church has decided that the women in their employement are not going to receive birth control through the health insurance provided by their employer. Stating that it "goes against the teachings of the church."
So the Catholic woman who works elsewhere and receives the birth control benefit belongs to an institution that has decided that their female employees can not ? Doesn't it seem to you that this is why some things never change ? No body is FORCING birth control on anybody.....all that was asked is that the insurance company paid for by an employer provide the same coverage for women as elsewhere. To add insult to injury, the issue was discussed by a panel of men in front of Congress. That is BS ! Unless the majority of Catholic women are following the Catholic tradition how can the church decide to stand on a principle for other women.

Don't understand that doesn't seem a bit hypocritical. Again....the Church has all kinds of rules and regulations...do's and don't's but this one is very biased....we are not talking about eating meat on Fridays here. But then unless you are a woman who finds herself pregnant and that pregnancy is not planned I guess you wouldn't understand. Other women should !
Plus I don't think this has anything to do with "Faith" and everything to do with sex again.

302faceinbook
Edited: May 27, 2012, 2:59pm Top

>300 johnthefireman:
"follow their consciences instead of the teaching on birth control, then maybe they feel there's no need for them to make a fuss about it"

My conscience would not leave me alone if I belonged to an organization that tried to dictate the conscience of others, especially when it comes to enjoying the same benefits and freedoms I have. That isn't faith....In fact that is what this whole tread is about. A faith based organization trying to dictate it's belief on those who do not have the same belief system.
The church had a perfect out, Obama made the insurance companies responsible for the birth control issue. That wasn't good enough for them. They are telling the insurance companies what they can and can not provide in the way of women's health care. Even though it's female members enjoy greater benefits AND make use of them. Which brings us back to not minding one's own business at the cost of others.

Maybe I'm confused on something ? What constitutes "The Church" ? The "members" or the "rules" ? Guess when the two are acting contrary to one another, it makes for some confusion.

303johnthefireman
May 27, 2012, 3:51pm Top

>301 faceinbook:, 302 I think where we're talking at cross purposes is that you keep referring to a particular piece of US health care legislation which is probably very relevant in the USA but is not a factor elsewhere.

304eclecticdodo
May 27, 2012, 3:56pm Top

> 229 "If I could call the church to address a burning issue, it would be helping the unemployed. Why can't churches start job centers, where people can learn new job skills, AND be given the opportunity to volunteer doing meaningful "work" while they are waiting for a regular income? THAT would be impressive. Or let's just take the old stand bys; hunger, prisoners, the sick. There are clear biblical word to the effect that Christians should be at least somewhat concerned with these populations, given that their Lord strongly identifies with them. "

also 289, 291, 294

My church runs or is involved in the following. Most are free (*=paid for but heavily subsidised and free to those in need):
-parent and tots groups*
-children's activity clubs
-youth group*
-afterschool homework clubs
-one-to-one tutoring for school children
-providing school uniforms for families who can't afford them (the local school won't let children attend without the right uniform)
-day centre for older people*
-refugee advice centre
-sewing lessons for women
-night shelter for the homeless
-cafe for the homeless
-handyman/gardening/odd jobs service
-money management classes
-one-to-one debt counselling
-parenting classes
-distribution of food to those in need
-furniture, clothing and other essentials to those in need
-befriending and visiting those in prison and rehab centres and supporting them after release
-befriending and visiting the elderly and sick at home or in hospital
-meals on wheels service
-supporting street sex workers
-volunteering opportunities in many of these activities, including training (unfortunately when it comes to volunteering, many of the community members who would like to get involved are asylum seekers and it is a condition of that process that they are not allowed to carry out any work, voluntary or otherwise, until their asylum case has been settled)

That's just the organised schemes, there are so many other things done by and for individuals.

We don't go around campaigning against groups, homosexuals or others. We work in the community God has placed us (we also have nearly a dozen missionaries, and support work elsewhere in the UK and the world). Of course one aim of doing all these things is to draw people in so they have the opportunity to hear the gospel, but mostly it's because we see suffering and want to do something about it - WE CARE.

"IF the church really wanted to address sexuality in a meaningful way, rather than just throw brickbats to make themselves feel better, the church would address divorce and porn. Especially porn. Both are much more widespread, and both are a much bigger threat to marriage than whether Bruce and Tom can marry. As far as I can tell the church has tried to make meaningful advances in addressing divorce, but finds it is too complicated, and has basically ignored porn. "

Agreed, porn is a huge issue. There's actually been quite a lot of focus on it recently. Several national organisations are tackling the issue and we've taken that up in our church too. There is a strong campaign here in the UK to make ISPs allow you to opt out of all "adult" web content, blocking it before it gets to you (no idea how that works technically). Interestingly there's increasing support from non-religious groups too.

305faceinbook
May 27, 2012, 4:07pm Top

>303 johnthefireman:
Perhaps I should have clarified myself by saying Catholic women in the US. But if the birth control dictate of the Catholic Church is being widely ignored, what does that say about following an organized religion ? Why then ?

The church trying to involve itself in the US government in many ways right now. The new wave of radical right politicians are passing laws the involve abortions, birth control, government funding for organizations that give health care to the poor ( these organizations provide abortions though not with public monies, they also do cancer screening, provide birth control, treat STDs) It is becoming a problem, particularly for women.

306eclecticdodo
May 27, 2012, 4:19pm Top

>305 faceinbook:
I must confess I find it bizarre that a rich nation like the US doesn't have some form of national health service. And that the recent opposition to setting one up seems mostly to have come from the "christian right".

307Osbaldistone
May 27, 2012, 5:33pm Top

>292 lawecon:, lawecom
Saying Christians should define themselves so the bigots who happen to be members of a Christian church don't smudge the Church's reputation is like saying Blacks should define themselves so criminals who happen to be Black don't smudge the Black community's reputation. I assume you wrote this before giving it a lot of thought.

Os.

308Osbaldistone
May 27, 2012, 5:33pm Top

>299 faceinbook:, faceinbook A good start for Christians would be to stay out of government and This doesn't make the quiet Christians "bad" so much as perhaps "weak", or unable for some reason to recognize a power grab when they see it. OR maybe they are just afraid to open their mouths.

I assume you meant Christian Churches, not Christians. I think it's a good idea for Christians and Muslims and Atheists and Buddhists and Bikers and stamp collectors, etc., etc. to get involved in government, at least to vote and to serve if so called. But, I don't think it good (and am pretty sure it's dangerous to the Church) for churches to get involved in politics in general and government in particular. The only exception, which I don't even consider political, is for the Church to speak out when the poor or meek are being trodden under the boots of the powerful. Even then, speaking out does not mean screaming the faces of those we disagree with. The Church is most effective when it calmly, intelligently, and repeatedly states its position in a way that Christians and non-Christians can understand.

As far as 'quiet' Christians are concerned, we have three years of Christ's words recorded and I don't think there is any word in the record in which Christ spoke out against the Roman Empire (but I'd be happy to be enlightened if I'm forgetting something). For this reason, I'd have to say there is a valid Biblical reason for Christians to go about following their calling without raising their voices against others (Christian or non-Christian). There are also valid reasons for raising their voices. We all have different talents and different callings.

Os.

309lawecon
May 27, 2012, 5:46pm Top

~298

Many people who have consistently done evil acts "implicitly" and explicitly believed in the virtue of what they were doing. Hitler was "merely" helping the forces of evolution forward and eliminating the vermin getting in the way of the ultimate triumph of its favored people. He was, in his own eyes, a progressive who was improving the human race. Lenin and Stalin were "merely" helping history reach its ultimate goal of true communism, where scarcity would be eliminated and all people would be able to reach their true potential. Evil is often seductive, that does not mean that it is not evil.

310Osbaldistone
May 27, 2012, 5:46pm Top

>302 faceinbook: faceinbook - Maybe I'm confused on something ? What constitutes "The Church" ? The "members" or the "rules" ? Guess when the two are acting contrary to one another, it makes for some confusion.

But this is true of any human organization of any size. America is hated by many around the globe for what our government does, often covertly and without the knowledge, or at least the understanding, of most Americans. How many American citizens on this thread actually understand our policies on foreign aid, food programs for schools, legal immigration, etc. Yes, it's our responsibility in a democracy, but it's getting harder and harder to know what our government does on our behalf, much as it's hard for Christians to know what the Church is doing around the world on their behalf. What most of us who spend our lives in a Christian community know, however, is that most of the Christians walking the planet are quietly going about their calling while struggling with their own shortcomings, helping others with their 'sins' primarily by the witness of example, and, when we are aware of the failings of the larger Church, speaking against it through our representatives (priests, pastors, convention delegates, etc.).

Os.

311lawecon
May 27, 2012, 5:50pm Top

~307

" lawecom
Saying Christians should define themselves so the bigots who happen to be members of a Christian church don't smudge the Church's reputation is like saying Blacks should define themselves so criminals who happen to be Black don't smudge the Black community's reputation. I assume you wrote this before giving it a lot of thought."

I didn't realize that "Christian" was a racial group.

I assume you offered this ridiculously false analogy before giving it a lot of thought.

312Osbaldistone
May 27, 2012, 5:57pm Top

>297 lawecon: lawecom And the fruits of the most vocal Christians in the US are evil fruits.

Let's face it - the 'good' that Christians say will not be heard outside of the church or other gathering where it is spoken. But should a Christian be recorded saying something 'evil', it will be all over the blogs, internet news sites, cable news channels, and, possible, broadcast news channels. This gives a false impression about "most vocal Christians", and I know of no solution - people want to hear the pastor who spouts racism, and they want to hear about the priest who abused acolytes. They don't want to hear about a pastor who arranged to get a prescription filled for a homeless teenager, or the priest who took the gay man into his church to protect him from a gang of skinheads.

How many remember the name of the priest who was one of the first to die in the Twin Towers as he ministered to the firemen running up the stairs. This was an heroic and heart rending story, but it fades from memory, while we all remember the screaming 'Christians' lined up outside the abortion clinic. This is not because of the action or inaction of Christians. It's because of human nature and the need for news outlets to get a big audience.

Os.

313lawecon
May 27, 2012, 6:01pm Top

~312

Ah yes, the poor persecuted Christians who are the object of a conspiracy by the vast Liberal Media. And totally unjustified, as we have seen in your previous post defending the protection of the wolves among them.

314Osbaldistone
May 27, 2012, 6:03pm Top

>299 faceinbook:
Agree that they believe implicitly in these things but they are picking and choosing which parts of their faith to follow.

We are all picking and choosing to some extent. Our knowledge is always imperfect and incomplete, even when it's right there in the Bible (and the Bible can often be unclear). If we do so knowingly, then it's fair to condemn. But we all are limited in the scope of our understanding. I know many who were anti-gay and are now gay affirming. I know many who were segregationists in the 60s who are now unconcerned about the color of the folks in their neighborhood. We are all called to grow in our faith. Some of us grow more than others. Some of us reject the task. I'm not sure this is strictly a characteristic of religious folks. I believe all humans have different levels of ability to grow in empathy and understanding of the 'other'.

Os.

315Osbaldistone
May 27, 2012, 6:09pm Top

>306 eclecticdodo: I must confess I find it bizarre that a rich nation like the US doesn't have some form of national health service. And that the recent opposition to setting one up seems mostly to have come from the "christian right".

Actually, simply from the 'right', regardless of religion or lack thereof. There is a fear (independent of deep study or thought) of any government program that sounds vaguely socialist. It's a tough attitude to overcome, even in a country with a huge social security program to support the elderly, and a national health care program to provide for the elderly.

Os.

316jburlinson
May 27, 2012, 6:14pm Top

> 309. Many people who have consistently done evil acts "implicitly" and explicitly believed in the virtue of what they were doing. Hitler was "merely" helping the forces of evolution forward and eliminating the vermin getting in the way of the ultimate triumph of its favored people. He was, in his own eyes, a progressive who was improving the human race. Lenin and Stalin were "merely" helping history reach its ultimate goal of true communism, where scarcity would be eliminated and all people would be able to reach their true potential. Evil is often seductive, that does not mean that it is not evil.

I assume you offered this ridiculously false analogy before giving it a lot of thought.

317Osbaldistone
Edited: May 27, 2012, 6:25pm Top

>313 lawecon: "Ah yes, the poor persecuted Christians who are the object of a conspiracy by the vast Liberal Media. And totally unjustified, as we have seen in your previous post defending the protection of the wolves among them."

I said nothing about liberal media, persecuted Christians, nor any conspiracy. I simply spoke of the human desire to see the most lurid and shocking in the news, and the media's willingness to provide it at the expense of the 'boring' good samaritan news. - Fox News (in the US, the far right media) does no more than any other to tell stories that don't have the attraction of a car wreck. And, though I mentioned religious folks in my examples (since that was what was being criticized), my comments hold true for anyone doing basically decent, good works. The media (liberal, conservative, moderate, whatever) has little interest in spreading these stories.

Also, nothing in my previous post suggests that I defend protecting wolves among any group. Simply that the presence of wolves is common to any organization of size, and most of us cannot afford to fret over it at the expense of the good work we are called to do. There are those within most organizations whose calling/responsibility is to address the 'wolves', so that the majority of the members of the group can go about the primary purpose of the group.

Os.

(edited to add to first sentence text to include liberal media, conspiracy, and persecuted Christians)

318Osbaldistone
Edited: May 27, 2012, 6:30pm Top

>311 lawecon: "I didn't realize that "Christian" was a racial group. I assume you offered this ridiculously false analogy before giving it a lot of thought."

Well, I don't consider it a false analogy, but I see it could be argued that it matters that one group is voluntary membership, while the other is not. So, if it gets to my point a bit better, how about:

Saying Christians should define themselves so the bigots who happen to be members of a Christian church don't smudge the Church's reputation is like saying Democrats/Republicans should define themselves so adulterers who happen to be Democrats/Republicans don't smudge the Democratic/Republican party's reputation.

(added after initial posting) Most Christians of my ilk believe that it is better to keep people within the community of faith where they can benefit from relationships with other Christians living their faith than it is to expel them and leave them to find others who think the same way and simply find reinforcement. It's quite possible that this is why I am still a welcome member of my faith community. A work in progress.

Os.

(edited to add last paragraph, as noted)

319lawecon
May 27, 2012, 10:28pm Top

~316

Yes, I did give it a lot of thought, and I concluded it was a good counter to your comment - to which I was responding - that: "I'm not talking about whether or not the beliefs of evil Christians are right or wrong. All I'm saying is that they believe implicitly in these things."

But I guess you've now backed off of that ridiculous observation.

320lawecon
May 27, 2012, 10:31pm Top

~317

"Also, nothing in my previous post suggests that I defend protecting wolves among any group. Simply that the presence of wolves is common to any organization of size, and most of us cannot afford to fret over it at the expense of the good work we are called to do. There are those within most organizations whose calling/responsibility is to address the 'wolves', so that the majority of the members of the group can go about the primary purpose of the group. "

Yes, I'm sure that the Roman Catholic hierarchy felt the same way about the reports of child molesters among the Priesthood. They were just too busy to "fret over it at the expense of the good works (they) were called to do."

How would you say that has worked out for their Church?

321lawecon
May 27, 2012, 10:44pm Top

~318

"Saying Christians should define themselves so the bigots who happen to be members of a Christian church don't smudge the Church's reputation is like saying Democrats/Republicans should define themselves so adulterers who happen to be Democrats/Republicans don't smudge the Democratic/Republican party's reputation."

Here I am, mistaken again. I thought that the point of the Democratic/Republican Parties was to gain public office and power for their members. In that context, it would seem that the analogy to your attitude is "we don't really care whether what we're doing will win the next election, we want to be morally upstanding." That is a lot more like the discord between goals and membership that you are trying to argue away for your Church, isn't it? Or is your Church really unconcerned about the morals of its members and an association for some other purpose?

"(added after initial posting) Most Christians of my ilk believe that it is better to keep people within the community of faith where they can benefit from relationships with other Christians living their faith than it is to expel them and leave them to find others who think the same way and simply find reinforcement. It's quite possible that this is why I am still a welcome member of my faith community. A work in progress."

That is very nice, except what I've been talking about is a bit larger than your particular "community." It is the reference group to which you claim membership. The Pastor I linked to above in ~296 is, I doubt, going to be reformed by the existence of your quietly held contrary views. He is going to keep telling nonChristians the world around that he is a "real Christian" and if you don't believe what he believes then you are a fake Christian. I guess you must agree, given your silence.

322jburlinson
May 27, 2012, 11:50pm Top

> 319. I concluded it was a good counter to your comment - to which I was responding - that: "I'm not talking about whether or not the beliefs of evil Christians are right or wrong. All I'm saying is that they believe implicitly in these things." But I guess you've now backed off of that ridiculous observation.

No, I haven't backed off that ridiculous observation at all, primarily because it's not ridiculous. Do you really doubt the sincerity of the beliefs of self-labeled evangelical Christians? Granted, some of them may be feigning their convictions, from political and/or pecuniary motives. But most, I feel confident, are in earnest.

Your analogy with Hitler & Stalin, though, is pretty far from the mark. If Hitler or Stalin thought that they were doing their victims a favor, you might have a point; but of course that wasn't the case at all. The so-called "evil Christians" are actually trying to help people they consider sinners. You could argue that their judgment may be faulty and their methods might be unproductive, but comparing them to Hitler just doesn't wash.

Once again I ask you: suppose that you believe that people are sinning and putting themselves on the road to perdition and suppose that you care about these people and don't want bad things to happen to them. What do you do?

323lawecon
Edited: May 28, 2012, 1:20am Top

~322

"Your analogy with Hitler & Stalin, though, is pretty far from the mark. If Hitler or Stalin thought that they were doing their victims a favor, you might have a point; but of course that wasn't the case at all. The so-called "evil Christians" are actually trying to help people they consider sinners."

Right, as you can see from these sermons http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WkN52FBmDVQ they are trying to help the sinners in the same way that the Inquisition was trying to help the sinners. Of course, the methods have switched from the rack and the fire to building a wall around them and letting them die, so I guess we can deem that as progress. Certainly Pastor Worley's church members think that this pastor has a "big heart" and is "the most compassionate man you'd ever know." http://www.ontopmag.com/article.aspx?id=11913&MediaType=1&Category=26# http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UtHgUaSyOy8

=========================

"Once again I ask you: suppose that you believe that people are sinning and putting themselves on the road to perdition and suppose that you care about these people and don't want bad things to happen to them. What do you do?"

Well, I guess I'd torture them and pass laws against their sinful ways so they'd reform in the healthy and redemptive atmosphere of an American prison, or, at very least, I'd turn them into social pariahs. How would you express your love?

324johnthefireman
May 28, 2012, 1:30am Top

>311 lawecon: I didn't realize that "Christian" was a racial group

In some places Christians do form groups which could be described as "racial". In north America, with Europe following close behind, the idea that you can choose your identity is prominent. In many traditional societies you have little real choice as to which identity group you belong.

>320 lawecon: the Roman Catholic hierarchy... were just too busy to "fret over it at the expense of the good works (they) were called to do."

But a lot of the comments on how Christianity is lived out are about ordinary Christians, not about the leaders of religious institutions. The hierarchy of the Catholic Church failed us on the issue of child abuse; to some extent it is ordinary Catholics who have helped to push reforms.

325eclecticdodo
May 28, 2012, 7:51am Top

>315 Osbaldistone: "Actually, simply from the 'right', regardless of religion or lack thereof. There is a fear (independent of deep study or thought) of any government program that sounds vaguely socialist. It's a tough attitude to overcome, even in a country with a huge social security program to support the elderly, and a national health care program to provide for the elderly."

Agreed. Unfortunately the way it's come accross in the British media is that supposedly Christian groups were prominent in the campaign against it. I also had an American friend of mine argue a few years ago that Christians could and would ONLY vote for Bush, that right wing is somehow the Christian option.

I may be wrong, but it seems to me as an outsider, that America supposedly has separation of church and state, but actually religion is far more mixed up in politics than say the UK, where there is no such separation, but most of our politicians are secular (or keep their beliefs entirely private) and none of our big political parties have any religious positions at all. Churches tell us that we should vote, but never who to vote for. Yes we have Bishops in the House of Lords, but changes over the last decade mean the house of commons (MPs) don't need House of Lords approval to pass laws any more. Some Christian organisations are involved in lobbying but these are very much on the fringe. I'd actually like to see more Christians active in politics, but the prospect of power tends to attract another sort of person.

326lawecon
Edited: May 28, 2012, 8:46am Top

~324

>311 lawecon:"" I didn't realize that "Christian" was a racial group""

"In some places Christians do form groups which could be described as "racial". In north America, with Europe following close behind, the idea that you can choose your identity is prominent. In many traditional societies you have little real choice as to which identity group you belong."

Interesting, but kind of irrelevant to a discussion between an American and a Brit over whether or not Christians could separate themselves from the bigots among them if they chose to do so.

Incidentally, John, let me ask you about jburlinson's thesis that the traditional Christian's attitude toward homosexuals is one of love, in the context of Africa. Would you say that African Christians (the fastest growing and soon dominate group among Christians worldwide) love homosexuals? Or do they, rather, support governmental and tribal punitive sanctions against them? How would they feel about Pastor Worley's suggestion?

327johnthefireman
Edited: May 28, 2012, 10:26am Top

>326 lawecon: kind of irrelevant to a discussion between an American and a Brit over whether or not Christians could separate themselves from the bigots among them if they chose to do so

Maybe, but I think it is important always to set conversations about Christianity in a broader context than Britain or the USA, which I continue to do, probably to the annoyance of many Britons and Americans!

the traditional Christian's attitude toward homosexuals is one of love, in the context of Africa

Complicated. Africa is a continent where the balance between individual rights and communal values is different from Europe and north America, and I think that is largely the context. Homosexuality is not generally accepted in Africa, and Christians reflect that attitude. There are notable exceptions, of which South Africa is one.

The issue has become polarised to some extent because of a perception that western values of individualism are being imposed on African communal values. Whether that is true or not, it's unlikely that it would have become such a big deal without external intervention, as homosexuality really isn't something that people are concerned about on a day to day basis. US evangelicals played a role in the draconian legislation proposed in Uganda. The controversy within the worldwide Anglican community is at least in part because of a feeling by African Anglicans that the rich but tiny Anglican churches of the USA and elsewhere went ahead with what was clearly a controversial move to ordain gay bishops without any consultation with the poor but large Anglican churches of Africa. On a continent where colonialism and neo-colonialism are still a significant narrative in interpreting anything, that was bound to lead to conflict, regardless of what the actual issue was. The USA, UK and others are playing into this dynamic now by threatening to use aid as a weapon to impose their values (regardless of whether they are right or wrong or whether there even is "right" or "wrong" once national interests and government policies are involved).

Some African church leaders also fear that the west is exporting its conservative/liberal conflict to Africa (just as it exported its capitalist/communist conflict during the Cold War, in that case with very hot wars). The Ugandan Catholic bishops wrote a carefully-worded statement a few years ago trying to balance the love for the individual homosexual against communal values, and in it they made reference to their fear that whatever stance they took it would be seized upon by one side or other of the western conservative/liberal conflict. I can't find it now, but I did reference it on LT at the time. As I've said often before, I don't think the conservative/liberal framework as we know it in the west is very useful in analysing African dynamics.

But jburlinson is right that the "traditional" Catholic approach is to love the individual even if the behaviour is considered wrong. Catholic teaching seems to be that homosexual activity is "objectively disordered", whatever that means, but does not support discrimination against homosexuals. Whether that is actually being applied is a different matter, and there will be disagreements about what "discrimination" actually means. In the UK, for example, gays (and heterosexuals) can enter into something called a civil union which gives them all the rights of marriage but with a different name. That has apparently satisfied many gays; indeed several gay couples that I know rushed to get a civil union as soon as it became legal. It also satisfies many Christians who support gays having equal rights but feel (rightly or wrongly) that the term "marriage" means man and woman (or women!). I may be wrong but I haven't seen Christians objecting to civil unions.

328lawecon
Edited: May 28, 2012, 12:33pm Top

~327

"The issue has become polarised to some extent because of a perception that western values of individualism are being imposed on African communal values. Whether that is true or not, it's unlikely that it would have become such a big deal without external intervention, as homosexuality really isn't something that people are concerned about on a day to day basis. US evangelicals played a role in the draconian legislation proposed in Uganda. The controversy within the worldwide Anglican community is at least in part because of a feeling by African Anglicans that the rich but tiny Anglican churches of the USA and elsewhere went ahead with what was clearly a controversial move to ordain gay bishops without any consultation with the poor but large Anglican churches of Africa. On a continent where colonialism and neo-colonialism are still a significant narrative in interpreting anything, that was bound to lead to conflict, regardless of what the actual issue was. The USA, UK and others are playing into this dynamic now by threatening to use aid as a weapon to impose their values (regardless of whether they are right or wrong or whether there even is "right" or "wrong" once national interests and government policies are involved)."

You know, as I read this and the following paragraphs I am reminded of a discussion that Tim and I had some time ago. I was trying to describe to Tim just how nonindividualist was pre-Second Temple Jewish society and how the notion of individual sin and redemption didn't really take root until late Second Temple Judaism and Christianity. He was telling me, as he often does, that such a distinction was nuts.

Regardless of who was right in that discussion, I am hearing overtones of the same sort of controversy in this discussion. The strange thing is, however, that we are now purportedly talking about Christians - Christians who have always stressed individual sin and redemption. But, somehow, the notion of "communal values" is again coming to the fore as equally or more important.

Honestly, John, while I have every reason to believe that you are accurately portraying what is being said in African Churches, I am not that much impressed. Just how does Christianity differ from primitive Judaism or any other tribal "faith" if what you are saying is accurate?

And just to clarify, again, jburlinson wasn't referring to traditional Catholic values - or if he was he wasn't responding to what I had already said several times before he piped up with this line. He (or he and I, since what he was responding to was my posts) was referring to the attitudes of "evangelicals" or "plain meaning" Christians, primarily in the US (but apparently also in Africa). Those Christians (at least that is what they say they are) don't "love the sinner," they hate the sin and want to stamp it out like a disease. This is, of course, entirely in accord with their other historical and contemporary attitudes - toward drugs, toward alcohol, toward dancing, etc. There is a long history of how these people deal with "sin" in America, and no one who doesn't want to be confused with what some of the more tactful of them have learned to mouth is at all confused about what they have always wanted and still plainly want.

329Osbaldistone
May 28, 2012, 12:31pm Top

>320 lawecon: Yes, I'm sure that the Roman Catholic hierarchy felt the same way about the reports of child molesters among the Priesthood. They were just too busy to "fret over it at the expense of the good works (they) were called to do."

First, it was your choice to use the term 'wolves' to describe Christians who express un-Christian opinions and smudge the public reputation of the Church as a whole. I responded to that issue using your term. The problem of child molesting was not on the table; not the 'wolves' I thought we were discussing. Obviously, the attention paid to such an issue would/should be far greater and far more urgent.

But you seem to choose to ignore what I've said in several posts - that self policing is a problem with all human organizations, and all fall short of the mark. But to divert all resources away from the primary mission because self policing fails is not a strategy for success either. You fail, you respond to it, fix what's broken as best you can, but continue with your primary mission. And, to be sure I'm clear, we're talking about un-Christian remarks made to the media (or, at least, picked up by the media) that harm the Church's reputation, right?

So you don't think I'm uncaring about the child molesting issue you injected, one observation: all groups that serve youth have this problem (schools, Scouts, dentist, psychologists, churches, etc., etc.). It's a human institution problem. They police it as best they can, and sometimes fail (damn humans). Sometimes spectacularly, which then leads to (or should lead to) a re-assessment of how they monitor.

Os.

330lawecon
Edited: May 28, 2012, 12:44pm Top

~328

You seem to have a great difficulty with analogies. You reject the "self-policing" of Christian communities as either very difficult and distracting or impossible, but when I point out a well known contemporary example of the failure of Christians to self-police you seem to be horrified and contend that isn't what you mean at all. Either your position makes sense, or it doesn't. If it makes sense, I'm not quite sure why one wouldn't expect such activity in a "merely human institution" (damn humans).

"First, it was your choice to use the term 'wolves' to describe Christians who express un-Christian opinions and smudge the public reputation of the Church as a whole. I responded to that issue using your term. The problem of child molesting was not on the table; not the 'wolves' I thought we were discussing. Obviously, the attention paid to such an issue would/should be far greater and far more urgent. "

So, let's see if I understand. If your minister or Priest gives a homily on how gays should be rounded up and put in concentration camps, and many congregation members shout "Amen" Well, you know, that is just one of those inevitable failings of human institutions. But if several children of congregation members are molested, well, that is really really bad, "far greater and far more urgent" than simple bigotry. I guess you missed that Sermon On The Mount thing where Jesus contends that bad attitudes are as evil as bad acts?

331Osbaldistone
Edited: May 28, 2012, 12:49pm Top

>325 eclecticdodo:

the way it's come accross in the British media is that supposedly Christian groups were prominent in the campaign against it [national health care]. I also had an American friend of mine argue a few years ago that Christians could and would ONLY vote for Bush, that right wing is somehow the Christian option.

And some Christian groups are prominent in the campaign against national health care. Some for reasons that have nothing to do with their faith, but some because they believe the Church should serve the poor, but not force others to do so through the tax system (an arguably rational postition, if enough Christians and non-Christians would serve the poor - that's a whole other issue).

That "Christians could and would ONLY vote for Bush, that right wing is somehow the Christian option" is a gross generalization, given that there are Christians across the whole political spectrum, and I would expect that a large percentage are non-commital with regards to party. I am often amused, however, to see the surprise on a conservative Christian's face when they discover that there are actively practicing Christians who would vote Democrat. Conservative Christians seem to be far less ecuminical, and, thus, can live in a bit of an echo chamber that makes them feel that their experiences and political beliefs are universal to Christianity. It's that black-white view of what's Biblical.

You said "America supposedly has separation of church and state, but actually religion is far more mixed up in politics than say the UK, where there is no such separation, but most of our politicians are secular (or keep their beliefs entirely private)" Perhaps the separation of Church and State is like anything we are denied - Christians want to get involved more rather than less because it's been limited.

Os

(edited to get the referenced post correct)

332johnthefireman
Edited: May 28, 2012, 1:08pm Top

>328 lawecon: Well, I know nothing about Second Temple Judaism, but I do know that Africa (and probably much of Asia and maybe even Latin America) are far more communal cultures than north America (with the exception, probably, of the original native north Americans). Europe is close to north America, although there are parts of rural Ireland, Spain and other countries that feel as if they haven't yet abandoned their communal roots.

At the risk of over-simplifying and over-generalising (but when did that ever stop anybody on LT?!), north America and Europe value individualism. People tend to view themselves primarily as autonomous individuals who can choose to join "communities" which are more akin to voluntary associations; "I think therefore I am". Africans see themselves primarily existing in relationships, as part of a community within which they can explore their individuality; "We are, therefore I am"; ubuntu.

This difference colours most aspects of life, including politics and diplomacy, so I don't think it is primarily about religion. Our religion does not exist in a cultural, political and historical vacuum; the modern "born again" "saved" evangelical variety of Christianity seems to be a product of western culture, although ironically more mainstream forms of Christianity helped shape that culture. Christianity in the era of Christ would probably have been acted out in a culture more akin to modern Africa than modern north America.

Neither extreme individualism nor extreme communalism are perfect, and probably neither exists. It's all about finding the right balance on a spectrum. Individualism brought some great benefits, notably human rights. From where I sit it looks as if north America and Europe are going too far on the path of individualism, while Africa is still struggling to find a balance between traditional culture and values and the western values which are impinging as a result of globalisation. That's the context in which Africans are trying to deal with issues such as homosexuality.

333johnthefireman
Edited: May 28, 2012, 1:07pm Top

>331 Osbaldistone: I am often amused, however, to see the surprise on a conservative Christian's face when they discover that there are actively practicing Christians who would vote Democrat.

I have always been amazed that anyone who calls themselves Christian could vote for right wing parties (whether Republican, Tory or whatever), as it seems to me so obvious that the values of the left are closer to the values of Christianity. But I recognise that Christianity is a broad church and some of its adherents do strange things.

334timspalding
Edited: May 28, 2012, 1:52pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

335Osbaldistone
May 28, 2012, 1:17pm Top

>330 lawecon:

Sorry, lawecom, but you seem to be stating, repeatedly, that if I don't follow you off on a tangent of Christian failings of ever increasing horror, that I clearly don't care about these newly raised issues. I chose to speak up about an issue to which I felt I had something to contribute - that regarding why the mass of Christians are not heard from when some Christian somewhere in the US spouts hateful or unChristian rhetoric and gets on the news. You also make the assumption that if I don't follow you down the rabbit hole of the Catholic Church's problem with pedophiles, and other such horrors, my silence means I approve.

First, I'm not qualified to discuss how the Church should solve such problems, and I have nothing to contribute to such a discussion that has not already been shouted by a large number of Catholics as well as non-Catholics. Second, until I just said that, you had no basis on which to suggest that I am silent on such issues, as you have no idea what I've said in the various circles in which I travel. I chose not to go there on this thread because it's hard enough for to stay focused on the topic I chose to comment on as it is.

Unless I missed it in all the talk about pedophilia and Christians approving by their (supposed) silence, I'm pretty sure you've never commented constructively on my position (which I may have not made as well as I thought) that holding all Christians you have contact with responsible for failing to eliminate the hateful rhetoric that we see on video from some Christians is ignoring the reality of large human institutions. It is also ignoring the tremendous benefit from letting most Christians follow their calling and continue in service. And before you hit me with the same hammer again, NO, I'm not saying they shouldn't and don't care about the hateful speech (or pedophilia). I'm saying not all are called (nor do they all have the skills) to respond publicly about every incident of non-Christian speech or behavior that crops up within these large institutions. But I will say this - the hateful anti-gay rhetoric I have heard was heard, I am sure, by the lesbian couple who are my good friends and members of my congregation. But they are living in a community with me and others who obviously reflect a Chrisitanity that rejects such speech, and this community going about it's business of witnessing and serving provides both comfort and healing to couples like these that are hurt by such rhetoric. Yes, it's quiet, and even silent (in a way), but that is how I am called to witness and I have been blessed to see wonderful fruits come from this way of practicing my faith. And, nothing I have said about this way of responding would suggest that other members of my community (from the pastors on down) have not dealt directly with this issue, or that they have not ministered to gays/lesbians in our community specifically about such hateful speech coming from people who identify themselves as Christian.

To summarize, I simply wanted to get it on this thread that what you hear in the media does not reflect what is happening the Church as a whole, but reflects what the media (conservative, liberal, moderate, Nazi, whatever) believes will increase or, at least, maintain their audience. I still stand by that statement, which seems to have been lost in all the follow-on accusations.

Os.

336johnthefireman
May 28, 2012, 1:20pm Top

>330 lawecon: If your minister or Priest gives a homily on how gays should be rounded up and put in concentration camps, and many congregation members shout "Amen" Well, you know, that is just one of those inevitable failings of human institutions

There are bigots in every institution and one does what one can to deal with them within one's own institution. There is a degree of self-policing, but note that the Christian church is not monolithic and is made up of hundreds (thousands?) of separate, independent denominations. A Catholic in South Sudan can make his displeasure known about bigots in his own church in his own country, and even in other places and/or with other churches where he has some legitimate connection, but can't do much to stop a "born again" "saved" evangelical fundamentalist bigot in the mid-west of the USA. I doubt whether a Catholic living in Massachusetts would have much influence on that one either. As Os says in >331 Osbaldistone:, they tend to be less ecumenical so the broader Christian community has little influence on them.

337johnthefireman
May 28, 2012, 1:25pm Top

>335 Osbaldistone: the hateful anti-gay rhetoric I have heard was heard, I am sure, by the lesbian couple who are my good friends and members of my congregation. But they are living in a community with me and others who obviously reflect a Chrisitanity that rejects such speech, and this community going about it's business of witnessing and serving provides both comfort and healing to couples like these that are hurt by such rhetoric.

Bravo. "By their fruits you shall know them". There are other ways of getting a message across than public argument, and the best way of preaching love is to show it rather than to preach it. As has been said frequently, this is probably what most ordinary Christians are trying to do.

338Osbaldistone
May 28, 2012, 1:28pm Top

>332 johnthefireman: the modern "born again" "saved" evangelical variety of Christianity seems to be a product of western culture

My understanding is that this is primarily a movement that arose in the mid to late 19th century in the US. Many theological positions taken as 'standard' Christian by conservative evangelicals (Bible as the verbatim word of God, concept of the rapture, etc.) do not appear to have existed in Christian thought to any significant degree before then.

The Bible as word-for-word from the 'mouth' of God drives most of the difficulties within the Church as a whole in America, and contributes quite a bit to the criticism (often justified) from outside the Church. From my perspective as a right-of-center Christian, this approach to Biblical text requires some incredible mental gymnastics to overcome the contradictions in the Bible, and also allows for inflexible positions that drive a wedge between the Church and the community it is trying to serve but also between different components of the Church.

Os.

339johnthefireman
May 28, 2012, 1:44pm Top

>338 Osbaldistone: Thanks, Os. It really is a strange phenomenon and, as you say, a departure from mainstream historic Christian tradition.

340timspalding
Edited: May 28, 2012, 1:57pm Top

I'm quite sure you misrepresent our discussion, Lawecon. The pattern is well established. You claim something absurd (eg., prisons will vanish within 20 years, Pakistan is not important to US foreign policy), and, when told it's absurd, shift ground to something reasonable (eg., prisons are overused, Pakistan should be less important to US foreign policy) and then slam me, apparently sincerely, for disagreeing with that.

so obvious that the values of the left are closer to the values of Christianity

I disagree with this as follows. What does "values" mean? If you mean the values of a policy, I'd argue there either don't exist or are irrelevant to the result. If you mean that leftists care about poverty and conservatives do not, I think you are mistaken—taken in by a leftist slander.

I would urge you to imagine that many conservatives are sincere in believing that the free market, a good legal system and charity are better for the poor than leftist alternatives, especially when those alternatives are actually attempted rather than just imagined. Conservatives, or at least libertarians, would point out that massive, ham-handed state efforts to solve black poverty did not solve it, and did much harm. To take the point to its logical conclusion, it's clear that the "values" of communism are often reckoned infinitely superior to those of capitalism, but that communism was a disaster for the poor.

Conservatives would point out that, whether we're speaking of Communism or liberalism, the power and political distortions necessary to carry out the plan tend to endanger the liberty of all. The scale is utterly different, but the power necessary to nationalize farming is also the power to commit genocide against the Cossacks, and the power used to give every American health care, namely forcing them to have it, has resulted in forcing Catholic institutions to pay for drugs they regard as abortifacients.

Now, there are many ways this can go wrong. Conservatives sometimes use their "values" here as a way to avoid looking at the problem of poverty. I would say, however, that leftists are often guilty of the reverse—of not helping the poor because they're in favor of the government helping them. It is a robust statistical fact that American liberals give less generously to charity than American conservatives. Maybe it's good enough to favor legislation and, if the legislation fails to happen or to work, you're off the moral hook. I don't think so. But "values" and what happens to them when confronted with the real world are different things. That's my point. I do not doubt that liberal values are pure. I doubt that they always work.

So, go on disagree with the right. Surely there's much to disagree with. But, well, I find your "obvious" a bit too obvious.

341johnthefireman
Edited: May 28, 2012, 2:04pm Top

>340 timspalding: Tim, my reference to "obvious" was a follow on from Os' comment that right wing Christians seem surprised that Christians can vote for the left; I am equally surprised that Christians can vote for the right. It's a personal opinion, and I know that you disagree with it. I even have friends who vote conservative, and I apologise if I gave the impression that conservatives are insincere.

It's probably impossible to generalise about leftists and rightists. As an example, your point that leftists often don't help the poor because they think the government should do it doesn't strike me as accurate. Liberation theologians did both - they helped the poor and tried to get the government to take responsibility as well. There's the famous slogan, "Think globally but act locally". But I'm not saying you're wrong; maybe there are some who believe as you say; it's another broad church. As to who gives most to charity, well, that's also open to debate and interpretation. My own personal experience of door to door collecting in UK was that you get virtually nothing from the up-market suburbs but a lot from the poorer areas, but maybe there are statistics somewhere that prove my anecdotal experience wrong.

Did communism fail? Has communism actually ever been attempted (outside of the Christian community mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles)? I don't think the totalitarian states of Russia and China should be used to judge communism per se; it was just the ideology that they used to stay in power. It was little different to fascism. There have been more successful attempts; Cuba and Nicaragua would be examples, although obviously they also have problems, just as capitalist states do. The socialist states in Scandinavia seem to have done OK, as did UK with a mixed economy which had a lot of socialism in it until Thatcher spoiled it all. I would add that at a micro-level there have been a lot of communes which have done quite well over a long period.

But we're probably way off topic here following a slightly tongue-in-cheek comment questioning the perception that all Christians should be conservatives.

342Osbaldistone
May 28, 2012, 2:14pm Top

>340 timspalding: It is a robust statistical fact that American liberals give less generously to charity than American conservatives.

Well, perhaps, but this does not address the issue at hand. IRS statistics show that only about 10-15 of charitable contributions in the US go to "the needy" - food, shelter, clothing, jobs help, etc. The vast majority go to organizations that provide social/political benefits and ego boosts tot he contributors - museums, alma maters, symphonies, etc., where the contributor's name can be prominently displayed and where social, business, and political connections can be fostered.

So, the fact that conservatives report more charitable giving does not neessarily lead to the conclusion that they demonstrate an equal or greater consideration for the poor. The classic generalization about conservatives as being far more concerned about their own financial, political, and social benefit would lead one to the conclusion that most of their giving is for these purposes as well, and the IRS statistics would provide some support for this. Being left-of-center myself, I know I tend to generalize this way about conservatives.

Having said that, I agree that having the government do it leads to the temptation for the individual to stay out of it. There's bound to be a middle ground somewhere.

Os.

343timspalding
Edited: May 28, 2012, 2:37pm Top

>342 Osbaldistone:

You can do the Googling, but, though surprising and uncomfortable, the data is very solid. You can start with the (leftist) Nicholas Kristoff's "Bleeding Tightwads" (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/21/opinion/21kristof.html), move to George Will (http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2008/03/conservatives_more_liberal_giv...) and etc. It's not just money. Conservatives give more time too. They even give blood at higher rates. (This is because they selfishly want to show off their "I gave blood" stickers at martini-swilling parties?)

You can munge the data in all sorts of ways, and make up reasons too. Maybe liberals don't give because they choose helping professions, whereas conservatives give to charity to assuage their guilt at being CEO of Exxon. Maybe it's because conservatives live in smaller communities, and alienated city people are selfish for other reasons than politics. But, for me the clincher is that that people who disagree that "government has a responsibility to reduce income inequality" give four times more than people who accept it. That's no "show-off effect." That's a difference in political theory and its consequences.

Again, maybe it doesn't matter. Maybe having opinions is enough. This strikes me as a common pitfall. A liberal friend of mine, a New York publishing executive, once said that he believed he was a better person than Mother Theresa, because he had more evolved opinions.

344johnthefireman
May 28, 2012, 2:47pm Top

>343 timspalding: people who disagree that "government has a responsibility to reduce income inequality"

For me that question would not be a "clincher" in defining whether you are left or right wing, although I suppose it might be indicative.

Maybe having opinions is enough

But I don't think it's either/or. I won't say that all the leftist people that I know are manning the barricades, but in my (necessarily limited) personal experience many of them are proactive in pursuit of their opinions - which doesn't necessarily mean giving money to charity. I myself tend not to give to charities because I spend a fair bit of my life working for charities trying to help the poor; as you say, people "choose helping professions".

As Os says in >342 Osbaldistone:, there are many ways of analysing giving to charity. Apart from the examples he gives of charities which do nothing to help the poor (I contribute to charities for steam engines which, while fun, don't help the poor), there is disagreement as to whether charities are the right way to help the poor as opposed to advocacy for policy change. Some believe that they are; others believe that they just take the pressure off the government and give it the opportunity to avoid its responsibilities and thus ultimately make the problem worse. We face a similar debate daily in war zones. Does humanitarian aid exacerbate the conflict, whether by parties to the conflict gaining access to resources, or by the aid playing into their political and military strategies, or simply by taking the burden of feeding the people (or creating the conditions where they can feed themselves) off of the government and other warring parties and thus allowing them freedom to pursue their wars? But on the other hand, you can't just sit back and let people starve on the off-chance that things will get better. So it's quite a complex balancing act, far more complex than statistics about who gives how much to charity.

345faceinbook
May 28, 2012, 2:51pm Top

Perhaps liberals do things as a matter of lifestyle and do not see it as "charitable" whereas conservatives keep track of everything they do ? Wouldn't trust the statistics on this issue.

Little story :
Account asked husband (hold your nose and vote Republican husband) how much he donated to Good Will...husband asks "How much can I claim ?" Accountant says "$250" Husband answers "$250 !"
Accountant asks liberal wife "and you. How much ?" Liberal wife " Have no idea. Do not get receipts. Is it charity when you are benefiting from giving ?" Liberal wife gets "stink eye" from conservative husband !
Truth of situation....conservative husband doesn't even know where a Good Will store is located. NEVER been near one in his life. Liberal wife does indeed take things to the Good Will, St. Vinie's and The Salvation Army store. She has no idea what the valure of what the stuff is. Also continues to refuse to claim charitable donations as a tax credit. Suspect Republican husband has figured out a work around on the tax form which would make the statistics somewhat skewered.

This is a true story ;>)

People of means benefit from charitable donations. Not too sure that this is "true charity ?" Someone does benefit from the donations I guess, but the question is, would the same people "give" if there wasn't a benefit to themselves in some way ?

346jburlinson
May 28, 2012, 3:32pm Top

> 340. massive, ham-handed state efforts to solve black poverty did not solve it, and did much harm.

As opposed to the extraordinarily salutary effects of the state's ignoring black poverty for the previous 100 years?

347jburlinson
May 28, 2012, 3:40pm Top

> 343. for me the clincher is that that people who disagree that "government has a responsibility to reduce income inequality" give four times more than people who accept it.

Why is it that the "people who disagree" don't see that government action in a democratic state represents the collective will of the majority of people within that democracy?

348eclecticdodo
May 28, 2012, 4:52pm Top

>328 lawecon: "He (or he and I, since what he was responding to was my posts) was referring to the attitudes of "evangelicals" or "plain meaning" Christians, primarily in the US (but apparently also in Africa). Those Christians (at least that is what they say they are) don't "love the sinner," they hate the sin and want to stamp it out like a disease."

Perhaps this is another US/UK thing, but you seem unable to discriminate between the tiny minority (at least here in the UK) of hatred spewing "christians" and the whole evangelical movement. Evangelical simply means that we believe in sharing the good news. You use it as a by-word for something else entirely.
Yes we believe the Bible is the word of God, that it tells us all we need to know (i.e. that there is no need for further revelation). That doesn't mean (for example) that we believe Revelation is a literal plan of what will happen at the end of the world that we can tick off against world events, or that the different Gospel accounts were not compiled for different reasons and therefore have different emphases, or any number of other assumptions you seem to make.

>331 Osbaldistone: "And some Christian groups are prominent in the campaign against national health care. Some for reasons that have nothing to do with their faith, but some because they believe the Church should serve the poor, but not force others to do so through the tax system"

and

"I am often amused, however, to see the surprise on a conservative Christian's face when they discover that there are actively practicing Christians who would vote Democrat"

That's very reassuring. It seems we're only getting part of the story over here.

"Perhaps the separation of Church and State is like anything we are denied - Christians want to get involved more rather than less because it's been limited."

You could definitely have a point there. I wonder if the UK is heading the same way? I suspect though that practising Christians (as opposed to born into a Christian family, maybe go to church for a funeral) are too much in a minority for it to take hold. There have been some attempts to set up Christian political parties but they don't stand a chance, and even the Conservative party, who long upheld "Christian values" (whatever that means) are quickly distancing themselves from anything remotely religious.

>can't find a good quote, but the general theme from Lawecon about Christians not speaking up against hatred from other so called Christians.

Just because we haven't succeeded in silencing them doesn't mean we aren't consistently speaking and campaigning against them. How precisely do you suggest we stop them?

349Osbaldistone
May 28, 2012, 5:17pm Top

>348 eclecticdodo: even the Conservative party [in the UK], who long upheld "Christian values" (whatever that means) are quickly distancing themselves from anything remotely religious.

Just the opposite seems to be happening here. Where the Republican Party (conservative) was not shy about religious faith 20 years ago, the typical phrase used to state a fundamental platform was "family values". Now, direct references to "Christian values/beliefs" as fundamental not only to conservativism, but to the foundation of the US are common, and are often used (inappropriately, in my view) to define the difference between conservatives and liberals.

I always found odd the "family values" phrase which was/is used particularly by the religious conservatives. Being more likely to consider the Bible the verbatim Word of God, I don't know how they align the idea of family values as a particularly Christian position with what Jesus said about setting brother against brother, and how to follow Him you must hate your mother and father. There was also the time when his mother and brother were at the door, and He said "who is my mother? Who is my brother?" and used it as a teaching moment to define the brotherhood of all God's children. I'm not saying that Christ was anti-family, but He had little, if anything to say about families being important in a life dedicated to following Christ. And, of course, Paul famously encouraged followers not to marry and start families altogether.

Os.

Luke 12:52-54
52 From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.

Matthew 12:47-49
47 Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” 48 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers.


350jburlinson
May 28, 2012, 7:22pm Top

> 349. Matthew 12:47-49 -- 47 Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” 48 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers.

And you can bet he got an earful the next time he dropped by to get Mary to do his laundry.

351lawecon
May 28, 2012, 8:07pm Top

~335

"Sorry, lawecom, but you seem to be stating, repeatedly, that if I don't follow you off on a tangent of Christian failings of ever increasing horror, that I clearly don't care about these newly raised issues. I chose to speak up about an issue to which I felt I had something to contribute - that regarding why the mass of Christians are not heard from when some Christian somewhere in the US spouts hateful or unChristian rhetoric and gets on the news. You also make the assumption that if I don't follow you down the rabbit hole of the Catholic Church's problem with pedophiles, and other such horrors, my silence means I approve."

Before we go further with this discussion, I think you need to step outside of your hobbyhorses and read what the other guy is saying. While I would prefer that you go back and read the discussion, let me just summarize for you what I've been saying - repeatedly:

Christian, purportedly have very high moral standards. According to the above mentioned Sermon On The Mount they not only view certain acts as evil, they view certain thoughts about those acts to be evil. Christian Churches may not have members that adhere strictly to those standards, but the Churches themselves should be expected to at least endorse those standards. Hence, it should be expected that if Christian clergy do or publically say things that transgress those standards, that other Christian clergy equally publically call them to task for their transgressions. Otherwise it becomes quite unclear what Christianity is and isn't all about.

If you contend that there is no such duty, then the sort of attitudes that Tim was deploring in the first post in this thread seem to make a lot of sense, don't they?

Again, if you need an analogy, the analogy is easily to find. A lot of Americans concluded that many Muslim congregations and leaders didn't really disagree with what Bin Laden had done when they failed to denounce what he had done, particularly when they were asked and gave evasive answers. That had nothing to do with what "Islam really teaches," it had to do with what certain purported Muslims (at least by their own claim) evidenced by their verbal behavior. Similarly, if you contend that Christian Churches really shouldn't bother to publically denounce calls by a Christian minister to put gays in concentration camps "until they die out," because it diverts said Churches from their "true purpose," you are saying a lot about what that "true purpose" is and isn't - whether you like it or not. And, yes, some of those horrible peck sniffs in the media may actually have the cheek to ask.

352lawecon
May 28, 2012, 8:13pm Top

~336

And no one, until now has suggested that "something needs to be done" about such outbursts - at least nothing "legal." Similarly, no one, certainly not me, has suggested that they expect broad minded Christians to have much influence on insular ignorant bigoted Christians.

What I have suggested repeatedly is that if Christians don't say things that are very definite when other purported Christians get waaaaay out of line, that they then shouldn't be heard to complain about the "misunderstandings" of other people concerning their views. Such complaining seemed to be what this thread was about, and, sadly, I have seen little evidence that the complaining is justified.

353lawecon
May 28, 2012, 8:15pm Top

~340

"I'm quite sure you misrepresent our discussion, Lawecon."

I am quite sure I don't. But then most of the threads are still there for any objective observer to read.

354jburlinson
May 28, 2012, 8:31pm Top

> 352. if Christians don't say things that are very definite when other purported Christians get waaaaay out of line, that they then shouldn't be heard to complain about the "misunderstandings" of other people concerning their views.

An alternative to denouncing anti-gay Christians is to embrace gay people as brothers and sisters. Congregations and ministries associated with the United Church of Christ, for example, have declared themselves "open & affirming," making public statements of welcome into their full life and ministry to persons of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions.

http://www.ucccoalition.org/programs/ona/start/

It's obvious that such congregations consider affirmation of the afflicted more productive than denunciation of the afflicters. Of course, I suppose they could do both -- but that takes a lot of energy. If you only have limited time and resources, maybe it's better to take the high road.

355lawecon
May 28, 2012, 8:41pm Top

~354

"Of course, I suppose they could do both -- but that takes a lot of energy. If you only have limited time and resources, maybe it's better to take the high road."

I suppose Hamas feels the same way, that is purportedly why they won the election in Gaza.

356Osbaldistone
May 29, 2012, 12:07am Top

>351 lawecon: Before we go further with this discussion, I think you need to step outside of your hobbyhorses and read what the other guy is saying. While I would prefer that you go back and read the discussion, let me just summarize for you what I've been saying - repeatedly:
Thank you.

Christian, purportedly have very high moral standards. According to the above mentioned Sermon On The Mount they not only view certain acts as evil, they view certain thoughts about those acts to be evil. Christian Churches may not have members that adhere strictly to those standards, but the Churches themselves should be expected to at least endorse those standards. Hence, it should be expected that if Christian clergy do or publically say things that transgress those standards, that other Christian clergy equally publically call them to task for their transgressions. Otherwise it becomes quite unclear what Christianity is and isn't all about.

Agreed, and they do. First of all, I listened to a Baptist minister and seminary professor in Fayetteville NC call to task the Baptist pastor in Fayetteville NC who was on video telling the fathers in his congregation, among other things, to punch their sons if they even began to exhibit a "limp wrist". I was pleased that what I know is the mainstream Christian view, though boring, was actually covered by at least one major cable news channel. My point has only and always been that such postive statements by Christians rarely show up on network or cable news, or news blogs. You seem to find in my comments, perhaps because I have been a poor craftsman, some kind of support for no action. My intent has always been to point out 1) that most positive action by people in general, which includes Christians, just doesn't sell well enough for the media to cover it, leaving the ugly to stand in the minds of media consumers, and 2) that not all Christians are called to be the voice responding to such un-Christian outbursts by Christian leaders in the media. Believe me, I know many solid Christians who should NOT speak out when the tape is running. They just don't have the skills. But put them next to the bed of a someone dying of cancer, and they radiate grace.

If you contend that there is no such duty, then the sort of attitudes that Tim was deploring in the first post in this thread seem to make a lot of sense, don't they?

If I've stated myself clearly enough above, then the premise is clearly false. If not, I'm out of ideas, so no response will help.

Again, if you need an analogy, the analogy is easily to find. A lot of Americans concluded that many Muslim congregations and leaders didn't really disagree with what Bin Laden had done when they failed to denounce what he had done, particularly when they were asked and gave evasive answers. That had nothing to do with what "Islam really teaches," it had to do with what certain purported Muslims (at least by their own claim) evidenced by their verbal behavior. Similarly, if you contend that Christian Churches really shouldn't bother to publically denounce calls by a Christian minister to put gays in concentration camps "until they die out," because it diverts said Churches from their "true purpose," you are saying a lot about what that "true purpose" is and isn't - whether you like it or not. And, yes, some of those horrible peck sniffs in the media may actually have the cheek to ask.

It was never my intent to contend that Christian Churches really shouldn't bother to publically denounce calls by a Christian minister to put gays in concentration camps "until they die out". In fact, I believe I've clearly said that that to denounce such things is the role/calling of some (but not most) members of the institution. Yes, as I've said over and over, this is a problem for all human institutions of any size. Some (sometimes many) of the institutions' components fail to deliver on their stated purposes/goals/ethics. But, I simply cannot agree with what you seem to be saying - that ALL Christians are duty bound to publicly (in a manner that will ensure media coverage) denounce ALL un-Christian things said (and covered by the media) by anyone calling themselves Christian, and, apparently, failure for this to happen makes Christianity suspect.?! I'm out of ways to state that the Church is a human institution and makes human mistakes which are addressed and dealt with by humans. The fact that typically human results sometimes occur cannot condemn Christ's teaching nor the need for Christians to continue to follow their calling as members of the Body of Christ. So, sometimes we enfold gays/lesbians in the community as Christ would have us do, and sometimes we fail to do so.

I don't think I've said anything in this post that I've not already said, but I hope that I've said it so it makes sense to you (whether you agree that it's right or not). Your responses so far indicate that I'm failing miserably, but I'm out of ideas, and the holiday weekend is over, so I'm also out of time.

Os.

357msladylib
May 29, 2012, 12:19am Top

>53 faceinbook:,55

I think nearly everyone should have answered "yes." Not all gay people are out. The chances of your knowing and liking a homosexual or lesbian are almost 100%, unless you live in a very tiny community, like a cave, say.

358timspalding
Edited: May 30, 2012, 11:10pm Top

Child's 'Ain't No Homos Gonna Make It To Heaven' Church Performance Goes Viral
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/30/aint-no-homos-gonna-make-it-to-heaven_n...

Lyrics:
"The Bible’s right, somebody’s wrong.
The Bible’s right, somebody’s wrong.
Romans one, twenty six and twenty seven;
Ain’t no homos gonna make it to Heaven."
Ow.

359faceinbook
May 31, 2012, 10:06am Top

>358 timspalding:
Well, that makes it offical...don't want to go to Heaven. Hell is going to be much more interesting, more diverse and, my guess is, way more peaceful ! Plus the decor, no doubt, will surpass anything heaven has to offer !

360johnthefireman
Edited: May 31, 2012, 11:27am Top

>359 faceinbook: I got the impression from Jesus that heaven is where all the prostitutes and sinners are going to be, so it actually does sound more interesting.

There's the old story about the Catholic priest's housekeeper who has a heart attack and dies. They do CPR and rush her to hospital and they manage to bring her back to life. When she regains consciousness, they're falling over themselves to find out what she saw on the other side. "Did you go to heaven or hell?", they ask. "Hell", she replies. "What was it like?" "Just like being in the presbytery {priest's house} - you can't get near the bloody fire because there're so many priests in the way!"

361timspalding
May 31, 2012, 12:07pm Top

To repeat the quote I started with:
"When asked by The Barna Group what words or phrases best describe Christianity, the top response among Americans ages 16-29 was “antihomosexual.” For a staggering 91 percent of non-Christians, this was the first word that came to their mind when asked about the Christian faith. The same was true for 80 percent of young churchgoers."
So far this video has been viewed 380,000 times on YouTube (it originally appeared on some other sites, so the real number is probably higher). I bet you anything it hits a million or more within a week. And in doing so it will be yet another reason young people associate Christianity with homophobia.

362Arctic-Stranger
May 31, 2012, 3:04pm Top

I am reminded of a club my in-laws used to be a part of--the LA Breakfast Club. When I visited the club in the early '80s, it was vibrant and interesting. However over the years I noticed that a) the same people were coming, or at least they were all around the same age, and b) as the people declined, so did the club. I doubt it is even functioning these days.

So goes the church. My grandparent's generation was the most church-going generation ever. Things have declined greatly since then. At one point they did a long term of study of the Presbyterian Church and found that by the year 2050 or so, there could be one pastor for every ten people. (That trend has reversed, I believe, but I could be wrong on that.)

Homophobia is a part of the equation, but probably not even the biggest part. I think the thing I ran into most when I was actively recruiting, and run into more today as I run in more secular circles, is that for a variety of reasons, the church is just plain unnecessary for most people.

363eclecticdodo
May 31, 2012, 3:12pm Top

>362 Arctic-Stranger: "for a variety of reasons, the church is just plain unnecessary for most people."

You could argue that although there are declining numbers in some churches, those who attend are more likely to be personally committed than say 50 or 100 years ago when more people went but only because that was the done thing.

Also, don't forget that a lot of churches are growing and new ones are being planted all the time.

364Arctic-Stranger
May 31, 2012, 3:30pm Top

And a lot of churches are dying. Back in the day there was a study that showed that much of the "growth" in the growing churches came from people who LEFT other churches to attend the big Mega Church, or the biggest growing church in town. Smaller churches got smaller, and larger churches got bigger. I have no reason to believe that this dynamic has changed.

For the record, we called that sheep stealing, and when I was a pastor, one thing I was proud of (yes, I know, pride is a sin) is that most of our growth came from people who had not set foot in a church in over ten years. Of course that added a host of problems as well.

365eclecticdodo
May 31, 2012, 3:59pm Top

>364 Arctic-Stranger:

We don't really have the mega-church phenomenon over here. While I'm sure there is some amount of sheep rustling, and of course migration, there are also huge numbers of people not from christian backgrounds coming to faith. The majority of under 40's didn't attend church or Sunday school as a child (at least not outside special occasions), and are "un-churched". Churches and missionary groups responding to that need tend to be more successful, whether they are small, large, new or established.

Also, numerical growth is not necessarily an indicator of a healthy church. The New Testament model is for local groups of committed believers forming communities, that doesn't seem to fit with a mega-church. My church is very conscious as we grow that that brings all sorts of problems. Over the last 10 years we've done 2 church plants and 2 satellite congregations. To be honest, I still think we have people from too wide an area. It would be amazing if we could be like this but all drawn from the local community, and if there were more gospel centred churches all over the city that people could make their home (not that there aren't quite a few, just we need more!)

366StormRaven
May 31, 2012, 4:18pm Top

While I'm sure there is some amount of sheep rustling, and of course migration, there are also huge numbers of people not from christian backgrounds coming to faith.

This does not, at least in the U.S. tally with the available data. Church membership in the U.S. is declining across the board. Some denominations are losing members faster than others (and a few are gaining), but taken as a whole, church membership and attendance is declining.

367nathanielcampbell
Jun 1, 2012, 2:48pm Top

Somewhere deep within this thread (I've forgotten precisely where or by whom) it was suggested that the future of Christianity lies in realizing that it is no longer the big fish in the pond but one of several mid-sized fishes that need to get along in order for all to survive. I was reminded, both by that suggestion and by the late return of the discussion to the future of Christianity, of the following suggestions in a 1969 essay titled "What Will the Church Look Like in 2000?":
From the crisis of today the Church of tomorrow will emerge—a Church that has lost much. It will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. It will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices it built in its palmy days. As the number of its adherents diminishes, so will it lose many of its social privileges. In contrast to an earlier age, it will be seen much more as a voluntary society, entered only by free decision. As a small society it will make much bigger demands on the initiative of its individual members. Undoubtedly it will discover new forms of ministry, and will ordain to the priesthood approved Christians who pursue some profession. In many smaller congregations or in self-contained social groups, pastoral care will normally be provided in this fashion. Alongside this, the full-time ministry of the priesthood will be indispensable as formerly. But in all of the changes at which one might guess, the Church will find its essence afresh and with all conviction in that which was always at its center: faith in the triune God, in Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, in the presence of the spirit until the end of the world. (…)

The Church will be a more spiritualized Church, not presuming upon a political mantle, flirting as little with the Left as with the Right. It will be hard going for the Church, for the process of crystallization and clarification will cost it much valuable energy. It will make it poor and cause it to become the Church of the meek. The process will be all the more arduous, for sectarian narrow-mindedness as well as pompous self-will will have to be shed. One may predict that all of this will take time. The process will be long and wearisome (…). But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church. People in a totally planned world will find themselves unspeakably lonely. If they have completely lost sight of God, they will feel the whole horror of their poverty. Then they will discover the little flock of believers as something wholly new. They will discover it as a hope that is meant for them, an answer for which they have always been searching in secret.

And so it seems certain to me that the Church is facing very hard times. The real crisis has scarcely begun. We will have to count on terrific upheavals. But I am equally certain about what will remain at the end: not the Church of the political cult, which is dead already (…), but the Church of faith. It may well no longer be the dominant social power to the extent that it was until recently; but it will enjoy a fresh blossoming, and be seen as humanity’s home where they will find life and hope beyond death.
The author of those words was Joseph Ratzinger, on pp. 103-106 of Faith and the Future. (I've analyzed Ratzinger's ideas on church reform and their relationship to medieval theologies of history here.)

368Arctic-Stranger
Jun 1, 2012, 3:08pm Top

One of my priest friends says that the battle in the Catholic church now is between those who want to be more inclusive, and those who are want to be more exclusive. On the one side, there are those, my friend among them, who are trying to create a place where Catholics who have been burned by the church in one way or another can come and find healing. His is the largest RC congregation in town, or it was until he was transferred by the Bishop to a small town about 100 miles from here. He would say that the "other side" is saying, "screw the people, we need to maintain our historic identity."

The other side, and I will try to be fair here, is all about maintaining historic, traditional identity as Roman Catholics. Giving in to the forces of social pressure on issue like homosexuality will dilute the power of the Church--ironically, it can only be powerful if it refuses to pick up the mantle of worldly popularity.

Ratzinger definitely falls in the latter category, and as this shows, if the Church's stance on social issues drives people away, then so be it.

369johnthefireman
Jun 1, 2012, 3:09pm Top

>367 nathanielcampbell: Thanks, Nathaniel, for reminding us of Ratzinger's words. I often quote him on the primacy of individual conscience. There are hidden depths in his writings. I sometimes wonder whether he still remembers them!

370timspalding
Edited: Jun 1, 2012, 3:15pm Top

Ratzinger talked a lot about pruning the church down and getting smaller. Unfortunately, he's done even more as Pope to achieve that.

Much the same can be seen diocese-by-diocese. Eight years ago, Maine got a new, conservative bishop. Eight years later we've gone from 234,000 to 187,000 Catholics—a 20% loss. The Cathedral's school closed down too. The bishop's campaign against gay marriage was been a major factor in that decline. He's now being promoted, so, I suppose, he can do the same to Buffalo.

371nathanielcampbell
Edited: Jun 1, 2012, 4:12pm Top

>369 johnthefireman: and 370: It's interesting to see how you each go in opposite directions in interpreting the relationship between Ratzinger's ideas of church reform in 1969 and his actions as pontiff. Tim seems to see the hardliner in nuce, while John seems to see the post-conciliar college professor as more radically reformist than today's conservative German Shepherd.

For what it's worth (and this is what I've argued in the essay I linked to above), I tend to agree with John's interpretation, based mainly on the medieval thinkers who shaped Ratzinger's vision in the 50's and 60's (e.g. Bonaventure, Joachim of Fiore, and Hildegard of Bingen). I am inclined to believe that, had he remained a professor of theology like Hans Kung instead of climbing (or being forced up) the hierarchy, he would have been a more vocal advocate of more radical forms of reform.

372jburlinson
Jun 1, 2012, 3:58pm Top

> 367. So, based on the quotation from the Pope in ovo, would it be fair to say that the "the Church of tomorrow" is not the Church of today. Since it will "start afresh more or less from the beginning," do you think that process has already begun?

373nathanielcampbell
Jun 1, 2012, 4:19pm Top

>372 jburlinson:: Since it will "start afresh more or less from the beginning," do you think that process has already begun?

It's not so much that the process has already begun as that the process has never ended. The history of Christianity from its very beginning can be told as a continual cycle of creation, fall, and restoration: the apostolic age of holiness, decayed by abuse and corruption, renewed by reform and a return to apostolic holiness. Thus, the "dialectical triad of building up, falling away, and restoration" (to quote Horst Dieter Rauh) is a key historical principal, not only foreshadowed but foreordained, as it were, in the process of Creation, Fall, and Redemption at the heart of salvation history. (I've analyzed this idea more extensively in the second part of my essay on Benedict, Hildegard, and church reform, which you can read here.)

374timspalding
Edited: Jun 1, 2012, 4:37pm Top

Worth reading:

NCR: "Is the Roman Catholic Church downsizing into a sect?"
http://ncronline.org/blogs/grace-margins/roman-catholic-church-downsizing-sect

"Start afresh more or less from the beginning" surely calls to mind the early church. But somehow I don't see the rapid expansion of Christianity being about a small church in a defensive crouch against the contemporary world. Quite the reverse: Christianity embraced the world—a new world, even. Traditional Christians considered Paul an apostate for imagining that salvation through Christ was possible for uncircumcised gentiles who didn't obey the Law, like Jesus did. Christianity embraced the world and figured out how salvation applied to it. When it hit new ideas, like Greek philosophy, it adapted, even swallowed, them. Sure, the church taught and urged virtue on all. But the people who wanted a smaller, purer church, such as the Donatists, were soundly rejected.

375baron770
Jun 1, 2012, 4:45pm Top

> 370 Where did the catholics go? Should I tell my catholic friends to start looking for new churches in Buffalo? Some in Buffalo are still upset over church consolidation. But then the catholic church in Buffalo is shrinking, schools are closing. I think 2 or 3 in the Buffalo area will close at the end of this school year. What is a Bishop to do? I believe this is a problem all over the U.S. for the Roman Catholic Church.

376johnthefireman
Jun 9, 2012, 12:17am Top

From today's Grauniad - transgender in Pakistan and gay rap in new York.

378johnthefireman
Jun 9, 2012, 12:49am Top

>377 lawecon: I happened to be in Brighton on the UK's south coast during the Gay Pride parade there a couple of years ago. I (and the crowd, judging by the level of applause) was particularly moved by the participation of so many firefighters and police.

379johnthefireman
Edited: Jun 12, 2012, 1:15am Top

Anglicans threaten rift with government over gay marriage (Guardian)

Church says introducing same-sex marriage legislation could lead to it being forced out of traditional wedding role

Church of England warning on gay marriage (BBC)

Government proposals for gay marriage would dilute an institution "vastly" important to a healthy society, the Church of England has warned.

380lawecon
Jun 12, 2012, 3:08am Top

~379

Yes, indeed. We haven't seen anything like this since the White Southern American Churches (mostly Baptist, of course) were coming out in favor of segregation now, segregation forever.

I suspect the Boer Reform Churches played a similar role. How did that work out for them, incidentally?

381johnthefireman
Jun 12, 2012, 3:46am Top

>380 lawecon: The Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa was generally pro-apartheid. There were of course courageous individuals who stood out against their church and culture and suffered ostracism and worse for their pains - Beyers Naudé is one of the best known. Since 1994 the DRC has publicly confessed and repented, I believe.

Other mainstream churches (including Catholics and Anglicans) probably colluded with apartheid without actually endorsing it, until they reached a certain point where it became clear that sitting on the fence was no longer an option so they took a prophetic stance against apartheid. Archbishop Desmond Tutu needs no introduction; Archbishop Denis Hurley from the Catholic Church is perhaps less well known outside South Africa.

382johnthefireman
Jun 12, 2012, 8:52am Top

A beautiful quote from African Jesuit priest Fr Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator, whom I had the privilege of meeting last month in Juba:

The multi-dimensional, multi-cultural, and multi-ethnic constitution of the community called church invites us to a feast of diversity and celebration of plurality, spread out on the table of mutuality, appreciation, and gratitude for each human being as Imago Dei. I believe that it lies within the realm of possibility to transform our church into a truly catholic and richly texture patchwork of different genders, races, generations, orientations, ministries, and faith traditions that signify the saving presence of God in our midst.

He first admits that As a church {...} we surreptitiously but tenaciously rehearse the politics of discrimination and exclusion and On the evidence of current events, this ‘socially constituted,’ hierarchically regimented, dogmatically policed, and clerically asphyxiated community called church increasingly signifies hurt and pain for some people of God on account of their vulnerability, silence and intimidation for others on account of their honest engagement in the venerable task of fides quarens intellectum, and exclusion and marginalization for many, very many, on account of their gender, race, or social location, but nevertheless believes that the Church is undergoing a paradigm shift resembling an eccesial Copernican revolution.

http://ncronline.org/news/african-theologian-questions-church%E2%80%99s-exclusio...

383lawecon
Edited: Jun 12, 2012, 9:48am Top

~381

">380 lawecon: The Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa was generally pro-apartheid. There were of course courageous individuals who stood out against their church and culture and suffered ostracism and worse for their pains - Beyers Naudé is one of the best known. Since 1994 the DRC has publicly confessed and repented, I believe."

How nice. Just like the Lutheran Church in Germany after WWII and, eventually - a hundred plus years later - the White Southern Baptist Churches in the US.

To quote a popular bumpersticker, I wonder what Jesus would have done, and whether he would have had occasion to confess and repent under such circumstances.........

But that is the advantage of Christianity over Judaism. In Judaism you have to make amends for your sins before your repentance counts as repentance. In Christianity you just have to confess and say some words.

384johnthefireman
Jun 12, 2012, 9:53am Top

>383 lawecon: In Christianity you just have to confess and say some words

Well, no. Although we don't place human limits on God's forgiveness, so it might be correct at that level to say that "you just have to confess", in practice one probably would expect to see some practical signs of repentance, ie making amends. I don't know what the Dutch Reformed Church has done in practice, though.

385lawecon
Jun 12, 2012, 10:03am Top

~384

I suspect that they have done just as much as the Lutheran Church did in Germany or the White Southern Baptist Churches did in the US. They are really really sorry that some previous people made some mistakes, and they are graciously willing to say so.

386johnthefireman
Jun 12, 2012, 10:05am Top

>385 lawecon: You may be right. In the whole Truth and Reconciliation Commission process one of the greatest failures was the lack of reparations, which never materialised.

387jburlinson
Jun 12, 2012, 12:45pm Top

> 383. In Judaism you have to make amends for your sins before your repentance counts as repentance. In Christianity you just have to confess and say some words.

It's impossible to make amends for anything. Any action on my part sets in motion a web of counter actions and reactions that are impossible either to forsee or to assess, or even to catalog properly. Even some of the vilest behaviors can occasion all sorts of unintended consequences, pro and con, that can play out for years, possibly generations. One can never "go back to zero" through some act of atonement. It's just impossible.

It could be that Christianity recognizes that fact and isn't as preoccupied with the past and trying to pursue the chimera of "justice."

388timspalding
Jun 12, 2012, 12:55pm Top

In Judaism you have to make amends for your sins before your repentance counts as repentance. In Christianity you just have to confess and say some words.

Not really. Indeed, a remarkably ignorant description for someone who discusses religion all the time.

389Arctic-Stranger
Jun 12, 2012, 1:24pm Top

Coming from someone as smart as LE I am sure it was a jab, not a description.

390lawecon
Jun 12, 2012, 8:57pm Top

~387

"It could be that Christianity recognizes that fact and isn't as preoccupied with the past and trying to pursue the chimera of "justice.""

Ah yes, the "chimera of justice." Heaven forbid that one should imagine justice as other than a purely abstract divine attribute.

391lawecon
Jun 12, 2012, 9:01pm Top

~388-89

No, really, I'd like to hear what you say about this topic.

What I am, of course, referring to is the Jewish requirement that sins that hurt men as well as G-d first be compensated for, sometimes in multiples of the material harm done. I am not talking about Hail Marys or Our Fathers or equivalent, I am talking about - you steal your neighbor's goat, you start your repentance by restoring to him 4 goats.

If there is something equivalent in Christianity I've missed it. Please help enlighten this ignorant one.

392Arctic-Stranger
Jun 12, 2012, 9:06pm Top

Well, you could start by acknowledging the notion of Christian repentance.

393lawecon
Jun 12, 2012, 9:18pm Top

I recognize that Christians must say that they repent, and that they must do things consistent with that repentance - such as getting up before a congregation and confessing their sins or doing the tasks assigned by a Priest in the confessional.

What we were and are talking about, however, is recompense to other men as a necessary condition of repentance for sins involving harm to other men. Could we keep to that topic?

So help me out. My account is "remarkably ignorant" and "a jab" rather than a serious distinction. HOW is it "remarkably ignorant" and not serious. Please be specific and point me to the NT verses or the creedal provisions requiring recompense to injured parties as a necessary condition for repentance.

I'd really like to be educated, since I've long believed that this is one of the key distinctions between Judaism and Christianity. Obviously that must be facially wrong given your and Tim's reactions.

394timspalding
Edited: Jun 12, 2012, 10:20pm Top

In Judaism you have to make amends for your sins before your repentance counts as repentance. In Christianity you just have to confess and say some words.

I won't speak to all Christian theology, but here's something of Catholic, and I strongly suspect, Orthodox theology on the topic.

You seem stuck on the notion of saying things—saying you're sorry, saying prayers, etc. I think both AS and I find that objectionably hostile. First, when it comes to confession—either to a priest or not—saying isn't enough; you have to actually be sorry. If you aren't sorry—which is often clear to you when you sin again and again!—you aren't forgiven. Second, you clearly believe penance is about saying prayers. It can be, and I think it is especially so when your sins are primarily interior, but priests regularly require other sorts of penances—requiring acts of charity, "works of mercy" and so forth. Sometimes these will be for the person you wronged, but not always.

On the question of goats, see the Catholic Catechism 1459: "Many sins wrong our neighbor. One must do what is possible in order to repair the harm (e.g., return stolen goods, restore the reputation of someone slandered, pay compensation for injuries). Simple justice requires as much. But sin also injures and weakens the sinner himself, as well as his relationships with God and neighbor. Absolution takes away sin, but it does not remedy all the disorders sin has caused. Raised up from sin, the sinner must still recover his full spiritual health by doing something more to make amends for the sin: he must "make satisfaction for" or "expiate" his sins. This satisfaction is also called 'penance.'"

So, in Catholicism at least, you owe that man his goat back, and owe whatever the civil law says you owe—Christianity always assumes a separate civil legal system, whether Jewish or not. Then you owe something more, to reconcile the relationship with God broken by your sin. It might be goats, in which case they might go to the person you wrong, or they might go a poor person who has no goats. Or you might be obligated to teach someone with one goat how to make goat cheese.

It is true that Christianity is concerned with state of mind—with intention and a change of heart. That is, if you said what you needed to say and made even your four-goat recompense, but weren't actually sorry about what you did, or had some other motive in mind, you would not be forgiven. I don't believe Jesus is quotable on this topic, but he says similar things over and over—technical observance of the Law is moot or even aggravates your sin if your heart isn't in it. Similarly if you intend to right the wrong (ie., the requirement of simple justice) and also intend to do the penance but die on your way to doing both, Catholicism understands you to be forgiven of the sin. So I suppose we get one free raft of sins, in between our last confession and our heart attack on the steps of the church. That might be the difference.

395Osbaldistone
Jun 12, 2012, 11:22pm Top

>387 jburlinson: It could be that Christianity recognizes that fact and isn't as preoccupied with the past and trying to pursue the chimera of "justice."

I was bummed by this line in your post, in that it reflected a cynicism I'd not picked up in your other comments on various threads. But, I thought about it a bit, read a bit, re-read your post, and now I'm not sure how to take it.

What does the Lord require of you? To do justice, to love kindness (mercy), and walk humbly with your God.

Since I think this line of discussion will take us far away from the OP, I'm starting a new thread here regarding "what does the Lord require of us when it comes to doing justice?"

Os.

396lawecon
Jun 13, 2012, 3:59am Top

~394

As usual, Tim, you are picking out parts of a question to answer and ignoring the other parts.

Yes, I find it very interesting that one paragraph in the Catholic Catechism makes it clear that some degree of recompense is necessary for repentance. I have to admit that I have never seen such a doctrine before in a Christian Creed. But it is curious that, if this is a well recognized and abided by doctrine, it is such a fleeting reference, and the one paragraph touching on it then quickly moves back to absolution.

Further, Tim, you yourself seem to believe that the recompense can be to, ah, just anyone. If you harm Joe, you can do something nice for Sally to make up for the harm you did to Joe. What a curious doctrine, but I guess it is consistent with a belief that one man-god can make himself into a blood sacrifice for the sins of all of humanity.

Also, Tim, if you will reread what I said several times above it had to do with necessary conditions. Not with sufficient conditions. Recompense is always necessary in Judaism to obtain repentance from a sin that has injured your neighbor. It is, of course, not sufficient, but it is necessary.

Finally, Tim, you can't really expect people to believe you when you say: "Christianity always assumes a separate civil legal system, whether Jewish or not." As you know, that is historically untrue. From Constantine down to the Reinnaisance the Church and State were fused in most places where Christianity dominated, just like mosque and state were fused in classical Islam. Some cynics might point out that this was simply the continuation of a pattern that existed in the ancient empires, and that it was, in a sense, the whole point of an official religion.

397johnthefireman
Jun 13, 2012, 4:05am Top

>396 lawecon: lawecon, reading some of your posts including this one, it seems to me that Judaism is a much more legalistic religion than Christianity. Even to the extent that Christianity is legalistic, it seems to be much more open to the spirit rather than the letter of the law. I don't mean that as a criticism, merely an observation, and apologies if it is an inaccurate characterisation of Judaism.

398lawecon
Jun 13, 2012, 4:40am Top

You are correct and you are not correct.

Judaism requires "legal" (Law specified) remedies for sins that harm others. It requires those remedies be paid to the injured party, or, if the injured party is not available, to their family. But as I said above in my remarks to Tim, that is a NECESSARY CONDITION, not a sufficient condition, for making amends for a sin.

As Tim hints at above, but does not elaborate, Judaism is about acts in the world. It is not primarily about thoughts, states of mind, intentions, etc. It is about what you DO.

Choices in Judaism are reflected in what you DO, not in what you believe or say or intend or whether you are in some essential, but never illustrated, respect an "intrinsically good person."

You repent in Judaism by making amends according to the specifications of the Law and then you are "sorry" by not transgressing again. You repent not by having a "change of spirit," but by having a change of behavior. You may, of course, apologize to your victim and to those you have otherwise betrayed, but what you say about the change in yourself is less important than what you DO going forward.

Similarly, most, not all, but most, sins are not purely "mental." One may sin by coveting your neighbor's wife, but the coveting is more than "lusting in one's heart."

In that sense Judaism is very legalistic. It deals with actual relations between concrete people when the transgressions have been against concrete people, and then it deals with the transgressions against G-d. But it deals with both in the same way. You make up for the harm done. You change your acts, not just your beliefs or "attitudes" apart from your acts.

399timspalding
Edited: Jun 13, 2012, 11:35am Top

>396 lawecon:

If you harm Joe, you can do something nice for Sally to make up for the harm you did to Joe. What a curious doctrine, but I guess it is consistent with a belief that one man-god can make himself into a blood sacrifice for the sins of all of humanity.

No, you must make up for the harm you did to Joe. Next misunderstanding, please.

Finally, Tim, you can't really expect people to believe you when you say: "Christianity always assumes a separate civil legal system, whether Jewish or not." As you know, that is historically untrue. From Constantine down to the Reinnaisance the Church and State were fused in most places where Christianity dominated, just like mosque and state were fused in classical Islam. Some cynics might point out that this was simply the continuation of a pattern that existed in the ancient empires, and that it was, in a sense, the whole point of an official religion.

Constantine didn't do away with Roman law and replace it with canon law. Not at all. Even the Papal states—surely the most exact "fusing"—had a separate civil and canon law. This isn't only the way it functioned but the way it had to function, for unlike Islam, canon law doesn't go in for specific provisions for most of the of things you find in civil law—lists of offenses, jail-times, etc. If you steal a goat canon law tells a priest how he is to discuss the matter in the confessional. It does not say what sort of simple restitution is appropriate. (Just return the goat? Two goats? Go to jail for theft? How long? Lie in the stocks? No answer.) Civil law provides those answers.

The separation was not absolute, as canon law did not deal exclusively with "spiritual affairs" and, although mileage varied, churchmen insisted canon law could trump civil law. But when it got into a civil issue, it often did so vaguely, or made reference to civil law stepping in where canon law ended. Certainly the link could get very odd. For example, as is well known, priests of the Spanish Inquisition were forbidden to shed blood. That would be a sin, they reckoned. So the process ended by handing the individual over to the civil government and, well, nobody had any illusions about what would happen.

400Osbaldistone
Edited: Jun 13, 2012, 1:18pm Top

>399 timspalding: So the process ended by handing the individual over to the civil government and, well, nobody had any illusions about what would happen.

Ahh...extraordinary rendition and "torture by proxy" way back then.

Os.

401jburlinson
Jun 13, 2012, 2:34pm Top

> 398. You make up for the harm done. You change your acts, not just your beliefs or "attitudes" apart from your acts.

Here's the point, though -- you CANNOT make up for the harm done. And part of the reason for that is that you can't even know what harm you may have caused.

Let's say you punched Joe in the face and gave him a concussion. The consequences of that could ramify out in multitudinous directions impossible to forsee or even to chronicle. Here's a brief quote from a lawyer's website: "In adults, deadlines are missed, jobs are lost, savings dwindle and nerves fray. Behavior regresses and becomes upredictable, unreliable, frequently inappropriate, and sometimes violent, role reversals are common. While only one family member may have sustained a brain injury the entire family suffers from its massive intrusion."
Brain Injury Law, Dangers of Concussion
.

None of your "acts" will make up for it, no more than your "beliefs or attitudes." The best that might come of it is that if you really do change your beliefs and attitudes, maybe you won't do it again.

402Osbaldistone
Jun 13, 2012, 2:47pm Top

>401 jburlinson:
Related to this line of discussion, (and here is a Protestant trying to relate Torah) the Torah often allows no amends if one was aware of the wrong. That it, the punishment is severe (often death or banishment) and restitution is not in the mix. Often, if one is unaware of the wrong (at the time), but becomes aware of it afterwards, the punishement is less severe as long as amends are made and purification rituals are followed. Even in the case of killing someone, if it was accidental, sanctuary cities were identified for the killer to run to and avoid revenge killing by a member of the wronged family (which appears to be accepted practice).

So, in such cases as above, it would seem that the thought/intent of the wrongdoer is critical in determining what the punishment is, but, more to the point, making up for the harm is only allowed if your intent was good prior to the harm.

I believe this type of distinction is most often made clear in Numbers (and perhaps Deuteronomy), but I could be wrong.

Os.

403Arctic-Stranger
Jun 13, 2012, 3:05pm Top

I think Jesus was pretty big on making restitution. Zacchaeus gives back four times what he took from people. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus says if you are making an offering and you realize your brother has something against you, go and be reconciled and then come back and finish your offering.

404jburlinson
Jun 13, 2012, 3:14pm Top

> 403. if you are making an offering and you realize your brother has something against you, go and be reconciled and then come back and finish your offering.

This is where forgiveness comes in. Forgiveness implies, at least to me, that true and equitable redress is impossible, so therefore one must forgive what cannot be compensated for. And Jesus makes clear that the need for forgiveness is virtually limitless.

405Osbaldistone
Jun 13, 2012, 5:02pm Top

>404 jburlinson:
Good point. If full restitution is made, forgiveness is not necessary. But truly full restitution is virtually never possible. Unless one restores what was taken before the injured party is aware of the injury, at a minimum there is the experience of mental/emotional pain and anquish which cannot be erased.

Os.

406timspalding
Jun 13, 2012, 9:41pm Top

If full restitution is made, forgiveness is not necessary

If you steal and return it, you have still stolen and that sin separates you from God. So while you may not owe the person you stole from something, you owe God and yourself the opportunity to repair that relationship.

407Osbaldistone
Jun 14, 2012, 12:45am Top

>406 timspalding:

Sorry, I was unclear - full restitution would mean that the repair was made. As I said, it would be the rare mis-deed for which full restitution would even be possible.

Example - I used to park my motorcyle outside the Engineering building on campus, leaving my helmet and the books I didn't need on the seat. I did this for about a year. Then one day, I came out from my class and my helmet had been stolen. Oddly enough, it was returned the next day. This would seem like full restitution. However, from that day onward, I carried both the helmet and a backpack full of books to my classes because now I felt vulnerable, where before I felt a wonderful sense of community every time I returned to find all undisturbed. Full restitution was not possible - my sense of trust had been eroded - though it was comforting to know that someone had second thoughts about what they had done, and tried to make it right. Had the helmet been returned before I was aware of it, that would have been full restitution, as I would have continued as if nothing had happened.

Os.

408lawecon
Jun 14, 2012, 1:46am Top

~401

Yes, indeed, jburlinson, you've told us in several threads now. Nothing is really possible.

409lawecon
Edited: Jun 14, 2012, 2:24am Top

~402

You apparently need to relate a bit more. As I said above (or perhaps it is in a related thread), there are certain sorts of sins relating to causing severe bodily injury or causing death that are, indeed, difficult to compensate for.

You are quite right, in prerabbinical Judaism, the remedy for such acts was outlawerly. The protection of the law was removed from the person responsible for the act, except for the cities of refuge. Sins against others that result in the permanent debilitation or death of another are very very serious - they are "cardinal sins."

In the case of premeditated killing, the tribe itself kills the perpetrator and there is no city of refuge. As I also said above, or in the other thread, the legal consequences for such acts was avoided in rabbinical Judaism by the Court using every sort of evidentiary barrier to finding such act. It is, however, unclear to me which evil is worse - the execution of the premeditated murderer or the intentional legal failure to execute the premeditated murderer. I am glad you do not suffer from that dilemma.

But it is amazing to me that you somehow then think that this same distinction occurs with respect to all sins resulting in injury to others. It doesn't. Nor does it in contemporary tort law. You may want to look up "intentional torts" in contemporary law. What you have to intend is only the predicate act, not the harm. The harm is presumed. There is no intent element, as in premeditation to commit murder.

410lawecon
Jun 14, 2012, 2:04am Top

~404

Yes, and as you've made clear elsewhere, forgiveness and redress, in your view, is never possible without Jesus - a truly ridiculous position.

411lawecon
Jun 14, 2012, 2:10am Top

~405

Once again, a certain sort of Christianity rears its ugly head.

Jesus is the solution to a problem that seldom if ever occurs. G_d cannot be reconciled to the sinner, to anyone that ever commits any sin. Even his fellow men cannot be reconciled to the sinner. Injuries are permanent. Injuries cannot be recompensed, and forgiveness of G-d or man is impossible in the pre-Jesus universe.

Jesus is the only answer to a question that, ah, never occurred before someone made up these silly doctrines.

Like the "day is a thousand years" doctrine, this is an argument that is better unused, since no one who thinks about it is very impressed.

412johnthefireman
Jun 14, 2012, 2:13am Top

>410 lawecon: lawecon, do you also find ridiculous (as opposed to merely disagreeing with) the opinion held by many Christians that forgiveness comes through the Christ event (in the sense that this is the vehicle which God chose) but that it is available to all regardless of whether they explicitly acknowledge the Christ or not?

Would a (poor) analogy be that employees who are not part of the trade union and indeed may even disagree with the concept of trade unions still benefit from the pay rise negotiated by the union?

413lawecon
Edited: Jun 14, 2012, 2:36am Top

~407

"Example - I used to park my motorcyle outside the Engineering building on campus, leaving my helmet and the books I didn't need on the seat. I did this for about a year. Then one day, I came out from my class and my helmet had been stolen. Oddly enough, it was returned the next day. This would seem like full restitution. However, from that day onward, I carried both the helmet and a backpack full of books to my classes because now I felt vulnerable, where before I felt a wonderful sense of community every time I returned to find all undisturbed. Full restitution was not possible - my sense of trust had been eroded - though it was comforting to know that someone had second thoughts about what they had done, and tried to make it right. Had the helmet been returned before I was aware of it, that would have been full restitution, as I would have continued as if nothing had happened."

You are quite right. Judaism does not account for purely psychic harms, any more than it acknowledges purely psychic sins . It requires that people act judiciously to start with, and that they do not blame others when they act foolishly. For instance, most of us "in the West" do not live in true communities these days, we live in mass societies of mutual anonymity. That is the basis of most social science, like Economics. You may wish it is different, and you can always relocate to a type of society where it is different, but in this society, where we daily pass by and have limited interactions with people we don't know, have seldom if ever seen before, and will seldom if ever see again, that is the way things are.

Judaism also requires that men and women who do in fact live in "communities" not become permanently fearful of the men and women around them if they are once injured. Not only is recompense required, usually in multiples of the harm done, but forgiveness is expected, indeed required, if the recompense is paid and the sin is shown to be sincerely repented, That is considered, in Judaism, as acting as a mensch (an adult). The Jewish system is for mensches, not for children. Some interpretations of other relational systems may differ.

414Osbaldistone
Jun 14, 2012, 2:32am Top

>411 lawecon:
What? I said nothing about Christianity, Jesus as the solution, a problem that seldom if ever occurs, God cannot be reconciled to the sinner, fellow man cannot be reconciled to the sinner, etc. etc. I assume you were already thinking down that path and my post seemed to fit, but you misunderstand.

What I said was simply that when wrong is done to one by another, the memory of the wrong cannot be erased and, therefore, total restitution is virtually impossible (in many cases, the emotional/spiritual impact of the wrong is greater than the physical - see my somewhat oversimplified example in post 407). The only implied conclusion that I had in mind, which I thought was obvious from the referenced post no 404, is that forgiveness is, therefore, always needed. You may disagree with my conclusion that full restitution is rarely, if ever posssible, but to jump to the conclusion you did would make a distrustful person think you are simply constructing straw men so you can show how easily you can tear them down.

You will find from many of my previous posts that I am fully open to multiple paths to God. Jesus happens to be the one that works for me and a large number of seekers with similar cultural heritage, but I've not even entered that into my comments on this subject, much less any suggestion that God cannot be reconciled to the sinner. Again, in other posts, I've given thanks for grace which allows such reconciliation even when I am incapable of full restitution. I am also at the mercy of the injured party for forgiveness because, again, I cannot make the wrong cease to exist. Amends are made, restitution is made, apologies are made, forgiveness is requested. Once again simple human decency and God's capacity for grace rears its ugly head.

Os.

415lawecon
Jun 14, 2012, 2:34am Top

~412

I don't have to find it either ridiculous or otherwise, John. The issue of forgiveness for sins that the individual has never committed does not occur in my religion. There is no "original sin" or naturally evil nature of man. Sins that are committed by particular persons are either repented of and forgiveness results, or they are not repented of and forgiveness does not occur. There is no function for universal forgiveness, since there is no universal sin, only particular sins committed by particular individuals, through individual choice, and reconciliation achieve or not achieved, through individual choice.

I would, however, go a step further, John. The notion of a human sacrifice to make up for the sins of another is repugnant to the core of Judaism. Judaism always opposed human sacrifice. That was one of the distinctions between Judaism and adjacent religions that is repeated over and over and over in the Torah. It also opposed sacrificing another or another's property for your sins. You sin, you pay, you repent.

That G-d somehow demanded the sacrifice of a human being to "make up" for your sins and my sins, upon pain of your damnation and my damnation, is a truly perverse view of G-d the Just, G-d the Teacher, G_d the role model for you and I. Fortunately, my observations are that only a small sect of Christians believe in such perversity.

416Osbaldistone
Jun 14, 2012, 2:39am Top

>413 lawecon:
Got it. It was my fault that the helmet was stolen because I was childishly trusting; and it was my fault for not childishly trusting afterwards, even though I couldn't afford to have either my helmet or my books stolen, what with all my income going to pay tuition and such.

Os.

417lawecon
Jun 14, 2012, 2:49am Top

~414

"What I said was simply that when wrong is done to one by another, the memory of the wrong cannot be erased and, therefore, total restitution is virtually impossible (in many cases, the emotional/spiritual impact of the wrong is greater than the physical - see my somewhat oversimplified example in post 407). The only implied conclusion that I had in mind, which I thought was obvious from the referenced post no 404, is that forgiveness is, therefore, always needed. You may disagree with my conclusion that full restitution is rarely, if ever posssible, but to jump to the conclusion you did would make a distrustful person think you are simply constructing straw men so you can show how easily you can tear them down."

I am sorry that I misinterpreted what you said as what you said. What you said was that you use to leave your movable property unsecured in plain sight on your motorcycle until your helmet was stolen. You thereafter changed your habits and carried your property with you.

You clearly stated that this event constituted a harm to you - the harm being that you apparently felt compelled to start acting reasonably, when you previously felt you could act unreasonably with impunity. It was a harm to you that you "had to" change your behavior. You repeat above that you were harmed beyond recompense.

We disagree both as to your original expectation and to the reasonableness of your reaction. You don't say who needs to forgive to remedy the harm that you perceive was done to you, but may I suggest that perhaps it is you who need to forgive, and to minimize such harm to yourself in the future by acting more reasonably in the future. Until you can do that, I am sorry for your feeling of grief over finding out that people sometimes act with imperfect justice toward those with whom they have no connection.

418lawecon
Edited: Jun 14, 2012, 3:01am Top

~416

"Got it. It was my fault that the helmet was stolen because I was childishly trusting; and it was my fault for not childishly trusting afterwards, even though I couldn't afford to have either my helmet or my books stolen, what with all my income going to pay tuition and such."

Yes, it was your fault. You knew that many people passed by your motorcycle when you were in class. You knew that you had no personal connection with most of those people. You should have known that some of those people stole other people's property. No, you should not have continued to act foolishly. You shouldn't have acted foolishly to start with, and no one - neither G-d nor men - owe you some right to act foolishly and not suffer the easily foreseeable consequences.

I am having a very difficult time with this example of irredeemable injury to you from your foolishness. I am having a very negative reaction to you grounding a theology on your experience of wrong suffered through personal foolishness. As I said above, Judaism, and human society in general, is for adults - it is not for those who think that everyone is always good, and who are permanently spiritually injured when they find out that belief is silly. There is sin in the world. (Something that most of us know at an early age and that the rest of us learn by existing in any society for any reasonable period of time.) The question is what should be done about it. Bemoaning the realization that there is sin, and claiming that one has suffered permanent psychic injury by that realization is...... well, I'm forbidden by TOS to say what it is.

419Osbaldistone
Jun 14, 2012, 2:59am Top

>409 lawecon: But it is amazing to me that you somehow then think that this same distinction occurs with respect to all sins resulting in injury to others.

No, I said no such thing. In fact, I prefaced my conclusion with "So, in such cases as above...". I was also intentionally general about even those cases, because I was unsure if it only applied in cased of death. But the point remains - there are some sins in which the punishment depends upon what was in the mind of the wrongdoer. That was really the only point I wanted to make - that there is some basis for this type of 'sin' in Torah, though, as you point out, not as extensive as in the NT.

Os.

420Osbaldistone
Jun 14, 2012, 3:10am Top

>418 lawecon:
Obviously, I used a poor example for you. I suspect others see the point, so I am satisfied. Perhaps you should imagine the same story, except the theft took place in my home by an unidentified family member, and resulted in the appearance of trust issues within the family, thus preventing full restitution (in the way I used the term originally). I don't think such a scenario should result in a derailed discussion having to do with whether one should have been trusting in the first place, at least not based on the family I grew up in.

But, the point was always simply that sin against a person often results in non-physical harm that does not disappear when physical restitution is made (even to four times the original loss), and often physical restitution is all that the wrongdoer can make. Forgiveness, on the other hand, goes a long way towards healing the non-physical harm, and that forgiveness comes from the one harmed. A wonderful thing really. I accept that Judaism does not deal in such psychic harm. I simply observe that Christianity does. One more difference between these two major religions.

Os.

421Osbaldistone
Edited: Jun 14, 2012, 3:32am Top

>417 lawecon: Lawecon I am sorry that I misinterpreted what you said as what you said. What you said was that you use to leave your movable property unsecured...

You are pasting in later statements by me which neither you nor I had referred to in the previous posts leading to your response 411 and my response 414. I stand by my comments in 414, as they all stem from my comment 405 and your response 411. But at this point, it's probably pointless to try to extract my poorly chosen motorcycle helmet story from this discussion, since the naivete of my actions seem to have totally distracted you from the point that emotional/psychic harm can be done by one person to another, but can rarely be repared by the wrongdoer, but that repentence by the wrongdoer and forgiveness by the wronged are wonderfully healing. Please forget the helmet, as it does not seem to help me communicate with you.

Os.

ETA
To trust was commonplace and thought to be reasonable adult behaviour in the small college community in which this motorcyble helmet incident ocurred, where no one was a stranger (where students, professors, and janitorial staff sat down to lunch together). I was not unique in leaving my personal, minimally valuable possesions unattended while in class. I was not alone in the feeling of loss when it was realized that this period of trust in the life of the community was past. But I'm sure you know much better about how we should have behaved before and how we should have emotionally responded afterwards, and I am sorry for any childishness in my tale which seems to have driven you completely off the point.

422lawecon
Edited: Jun 14, 2012, 3:39am Top

~421

I think I understand what you've been saying, and I have already responded twice above. Psychic harm is experienced by those whose expectations have been disappointed. We all have expectations growing up. Some of those expectations are disappointed. That does not mean that our expectations made sense to start with or that others are responsible for our dreams and wishes.

None of that, that I can see, has anything to do with sin and recompense. Sin is defined in the Torah. You are commanded to do certain things. You are commanded not to do other things. If you break a commandment, certain remedies apply. If the commandment has to do with the welfare of another, those remedies are initially rendered to that other. If you perform those remedies and otherwise repent of your sin, the other sinned against person is expected to forgive you. If he cannot, he himself is sinning.

This to me is a complete system. It does not, of course, contain elements like permanent trauma that can never be recompensed. Such reactions are viewed in this system as at best childish and at worst as sinful in themselves (persistence in blaming another for a sin that has been recompensed and repented). Probably some schools of modern psychology would differ, but the Torah is not about psychology, it is about a just society and a just G-d.

So, again, while I understand what you are saying, I adamantly do not agree. I am sorry that you feel bad. I do not believe, however, that it is the duty of G-d or man to make you feel better beyond a certain point.

423johnthefireman
Jun 14, 2012, 3:40am Top

lawecon, you know from both private and public interactions that I quite often agree with you and that I find your interventions interesting and challenging even when I disagree, but I do find it tedious when it gets into one of these "I said/he said" dynamics and starts to look like a personal crusade to prove oneself right.

424Osbaldistone
Jun 14, 2012, 3:46am Top

Lawecon,
Without trying to get back to first comments, I want to ask about what I understood you to say about restitution. In your post 409, you seem to indicate that the idea of sins for which ammends cannot be made are Sins against others that result in the permanent debilitation or death of another are very very serious - they are "cardinal sins." If I'm wrong in my read of your post, then the rest of this post will be offbase.

Deuteronomy (19:15+ in my Bible) calls for death for bearing false witness against another if death would have been the result of the false testimony. No ammends are allowed, even though it 1) the case is one in which the accused was cleared, and 2) ammends seem quite possible. Later (21:18+), the rebellious son is stoned, even though it seems obvious that the rebellious son could have both been repentent and could have made ammends. I'd have to search, but I recall another passage in Deut. that called for the stoning of the woman along with the man who raped her. Here, it's not obvious that ammends is even called for by the woman.

I don't think this changes the discussion about the possibility or impossibility of "full restitution" that you and jburlison began, but it seemed that I have misread your statement about "against others that result in the permanent debilitation or death of another...", or have misread Deuteronomy and thought you could clarify your comments, at least.

Os.

425Osbaldistone
Edited: Jun 14, 2012, 4:04am Top

>422 lawecon:
I guess I've tried to explain further because I did not believe that you actually think that psychic harm only occurs when one's expectations have been disappointed. I cannot accept that and, though I hesitate to provide another example, years ago, a man climbed in an upstairs window of my sister's house (yes, she childishly and unknowingly left the window unlocked, so it must be her fault). She awoke with a knife to her throat. Amazingly, she was alert enough to realize that the knife had come from her kitchen, and she knew it was almost useless. She grabbed the knife by the blade with one hand and shoved the man away with the other, and then jumped out the window into a tree, screaming for help. The man ran out and was never caught. She was unconsolable for hours, unable to return to work or to her home for days, and eventually moved away due to the fear that the man was probably still out there.

I'm sorry, but I cannot accept your position that the harm done was the result of my sister's disappointed expectations. And I cannot accept that there was no 'sin' because there was no physical harm done (he didn't even steal the knife). So, you're right. We're just not going to be able to agree on this issue.

Os.

ETA
Against my better judgement, I did not make up a hypothetical in this post to avoid being derailed over a side issue that I wouldn't see coming. First, I think this true story is on target, and second, I just don't have the energy left to be so creative.

426johnthefireman
Jun 14, 2012, 3:58am Top

Thanks for sharing, Os. lawecon, you are in great danger of appearing to take the position that crime is the fault of the victim ("She was raped because she was wearing a short skirt, so it's her fault, not the fault of the rapist").

427lawecon
Edited: Jun 14, 2012, 4:04am Top

~423

I am afraid I don't quite get your point on this one, John.

As is repeatedly addressed above, jburlinson and Osbaldistone have one view of recompense or restitution (that it is, in principle, not possible, and thus that such considerations are theologically irrelevant). I have quite a different view (that it is possible, that it has little to do with permanent psychological injury, and that it is in many situations essential to repentance).

Osbaldistone tried to illustrate his view through an example that he now says I have misunderstood. Fine. Example forgotten.

But the theological differences are, in my view, fundamental differences that one should not be dismissed as a "personal crusade to prove oneself right."

Incidentally, John, nothing I said above was particularly personal. As a former Economist I am very sensitive to expectations that make sense in one context that make no sense in another context. The confusion over that sort of thing underlies most of the fundamental mistakes in peoples' misunderstanding of how social systems function and conceivably can function.

As illustrated in my last post above, as a Jew I am also very sensitive to people trying to muddle distinctions regarding justice and psychology. People may suffer in ways that are non physical, but from that it does not follow that such suffering should be accounted for in a system of justice.

428lawecon
Jun 14, 2012, 4:03am Top

~424

The passage from Deuteronomy describes a form of murder (intentional killing) using a court as the instrument of death. You lie in court about the guilt of another when you know, if your testimony is accepted, that the sentence will be execution. We've already been through the issues involved in murder. I guess I don't understand your confusion on this point.

429Osbaldistone
Jun 14, 2012, 4:07am Top

>427 lawecon:
My confusion is that the liar is killed even though the accused was not harmed. And you've made it claear that it couldn't be due to any psychic harm done by the false accusation.

Os.

430lawecon
Jun 14, 2012, 4:11am Top

~424

I am sorry, John, but we disagree.

The person who parks his car on a busy urban street with the windows down and the key in the ignition should not be heard to cry how injured he has been when the car is stolen. Insurance companies regularly make that distinction in paying or denying claims. They don't insure stupidity or gross negligence by the insured.

Similarly, to use a case near to your example, if a woman walks through a neighborhood that is well known for its frequent rapes without an escort and dressed in a short skirt, it is still a crime to rape her, but it is also grossly stupid on her part. Yes, she is "inviting" being raped. She is failing to exercise the judgment expected of ordinary adults in their right mind.

I am amazed that you think that the law is a substitute for prudence and common sense.

431lawecon
Edited: Jun 14, 2012, 4:38am Top

~429

I am sorry, but this is getting silly.

You lied before the Court to try to get someone executed. Your attempt to distinguish this case on the basis of whether the person was ultimately convicted is probably the difference between attempted murder and murder in our system. In the Torah system that distinction is not made.* I wouldn't even be surprised if you could find a passage that says you have to give back four goats if you steal one goat, and you have to give back three goats if you try to steal one goat but are stopped by another in the attempt.

Again, for the fourth or fifth time, the distinction is between act and intent. The sin is not that your thought about murdering someone or that your thought about stealing a goat, but that you acted to that end. That you were thwarted in your attempt is irrelevant. The distinction is not between act and effect. The act is the same whether or not you succeed. The remedy for the act is thus the same.

Similarly, the recompense is not measured by the particular harm done a particular victim. You must give back four goats whether the victim has a herd of 10,000 goats or whether the stolen or attempted stolen goat was his only goat. The recompense is for the sin, and is considered to be sufficient for the sin (along with subsequent repentance) it is not making psychically whole the sinned against.

=========================

* Added subsequently - I am curious if you would continue to see a distinction if the accused was convicted and sentenced to be executed, but before the sentence could be carried out he was freed by his friends overcoming his guards. Obviously there was "no harm" to him, right?

432johnthefireman
Jun 14, 2012, 4:19am Top

>430 lawecon: I'll let the feminists answer you on that one!

But no, I don't think the law is a substitute for prudence and common sense, but I do think it's a dangerous slippery slope to advocate the idea of victims "inviting" crime. At what point do prudence and common sense come in? That's a very subjective judgement call.

433lawecon
Edited: Jun 14, 2012, 4:43am Top

Well the tort system and the insurance system operate on those subjective judgments, so I guess they must have some objective element.

Frankly, I don't see much subjectivity. Doctrines like "assumption of risk" require a showing that the injured knew or should have reasonably known of the risk and proceeded as they did with knowledge of the risk. I suppose that a "hick" who had regularly lived in a small closely knit closed community where it was reasonable to leave his keys in the ignition of his car and go off for the day does not assume the risk of theft of his car if he acts similarly in his first visit to the big city. But the big city dweller does assume such risk.

434Osbaldistone
Jun 14, 2012, 4:40am Top

>431 lawecon:
No, it's not getting silly. You said you didn't understand my confusion, so I tried to better state it, that's all.

I'm afraid we've gotten two discussions cross-wired here. I was simply confused about your implying that the opportunity for making restitution was only lacking in cases of gross physical harm or murder, when I was aware of cases in Torah (and you've referred only to one of the cases I noted) where no physical harm whatsoever occurred. You had said "it is amazing to me that you somehow then think that this same distinction occurs with respect to all sins resulting in injury to others." I never intended to suggest "all sins" but my examples do seem to point to such a distinction for some sins without physical harm or murder. I was not trying to disprove you're statements regarding restitution and repentance, but simply trying to find out if I'd misunderstood your statement about physical harm or murder or had misread the cases from Deuteronomy which I cited.

So, to put it as simply as I can at this late hour - Would you agree that the lack of an opportunity in the law for restitution is not limited to 'sins' of physical harm and/or murder? Or, if you don't agree, then have I misunderstood the Deuteronomy texts cited in my earlier post?

As an aside, one benefit from your post 431 is that your comment about act and intent v act and effect does clear up for me a lot of issues in other posts in this discussion. If you have stated this four or five times before, either I missed it or it was not stated so clearly.

Os.

435Osbaldistone
Jun 14, 2012, 4:43am Top

>427 lawecon: Osbaldistone [has] one view of recompense or restitution (that it is, in principle, not possible, and thus that such considerations are theologically irrelevant)...I have quite a different view (that it is possible, that it has little to do with permanent psychological injury, and that it is in many situations essential to repentance).

I'm afraid of my support of one part of jburlinson's position (that FULL recompense is usually not possible, based on non-physical harm done) has led to the assumption that I believe that considerations of making ammends in addition to repentence are theologically irrelevant. I find making ammends, repentence, AND seeking forgiveness all to be "theologically relevent". I simply recongnize the need for grace (on the part of the wronged and as a gift from God) because true FULL recompense seems virtually impossible in most cases. It's the idea of FULL recompense on which you and I must agree to disagree.

Regarding your view (stated above), I disagree with part 1, that it is possible (at least most of the time) and part 2, that it has little to do with permanent psychological injury (which is really the basis for the disagreement of part 1), but I agree with part 3, that it is in many situations essential to repentance.

I'll have to go back and read jburlinson's comments on making ammends before I could even say if I agree or not with any of his reasons for, apparently, stating that restitution is theologically irrelevent. Given the late hour and the struggle to get to this point in my small part of the topic, I doubt that I'll do that. Tomorrow a fresh start.

Os.

436Osbaldistone
Jun 14, 2012, 4:47am Top

>433 lawecon: Well the tort system and the insurance system operate on those subjective judgments, so I guess in must have some objective element.

Yes, I always look to insurance companies for objectivity and common sense. ;-)

Now I'm just getting giddy. Going to bed.

Os.

437lawecon
Edited: Jun 14, 2012, 9:33am Top

~432

Once again, Osbaldistone, you seem to be confusing the sin and what you and jburlinson contend is the necessary psychic injury. As I've said several times now, the Torah deals with social relationships, not psychic injury. The recompense is recompense for the sin. It is sufficient on an objective law basis. It is like a "liquidated damage." You do this, the cost to you of having done that (the fine, if you prefer) is __________. That "makes up" for your sin (or, more accurately, is the first step in making up for your sin). When you have completed the process of paying recompense, apologizing, showing that your behavior has changed, etc. the sin will be no more (and, among other things, you won't burn eternally in Hell Fire for having once committed a sin).

I am sorry if you and jburlinson believe that is metaphysically insufficient and that humans are permanently traumatized by the sins that they suffer at the hands of others. I really can't do anything about that view, albeit I believe that it raises exceptional neurosis to the norm and diminishes the incentive to make amends for the actual social injury resulting from your sins.

But if that is your belief, go with it.

438jburlinson
Jun 14, 2012, 12:30pm Top

> 410. as you've made clear elsewhere, forgiveness and redress, in your view, is never possible without Jesus - a truly ridiculous position.

What strikes me as truly ridiculous is the notion that anyone can untangle even the simplest human events so as to proclaim with confidence: "I know exactly what happened; I know why it happened; I know how it happened; I know all the consequences of its happening; and, what's more, I know how to take steps to make amends for all harm and repair all damage, bringing satisfaction to all parties, plus, by taking those steps, I guarantee that no further damage will be done to anyone anywhere."

439jburlinson
Jun 14, 2012, 12:43pm Top

> 437. I am sorry if you and jburlinson believe that is metaphysically insufficient and that humans are permanently traumatized by the sins that they suffer at the hands of others.

There's nothing particularly metaphysical about it. I'd suggest reading an up-to-date textbook on neurology. It needs to be up-to-date, though, because the latest MRI technology is making major strides in detecting the most miniscule neuron damage. PTSD leaves physical footprints on the brain

440Osbaldistone
Jun 14, 2012, 1:18pm Top

>437 lawecon: (I assume you are responding to 435, not 432)

Lawecon -
I don't believe I have ever stated that Torah deals with psychic injury. And i don't think jburlinson has. What we have each said is that FULL recompense is virtually impossible and, thus, the need for repentence, restitution, asking forgiveness, and relying on God's grace that a Christian reads in the NT makes sense, especially considering what we've learned about the healing effect of repentence and forgiveness, and about the psychic harm done by what you see as purely physical 'sin'.

(warning - I may be putting words in jburlinson's mouth. apologies in advance for any error)
I agree with your assessment of law in Torah. And I truly do believe you see it as sufficient. I suspect jburlinson agrees with your assessment as well, and believes that you see it as sufficient (I don't see how either of us could miss it). I would hope that you understand that our assessment of NT indicates that another way of making ammends is needed (which does NOT eliminate the need or the value of purely physical restitution such as that dealt with in the Torah).

The only other area from this discussion where I think we disagree is that you see sin as only that defined in the Torah. Thus no harm, no foul if no physical damage (person or property). I (and, I believe, jburlinson) disagree with this. NT sets a higher (lower?) bar for sin by requiring that we strive for 'clean' minds as well.

Os.

441johnthefireman
Jun 16, 2012, 1:14am Top

Gay Tory MP challenges Church of England over intolerant language (Guardian)

Policing minister Nick Herbert urges caution in the language chosen when discussing same-sex marriage {...}

"I consider myself to be a Christian and I've never in my life felt more distant from the Church than I do at the moment."

442lawecon
Jun 16, 2012, 1:58am Top

"I don't believe I have ever stated that Torah deals with psychic injury. And i don't think jburlinson has. What we have each said is that FULL recompense is virtually impossible and, thus, the need for repentence, restitution, asking forgiveness, and relying on God's grace that a Christian reads in the NT makes sense, especially considering what we've learned about the healing effect of repentence and forgiveness, and about the psychic harm done by what you see as purely physical 'sin'."

I can only conclude that you haven't read anything I have written on this topic above. If you are unfamiliar with the notion of necessary conditions and sufficient conditions, you might want to look it up. I am only maintained that recompense is necessary to repentance for a sin that injures another human being, not that it is sufficient. The OTHER issue, of what constitutes sin, is addressed below. It is often wise to separate separate issues rather than mush them all together.

"The only other area from this discussion where I think we disagree is that you see sin as only that defined in the Torah. Thus no harm, no foul if no physical damage (person or property). I (and, I believe, jburlinson) disagree with this. NT sets a higher (lower?) bar for sin by requiring that we strive for 'clean' minds as well."

While the "as well" may be appropriate for the type of Christianity you espouse, I think that it is clearly unrepresentative of other sorts of Christianity. Jesus grants forgiveness. The Church grants forgiveness. That forgiveness is, as you have said, "complete." If it is complete, then nothing else is needed.

You are, however, quite right about sin, to a point.

Sin that injures another is a social harm, and it is fully atoned for through recompense and the other steps required for full repentance. If it were not, then the vengeance and blood feuds that Christians have traditionally deplored would be justified. You are only justifiably prohibited from seeking more if it is acknowledged that what is rendered is enough -is full recompense. If the injury persists, the remedy for the injury should rightfully also persist.

Sin that injures G-d, which, in some cases may be purely "psychic" sin, is another thing. However, not all sins are purely psychic, and most psychic deviations from perfection are not sins, since human beings are not G-d. Hence, a distinction is drawn in Judaism between "passing thoughts" and personality traits. Of course, there are no personality traits that are not ultimately manifested in acts.

443jburlinson
Jun 16, 2012, 5:15pm Top

> 442. Sin that injures another is a social harm, and it is fully atoned for through recompense and the other steps required for full repentance.

You keep saying this, but it simply isn't so; because full atonement is impossible, since recompense is impossible and the "other steps" are just arbitrary conditions determined by tradition.

There are so many examples of this on both the individual, familial, societal and national levels that it's hard to pick just one.

If it were not, then the vengeance and blood feuds that Christians have traditionally deplored would be justified.

They are justified, from the perspective of settling scores and trying to balance scales. That's where the concept of "justice" breaks down, because each successive attempt to "right the wrong" simply perpetuates the calamity while perpetrating new evils.

You are only justifiably prohibited from seeking more if it is acknowledged that what is rendered is enough -is full recompense. If the injury persists, the remedy for the injury should rightfully also persist.

When is it ever "acknowledged that what is rendered is enough"? Just take a couple of examples from American history -- the treatment of the native peoples and the enslavement of the Africans. These are obvious injustices that will never, ever be resolved this side of the river Jordan.

444Osbaldistone
Jun 16, 2012, 6:19pm Top

>442 lawecon: I can only conclude that you haven't read anything I have written on this topic above.

Lawecon,
If this were a true statement, then my post could only be related to your post by the most amazing coincidence? Assuming your comment was just hyperbole, I am left with the implication that you take offense with the cited text, as if it is misrepresenting your position, when it is almost totally a statement of my position. The only phrase that includes your view is the very last - "what you see as purely physical 'sin'".

To quote your post 413 - "You are quite right. Judaism does not account for purely psychic harms, any more than it acknowledges purely psychic sins." I already described my sister's "purely psychic" harm received with no physical harm ( which must seem like an amazing coincidence, considering I apparently "haven't read anything [you] have written on this topic"). So I believe (please correct me if I'm missing it again, even though I am reading your post) that you're objection is that I am inferring that you believe in only "purely physical sin". You may be right. If I were to go back and re-read all of your posts on this topic, I may find that you do believe in physical sin that includes psychic harm. Even so, you also (as I read your posts) believe that restitution required by Jewish law either accounts for the psychic harm somehow (perhaps the healing effects of restitution and forgiveness that we've both mentioned), or that Jewish law does not address psychic harm. If it is the latter, my statement stands. If it is the former, I stand corrected (but still claim to have read your posts, regardless of you conclusion). If it is the former, I'm left to wonder what you think about the purely psychic harm done in the example of my sister's narrow escape from rape. You never commented on that as far as I can tell.

Os.


445lawecon
Edited: Jun 17, 2012, 12:09am Top

~444

Os, I've explained several times now that the sin is the sin of the sinner. It is not the sin of the harmed. The question I've been talking about is whether the sinner can sin by a thought. He cannot. There is no psychic sin in Judaism. You can lust in your heart all you want without committing a sin against another. Only acts can constitute sins. Even terms like "covet" appear to be more than purely psychic. They are not MERELY thoughts, albeit they may initiated by a thought.

I guess I have no idea what you have been talking about.

Now with regard to sins against other people that actually occur, rather than just "occur" in the psychic world of the sinner, the Torah specifies what is required for full repentance, part of which is recompense.

You can, of course, disagree and contend that sins can never be effectively redeemed, and approve of human phenomenon such vengeance and and blood feuds, as apparently does jburlinson in #443. The Torah does not approve. Forgiveness is REQUIRED of those sinned against if the sinner fully repents.

The system is symmetrical. That is what is called "civilization." The injuring party "pays the price," the injure's injury is no longer cognizable to the Law. There is no indefinitely continuing injury regardless of anything else.

Personally, I really don't see an alternative outside of some sort of religious-psychological theory of "healing," grounded in something that most professional psychologists would reject e.g., a claim that some divine entity has cured what no act of men could cure. Again, this theory may be "orthodox" Christianity, or it may be some peculiar variant thereon, but it must operate at some "metaphysical" level where it is taken as given that every sin indefinitely propagates itself until cut off by some magical force.

========================

~443

Oh, one other reaction, this time strictly in response to jburlinson's statements that "Just take a couple of examples from American history -- the treatment of the native peoples and the enslavement of the Africans. These are obvious injustices that will never, ever be resolved this side of the river Jordan."

Sins are between individuals. Some sins are never repented, and then both the sinner and the sinned against die. None of that is remarkable. As you say, there is no remedy "short of the Jordan," by which I assume that you mean the day of judgment. That is, of course, entirely irrelevant to anything in this discussion. I, at least, have been talking about sins that are fully repented, not sins that are not repented and are probably not regretted by the sinner.

446johnthefireman
Jun 17, 2012, 2:05am Top

>445 lawecon: Sins are between individuals

That's one take, presumably the Jewish one. But Christianity (or at least some manifestations thereof) allows for social sin and institutional sin, and it's in this context that some of the contemporary discussion of original sin takes place.

447Osbaldistone
Jun 17, 2012, 2:13am Top

>445 lawecon:
Lawecon,

I think we're close to understanding each other, and there will always be points of disagreement. You might go straight to my attempt to summarize (at the end of this post), but the basis for the summary follows:

The idea you stated that terms like 'covet' appear to be more than purely psychic is new to this argument and to me. What I read in scripture (though shalt not covet) seems pretty much a sin of thought, but you have found more there than I have. You have essentially said that you can covet your neighbors wife all you want as long as you take no physical action. This seems to undercut the central meaning of one of the Ten Words. If coveting turns into action, it becomes theft, which is already covered in one of the other of the Ten Words, so I'm unclear how coveting with action is different from theft (attempted, at least).

I'm not sure who suggested the 'sin of the harmed' that you refer to. I think we've all been talking about the sin of the sinner all along.

I have no argument with the fact that the Torah specifies what is to be done as full repentence for sin against another person. Christianity requires more or different (depending on some interpretation) action for full repentence, but I think we already agreed that Christianity and Judaism are not identical in what is required for a sinner to fully repent.

My belief that most sins cannot be fully recompensed in no way means that they cannot be fully repented and fully forgiven; that is what grace (and, as you say, the Law) is all about. Nothing I've said would suggest that I or Christianity "approve of human phenomenon such vengeance and blood feuds". I was surprised in my last reading of Torah that blood feuds are apparently expected and not forbidden - they are referred to as the normal outcome of a violent death (even accidental) unless the killer gets to a sanctuary city safely. Even then, if the killing was not accidental, the sanctuary city is to reject the killer so the blood price can be 'collected' by the dead persons family/representative. I know of nothing in the NT that would support this, other than general statements about retaining the Law. NT 'law' requires that we turn the other cheek, love our enemies, etc. As humans in general, Christians are not good at this, but Christanity does require it.

Forgiveness is REQUIRED of those sinned against if the sinner fully repents

I know of nothing in the NT that eliminates this requirement of the Law. If such is in the NT, the vast majority of Christians that I have been in community with my entire adult life would still expect forgiveness to be given to the true repentent.

There is no indefinitely continuing injury regardless of anything else.

Obviously we are talking cross purposes here. I agree that the Torah does not recognize any "indefinitely continuing injury regardless of anything else" once repentence and forgiveness are complete. This is an insight I received from you. I simply have stated several times that psychic injury does not disappear simply because the Law does not recognize it. What it takes to overcom this varies from person to person and varies with the injury. Repentence and forgiveness are a necessary (and sometimes sufficient) part of overcoming psychic injury, but this statement is not a statement of theology or Law, nor a statement regarding the adequacy of religious practice or Law, but simply reflects experience and what has become part of common Christian practice (and, I believe, common civilized human practice).

Regarding your last para. beginning with "Personally...", most, if not all Christians would not be concerned if most psychologists reject the possibility of divine action leading to healing. Believing that such is possible and does occur does not mean rejection of the repentence and forgiveness required by the Torah, or that such repentence and forgiveness does not eliminate the original injury, at least in some cases. I am, however, pretty sure that the history of Christianity is full of examples of divine action leading to full healing. Many Christians do not believe that any of this is true, and I think you are saying that Judiasm does not accept any such event. Many (and I am one of these) do not believe that all of these are true. Many believe that all are true and that it is occurring more often than reported/recorded. Perhaps I'm misapplying this example, but I believe healing by divine action is reported in the Torah, such as when the bronze snake was paraded through the people and their venemous snake bites were healed. But, I think you may have meant only healing of psychic injury, which obviously does not take place in the OT if the OT does not recognize psychic injury existing separate from physial injury, in which case the example is moot.

In summary:

♦ You find no sin without action. I disagree, and see "though shalt not covet" as a clear example. You disagree with that, in that you see covet including some sort of act. I suspect this will be where we agree to disagree.

♦ Torah requires specific action for full repentance and requires forgiveness by the harmed party if full repentence is performed. Christianity seems to go further or at least reads Torah differently, thus requiring acts for repentence not required by Judaism. Seems like a good place to leave it, as we knew there were differences.

♦ Both Judaism and Christianity believe that full repentence and full forgiveness is possible. Chrisianity sees the need for divine grace in this process. Judaism does not. Seems like a good place to leave this bit also.

♦ You seem to imply that blood feuds are not Torah. I don't believe that they are NT either. However, I am confused by the discussion of blood payment being collected by the family of the murdered person, but, perhaps this is intended to be the end of it (thus, not a 'feud'), since it satisfies the required punishment by Law. So I think we agree on this and I suspect we agree that humans are not very good at completing what the Law or Christianity (or the Qur'aan) require.

♦ I believe that we both agree that "Forgiveness is REQUIRED of those sinned against if the sinner fully repents"

♦ Judaism believes in no "indefinitely continuing injury once repentence and forgiveness are complete." Christianity believes the same. However, Christianity anticipates divine action (grace) in this process in some if not most cases. Torah does not. I think you see the idea of divine action here as counter to Torah. I see it as building on it. I doubt we'll get any further with this. Seems like a good place to leave it.

It is probably apparent from my summary that I am running out of steam trying to work through these fascinating but difficult issues regarding sin, repentence, and forgiveness in what (as I've said before) is a tedious post-by-post dialogue. If there is anything in here that demands further response/discussion, I suppose you should respond. But perhaps you shouldn't expect a very enthusiastic reply. :-) But I'm pretty happy with how much I've learned about both your view (which I assume is not in conflict with generally accepted Judaism) and with how much I've learned about the basis for my own understanding. Faith without understanding is valuable, but not a good place to end. So, my expectation is a life spent seeking understanding.

Os.

448lawecon
Jun 17, 2012, 8:58am Top

This is a rather long post, so let me take it in pieces.

"The idea you stated that terms like 'covet' appear to be more than purely psychic is new to this argument and to me. What I read in scripture (though shalt not covet) seems pretty much a sin of thought, but you have found more there than I have. You have essentially said that you can covet your neighbors wife all you want as long as you take no physical action. This seems to undercut the central meaning of one of the Ten Words. If coveting turns into action, it becomes theft, which is already covered in one of the other of the Ten Words, so I'm unclear how coveting with action is different from theft (attempted, at least).

"♦ You find no sin without action. I disagree, and see "though shalt not covet" as a clear example. You disagree with that, in that you see covet including some sort of act. I suspect this will be where we agree to disagree."

You seem to believe that covet is either entirely a mental act or that it becomes theft. Of course, that is not true. Covet is a pattern, a habit. To "covet your neighbor's wife" does not require that you rape her or seduce her. You can simply "give her the look" frequently, particularly in the presence of others, say really admiring things about her, compare your own wife in a derogatory way to her, etc. That is, you engage in a pattern of behavior that displays your attitude. No such pattern. No hint of your mental act. No sin. Sins of this sort are "sins against other men" - they are social. You have thoughts that are antisocial, fine, as long as you do not disrupt the social order.

This has to do with a discussion Tim and I had some time ago. OT times were not times of individualism. They were largely tribal times. Sin by one person against another was that which disrupted the tribal unity, not something that indicated a psychic state in the individual that needed to be cured.

449jburlinson
Jun 17, 2012, 3:12pm Top

> 445. That is, of course, entirely irrelevant to anything in this discussion. I, at least, have been talking about sins that are fully repented, not sins that are not repented and are probably not regretted by the sinner.

Of course that isn't true.

From # 442 -- You are only justifiably prohibited from seeking more if it is acknowledged that what is rendered is enough -is full recompense. If the injury persists, the remedy for the injury should rightfully also persist.

If "what is rendered" is not enough, then the sin has not been "fully repented," has it?

450jburlinson
Jun 17, 2012, 3:27pm Top

> 448. you engage in a pattern of behavior that displays your attitude. No such pattern. No hint of your mental act. No sin.

Let's see if I've got this straight -- "thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's ass." So what are the acts we're talking about? Looking longingly at the donkey? Winking at it? Telling it that it would feel a lot better living over in your barn, better quality hay, etc.? Disparaging your own donkey? ("You sorry excuse for a donkey, you! You're pathetic. Why can't you be more like Mr. Ed over there, you good for nothing?") Or would you have to say these kinds of things to other people in order to undermine the social order? ("Homer's donkey should would look better as part of my herd, don't you think? I wonder what we could do about that -- hint, hint, nudge, nudge.") That kind of thing?

451johnthefireman
Jun 17, 2012, 3:52pm Top

>450 jburlinson: Has the coveting got anything to do with penis envy, do you think? Some of those donkeys are quite well-endowed.

452jburlinson
Jun 17, 2012, 4:02pm Top

> 451. Now we really are talking about disrupting the social order! :)

453johnthefireman
Jun 18, 2012, 1:14am Top

Lord Maginnis has whip withdrawn by Ulster Unionists over gay slur (Guardian)

Veteran politician compared homosexuality to bestiality during a discussion on BBC Radio Ulster's Nolan Show {...}

the UUP has over recent years sought to become more socially inclusive and has within its ranks many gay members.

455faceinbook
Jun 23, 2012, 12:24pm Top

>454 johnthefireman:
That takes a bit of mental hop scotch !

456johnthefireman
Jun 23, 2012, 12:30pm Top

>455 faceinbook: Definitely! I don't think I've seen incest mentioned on LT yet but we have had posters who have managed the "mental hop scotch" of linking it to polygamy, bestiality and child abuse.

457jburlinson
Jun 23, 2012, 1:18pm Top

> 454. After reading just the title of your link, I assumed it had something to do with controversy over homosexuality in the BDSM community. I had always thought that group was somewhat more tolerant than the general population.

458Osbaldistone
Jun 23, 2012, 1:32pm Top

>454 johnthefireman:
I'm pretty sure, if you look at its history, you'll find that polygamy is a direct outcrop from heterosexual marriage.

Curiously enough, with all the laws in the Torah regarding relatives (by blood or marriage) with whom you cannot have sex, there is nothing said about father/daughter relations.

I'm afraid good old-fashioned Judeo-Christian positions (pardon the pun) on sex and marriage are a much easier target of this slippery slope argument.

Os.

459nathanielcampbell
Jun 23, 2012, 2:20pm Top

While I, too, think that it takes some mental gymnastics to convince oneself that gay civil unions would lead to polygamy, incest, etc., there is at least some evidence that those in the bestiality community see the growing acceptance of homosexuality as a first step to an acceptance of bestiality: http://www.browardpalmbeach.com/2009-08-20/news/those-who-practice-bestiality-sa...

460Osbaldistone
Jun 23, 2012, 2:42pm Top

>459 nathanielcampbell:
First, the idea of a 'bestiality community' just creeps me out. But, perhaps thats just because I don't know them very well. (it's okay, I'm happy in my ignorance - no volunteers, please).

Second, I suspect they should consider PETA before making any public push. Those guys get pretty heated when animals are involved (I mean the PETA folks).

Besides, same-sex marriage/union is clearly in the 'mutual consent' sphere, which is not the case for bestiality or incest (when involving a minor). Despite progress with chimpanzee sign language, I doubt anyone could convince the general public that mutual, informed consent can ever be proven, or even that intra-species communication can ever be sound enough to accept that mutual consent has occurred.

As an aside, much of what is considered incest in the Bible is not considered such in US law. But then again, US law (as with British Common Law from which it sprung) was never built upon Biblical law.

Os.

461nathanielcampbell
Jun 23, 2012, 2:46pm Top

>460 Osbaldistone:: During the Middle Ages, ecclesiastical law could frequently be found to define incest as extending 4 or even 5 degrees of separation (i.e. out to second or third cousins) -- though whether the Church would step in and forbid a union usually had to do more with whether the Church approved of the politics of the alliance formed thereby.

462jburlinson
Jun 23, 2012, 2:49pm Top

> 460. Those guys get pretty heated when animals are involved (I mean the PETA folks).

So do members of the bestiality community, I would presume.

463faceinbook
Jun 23, 2012, 3:04pm Top

>459 nathanielcampbell:
Wiki has plenty to say on the subject.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beastiality

Do not see a link between homosexuality and beastiality at all. Unless of course we consider ourselves merely animals.

Would seem to me that beastiality is more like a rape....better an animal than a person but the one getting "heated" (>462 jburlinson:) has some issues. A community of these idiots ? Human's can be a disgusting species !

464timspalding
Edited: Jun 25, 2012, 7:00am Top

I disagree that it takes much to make the mental leap from accepting homosexual to polygamous marriages. On the contrary, I think that's a natural and a correct leap; I favor both.

While a certain sort of liberal favors gay unions but regards polygamists as a bunch of religious hicks, both involve consenting adults forming families that have, do and will continue to exist and to raise happy, healthy children. If we are serious about respecting others' choices and rights, and aren't just granting rights to the majority and favored minorities, there's no reason to deny polygamous families the same basic rights as monogamous ones.

Obviously, legal acceptance of polygamy needs to take the difference into account. It wouldn't be fair, for example, for polygamous wives to receive multiple benefits. But I find it distasteful in the extreme for people to bray about how unjust it is for homosexual couples to be denied hospital visitation, yet have no problem with such rights being denied to a mormon or a muslim's second wife!

465johnthefireman
Edited: Jun 25, 2012, 7:03am Top

>464 timspalding: Oh, do you live in a country that discriminates against polygamous marriages? Ah well, one day maybe Europe and north America will develop into civilised societies...

Or, to put it another way, why do people think that Africa is backwards because it discriminates against one (homosexuality) but not the other, while Europe and north America are advanced because they, er, discriminate against one (polygamy) and not the other?

466faceinbook
Jun 25, 2012, 7:45am Top

>464 timspalding:

Have no problem against polygamy other than the fact that polygamy opens the door to abuse of women and/or girls.
But then, most religions when bastardized tend to head in that direction. Polygamy has served a purpose throughout history.

The mental leap involves beastiality and how it would relate to any kind of relationship what so ever.

467timspalding
Jun 25, 2012, 8:02am Top

>466 faceinbook:

It might be statistically true. But if it could be shown that gays abuse each other 5% more, that wouldn't be an argument to prevent them from marrying. After all, lesbians sexually abuse their children much LESS than straight couples, and we're not banning straight marriage.

468nathanielcampbell
Jun 25, 2012, 8:59am Top

>467 timspalding:: An oblique question on this was posed by my wife a few days ago while seeing the news of the Sandusky verdict: why do those types of cases seem to involve the abuse of boys more than that of girls?

I don't have an answer -- I wonder if anyone here has any ideas.

469faceinbook
Jun 25, 2012, 9:03am Top

>467 timspalding:
Not sure what you are getting at ?

When I was referring to abuse of women/girls I am talking about the polygamist cults....the older men marry all to the girls, (13 yr old girls married off to 50 yr old men) the younger men are often shunned by the community. Most often the women are afraid to speak out about what is happening. Not so much about one on one abuse.....which I would suppose happens in ALL kinds of relationships.

If we were to ban relationships based on abuse their wouldn't be many forms left to argue about.

470nathanielcampbell
Jun 25, 2012, 9:39am Top

>469 faceinbook:: Tim had raised the issue of child abuse in lesbian vs. straight-parent households, which got me thinking back to the question of why, in the scathingly systemic abuse cases that cadge headlines (Sandusky, the Catholic Church's problems, the public school system in California, etc.), the majority of victims seem to be boys rather than girls.

471johnthefireman
Edited: Jun 25, 2012, 10:04am Top

>470 nathanielcampbell: Have you got any statistics for child sex abuse in families, say, or just strangers in the street? I have a sense (admittedly mainly from the tabloid headlines) that this is far more evenly balanced between boys and girls, perhaps even more girls than boys. Maybe it's opportunistic? If you're the type of person who needs to sexually abuse children, then for a priest, a scoutmaster or a football coach, boys are readily accessible. Again, mainly from newspaper headlines, most of the sexual abuse of children by male schoolteachers in Kenya is towards under-age girls.

Edited to add: Just Googled and found this in Psychology Today

The {John Jay} report concludes that the vast majority of clergy sex offenders are not pedophiles at all but were situational generalists violating whoever they had access to. Pedophiles, by definition, seek sexual gratification from pre-pubescent children of one gender and target this age and gender group (especially while under stress). Clergy sexual offenders in the Church were more likely to be targeting whoever was around them (and they had unsupervised access to) regardless of age and gender.

472nathanielcampbell
Jun 25, 2012, 6:46pm Top

>471 johnthefireman:: I haven't got any statistics, just a general observation -- probably based on a selective memory of the headlines, perhaps?

Thanks for digging up something to put it more in perspective; I think that you are right to consider that much of the non-familial abuse is opportunistic in this regard.

473johnthefireman
Edited: Jun 27, 2012, 1:44am Top

Rowan Williams: Christians need to confront shame and disgust over homosexuality (Guardian)

Archbishop makes one of strongest interventions yet on issue that lies at heart of some of deepest divisions in church

474timspalding
Jun 27, 2012, 2:22am Top

So, is he leaving office because he can't in good conscience continue to try to unite divisions he can't unite in his own mind?

475johnthefireman
Jun 28, 2012, 12:36am Top

I didn't realise it was an issue in the Scout movement:

Chuck Norris attacked over anti-gay scouts article (Guardian)

476faceinbook
Jun 28, 2012, 7:33am Top

>475 johnthefireman:
What the heck ? Pro gay White House Agenda ? An individual does not have to be PRO anything to not be ANTI.

This has been a problem for liberals for a long time. Because we believe in a woman's choice we are PRO abortion. Because we see homosexuals as deserving of equal rights we are PRO gay.
How about PRO keeping our noses out of everyone else's business ! Oh wait...isn't that a Conservative value ? Apparently it is a verbal value only....when it comes to actually living it, not so much.

477nathanielcampbell
Jul 2, 2012, 10:49am Top

>476 faceinbook:: Yet, when conservatives demand that skin color NOT be an issue in college admissions and contract awards, they are somehow "racist". See, it works both ways!

478faceinbook
Jul 2, 2012, 11:04am Top

>477 nathanielcampbell:
Not sure what one has to do with the other ? If you are talking about equal opportunity rights, I agree there is an issue but the issue stays because of continued unfair practices. If affirmative action were to disappear I believe we may have continued problems of a different sort. Women are still not compenstated equally. Nor are hiring practices for minorities consistantly fair, depending one where you live.

Certainly I am PRO fair hiring practices and ANTI discrimination of anyone no matter what sex or race but don't think it has much to do with the statement PRO gay White House Agenda.....? The White House abolished Don't Ask Don't Tell....and Obama spoke out for gay marriage. Neither one of these is asking for anything other than acceptance.

479nathanielcampbell
Jul 2, 2012, 11:10am Top

>478 faceinbook:: I was saying that the rhetorical strategy you are criticizing--labeling anybody who disagrees with you as "PRO" something you think is "bad"--is used by all sides. Democrats/liberals aren't its only victims.

480thomashwalker2
Edited: Jul 7, 2012, 4:42pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

481timspalding
Edited: Jul 4, 2012, 11:31am Top

Actually, the evidence is in the other direction, that male and female homosexuality is correlated with higher exposure to androgens in the womb. This shows up in slight differences in average finger length, average penis length, and being later in the birth order (the uterus produces more androgens at each successive pregnancy). These are, however, correlations, not necessarily causations, and the correlations are such that very many large-fingered, large-penised seventh brothers are straight. Some of the evidence and arguments are presented in the Wikipedia article ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prenatal_hormones_and_sexual_orientation ), which no doubt gets many things wrong.

Needless to say, these findings and the whole approach is controversial and replete with problems, both methodological and political.

As far as clergy abuse goes, I suspect selection and public-attention bias has a large role to play. "Explanations" are largely just-so stories pretending to be more. However, to these just-so-stories given above I would add that it's reasonable to believe that the Catholic priesthood contains relatively more homosexuals because the celibate priesthood may be perceived as a potential haven from uninteresting heterosexual love and feelings of moral terror for a young Catholic man just discovering (and repressing) his homosexuality.

482thomashwalker2
Jul 4, 2012, 11:36am Top

>481 timspalding:

Interesting feedback.

483johnthefireman
Jul 24, 2012, 1:04am Top

US evangelical Christians accused of promoting homophobia in Africa (Guardian)

Liberal thinktank says rightwingers are aggressively targeting the continent with an anti-abortion and anti-gay agenda

484timspalding
Jul 24, 2012, 1:23am Top

Not really news, alas.

485johnthefireman
Jul 24, 2012, 4:02am Top

Cleric attacks church over gay marriage (Guardian)

Don't let Church of England's reluctance to embrace reform put you off God, Dr Jeffrey John tells gay people

486lawecon
Jul 24, 2012, 8:52am Top

~484

Only "alas" if you as a Roman Catholic somehow identify with "US evangelical Christians" - an issue we are currently talking about in the thread on sexual abuse.

487johnthefireman
Jul 24, 2012, 9:20am Top

>486 lawecon: Or if you happen to live in Africa...

488lawecon
Jul 24, 2012, 9:38am Top

~487

Well again, John, it depends on what you tell your fellow Africans.

If you tell them, "Yes, those are my fellow Christians, we just disagree on this issue." then I think you've got a problem. You've particularly got a problem since Christians are suppose to BE Christians in all aspects of their lives.

If you tell them what you should have learned in these discussion boards by now - "No, those guys call themselves 'Christians,' but they really are the enemies of Christianity." then I think you've got less of a problem. It also, I would presume, would clarify your own position.

489johnthefireman
Jul 24, 2012, 9:42am Top

>488 lawecon: No, the "alas" has nothing to with which brand of Christianity one identifies with but a lot to do with living in the midst of hate speech and the potential for human rights violations.

490lawecon
Jul 24, 2012, 9:59am Top

~489

Tell me, John. Are these purveyors of hate and denial of human rights (because that is what they are) actually Christians, nonetheless? Just curious how this works in your mind.

Put differently, is your commitment to love and human rights just a reflection of the "brand" of Christianity you espouse? Could Christians of other "brands" be committed to hatred and denial of human rights and still be Christians? Were the German Lutherans during WWII Christians, but just of another "brand"?

How does this work, exactly?

491johnthefireman
Jul 24, 2012, 12:07pm Top

>490 lawecon: My point was that the "alas" is because somebody is peddling homophobia. It would still be "alas" whether the "somebody" was Christian, atheist or Martian. I don't really understand your point and I'm not sure I can say much more than that.

492clif_hiker
Jul 24, 2012, 12:44pm Top

do you really not understand his point? Or is that just a convenient dodge to questions you'd rather not examine?

493johnthefireman
Jul 24, 2012, 1:54pm Top

>492 clif_hiker: That sounds rather hostile. Why assume that what I write is not what I mean? I've explained the point I was trying to make and stated that I don't think I can add anything useful to that point.

494clif_hiker
Jul 24, 2012, 3:34pm Top

it's not hostile... just an observation. You're a smart guy, I'm sure you 'understand' the point that lawecon is making, and rather than address it, you disingenuously claim not to.

495Osbaldistone
Edited: Jul 24, 2012, 4:06pm Top

alas
· exclam. (poetic/literary or humorous) an expression of grief, pity, or concern.

I suspect any of the three definitions above would cover what Tim meant and what John responded to. John clearly stated that his sense of grief, pity, or concern was due to the actions, not the religious affiliations of the actors. I suspect Tim would say the same.

I don't think John's clarification deserves the Or is that just a convenient dodge to questions you'd rather not examine? question and certainly does not owe clif_hiker an answer (or even any response at all), given the clear hostility in the questio and since clif_hiker seems to have already jumped to whatever conclusion he's fishing for without John's help.

Os.

496Arctic-Stranger
Jul 24, 2012, 4:07pm Top

Assuming that Christians are perfect, or should be perfect, is a great way to eviscerate the faith. "You believe a, but do not practice a perfectly so you are not a true Christian. First that shows NO understanding of grace, which is kind of important to the faith, and it sets up Christianity for failure. Kind of like assuming every Jew needs to be Orthodox every Muslim needs to be a member of Al Qaeda, or every Buddhist is enlightened.

John was bemoaning an activity that basically throws gasoline on a fire (as I understand the situation). Sorting out the motives and faith of the gas throwers seems a bit secondary.

497Osbaldistone
Jul 24, 2012, 4:14pm Top

>496 Arctic-Stranger: Sorting out the motives and faith of the gas throwers seems a bit secondary.

And probably not really possible from the point of view most, if not all, of us are limited to.

Os.

498lawecon
Edited: Jul 24, 2012, 6:29pm Top

You know, I do find it rather peculiar that John always fails to answer this question. I have asked him what is basically the same question several times in the past - usually after fuzzi makes some outrageous claim with which he clearly disagrees. All at once such an inquiry becomes "tangential" or some equivalent, even though he has just been reprimanding fuzzi for her exclusiveness and lack of inclusiveness. I really would like to know the answer to this question one of these days, and I'm probably going to keep asking the same question until I get an answer.

What Arctic say above is, of course, just another way of dodging the question. No one, at least no one I know, is contending that you have to be "perfect" to be a REAL Jew or Christian or Muslim. This is but another way of raising the "True Scotsman fallacy," which is also basically a dodge.

The point of my question is simple - are the boundaries of Christianity defined solely by "belief in Jesus Christ as one's personal or corporate savior" or is there some prescriptive substantive behavioral content beyond that bare belief? Paul apparently tried to have it both ways, but frankly I don't think his attempt was successful, and neither does anyone else I am familiar with among, as Tim would probably put it, "the consensus of scholars."

499Arctic-Stranger
Jul 24, 2012, 6:44pm Top

Well, defining Christianity is like defining where you are if you are on a moving ship. I would think the same is true of Judaism. From what I have seen, Americans have made a significant contribution to Buddhism (most in the Zen tradition) so that the Japanese Buddhists now have to either ignore, reject or accept the American form of Zen.

Short answer; first you are missing an important word in the formulation, at least according to some people. For many it is a matter of "belief in Jesus Christ as one's personal or corporate {LORD and} savior." If you accepts Jesus as Lord, that entails certain behaviors. (However, you can accept the authority of someone and still, on occasion or in certain circumstances, not obey that authority. In most forms of Christianity, there is forgiveness for such acts.

And to further complicate matters, people define what it means to accept Jesus as Lord differently. For some, Fuzzi, it means a strict adherence to scripture, and to biblical authorities. Others would say adherence to biblical principals, which is very similar to the above, but allows for some wiggle room.

And of course where there is wiggle room, there are different ways to wiggle. I had a parishioner who strictly kept the Sabbath, and did his level best to obey Jesus as Lord through being obedient to the words of the Bible, and yet as a geologist, did not accept a six day creation.

In other words we all have some wiggle room. My Mennonite brethren do not believe you can be a Christian and a soldier. Killing your enemy seems to be a direct contradiction to the command to love your enemy, yet for centuries the church has condone wars of various kinds. My recent favorite is of a man who has the Leviticus verse condemning homosexuality tattooed on his arm. Apparently he is totally unaware that Leviticus also expressly forbids tattoos!

This is probably not the answer you are looking for, but I don't think many people will be able to do that.

500cjbanning
Jul 24, 2012, 9:57pm Top

If someone understands Jesus to be the Christ and follows Jesus as such, I don't see the point in arguing over the validity or authenticity of their Christianity. Which is not to say there are not better and worse ways of being Christian, and I'll argue until I'm blue in the face the superiority of postliberal Anglo-Catholicism over evangelical Protestantism. But that's not to deny that even the very worst forms of Christianity are still authentically Christian.

501lawecon
Edited: Jul 25, 2012, 12:06am Top

~499 & 500

"This is probably not the answer you are looking for, but I don't think many people will be able to do that."

" But that's not to deny that even the very worst forms of Christianity are still authentically Christian."

Actually, as someone who ultimately rejected Christianity this is exactly the answer I'm looking for. You could not have more reinforced my conclusions and weakened my doubts. Additionally, I think that this is just why John won't answer this question. He has enough sense to know that this answer is unacceptable to any person of conscience, but is the only answer possible to a "real Christian believer."

And, incidentally, you are wrong about Judaism. While Judaism, apart from the self-contradictory Haredi Judaism which I would not count as Judaism at all, is generally extremely latitudinarian toward most sins and always allows for repentence and restitution, there are certain acts that Jews are absolutely forbidden to do.

"There are three sins for which one is always required to die rather than transgress:

idolatry

sexual misconduct such as incest, adultery, (see sexual immorality prohibited by Torah)

murder

The above three are ruled as being exceptions by the Talmud. In tractate Sanhedrin 74a, the Talmud records: “Rav Yochanan said in the name of Rav Shimon ben Yehotzadak: ‘It was decided by a vote in the loft of the house of Nitezeh in Lod: For all the sins in the Torah, if a person is told, 'Transgress and you will not be killed,' they should transgress and not be killed, except for idol worship, sexual relations and bloodshed.’” A Jew must sacrifice his or her life rather than transgress the above-mentioned sins."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-sacrifice_under_Jewish_law

502johnthefireman
Jul 25, 2012, 12:45am Top

>498 lawecon: Thanks, lawecon, for clarifying. If your question is basically, "What are the boundaries of Christianity?" then the simple answer is, "I don't know". There have been a number of threads specifically addressing this, and I don't think any of them have come to any real conclusion.

Thanks, Os and Arctic-Stranger.

503cjbanning
Jul 25, 2012, 2:12am Top

Ijust don't see what follows from the fact that there are bad Christians. (Indeed, the only totally good Christian was Jesus Christself!) There are bad feminists, bad Americans, and bad members of the Democratic party. There are even bad members of LibraryThing! This doesn't stop me from being any of these things.

504MyopicBookworm
Jul 25, 2012, 5:04am Top

#501

Apparently you hold that the very worst forms of Judaism are not authentically Jewish.

Haredi Judaism which I would not count as Judaism at all...

But on what basis can you draw the line? Can an individual within that community nevertheless be a faithful Jew? And does the Jewish community at large agree with your assessment?

#503

Are you blurring the line between bad Christians (heaven knows there are plenty of those) and bad forms of Christianity? I think that the notorious anti-gay funeral-baiters represent a genuinely inauthentic form of Christianity.

505lawecon
Edited: Jul 25, 2012, 9:44am Top

~504

"Apparently you hold that the very worst forms of Judaism are not authentically Jewish."

That is correct, although I would put it simply that they are not a part of traditional Judaism.

"But on what basis can you draw the line? "

This is a rather long discussion, but the basics are something like this. There are certain things that Jews simply do not do - that while not in the category I just mentioned above, where you must die before doing them - are still major steps over the boundaries of Judaism. For instance:

(1) You don't tell a fellow Jew to shut up. By that I mean that Judaism is, at core, about debating "the texts." The traditional view is that there is no wrong answer so long as you have a good defense for your answer and can argue that answer. The Haredi believe that there is Truth, that they know the Truth, and if you don't agree that you are simply ignorant or evil or both. That is very anti-Jewish.

(2) The Haredi are idol worshippers (with the extreme case being those not inconsiderable number of Chabad who are still expecting the Rebbe to rise from his grave and take his proper place as Messiah). They do not view their rabbis as teachers and judges of fine points of Halachic law, they view them as idols.

(3) The Haredi have many other more minor traits that I would equate with traditional Christianity.

Hence, they are not adherents to Judaism.

"Can an individual within that community nevertheless be a faithful Jew?"

No, you cannot be a member of a Haredi community and be a good Jew. Their communities are constructed so as to be closed, and your choice is either adhere or leave. You can't stay and dissent.

"And does the Jewish community at large agree with your assessment?"

While many other Jews despise the Haredi, as I indicated in a previous post, most other Jews would not agree. Most Jews, other than the Haredi, are latitudinarian and view differences in belief and practice as less important than that there is some belief and practice and some "identification with the Jewish People." The problem with that approach with the Haredi is that the Haredi do not agree. It is very analogous to the issue that arises in a liberal democracy dealing with classical Nazis or Marxist Leninists. Your principles are that they are acceptable. Their principles are that they will use your open attitudes and institutions to destroy the framework that makes dissent acceptable if they attain enough power.

Clear enough?

======================

Let me add in response to your comment to cj that I am wholly consistent across religious boundaries. I don't believe that the Haredi are Jews. I also don't believe that certain "brands" of Christianity (as John has put it) are Christianity. The problem is, of course, that both many other Jews and many Christians are so desperate to keep the "body of believers" together than they won't take a stand on substantive boundaries. This, to me, means that they buy into a morass that dissolves their otherwise good and acceptable views into evil.

There are boundaries. The boundaries need to be enunciated and enforced (at least insofar as you clearly say "that isn't me or mine"). If there aren't any boundaries then there is nothing to separate your views from those of the next guy. Idol worship, well fine. Child sacrifice, well fine. Theft, murder and war, ok, if you insist, so long as you're a good ________ (fill in the blank).

506clif_hiker
Edited: Jul 25, 2012, 10:05am Top

@504

I think that the notorious anti-gay funeral-baiters represent a genuinely inauthentic form of Christianity.


and I hold that those 'inauthentic' Christians can only exist in a larger culture of Christianity that tacitly endorses the actual belief if not the methods of expressing that belief. That endorsement can be seen on Facebook, 90% of church pulpits, many newspaper editorials, Fox News, etc... and even in this thread.

and I believe that that is why this question is so often evaded

** to be fair, I'm pretty sure that most Christians don't even realize that they're doing it. An analogy to an event currently all over the news is the punishment meted out to Penn State University for the transgressions of Jerry Sandusky. There is an awful lot of crying from the Paterno family, current and former students and athletes, and any and all graduates of Penn State ... "WE didn't have anything to do with it ... why punish us?" Indeed.

507cjbanning
Jul 25, 2012, 10:21am Top

505: "If there aren't any boundaries then there is nothing to separate your views from those of the next guy. Idol worship, well fine. Child sacrifice, well fine. Theft, murder and war, ok, if you insist, so long as you're a good ________ (fill in the blank)."

I don't see how that follows. Qualifying as a Christian simply means you're a member of one particular religious movement. It doesn't mean your behavior is acceptable or pleasing to the LORD or anything else. We don't need to do this sort of boundary-policing with other types of identities--a graduate of Harvard who becomes a serial murderer is still a Harvard alum. We can say that serial murder is wrong without forcing other Harvard alumni to commit the No True Scotsman fallacy and deny our hypothetical serial murder was a "real" Harvard alum. Why can't the same process work for Christianity?

It's certainly possible to be a Christian and be mistaken about what God wants. It's certainly possible to be a Christian and to do things God hates. And doing those things is not okay.

508johnthefireman
Jul 25, 2012, 11:34am Top

I happened to be visiting the USA when the second Iraq war began in 2003. I found myself in Boulder, Colorado, which I'm told is a little progressive island in the midst of a very Republican state. There appeared to be quite a common narrative going around the USA at the time that anyone who opposed the war was "un-American". My friends in Boulder, and the people I met at candle-light vigils, prayer meetings and other anti-war events, were outraged that they should be labelled "un-American". They felt that they were the ones standing up for "true" US values and that it was the warmongers who were actually "un-American". So, both sides interpreted what it means to be "American" in their own different way, based on the same foundational texts, constitution, national history, etc, and accused the other side of being "un-American". And all of them were US citizens who hadn't renounced their citizenship so in practical terms were still "Americans".

509johnthefireman
Jul 25, 2012, 11:56am Top

Not sure whether it's relevant, but here is an example of one part of the Church standing up against what it considers to be inappropriate and indeed illegal practices by another. Fraud is a crime and, as mentioned at the end of the piece, so is child abduction, and there are mechanisms to deal with crime.

I believe that there are manifestations of Christianity which are wrong (or inauthentic, as myopicbookworm puts it in >504 MyopicBookworm:), and I will tell them so, but that's my opinion based on my interpretation of Christianity - just like the contradictory opinions of what it means to be "American" in my post >508 johnthefireman:. "You are a Christian who in my opinion (and the opinion of the bulk of the global and historic Church) has a distorted and inauthentic understanding of what Christianity is all about" is still different from, "You are not a Christian".

510nathanielcampbell
Jul 25, 2012, 12:05pm Top

>508 johnthefireman:: Does that mean that you were in Boulder for the great March blizzard that year? (I was living in just southeast of Aurora at the time -- the blizzard closed down the whole metro area, and we were left with nothing to do while it snowed but watch the initial bombs fall.)

511johnthefireman
Jul 25, 2012, 12:17pm Top

>510 nathanielcampbell: I was staying with a friend who lives in a little village called Jamestown in the mountains just outside Boulder and we were snowed in for three days. Quite an experience.

512Arctic-Stranger
Jul 25, 2012, 1:41pm Top

Lawecon;

I have an office mate who eats my pork barbeque, only goes to temple on Yom Kippur (if he does not have a date or something better to do), and in no outward way anyone can see (and I am not talking about physical characteristics, but behavior) does he appear to be Jewish. Yet he still claims he is Jewish, he bemoans Christmas music every year, and every once in a while bursts out with some invective against the Christian Right.

Here is my question, and I really mean it as a question because I have always wondered; is he Jewish, and why?

513lawecon
Jul 25, 2012, 8:53pm Top

~507

"I don't see how that follows. Qualifying as a Christian simply means you're a member of one particular religious movement. It doesn't mean your behavior is acceptable or pleasing to the LORD or anything else. "

And what movement is that, cj? Is it only the "I call myself Christian" movement? Hitler called himself a Christian (when convenient). Was he a member of the same movement that you are a member of? (This sort of question is the obvious implication of a label that specifies no substantive content, but that seems to be the way you prefer it. So enjoy.)

514lawecon
Edited: Jul 25, 2012, 9:10pm Top

~512

Since none of those things are inherently Jewish or non-Jewish I can't answer your questions. Why don't you ask him what he thinks and why he thinks it. Either that or read what I've said a couple of times above and stop relying on your own beliefs about what "a Jew must be."

Frankly, I have to tell you, Arctic, given the history between Jews and Christians, your list of characteristics of your office mate is a bit insulting. I am, of course, also making assertions about "true Christians," but my assertions about such Christians rule out them being lesser than what I believe you might want them to be - unlike cj's assertions. I suppose if I instead wanted to pursue your path I could say something like:

"I have an office mate who regularly burns witches, tortures heretics and those who aren't saved, for the good of their souls, of course. He also occasionally bursts out in invectives against abortion doctors and other baby killers. Gays he won't even talk about other than to murmer something about "abomination." Although he only goes to Church on Easter, he won't take communion. He professes to be a Christian, but I don't see it. What do you think?"

Like that, do you, or is this a game only permissible to one side?

515cjbanning
Edited: Jul 25, 2012, 9:47pm Top

I'm part German. Why would I question whether Hitler and I are members of the same religion, but not whether we are members of the same ethnicity? Pretty much every type of label, from "capitalist" to disestablishmentarian" exhibits the type of ambiguity you seem to find unacceptable.

There's no reason why recognizing that Hitler and I are both German should prevent me from being able to claim that Adolf was a very n bad German and I am at least a better one.

516lawecon
Jul 25, 2012, 9:45pm Top

~515

That was, indeed, nice and ambiguous. Want to answer the question now?

517johnthefireman
Edited: Jul 26, 2012, 3:19am Top

Scotland to legalise same-sex marriages in church and civil ceremonies (Guardian)

Draft legislation will allow gay and lesbian couples to marry with the same rights as heterosexual couples {...}

The legislation will include significant new protections and "conscience clauses" for churches and individual clergy who object to gay marriage on religious grounds


Gay rights activists call for Liberian president to veto bill criminalising same-sex marriage (Guardian)

518johnthefireman
Jul 29, 2012, 10:34am Top

Boy Scouts' discriminatory policy finds no support in Catholic teachings (NCR)

Because the U.S. Catholic hierarchy strongly opposes legislation that would grant lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people fuller equality, Catholics can be forgiven for assuming that church teaching always supports one particular "side" in our country's culture wars. {...} but we believe a closer reading of the church's teaching should lead Catholics to resist this wrongheaded and wrong-hearted policy.

519Arctic-Stranger
Edited: Jul 29, 2012, 1:33pm Top

You equate eating pork with burning witches?

I am sorry I bothered to ask you anything.

520clif_hiker
Jul 29, 2012, 5:12pm Top

it was more or less treated the same in the Old Testament ... why don't you?

521lawecon
Jul 29, 2012, 7:27pm Top

~519

Yes, I was sure you would be. I was also certain that you wouldn't have a clue what I was saying to you. You don't disappoint.

522Osbaldistone
Edited: Jul 29, 2012, 8:15pm Top

>519 Arctic-Stranger:, 521
Yes, Arctic-Stranger, lawecon apparently does find the suggestion that Jews have strictures against eating pork just as insulting to Jews as the suggestion that Christians 'regularly burn witches' is to Christians. He was simply insulting you in the same way you insulted him.

Apparently, this is much easier than explaining to all of us who never seem to "have a clue" what lawecom is saying, why he finds the connection between strictures against eating pork and being Jewish insulting (which explanation would help us non-Jews be more culturally aware). Or why he considers the observation that some Jews almost never go to temple to be insulting.

Plus, whenever we fail to grasp what he means in such an indirect response, he's not surprised, because he was already "certain that you wouldn't have a clue what he was saying" (but don't be insulted). Which begs the question - then why doesn't lawecon say what he means or just not say anything, since he is already certain we aren't smart enough to understand?

Os.

ETA correct post references

523lawecon
Edited: Jul 30, 2012, 5:28am Top

~52

Well, Os, you might have a clue what I'm saying if you bothered to listen. If you are confused (which evidently you are, once again), you could even pose a question. But that isn't the point of rants like the above, is it? We both know what the point is, don't we?

524Osbaldistone
Jul 30, 2012, 12:19pm Top

>523 lawecon:
Well, I have been appropriately shamed (this is sarcasm, simply for amusement). I was being indirect while accusing you of being indirect (this is direct and intentional). I guess your response to Arctic-Stranger's direct question made it seem pointless to ask you directly (also direct and intentional). I should have phrased my comments in the form of questions so you wouldn't miss them (the first part is direct and intentional, but, yes, I couldn't resist a bit of a jab at the end), so here goes:
1. "why [does lawecon] find the connection between strictures against eating pork and being Jewish insulting"? (serious, direct, intentional, no hidden motives, hoping for a direct and clear response)

2. why [does lawecon] consider the observation that some Jews almost never go to temple to be insulting"?. (serious, direct, intentional, no hidden motives, hoping for a direct and clear response)
If even asking these questions is insulting to Jews (or to lawecon, at least), then I guess I am simply ignorant (my apologies, Arctic-Stranger, if this seems like an unfair shot at you - not intended, I assure you). Regarding the 1st, my son has been attending a school that is generously provided space for their classes by a Hebrew school, and he is not allowed to bring pork for his own lunch. I've seen no indication that anyone is insulted by this, but if there is a nuance related to this practice that I'm missing, clarification might prevent future, unintentional insults. Christians often joke about Christians that only go to church on Easter and Christmas, and, to my knowledge, none are insulted. So, if there is a cultural difference that makes a similar comment regarding Jews and synagogue insulting, again, clarification might prevent future, unintentional insults.

Os.


525Arctic-Stranger
Jul 30, 2012, 1:58pm Top

Well, as irritating as he is, I actually thought he might know something on the question I asked, which is why I asked it. I guess I should have known better than to think he could actually answer a question.

As it it turns out, it seems all he knows is how to insult because no one here seems to understand why he conflates eating pork with burning witches, and he does not seem able to explain what he means.

***now browsing DSM-IV****

526lawecon
Jul 30, 2012, 11:45pm Top

As I've explained many times, Os, Judaism is not a creedal religion. That means that there are few if any doctrines. One is not a "nonJew" or even a bad Jew because one eats pork. The largest "denomination" of Jews in the United States eats pork and has cheese on their burgers.

Similarly, "going to Temple" (only the Reform call it "Temple") is a recommended behavior, but not necessary to be a Jew. Many Israeli Jews spend Yom Kippur on the beach and yet claim to be Jews, are recognized as Jews by a Jewish State, and and are recognized as Jews by most other Jews.

The insult, here, Os, in case you haven't got the point AGAIN, is that Christians might want to refrain from engaging in their centuries long endeavor of KNOWING WHAT JEWS ARE AND WHAT THEY DO, when they are clearly ignorant of both what they are and what they do. As I said in my original response to Lunar, you would think it was lunacy if I said that my office mate CLAIMED TO BE A CHRISTIAN, but I HAD REAL DOUBTS because he didn't cross himself at meals and admits that he doesn't regularly attend mass. Presumably Baptists don't regularly do either, but are still Christians.

Get it this time? (As I said, you might actually learn something if you'd just ask, RATHER THAN USE EVERY THING YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND AS AN OCCASION FOR EXPRESSING YOUR SPLEIN.)

527nathanielcampbell
Edited: Jul 31, 2012, 1:18pm Top

>526 lawecon:: Are the Israeli settlers who keep forcing their way into Palestinian territory Jewish? If so, should other Jews who take a more liberal approach to their neighbors denounce them?

I guess the problem that some of us are having is that you allow an extraordinarily broad interpretation of what it means to be Jewish, yet get upset when Christians insist on having their own broad interpretation of what it means to be Christian. You insist that we offer you a hard-and-fast rule for who is or is not a Christian (a rule that would, by your standards, omit the whack-jobs), yet you have yet to offer us a simple rule for understanding who is or is not a Jew. So how about it: what, by your definition, makes a Jew a Jew?

528Osbaldistone
Edited: Jul 31, 2012, 1:55pm Top

>526 lawecon: The insult, here...is that Christians might want to refrain from engaging in their centuries long endeavor of KNOWING WHAT JEWS ARE AND WHAT THEY DO, when they are clearly ignorant of both what they are and what they do.
And, amazingly, in the same post As I said, you might actually learn something if you'd just ask Just asking is what Arctic-Stranger and I were doing that insulted you and prompted you to insult us.

Essentially, lawecon, you're saying in the first quote from post 526 is what we always said when we were kids, "If you don't know, I'm sure not going to tell you". If I was not ignorant to some degree about what is a Jew and how is Judaism practiced, I would have no need of asking questions. But, apparently, if I do have need of asking questions, doing so is insulting to a Jew, so we should refrain from trying to better understand. I guess I'll just ask my Christian acquantances about Jewish practice. Quite a healthy approach, don't you think?

...you would think it was lunacy if I said that my office mate CLAIMED TO BE A CHRISTIAN, but I HAD REAL DOUBTS because he didn't cross himself at meals and admits that he doesn't regularly attend mass.

Lawecon, I'm insulted by your presumption that I would consider it lunacy that you have a limited understanding of Christianity and care enough to ask questions. I would respond by simply describe what I know (in my own limited understanding) about Protestant practice compared to Catholic or Orthodox practice, and share, as I did earlier, that many Christians only attend church once or twice a year. Seems like the helpful approach to someone who doesn't understand the broad spectrum of Christianity. Besides, I enjoy exploring my own faith and religion as well as others.

Lawecon, I come from a non-creedal Christian denomination. "No creed but Christ" was a founding premise. I'm sure I'll be sorry for trying this comparison, but I think the equivalent in what I've understood you to mean when re-stating the non-creedal nature of Judaism would be "No creed but God". Coming from such a background makes it difficult to state what is or is not a Christian. I can usually identify non-Christian actions, but that's not the same thing. I understand what you mean when you say Judaism is non-credal. However you seem to think that that statement answers all questions, and get upset when you feel forced to repeat it. You don't have to repeat it to me (though if an issue is related to it, it might help make the answer clearer if you do relate it to the issue of being non-creedal).

But, regarding my actual questions numbered 1 and 2 in post 524, I do appreciate your answers in post 576 to the questions originally asked by Arctic-Stranger in 512, despite the tone, but I still don't see an answer to the actual questions I asked (numbered 1 and 2), which are, essentially - Why are you insulted by Arctic-Stranger's original questions? But, perhaps the answer is in your response somewhere. Let's see if I've gotten it right: If a Christian, having frequently encountered the strictures against eating pork in the Jewish community, asks if someone who eats port can be Jewish, you're insulted because it shows ignorance on the part of the person asking the question. If a Christian, who has observed (or read about) worship practices amongst many other religions (from ancient Greek, Roman, Mayan, Judaism, Druidism, etc to modern Judaism, Islam, neo-druidism, etc.) asks if someone who does not attend synagogue can be Jewish, you're insulted because it shows ignorance on the part of the person asking the question. I find it odd that someone showing a lack of understanding while seeking understanding is insulting to you, but it does explain the tone of many of your responses to other posts (and this one as well, I'm afraid).

Os.

529Osbaldistone
Edited: Jul 31, 2012, 2:05pm Top

>526 lawecon: One is not a "nonJew" or even a bad Jew because one eats pork. The largest "denomination" of Jews in the United States eats pork and has cheese on their burgers.

Thanks. I wasn't aware that pork was okay to The largest "denomination" of Jews in the United States.

Similarly, "going to Temple" (only the Reform call it "Temple") is a recommended behavior, but not necessary to be a Jew. Many Israeli Jews spend Yom Kippur on the beach and yet claim to be Jews, are recognized as Jews by a Jewish State, and and are recognized as Jews by most other Jews.

Actually, I'm not sure going to church would be considered differently by most Christian denominations. Regular worship is a part of the faith, as I understand it, but it is often practiced alone (consider the long tradition of monastic life and the related hermitic practices). There is a strong push towards community, however, but that may be much the same in Judaism.

Os.

530Osbaldistone
Edited: Jul 31, 2012, 2:14pm Top

>526 lawecon: Get it this time? (As I said, you might actually learn something if you'd just ask, RATHER THAN USE EVERY THING YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND AS AN OCCASION FOR EXPRESSING YOUR SPLEIN.)

I hope that, if you look back over my posts, you'll find that I only "express my splein [sic]" when one has been insulted for asking an honest question, expressing an honest opinion, or stating an honest belief. In fact, I'm at a loss to find any spleen venting in the post you are responding to. In fact, I went to extremes to identify honest questions and to explain why I am led to ask them. I see no benefit in using spleen venting in lieu of asking the question to which I seek an answer.

Os.

531Arctic-Stranger
Jul 31, 2012, 3:18pm Top

Get it this time? (As I said, you might actually learn something if you'd just ask, RATHER THAN USE EVERY THING YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND AS AN OCCASION FOR EXPRESSING YOUR SPLEIN.)

I asked, and got rant in return. You clearly do not mean what you say.

You could have said,

"Sigh, Arctic, don't you get it? Let me explain. A Jew is not a Jew because they don't eat pork or go to temple. That is a misconception, perpetuated over the years by Christians. What make a Jew a Jew is....."

And this is as far as you got with your answer. Either you don't have an answer, and chose to insult us to hide your ignorance, or you have some character quirk that makes you think that an insult is an answer. I was asking a real question, hoping that you could shed some light. Instead I get told I have no right ask because I don't the answer, and then told if I only asked questions instead of making assumption I would not be so stupid.

So, I am asking. What do you think makes a Jew a Jew? I have no other agenda other than to learn. Can you teach, or do you prefer insults?

532lawecon
Edited: Jul 31, 2012, 8:23pm Top

~527

" Are the Israeli settlers who keep forcing their way into Palestinian territory Jewish?"

No, would you like a reading list as to why they are not? Or perhaps you already know, being a know-it-all-about-Jews Christian.

"If so, should other Jews who take a more liberal approach to their neighbors denounce them?"

Maybe, maybe not, it depends on the motives of those neighbors. But more Jews should denounce them.

"I guess the problem that some of us are having is that you allow an extraordinarily broad interpretation of what it means to be Jewish, yet get upset when Christians insist on having their own broad interpretation of what it means to be Christian."

I don't have a broad definition of what it means to be Jewish. In fact, my definition is extraordinarily narrow. Much narrower than most other Jews. That you don't realize that shows how much you really know about this topic.

Also, I'm not upset at all if someone who considers themselves to be Christian wants to consider people who burn crosses on the lawns of Black people or who hate homosexuals and drag them behind trucks to also be Christians. I have a better opinion than to associate decent people with such sorts, but if you don't, well, that is your problem. It certainly explains what you mean by "being a Christian."

"So how about it: what, by your definition, makes a Jew a Jew?"

OMG, a question from someone who already clearly knows the answer. Let me answer this way Hillel
The God Who Hates Lies But I wouldn't expect that you would really go to the trouble of reading either of those. After all, you, like Arctic, already know the answer.

533lawecon
Jul 31, 2012, 8:20pm Top

~528

Here is a hint, actually I've repeated it a dozen times or so in various posts in the past ten days, but to you it is clearly still a hint.
Jews are a People.
Judaism is a religion, a religion of the Jewish People.
Judaism is not a creedal religion, and, hence, has many forms.
Jews are Jews whether or not they practice any form of Judaism.

You would have figured this out long ago from my repeating it over and over and over again, if you weren't transfixed on all religions being modeled on some sort of Christianity. In fact, most aren't.

534Arctic-Stranger
Jul 31, 2012, 8:20pm Top

I love how you seem to know what I know. That is arrogance or mental illness. I asked the question because you seem to think I don't know.

I think you don't know either, but rather than admit you want to be abusive. Maybe that is the only way you know how to operate, and if that is case...well its just sad, because you seem like a smart person, and I really thought you might have something to say.

I was wrong.

535lawecon
Jul 31, 2012, 8:22pm Top

~529

""One is not a "nonJew" or even a bad Jew because one eats pork. The largest "denomination" of Jews in the United States eats pork and has cheese on their burgers.""

"Thanks. I wasn't aware that pork was okay to The largest "denomination" of Jews in the United States."

As I said, you're apparently wholly ignorant about this topic.

536Arctic-Stranger
Jul 31, 2012, 8:26pm Top

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

537lawecon
Jul 31, 2012, 8:36pm Top

~534

I do have something to say to both you and Os. "Grow up, try really hard to see beyond your prejudices. And try to listen when someone is saying something to you that you don't get, rather than whining."

Unlike some Jews you may have dealt with in the past, I am not a "nigger who is getting uppity." I am someone who is going to get in your face when you deal in stereotypes and prejudices.

As I said to you in my original response: If you didn't understand why your office mate called himself a Jew, you might have asked him. That would have been the respectful and adult thing to do. Instead, you asked me, mentioning all the "unJewish" things he did or didn't do according to your stereotypes. I suppose that I should have answered "Well, massa, this here nigger don't know why that nigger is acting so bad. We's have a talk with him." That was apparently what you were anticipating.

Sorry to disappoint you. But expect to be disappointed in the future.

538lawecon
Jul 31, 2012, 8:41pm Top

~536

This is the kind of juvenile nonsense I'd expect of you and Os. I presume, but really don't know because neither of you has said, that you're now somehow disturbed over the term "denomination." I hate to, once again, be the source of new knowledge, but that is one of the terms - along with "streams" or "emphases" or a number of synonymous terms, that Jews use to refer to the various modern interpretations of their religion. Since you probably don't also know what those are, Google "Reconstructionist," "Reform," "Conservative," "Traditionalist" (now largely extinct), Modern Orthodox and Haredim. Those are the principal denominations in Judaism. Live with it, and try not to be distracted with trivialities.

539faceinbook
Jul 31, 2012, 9:43pm Top

>533 lawecon:
So I can declare myself a Jew without praciticing any Faith what so ever ? I know people convert to Judaism. Previously you have stated that once converted to Judaism you are a "Jew" ....however I must be mistaken since you can be a Jew with out practicing Judaism....if it is not the faith one is studying to become a Jew, what then is it ? Confused.

540Arctic-Stranger
Jul 31, 2012, 10:45pm Top

You are not uppity. You just say that you more than you actually do. You have yet to answer a question that was asked out of respect for your presumed knowledge of a subject. However you have proven you cannot answer the question, resorting to taunts.

I may not know about things Jewish, but I do know your behavior.

If you knew you would answer, but your delusional responses are all you can manage.

541StormRaven
Jul 31, 2012, 10:45pm Top

Simone Caroti recently wrote this:

"To all those who think bullying gay people is a righteous course of action: enjoy your last days. For all your screaming, for all the violence you have either encouraged or practiced, both in words and in actions, gay marriage is getting closer and closer to what it should always have been: a perfectly normal reality. Same-sex marriage and parenting have not wrecked the world or invited God's wrath, and why should they have? The morals involved do not carry any stigma you can indicate without revealing your own failures of character and nothing else besides. So go ahead: yell, scream, call the thunderbolt from the sky - and while you're looking up, take a moment to notice the fading of the light. It's dusk for the lot of you."

I agree with him.

542lawecon
Edited: Jul 31, 2012, 11:16pm Top

~539

"So I can declare myself a Jew without praciticing any Faith what so ever ?"

Well, yes, you can declare yourself anything you want, but the question is whether other Jews and nonJews believe your declaration. For instance, this guy was adamant about being a Jew http://www.haaretz.com/culture/books/meet-brother-daniel-a-jew-converted-christi... , but many other Jews disagreed

"Previously you have stated that once converted to Judaism you are a "Jew" ....however I must be mistaken since you can be a Jew with out practicing Judaism....if it is not the faith one is studying to become a Jew, what then is it ? Confused."

You are learning to become a member of the Jewish People. That may or may not have much to do with a "faith". It depends on what you mean by "faith." Does an inductee to the Apache tribe have to have faith? Faith in what? I suspect that some sorts of "faith" is required of such a new Apache, but perhaps not the sort you have in mind when you say the word "faith" as a Christian.

But basically, face, you are confused, because like Arctic and Os (and most of the atheists that continually make proclamations about these topics in these forums) you presume that Christianity is the model for all religions. Again, it isn't. There are many views in the world that are classified as "religions" by those on the outside that aren't entirely or mainly "faith commitments," at least not in the sense that Christianity is a faith commitment. Indeed, some sorts of Christianity are more than faith commitments - although how much more seems to vary considerably - as the rest of the discussion above illustrates.

I would respectfully suggest (respectfully, because you are enough of a mensch to admit that you're confused) that you reread my posts above. If that isn't enough, I'd be happy to recommend reading in addition to the two books I've recommended above. Although I think that each of those are very good recent books, there are about 2,500 years worth of other older books, many of which are worth reading and illuminate one aspect or another of this topic.

It takes awhile to explain this and to figure out what is being explained, particularly given the parochialism of American religious thought, but I'd be happy to work with you if you are really interested.

543lawecon
Jul 31, 2012, 11:11pm Top

~540

Since I irritate you so much, Arctic, and since you are determined not to pay attention to anything I say to you, let me recommend that you put me on ignore. That will also save you from the impulse to ask me about the reasons other people have for their identity.

544johnthefireman
Edited: Jul 31, 2012, 11:45pm Top

>533 lawecon: Jews are Jews whether or not they practice any form of Judaism.

lawecon, I'm interested by that statement. I think there's a sense in which Catholics might say the same of Catholicism. I suppose one can consciously choose to stop being a Catholic (although often the culture still lingers), but generally one wouldn't say that you have stopped being a Catholic just because you don't practice. I think the sense that we are a People is also strong.

545Arctic-Stranger
Aug 1, 2012, 12:36am Top

I'm irritated because the first time I have a question that I really think you can answer, you choose to evade, and not answer. I really was looking forward to your thoughts on this issue. And for the record, I do not view all religions through the veil of Christianity. I have spent enough time in Buddhism, and the last four years essentially outside the faith so that it is clearly a part of my past, but it my present.

But perhaps you are right. You should be ignored.

546Osbaldistone
Aug 1, 2012, 1:03am Top

>533 lawecon: Here is a hint, actually I've repeated it a dozen times or so in various posts in the past ten days, but to you it is clearly still a hint. Jews are a People.
Judaism is a religion, a religion of the Jewish People.

Finally, a clear response (with insults, as usual, but a response). Lawecon, you're saying that the original question was insulting because Arctic asked if his office mate was a Jew (which is a name for a people), rather than asking if he was properly practicing Judaism (which is a religion). Thanks - finally I get why you reacted so negatively. But, I have to say I've searched this entire (500+ post) topic and can find no place where you said "Jews are a People", so I reject your conclusion that I missed it.

But, wait! In post 535, lawecon, you say The largest "denomination" of Jews in the United States eats pork... In post 538, once I got past the insults, I read you saying [denomination] is one of the terms that Jews use to refer to the various modern interpretations of their religion, but then you use the phrase the principal denominations in Judaism.
and elsewhere in this topic, you say:
- You go around telling Jews and Catholics and Mormons and Muslims...
- What I am, of course, referring to is the Jewish requirement that sins that hurt men as well as G-d first be compensated for...
- While Judaism... is generally extremely latitudinarian toward most sins and always allows for repentence and restitution, there are certain acts that Jews are absolutely forbidden to do.
- "A Jew must sacrifice his or her life rather than transgress the above-mentioned sins."

The above is the result of me listening, lawecon. Asking you why you were insulted by the earlier post may well be the result of my "prejudices" and "stereotypes" (we all have them - some of us try to identify them and even ask for help in doing so), but asking is not an attempt to reinforce them, and certainly not an attempt to insult anyone.

With my admittedly incomplete understanding, and with your explanation in 533, it seems to me lawecon, like you're interchanging the terms 'Judaism' (the religion) and 'Jews' (a people) in a way quite similar to what you were originally insulted about. So I'm back to where I was before your (seemingly) helpful post 533. I'm afraid you'll be incensed that I'm so dense that I can't see the difference in how you use these two terms, but I have to admit that, yes, I can't see the difference. Or is it one of those things where it's okay for a Jew to use the terms this way, but not for a non-Jew?

I'm wondering if any of the other menshes on this post can see where the difference is, and, if so, perhaps help me out.

Os.

547Osbaldistone
Aug 1, 2012, 1:10am Top

>538 lawecon:
No, lawecon, I'm not disturbed over the term "denomination", but I got a kick out of you presuming so to allow you to then claim that I'm being distracted with trivialities. I simply repeated your statement which included the word because, as I said, I had been unaware that such a large denomination of Judaism (correct usage, right?) was okay with eating pork. You did read my description of the dietary restrictions put on my son because he was eating lunch in a Hebrew school, right. It sounds like you didn't, since you are amazed that I think many Jews who practice Judaism (correct usage, right?) object to pork.

Regarding 'denomination', I simply assumed that you use the term to refer to different groups whose interpretations of Judaism differ. I think I got that right, at least.

Os.

548Osbaldistone
Aug 1, 2012, 1:18am Top

>542 lawecon:
Lawecon, I think your differentiation about 'faith committment' and 'religion' as regards the point of view of a lifelong Christian (or, at least, a Christian with little experience with other religions) may prove to be quite helpful. You may well be right (after clearing away the insulting choices of words) that I tend to assume that following a certain religion means having a faith or belief in the divine, as defined by that religion (pehaps I'm getting close to what you mean by "faith committment"). Finding clarity in this probably requires more exchanges, which would hijack the thread, but at least it gives me something to chew on for help in trying to understand the statements made by folks whose religious experience is from non-Christian traditions.

Os.

549Osbaldistone
Aug 1, 2012, 1:26am Top

>537 lawecon: If you didn't understand why your office mate called himself a Jew, you might have asked him. That would have been the respectful and adult thing to do. Instead, you asked me, mentioning all the "unJewish" things he did or didn't do according to your stereotypes.

Lawecon, given that Arctic's question was so insulting to you, and resulted in such a negative reaction from you, I think Arctic should be glad he didn't pose this question to his co-worker. Forgive me, but isn't it better that you be insulted on a thread like this than Arctic risk such a reaction from a co-worker? Now he at least knows to keep his questions to himself in face-to-face discussions, unless he's extremely confident that he fully understands the cultural sensitivities he's likely to encounter; cultural sensitivities that he was aware of, at least instinctively, enough to decide to pose the question here rather than at work.

Os.

550lawecon
Aug 1, 2012, 9:22am Top

~544

I think that the problem with the analogy is that Catholicism is first of all a religion and only secondarily a culture. The reverse is true of being a Jew. First you are a Jew, second you may be "observant," in some sense of "observant" (which is, itself, a highly loaded term invented by the Orthodox after they invented Orthodoxy).

In each instance, however, you can join or leave the relevant group, and joining or leaving has little to do with whether one regularly participates in the Eucharist or eats pork.

What I was strongly reacting to was people who know zip about Judaism or being a Jew equating it to eating pork or "attending Temple." I probably wouldn't react so strongly if it was a Hindu expressing that ignorance, but it grates when it comes from a former Christian minister and a purported scholar of Christianity, given the history of Christian attempts to rewrite Judaism ever since Paul (and particularly during the middle ages).

551lawecon
Aug 1, 2012, 9:25am Top

~545

"I'm irritated because the first time I have a question that I really think you can answer, you choose to evade, and not answer."

The problem is, Arctic, that you are so ingrained in your ignorance about this topic that you still take my response as "an evasion." It wasn't. It isn't. If you are really sincere in learning something it shouldn't be that difficult to figure out why.

"But perhaps you are right. You should be ignored."

I definitely should be ignored by you, as I have nothing to teach you. You already know with complete certainty. And I'm, frankly, getting tired of the effort of trying to teach you anything.

552lawecon
Edited: Aug 1, 2012, 9:47am Top

~549

This one I'll answer. The rest of them I'm going to ignore until you've "chewed on it" to the point where you can start having a meaningful dialogue.

"Lawecon, given that Arctic's question was so insulting to you, and resulted in such a negative reaction from you, I think Arctic should be glad he didn't pose this question to his co-worker. Forgive me, but isn't it better that you be insulted on a thread like this than Arctic risk such a reaction from a co-worker?"

No, it isn't better. His questions could easily be phrased to his co-worker so that they would be very unlikely to be insulted. For instance "Hey, you know, I'm starting to study about Judaism. And I know from what you've said in the past that you are proud to be a Jew. But all along I've thought that Jews did thus or so. Is that wrong? Could you help me out here, since I've just started on this study and I can see already that it is pretty complex."

That is the way that adult human beings interact. The answer might well be "You really should talk to a rabbi, I just do what I do." or "Well, none of us is perfect." or, if the coworker is sophisticated, the sort of answer I gave above - that none of the points that bother Arctic are essential to being a Jew and, besides, there are all sorts of ways to practice Judaism.

But you don't ask one person about another and whether or not they are a good exemplar of this or that affinity which you know that person values. You just don't do that. If you do, you are making the "good nigger" inquiry I illustrated above of a Black person about another Black person.

What would you think, for instance, if I said to John: "You know, I'm not sure that Tim is a good Catholic. After all, he does this and doesn't do that. What do you think about Tim, good Catholic or no ?" That is insulting on so many levels that I can't begin to enumerate them. It is also particularly strange coming from a former Christian minister who should never call upon one person to judge another person, but I suppose that is just what one says in sermons.

553cjbanning
Edited: Aug 1, 2012, 9:52am Top

552: What would you think, for instance, if I said to John: "You know, I'm not sure that Tim is a good Catholic. After all, he does this and doesn't do that. What do you think about Tim, good Catholic or no ?

Hey wait, "being a good Catholic" is very different than just "being a Catholic." The very phrase implies that it is possible to be the latter without being the former. The two would have very different sets of criteria.

554faceinbook
Aug 1, 2012, 9:59am Top

>542 lawecon:
You are learning to become a member of the Jewish People. That may or may not have much to do with a "faith". It depends on what you mean by "faith." Does an inductee to the Apache tribe have to have faith? Faith in what? I suspect that some sorts of "faith" is required of such a new Apache, but perhaps not the sort you have in mind when you say the word "faith" as a Christian.

But basically, face, you are confused, because like Arctic and Os (and most of the atheists that continually make proclamations about these topics in these forums) you presume that Christianity is the model for all religions. Again, it isn't. There are many views in the world that are classified as "religions" by those on the outside that aren't entirely or mainly "faith commitments," at least not in the sense that Christianity is a faith commitment. Indeed, some sorts of Christianity are more than faith commitments - although how much more seems to vary considerably - as the rest of the discussion above illustrates.

Going to go back to a discussion we had a while back....I can be adopted by the Apache tribe but I can not be an Apache. Can act like one, talk like one, I can practice the rituals related to the Apache spritual beliefs and I can call myself an "Apache" but I am not an Apache.
Will not have the same geneology that is the inherent make up of an Apache person. I am part Ojibiwa....but not enough to be considered a member of the Ojibiwa tribe. I can seek to be adopted (which requires a rigorous amount of studying and ceremony) by the tribe but that will not erase the Romanian, German and French blood that is in my geneology.

I do not presume that Christianity is the model of all religions...if anything, I go back to the pagan beliefs as being the foundation for many "modern" religions, one of which is Christianity....in the big picture Christianity has not been around all that long.
Judaism, though I do not know a whole lot about it, would seem to me to be a culture that is more about the self and how one conducts themselves within the confines of one's society. A culture with a religious "aside" Much like the Native Americans. Their "faith" if you want to call it that requires that one deal with one's own actions and not worry so much about the actions of others. In tribal matters it was imperative that there be rules and regulations but these rules had nothing to do with the individual faith of any given tribe member....had to do with the best possible survival rate for the tribe as a whole. One's "faith" was a private matter and though often celebrated as a tribe, it remained between a tribal member and his/her Creator as to how best to live a life of honor.

Modern religions have given license to "judgement" of others. They seem to be a Faith that is trying to promote a culture rather than the other way around. Hence the problem with "gays" , which is the title of the thread.

555nathanielcampbell
Aug 1, 2012, 12:56pm Top

To lawecon (532 et al.):

Leaving aside the fact that I have been asking genuine questions because I don't know their answers (though you seem to assume that I do, thus disregarding my stated ignorance), I am still confused about the following statements:

From 526: "Similarly, "going to Temple" (only the Reform call it "Temple") is a recommended behavior, but not necessary to be a Jew. Many Israeli Jews spend Yom Kippur on the beach and yet claim to be Jews, are recognized as Jews by a Jewish State, and and are recognized as Jews by most other Jews."

From 532: "'Are the Israeli settlers who keep forcing their way into Palestinian territory Jewish?' No."
and
"I don't have a broad definition of what it means to be Jewish. In fact, my definition is extraordinarily narrow. Much narrower than most other Jews."

On the one hand, you seem to say that Jews themselves accept a broad membership, one arbiter of which is recognition by the state of Israel. On the other hand, you insist on an "extraordinarily narrow" definition of Jewishness ("much narrower than most other Jews") that would exclude those Israeli settlers whom the state of Israel does, in fact, recognize as Jews.

So which is it? Are there a lot of Jews (including the West Bank settlers), or are there few? Are there requirements for being a Jew? If so, what are they?

Again, I am asking because I genuinely want to know how a Jew would answer these questions. I pledge to refrain from importing my Christian prejudices about Judaism and listen to an actual Jew teach me about his religion/culture/self identity.

556Arctic-Stranger
Aug 1, 2012, 1:33pm Top

From what I have read of Lawecon's posts, a Jew is simply what he says a Jew is. I am not sure why being a former Christian pastor and instructor on ancient Judaic texts makes me an expert on Judaism (which according to him I already am but should be but cannot be) and alas, all I can glean is that being Jewish means being obnoxious.

I prefer my office mates explanation, which was, "I don't know." (Yes, I did ask him, and after discussing why I wanted to know, he suggested I ask the person who got me thinking about it in the first place. Only bad advice I ever got from him.)

557timspalding
Aug 1, 2012, 2:04pm Top

I think it's clear: There is no definition of Jew that doesn't involve a stance.

The same is true of "Christian," although in general the issue is less vexatious.

558Osbaldistone
Edited: Aug 1, 2012, 2:10pm Top

>552 lawecon: That is the way that adult human beings interact. The answer might well be "You really should talk to a rabbi, I just do what I do." or "Well, none of us is perfect." or, if the coworker is sophisticated, the sort of answer I gave above..."

For me, lawecon, the problem is that your answers are like someone posting a note on the fridge (the actual answer), tossing in a molatov coctail to get everyone's attention (the 80% of the post that berates the person for asking and insults them for not knowing), and then wondering why no one read and perfectly understood the note on the fridge.

Look at the response (post 214) to Arctic's original question. Looking back, I realize his question was answered, probably to the best of your ability, in the first two sentences. The rest is just fire and smoke, but the rest is what turned a simply inquiry into dozens of mostly unrelated and aggraviting/aggravated posts.

Perhaps that's just my problem, but there it is.

Os.


Edited to fix italics

559jbbarret
Aug 1, 2012, 4:50pm Top

Is it simply that:
if we have to ask, we will never know,
if we don't understand, there's no point in explanation,
if we can't see, then there's no use in being shown,
we just have to be ?

560Arctic-Stranger
Aug 1, 2012, 6:30pm Top

So maybe Lawecon is a Zen Buddhist in disguise.

561lawecon
Aug 1, 2012, 9:12pm Top

~554

"Going to go back to a discussion we had a while back....I can be adopted by the Apache tribe but I can not be an Apache. Can act like one, talk like one, I can practice the rituals related to the Apache spritual beliefs and I can call myself an "Apache" but I am not an Apache.
Will not have the same geneology that is the inherent make up of an Apache person. I am part Ojibiwa....but not enough to be considered a member of the Ojibiwa tribe. I can seek to be adopted (which requires a rigorous amount of studying and ceremony) by the tribe but that will not erase the Romanian, German and French blood that is in my geneology."

Yah, well, tribes differ in their entry and exit requirements. According to some of the Jewish Scriptures a woman could become a Jew by marrying a Jew. In the pre-destruction of the Second Temple days there were numerous converts and you could become a Jew if you were circumcised (if a man) and made a few more commitments. Things tightened up a bit with the Third Revolt and then the coming of Constantine - since it was no longer a "good thing" to be a Jew. Today, different groups have different requirements but only the Syrian Jews don't allow "converts."

562lawecon
Edited: Aug 1, 2012, 10:44pm Top

~555

Let me try and break it down for you like this.

The general question or issue, as is well recognized in all sorts of literature, is "Who is a Jew?" It is generally recognized that "being a Jew is being a member of a People."

The question of "Who is a Jew?" is somewhat complicated by the fact that Judaism is historically one of the elements of being a Jew, albeit it is not the "essence" of being a Jew. The question is further complicated by the fact that Judaism is a religion but not a "faith." You don't practice Judaism by affirming a list of "beliefs" or "doctrines" - a "creed." Judaism is not creedal.

Further, "a People" is obviously a broad category, broader than, say, being a Reformed North American Druid or a follower of Chabad.

Now, one can approach the question of "Who is a Jew?" in various ways, but it may help to break it down this way:
(1) Where are the behavioral boundaries for being a Jew? Can a Jew get tatoos? Can a Jew kill defenseless people because they are of another culture? Etc.
(2) Can one become a Jew or cease being a Jew?
(3) What does one do to become a Jew or cease being a Jew?

Let's take (2) first. According to some Orthodox, if you are born a Jew you cannot cease being a Jew. You can become a Catholic Priest. You can become a leader of Hitler's SS. You are still a Jew. This is much like the view face is referencing in Post #554. According to this view "being a Jew" is being genetically descended from Abraham and Sara. I consider this to be a very "broad" view because it completely eliminates any behavioral element in Judaism. (It is not so broad in the stringent requirements for conversion and the status of a convert, but that is generally a marginal question, since few Gentiles want to become Orthodox or Haredi.)

OTOH, as we've seen above, the Israeli Supreme Court takes the position that anyone who is born a Jew AND WHO HAS NOT CONVERTED TO ANOTHER RELIGION, is a Jew. This view is narrower because it allows exit from the Jewish People by putting some selective emphasis on (1). (It also takes the position that anyone who has converted under a rabbi of any of the denominations of Judaism is a Jew - albeit that position is weakening as the Haredi gain more political power.)

My view is narrower still because I would count some behaviors as violating the boundaries of permissible behaviors of "being a Jew," and thus as effective exit from the Jewish People, whether that is the intent and whether one keeps practicing some rituals of Judaism and dressing according to the conventions of one of the sects of Judaism. To put that differently, I consider (1) as the key to "Who is a Jew?" Because that is my view, I conclude that one can both become a Jew and cease being a Jew. I have no firm position on (3), although I think that adherence to one of the standards set forth by one of the denominations of Judaism is a good marker, if one then continues to behave as a Jew.

As I said to you previously, and you apparently ignored for whatever reason, I consider the "West Bank Settlers," who are settlers for ideological reasons rather than simple economics, as having exited from Judaism. Would you like me to say that several more times, or have you heard it this time?

563Osbaldistone
Aug 1, 2012, 11:27pm Top

>562 lawecon: My view is narrower still because I would count some behaviors as violating the boundaries of permissible behaviors of "being a Jew,"

So when Arctic asked about someone considering himself to be a Jew despite his behavior of eating pork, which violates the requirements by some 'denominations' of Judaism, you were insulted because, apparently, it doesn't violate your personal requirements. I come to that conclusion, lawecon, because you are quite comfortable with discussing the existence of permissable behaviors, but you are then insulted when Arctic asks if you consider a specific behavior permissable. And, on top of that, in this post 562, lawecon, you noted two major ways in which you find answering such questions to be complicated.

Os.

564MyopicBookworm
Aug 2, 2012, 7:45am Top

I consider the "West Bank Settlers," who are settlers for ideological reasons rather than simple economics, as having exited from Judaism.

I find this puzzling. If the Jewish "People" can be joined by one who has that intention despite not being born a Jew, and who signals that intention with certain behaviours, and one can remain part of the Jewish People even if ceasing any overt behaviour which might be characteristic of Jewishness, yet one can "leave" the Jewish People despite (a) intending to remain Jewish and (b) practising a large proportion of characteristically Jewish behaviours, simply by violating certain ideological boundaries of acceptability (settling on someone else's land).

565faceinbook
Aug 2, 2012, 7:47am Top

>561 lawecon:
". According to some of the Jewish Scriptures a woman could become a Jew by marrying a Jew. In the pre-destruction of the Second Temple days there were numerous converts and you could become a Jew if you were circumcised (if a man) and made a few more commitments."

Understand that....my daughter became a Catholic when she married a Catholic but she did not become Swedish because her husband is Swedish.

566lawecon
Edited: Aug 2, 2012, 9:29am Top

~563

I am sorry, Os, but I am getting a bit impatient by your either not reading what I am saying or being so prejudiced against me (and Jews in general?) that you can't draw logical implications from it.

NO Jew, let me repeat that so you hear it, NO Jew would consider "eating pork" as being grounds for concluding that the pork eater was not a Jew or had ceased being a Jew. The Orthodox would not because, as I noted above, in their view you cannot DO anything that causes a Jew to become a nonJew. The Reform would not, since they regularly eat pork and have halachic reasons for doing so. AND I would not, although, in fact, I do not eat pork or shellfish or certain other "forbidden foods."

Get it? The only people who consider eating pork as an indicia of not being a Jew are ignorant Christians who have been misled by the myths of Paul followed by the greater myths of the Middle Ages concerning "what those Jews are like." It is exactly analogous to White People who KNOW that "Niggers are naturally lazy and dumb. They can't help it, that is just what they are like."

567johnthefireman
Edited: Aug 2, 2012, 9:15am Top

>566 lawecon: When I lived in South Africa a few years ago I actually used to get whites asking me, "You've lived with the blacks, so can you explain why they are so lazy, ignorant and dirty?" I was usually too flabbergasted to think of a fitting reply; how do you answer such a prejudiced question? "Actually they're not" never seemed to be adequate.

Tim, you're the originator of this thread; can we hit the "Continue this topic in another topic" button as it is taking an inordinate length of time to load now?

568lawecon
Edited: Aug 2, 2012, 9:29am Top

~564

Geesh, people in these theads just can't read. It is not JUST "settling on other Peoples' land" - as I clearly indicated in the sentence you quote from my previous post. If you are just looking for a cheap place to live you can squat on "someone else's land" all you want, particularly if he isn't using the land on which you are squatting. I am not even sure that such behavior is a sin. It depends on how you define property in land and theft of such property. Would you say, for instance, that the vacuous demonstrators of six months ago were "stealing" public parks since they were not only squatting but were squatting on land that was otherwise being used?

Those who have left Judaism are those who have made an idol of The Land, an idol which they worship. Under the slogan of "Hashem gave us this land" they are violating many of the core tenants of being a Jew - "Do not do to another what would be distasteful if done to you." "Welcome the stranger." "Treat your neighbor as yourself." "You shall have no G-d other than me."

569lawecon
Edited: Aug 2, 2012, 9:24am Top

~565

Well, it was different in Judaism. Jews were and are a tribe. In those days you became a member of the tribe if you were a woman and married a man of the tribe. The rules have changed since then, but those were the rules at the time.

570lawecon
Edited: Aug 2, 2012, 9:23am Top

~567

And my reaction to Arctic's "question" was similar, albeit I generally react by doing more than shuffling and murmuring "yes massa". As I recall, some of your compatriots in Africa have a similar reaction and approach.

Tim, I agree with John's suggestion, but I hope that doesn't mean that an interested reader of the other thread will not be able to easily find this discussion.

571timspalding
Aug 2, 2012, 10:10am Top

Yes. Go ahead. I think anyone can continue.

572Arctic-Stranger
Aug 2, 2012, 3:53pm Top

I am still unclear on how assuming that keeping kosher and attending Temple are somehow offensive matters. If I said my office mate was not greedy or used some other denigrating characteristic of Jews, that WOULD be offensive. But assuming someone holds to (what I thought were) acceptable forms of practice does not seem to me to be offensive. That these are NOT acceptable forms of practice was new to me.

I someone asked about a Christian, and mentioned they never attended church, never partook of communion, ate meat on Fridays, etc. I would certainly not feel that person was offensive.

573johnthefireman
Aug 2, 2012, 11:08pm Top

>572 Arctic-Stranger: Arctic-Stranger, this conversation is now being continued on the new thread.

574thedenathome
Oct 22, 2012, 7:49pm Top

According to Jesus, it was designed to me one man to one woman and for life. The fact that there were so many exceptions to the rule (and still are) does not mean that the Bible promotes other arrangements. Jesus in Matthew 19: 1 to 9 is teaching about when divorce is legitimate but he also says several things about marriage that are instructive; the Creator made "man" male and female; that a man should leave his parents and be joined to his wife; that "what God has joined together let no man separate; and that if he divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman, he commits adultery.

Notice that the Creation order is for monogamy and for people to be forming their own family; sexual union is expected; it is for life with one exception; sexual immorality. As a Christian, we ought to take the teachings of Jesus seriously and recognize that when other "respected" Bible figures, be they Abraham, Jacob or Solomon, they are NOT doing what they do with God's approval.
So, yes, Biblical marriage is "between a man and a woman". Note; singular and one and only one of each of the 2 genders. Outside of these criteria, it is not a "Biblical" marriage.

For Judaism and Islam, let someone from those traditions speak.

575johnthefireman
Oct 22, 2012, 10:57pm Top

>574 thedenathome: thedenathome, this conversation is being continued on the new thread, as this one got too long. See below for the link.

576thedenathome
Oct 25, 2012, 3:24pm Top

Johnthefireman, you have made a good point here: "Our religion does not exist in a cultural, political and historical vacuum; the modern "born again" "saved" evangelical variety of Christianity seems to be a product of western culture, although ironically more mainstream forms of Christianity helped shape that culture. Christianity in the era of Christ would probably have been acted out in a culture more akin to modern Africa than modern north America." As a "modern born again saved evangelical" might I add this. The "more mainstream forms of Christianity that helped shape that culture" are seen by those in my group as having been much more like we are today, than what those "mainstream" churches are like today. A dear friend of mine who was from a Scottish Baptist background told me that her father, a Baptist minister used to walk around downtown Montreal wearing a sandwich board on which the front said "I'm a fool for Christ" and the back "Whose fool are you?" And John Wesley, the founder of Methodism although he remained a lifelong member of the Anglican Clergy, would preach on street corners to coal miners (being pelted by rotten vegetables too!) Now I give you these 2 examples to show that Baptists, Anglicans and Methodists were once far more willing to be unconventional than most "fiery" Pentecostals (of which denomination, I used to be).
It is our conviction that at the beginnings of the "mainstream" churches, they were then as we are now; very concerned about "individual salvation". Again, as one very prone to over-simplifying and over-generalizing, I grant that this concern for "individual salvation" was not ALL that the early "mainstream" churches stood for either. But then again, neither is that ALL that modern evangelical churches are standing for. Someone has already mentioned that charitable giving both to church based and to secular organizations (Cancer Societies come to mind) than the non-churched. In saying this, I am also reminded of a comment made by a prof who was quoting one of the Roman Emperors, Julian the Apostate. Julian is quoted as bemoaning the fact that the Christians he so detested kept making it hard for him to turn the population against them because "Not only do they support their own poor, sick and dying, they also look after our own poor, sick and dying."
And, still today, Rick Warren of Saddleback Church and author of The Purpose Driven Church has spear headed a lot of work to help HIV/AIDS infected gays, and numerous Christian organizations work ceaselessly on behalf of the poor, diseased and the oppressed.
What the (now) old school evangelicals still look for is faithfulness to the Word of God. IF our faith is TRUE, IF Jesus rose from the dead, THEN God DOES speak and HAS spoken to us through that Bible which so many denounce.
We may have wrongly interpreted it; I can grant that and do grant it. 30 years ago I thought only men could lead the church. In 1984, my own denomination took a brave step and changed our internal policies although a large minority still disagreed with that change. Could churches like that come to accept homosexuality fully? Sure...IF we can be convinced by the Scriptures and SOUND reason. That is still where many of us will be found.
I have recently found a blog from a sensible "gay christian". I leave the quotation marks because I am still not convinced this is possible. I am reading it to see if he has anything that will give me a new perspective.
The beginning of this thread is about this question of whether or not homosexuality is the "Big Question" for christianity; will it result in christianity's ultimate demise or not. I would say it is not the "Big Question" and it will not result in the demise of the faith.
The "Big Question" for real christians is always "Is Jesus MY Lord?/ Am I living to honor Him?" and the second question was answered by Jesus Himself: "I will build my church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it."

577thedenathome
Oct 25, 2012, 3:55pm Top

Again, as a representative of this brand of Christianity, I do believe that the Bible is inspired by God (literally "God-breathed") and remember that Genesis 2 states that this is how humanity gained the "image of God" and life itself. So, yes, we do take it very seriously that "God has spoken in His Word" and that the Bible we read today is an accurate version of what He has said. As a 20 year old, this was a huge deal for me and it has taken most of the time from then till now at age 58 that I can say I am fully one of "those", yes I do believe in the inerrancy and infallibilty of Scripture. AND I agree that SOME of the criticism even from outside of the Church is actually justified. And this understanding of the Scriptures is a lot older than you think...Jesus had it and used even the tense of a word to prove his points. It is not a groundless belief!
Now, to blame these beliefs as the cause of most of the difficulties within the Church is arguably just flat out wrong...that is why I am arguing! Most of the difficulties of the Church are caused when the Church is not doing what the Church was established to do: love the sinner and make disciples of Jesus Christ (the greatest love we can show is the latter). In times past, heretical practices arose (usually doctrine is heretical, not practice) such as forcible conversions: the Inquisition, Charlesmagne giving people the option of conversion or death are 2 examples that spring to mind. To my mind, you can't force someone to believe; God has granted free will and you have to exercise it to become a Christian. I know that "Only Believe" is the mantra you've probably always heard, but "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God".
And I will also maintain, that you can call yourself a christian till you're blue in the face, but God will still say "Depart from me; I never knew you, you workers of iniquity". Robe yourself however you will...have the shortest hair and a whole wardrobe of black suits, white shirts and striped ties...if you abuse children, if you preach bigotry and hatred...."do not pass GO, do not collect $200, go straight to ..."
Secondly, until about the time of Occupy Wall Street, I too would have called myself right-of-center. Can't do it any more. We need to be concerned about justice...and the whole political systems of the US and Canada (I am Canadian) are so corrupt and skewed to benefit the wealthy, we need to find a new way to get decent, wise and honest people in positions of influence. I wish I knew of one.

578thedenathome
Oct 25, 2012, 4:11pm Top

Canadian statistics show the same thing...however, it is not the corporate big shots who give the most, it is the little guy who it living around the poverty line who is doing the majority of the giving! Now, I don't know if he/she is liberal or conservative, I do know that he or she is still HUMAN. Corporate big shots, the vast majority of them...I have to wonder.
And by the way, I do know on a first name basis, several business owners in my home town who are rich, but also givers. My hat goes off to them.
Another point; CEOs giving to the symphony or whatever are getting their reward: they get their plaque on the wall, they get the newspaper article, they get their tax receipt. The guys I look up to are the guy in my church who runs a weekly kids sports program, collects heavy socks for the street people, makes meals for the homeless, goes to Haiti to help a disabled man build a house for his family and I have forgotten/don't know most of what he does. Oh, and he does it because that is what he believes God wants us to do. I got hurt a couple of months ago; he knows I like reading; so he lends me some of the books he knows I would like to read. I am honored just being close to this guy. And a couple of the business owners are pretty much in the same mold as my church friend. Oh, and they are conservative "the-Bible-is the-Word-of-God" believers too.
I see 2 groups who give: real christians and those who once were poorer than they are now and still remember what it was like.

579Osbaldistone
Edited: Oct 25, 2012, 6:54pm Top

thedenathome, you seem to have missed the link, below, to the continutation, as well as post 575, which said "this conversation is being continued on the new thread, as this one got too long. See below for the link." Here it is as well - http://www.librarything.com/topic/140478

Os.

580thedenathome
Oct 25, 2012, 8:45pm Top

I am sorry that I have only come upon this thread 3 months after the discussion. But it is a lively and lucid and enlightening exchange. And, once again, I find myself responding in the hopes that maybe someone out there is still listening in. To get to the point of lawecon's question "are the boundaries of Christianity defined solely by "belief in Jesus Christ as one's personal or corporate savior" or is there some prescriptive substantive behavioral content beyond that bare belief? Paul apparently tried to have it both ways, but frankly I don't think his attempt was successful, and neither does anyone else I am familiar with among, as Tim would probably put it, "the consensus of scholars.", I found myself pondering for, oh, 2 minutes before I went to Ephesians instead of Romans where I thought lawecon's objection was based. Paul, the apostle of grace, answers this question succinctly in Ephesians 2 verses 8 to 10 where he says (my paraphrase) "We are saved by grace through faith and not by anything we do. However we are saved so that we will glorify God BY the good that we do." In other words, the relationship with God is instigated by His action, accepted by humanity (as individuals through each one's free will choice) in order that we then honor Him by doing His will, which is to love Him and one another.

I am rather shocked that lawecon has found no one in the "consensus of scholars" who has found Paul's solution to be successful. Now perhaps lawecon has a priori excluded all Christian scholars throughout history. I don't know of any non-Christian scholars who have examined Paul's thought and come to a conclusion though. It seems obvious though, that they would be quite unanimous in finding Paul's solution unsatisfactory if they remain unbelievers. On the other hand though, many Christian scholars did not start with a prior conviction that Paul was the genius that he in fact is. Do you want names too?

581thedenathome
Edited: Oct 25, 2012, 11:32pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

582johnthefireman
Edited: Oct 26, 2012, 1:31am Top

thedenathome, I'm happy that you have found this thread and your contributions are most welcome. As has been said, I think it would be helpful if you would continue to post on the continuation of this thread, as it is now very long and it is taking a long time to load for those of us with slower and less stable internet connections. You can still refer back to posts on this thread. Incidentally, I think it would also be helpful if you could refer to the post number when you quote previous posts, as many of us can't remember what we posted several hundred posts ago and need to look back to refresh ourselves.

Looking forward to continuing this on the other new thread (see link below).

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