Friday, February 26, 2010

Let's talk about sex.

So a good bit of the Christian world is adverse to premarital sex.
And that's starting to make more sense to me, but not in a Christianity related sense. So many people lack the ability to just make a decision and hold their ground. To be able to do so is not only a great skill, but it means you share something ridiculously special with the person you're aiming to spend the rest of your life with (granted, you only have a 50/50 chance of staying married to them, but that's a different story for another day.

What I don't understand is why people make this a religious and moral issue though. Honestly, if somebody wants to have sex, it's up to them. God gave us our bodies, and they can do some pretty ridiculously cool things, and I know a lot of people my age really enjoy that. I don't think it speaks any less of them as a person if they're happy and enjoying their lives. The religious and moral issue to me seems to be a cultural thing, not a Biblical thing.

Let's face it - the Bible's scandalous. I recently read an article discussion how God uses "sexual deviancy" throughout the Bible (Tamar, Mary, Ruth, etc.) to yield good. The Bible celebrates sex, especially the Old Testament, and the lineage of Jesus, at least according to Matthew 1, includes several sex scandals.

Honestly, I'm starting to find most NT interpretation highly subjective, and I'm not about to let Paul/people writing in his name dictate my personal standards, but that's just me...

Anyways, sex is good. Personal preference is also good. Judging someone's morality or spirituality based on their sexual choices is not good.

So yeah, personally, I don't want to have sex in college. That's in part because of some bad personal experiences, in part because I respect myself enough to feel valuable without it, and in part because I just plain don't want to. But for me, that's not a religious thing. It's a me-thing, and I really feel like that's how it should be.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

God bless the punk hipsters.

I went to an absolutely ridiculous concert tonight in Philly.
4 bands. 120+ punk hipsters. A whole lot of forties. My best friend.

...and me.

For those of you who don't know what a hipster is, you're probably grown up and are above the new crazy stereotypes of my generation. Hipsters are basically trust fund babies who like to act/dress/seem poor for the irony. These were punk hipsters, which are actually middle class people with oodles of piercings who wear tons of plaid and drink forties of Mickeys and PBR (Pabst Blue Ribbon. EWWWWWWWWWWWWWW GROSS) and they smoke a S*$T ton of cigarettes (another EWWWWWWWWWW). Girls are generally short, guys are tall. Lots of skinny jeans. It's a weird culture, but fascinating and oddly tribal upon closer examination, but that's another story for another blog.

So anyways, people mosh at these things. To dance like a punk hipster is to jump up and down and shove people into other people. I didn't actually know this before I went to this concert.

But we were on the 2nd floor. And the floor may have kind of started shaking and bouncing like crazy, and they had to tell everyone to quit jumping because the floor was going to collapse, dumping everyone into the all concrete first floor that was 15 feet below our feet.

Freaking terrifying.

So what does this have to do with God? It's random how the most ridiculous (and albeit terrifying) moments can remind you of your mortality and how wonderful it is to be alive. And it's also really cool to see so many different sorts of people with such different lifestyles and know that God loves them, too, forties and moshing and all.

God bless the punk hipsters. And thank God we got home safely!

P.S. I have a very shiny new pin that I got for free from one of the bands called Lee Corey Oswald. While this band name is admittedly a reference to JFK's assassin, the pin is shiny and it has a picture of a revolver on it. So not only did I get a God moment out of this evening AND an adventure with my best friend (who has promised not to take me to another one of these ever again :) ), but I got a very cool shiny pin.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Spoon-fed dogma - it's a bitch.

The more I learn, the more I find my views becoming, and I quote someone I live with, "heretical."
But here's the deal. You really can't depend upon church teachings. From the earliest years of the church, scripture has been interpreted and reinterpreted, translated and retranslated, and in most modern churches has been taken so far out of context and deviates so far from its original meaning that we're basically just using an approximation of true scripture and historical fact and saying that that's good enough.

Fascinating theories have been utterly abandoned or stamped out because of this. Whole texts have been lost (though many have been recovered thanks to the find at Nag Hammadi back in the 40's <3). People make wild assumptions about the Quran because of stuff like this. As someone who's read the Quran (admittedly, in English translation), a lot of the stuff people claim is in there ISN'T or has careful parameters. It makes me so angry when people who clearly know nothing about Islam run their mouths. Anyways, when it comes to establishing your faith, you have to depend on your own analysis, discuss it with others to glean insight, turn it over in your own mind, do your own reading. You can't expect other people to spoon feed you and blindly accept it.

That's stupid. That's like being a-okay with 2+2=5 being imparted to the masses at the hands of Big Brother in 1984.

Have we really lost the ability to question? As children, we questioned everything. As rebellious teens, we questioned authority. And now, we're suddenly "above that" and cleaving to a dogma upon which our fates literally eternally rely?

I'm really getting tired of being told, even at a ridiculously liberal school, that my adoptionist stance is heretical. Just because "the church" told you something, that doesn't mean it's true or right. It may mean that a lot of people have been taught that for generations, but that doesn't make it correct. Clearly, even popes can be wrong and they continually have to acknowledge that the actions, doctrines, and edicts of past popes must be reconsidered or even apologized for (*cough*Galileo*cough*Spanish Inquisition*cough*Crusades*cough*), so substantiating that in spite of the failures of supposedly infallible leaders, your beliefs that they substantiate are not only correct but even HISTORICAL FACT is utterly ridiculous.

So let me learn and grow as I choose. I walk by faith, not by sight, and by that I mean I'm not going to accept what other people demand to be true based on "sight," sight standing as a metaphor for what the world at large (with its often well-meaning but misinformed believers) tells us, but I'll let myself be led by my faith and try to fulfill my own spiritual quest in my own time.

Monday, February 15, 2010

ACTIVE Aggression is NOT a Christian Value Either!

Once again a child is dead and the bizarre parenting advice of Michael Pearl has been implicated. My friend Rebecca posted this far more eloquently on her blog than I can even find words for at the moment and she gave permission both to link to her and to republish here in its entirety. So without further ado I'm going to turn the blog over to my friend


This made me cry today…

Posted by Rebecca Diamond on Monday, February 15, 2010

and not in a good way. I don’t know how many people have been following the story of Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz, who are accused of murdering their 7 year old, torturing their 11 year old, and more charges pending.

Oh yes…they murdered the 7 year old because she couldn’t pronounce the word “pulled”. That’s right – this self-professed Christian, homeschooling, adoptive parent family BEAT A GIRL TO DEATH.

That’s horrific.

Want to know what’s worse?

They did it to her in the name of Jesus and Micheal Pearl. Just in case any of my readers are confused, let me explain. You may not know who Mr. Pearl is – I’ll get to that – but I’m pretty sure you don’t know who their Jesus is either. Because that Jesus isn’t the same Jesus I serve, the one who clearly stated “Let the children come to me, and forbid them not” and “the kingdom of Heaven is of such as these” and “what you did unto the least of these my brethren, you did to me” and “unless you become as a little child, you shall in no wise enter the kingdom”.

This other Jesus? He’s not the one who was bruised for our iniquities, wounded for our transgressions, the one who bore the punishment for our peace. Nope, this one demands that the most childish of mistakes be punished with 1/4 inch plumbing line, bruising, slapping, tripping children into the lake, encouraging them to burn their hands on stoves, offering them their most favorite toy and then hitting them for reaching for it, pulling the hair of a nursing infant, placing them outdoors in cold weather and hosing them down full force with cold water for potty accidents, and other sadistic rituals. Of course, this is to be done while the parent smiles and explains that “Jesus” wants this. If you do it just right, you get the satisfaction of watching your 4 year old daughter “train” her dolls, of watching older children “train” siblings…that just gives you warm fuzzies all over. You can write a letter to Jesus’ henchman, Michael Pearl, and it may even get included in his website or child abuse manuals biblical parenting guides. If you’re REALLY successful…you wind up suffocating your adopted 4 year old son (RIP, Sean Paddock) or killing your adopted 7 year old daughter (Read about it here). Then we all get to read about it and watch it on the news.

Now, this spokeperson for Psycho-Psuedo-Jesus? Michael Pearl? I really, really, really don’t get why this ….person…. is so accepted in otherwise Christian circles. Especially homeschooling Christian circles. If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say it’s because he’s so very insidious and skilled at playing on fear. After all, many of us Christians who homeschool want to raise healthy, happy, productive members of society who love Jesus more than anything. Pearl offers a manual for how to do so, wrapped up in personal anecdotes and alternative medication suggestions and newsy, brag-ish, old man of the mountain style. I’ve read all of his books. I grew up in a home that um…well…let’s just say that my no-corporal-punishment stance as an adult and parent isn’t well accepted by my family of origin :-? – and I found myself nodding at some of the rhetoric he used, and applauding his stance on other things (yes, I believe babies deserve mama’s milk…I believe that children have a right to be loved…I even like his ideas about chilling out about boy’s classroom education and letting them get some real-world experience.) But what those kernels of truth are embedded in…it’s like one of my friends so eloquently described it. Sure, I could dig through my cat’s litter box looking for Tootsie Rolls…but I’d have to paw through a lot of excrement to do so. And I sure wouldn’t want to eat the candy once I found it!

And since this guy is repping for a different master, of course, his ‘Christian’ theology is interesting, to say the least. I had to check and make sure it wasn’t April 1 when I read his diatribe on how God reveres the KJV Bible above Jesus. (I mean, I AGREED with him…I’m quite sure God does revere any version of the Bible above Psycho-Psuedo-Jesus. But I’m also pretty sure that wasn’t Mr. Pearl’s point.) Let’s just say there’s plenty of heretical points this guy makes in his theology. He even goes so far as to teach that he is above sin, and lives without ever sinning. Of course, rational humans also shudder at his exhortations to women…such as the one where he instructs a woman to welcome back the husband who molested their kids, because God hates divorce. (Yeah, maybe it’s just me. But I’m fairly certain that God hates child abuse a heckuva lot more than He does a woman fleeing to safety.)

I know that God can bring good out of the ashes of any sort of evil. I’m praying that the good that arises out of the torture and murder of this child is that people will finally realize the devastation and wrongness and anti-Christness of the Pearl’s “ministry”. And I’m hoping that maybe, this will be the case that forces them to stand trial along with the parents who espoused their “training” methods all the way to the point of murder.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Passive Aggression is NOT a Christian Value

Thank you facebook for the inspiration for tonight's conversation.

Apparently due to facebook's newly changed privacy settings all "activity" on your facebook account (including any pages you become a fan of) is now public and is broadcast on your news feed. At this point I cannot find any way to change that setting. Irregardless it is creating a problem for me at the moment because I joined a group today that someone at church finds inappropriate. Without bothering to message me privately, pick up the phone and call, wait to speak with me directly about the issue tomorrow she fired this shot in the comments box on my facebook wall.

"Really? Houston, I think we have a problem."

I was miffed but thought a gentle reminder that people of faith have a variety of different opinions on non-salvific issues such as Same Sex Marriage (the issue at hand) would be sufficient reply. So I responded with the following:

"Yes, really. Why is that a problem? Christians of good conscience have all kinds of different beliefs on GLBT issues and the civil rights involved."

I then left the house with my family for several hours. I returned to this response:

"and there are plenty of churches where nonbiblical teaching is propagated for people who prefer to make up their own doctrine- ours just doesn't happen to be one of them- So, when in a leadership role in a church such as ours, it would show better discernment to keep these nonbiblical views to oneself if those under your influence have access to these comments."

I am wildly offended. Not because she differs with me but because she just accused me of 1) making up my own doctrine and 2) lacking discernment but she did it in such a passive aggressive manner that it is impossible to dignify it with a response. What is doubly ironic to me is that it appears that being dishonest is a Christian value in her book. I hold the view that same gender marriage is a civil right in a country that is not a theocracy but rather a representative republic. Because that view is in the minority at our church I'm supposed to pretend I don't hold it? Putting on that mask rather than opening a space for honest dialogue is apparently the virtuous position...WHAT?!?

No wonder the church is in such trouble. Seriously. We are straining at gnats and swallowing camels here people. Nowhere in the apostle's creed does it say "we believe that marriage is for heterosexuals only".

I didn't need this. Especially not today of all days. Tomorrow would have been Jeff's 44th birthday, if he had lived. He died of AIDS a decade and a half ago. It was wondering if his partner was allowed at his bedside that made me first begin thinking about the issue of GLBT civil rights. The idea that his partner had no legal standing to make medical decisions for him and in fact could legally be barred from his room had his family wished that seemed cruel in the extreme.

I'm coming back AGAIN to Micah 6:8 - Do Justly, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly. I believe that denying civil marriage to same gender couples is unjust and that the way we hold a largely pagan group of people to a Christian standard that prevents their families from being afforded the legal protections that mine enjoys is not at all merciful. I believe it is arrogant in the extreme to deny their civil rights in this way and call it a "Defense of Marriage".

Who asked us to defend marriage anyway? And from what? God had a whole lot more to say about divorce and remarriage than He had to say about homosexuality and the verses on divorce and remarriage are much more clear and much less open to interpretation. Perhaps if we think we need to defend marriage we would do well to focus on the 51% of CHRISTIAN marriages that end in divorce. Although I personally believe that God's grace and love extend fully to divorced and re-married people JUST as I believe that God's grace and love extend fully to GLBT people.

So, how about we get back to the business of working out our own salvation rather than questioning the salvation of others. And if we DO feel compelled to challenge someone we believe to be in error how about we do it according to Matthew and go to them in PRIVATE first before calling names in front of nearly 800 people on facebook. Ok? Thanks.