So, I read this article: Gay Couples in Church: A Third Option? and started writing a reply in the comments, but it ended up turning into something else. It’s worth the read – especially if you’re a self-professed Christian. Enjoy!
I grew up in a conservative, Pentecostal mega church, and then in college attended a more lax “being a Christian is between you and God, and the church body is here to help you on your journey through relationships.” I have since rejected the idea of God’s plan laid out in the Bible to be 100% absolute truth and am no longer a self-proclaimed “Christian”. I think this issue re-assures me that I made the right decision. People these days are trying to decide what is right or wrong based on an English (or whatever language you speak) translation of an old-German translation of a Latin translation of what was decided at the Council of Nicea to be “the inspired Word of God” based on holy Jewish texts and collections of early Christian letters and diaries. The chance for error or something important to have been omitted or mis-translated is rather large. So, I think the real question you should be asking yourself is “do I want to live my life to the letter of the NIV/KJV/whatever translation Bible, or do I want to allow the Spirit of God to speak directly to me through the Bible, friends, intuition and experience?”
At the Pentecostal mega-church it was pretty simple: do not lay with a man or animal as one does with a woman – don’t eat too much unclean food – don’t have sex when on your period – don’t rape – don’t kill – don’t covet – etc. etc.
Now…. It’s pretty hard to do all these things, which is why God allowed the Jews to make animal sacrifices for the atonement of sins. Later, he sent his son to Earth to be the ultimate sacrifice – we would no longer have to sacrifice animals when we sin, but rather remember that Jesus was sacrificed for our sins: past, present and future. So… technically…. we can just sin all the time and Jesus takes the fall, right? Well, that’s where the New Testament comes into play. Paul was the main author of the New Testament, and in his letters he urged the early church to not use Christ’s sacrifice as a “get out of jail free card” (his words, not mine), but rather strive to be the best we can and know that God’s grace through Jesus’s sacrifice is there for when we mess up.
That being said, let’s look at a few sins. You murdered someone? Shame on you. Jesus died for that. Repent and don’t do it again. You did it again? Repent again and don’t do it a third time. You coveted your neighbour’s donkey? Shame on you. But Jesus died for that so repent and don’t do it again. You had homosexual sex? Shame on you. But Jesus died for that so repent and do it again. What’s that? You WANT to do it again and again and again? You can’t help it? Oh! Maybe you have a demon or a stronghold that can be exorcised. No? Well then, what shall we do?
This is where logically following the current translation of the Bible to the letter falls apart. What do we do if we disagree with one of the laws of the Old Testament, like the fact that we can’t do any work on the Sabbath? Can we keep doing it and keep asking for forgiveness? Well, maybe the laws set up are more just guidelines for a healthy life. Taking a day off is good for ones mental, physical and spiritual health, so why not make it a law that everyone has to take at least one day off a week? OK. Don’t eat too much fatty food or shellfish? Also healthy. Don’t have gay sex? Well, it certainly won’t make any babies, so if I want kids, I should have straight sex. OK, that sounds reasonable. But if I want to eat fatty foods because it makes me feel good or work this weekend so I can get some extra cash for my upcoming vacation or I just really like having sex with the same gender and the planet isn’t really in danger of under-population, then I don’t have to follow the suggestion, right?.
This is basically where the idea of being a Christian broke down for me. If the Bible is the inspired Word of God and I don’t agree with it and I change it in some places to fit my needs, then what is stopping me from changing the basic tenants of Christianity? What are the basic tenants of modern Christianity? Do I really need to confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in my heart that God raised Him from the dead? I know it says that, but I could also say that Paul wrote it as a suggestion to the Romans so they could keep their faith alive. Maybe I don’t have to even go to church or meet with other Christians to keep my faith alive – I know Paul said we shouldn’t “forsake the gathering”, but again, they didn’t have internet back then and now I can just read a bunch of articles and it’s all good. Right?
I know my views would seem black and white – either full Christian or no Christian – but what is the real purpose of being a Christian? Is it just to get into heaven? If so, I’d suggest following the Bible to the letter as best as you can. Eternity in hell is unfathomably terrible and quite literally the worst thing ever. What’s 60 years of half-way enjoying yourself compared to an ETERNITY in constant torture?
But what if being a Christian is about being the kind of person God made you to be? Redeemed by Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit to help you on your quest for the perfect life?
But what if these are all just metaphors? What if every religion, self-help group and cult had all these factors in common? We are born unable to even fathom reality, eternity, or even morality. We slowly learn as we grow older, and at a certain age we take responsibility for our own actions. We quickly learn that in order to cope in this social world we need to be nice to everyone and treat everyone with respect and kindness and take care of ourselves and our loved ones and even the poor and helpless. We learn that just doing good things means nothing unless we really want to do them (at least to us – the recipient of our good will usually won’t complain if we did it grudgingly). Then we start to think about what this life truly is. Does there exist other dimensions or a life before/after death? Philosophers, religious leaders and even tyrants wanting to exploit the human race for their own gains have thought about these questions and written down sometimes elaborate stories to explain possible answers to these questions. Let’s first take a look at Christianity.
God, the Father: created the whole universe, set up the laws of nature, time, life and death. We can’t really see him, and technically we cannot even feel him or talk to him. We have always needed a mediator to do so. This was a priest back in the Old Testament, and it is now the Holy Spirit.
Christ, the Son: came to Earth to show us first-hand what this life is all about. He is the example that the ancients believed would come to prove the existence of the Father and to show us how to truly live. He, too, was 100% human, so he needed the Holy Spirit to communicate with the Father. But he is also a part of the Trinity, so he technically is the Holy Spirit as well.
The Holy Ghost: is basically the same spirit that created all things and was in Jesus and is now in us. He tells us what to do and what not to do – he is at one with everything – he exists outside of time – he exists simultaneously within all of us (at least those who let him in).
OK, sounds great. Let’s look at some rudimentary new-age thoughts. Reality (or existence) exists because it just does – it has always existed and will always exist, even when nothing exists to experience the existence. Existence can also take infinite forms. This could be “God” – Yahweh – “I am”.
Well then, what is Jesus? You know how as an infant you cannot come to grips with reality, which is why you can’t remember anything? Well, this is life before Christ. Then Christ comes (the realization of the basic nature of reality, the laws of nature, our place in it, etc.) and we suddenly know that an apple is an apple and up is up and right is right and wrong is subjective and nothing is absolute (or is it?)
The Holy Spirit – the same one that was in Jesus and IS Jesus and IS God – is now in us. This relates to the fact that we now have a mind and intuition and the ability to experience this life and to try to make our way in it and be the best we can. Our intuition, mind, experience helps guide us. “Don’t touch hot things!” “Exercise to have a health body!” “Don’t be mean to others and they most likely won’t be mean to me!” Because this intuition/Holy-Spirit is also God and Jesus – that means our mind is one with our body, and those are both one with the universe/reality. It may sound like a stretch, but read it again with an open mind. There are DEFINITELY parallels.
I could move on to other cultures – religions where there were one or many gods who sent visitors to the earth to show us how to live, and those cultures worshiped both the gods and the messengers. Some today might even say these are aliens who came to give us teach us about the nature of reality and the universe, or may have even created us.
What started out as my two cents about gay marriage turned into my confession and argument for why I no longer believe what I used to. If you got this far, then you found this either super interesting or you just skipped to the end. Well, I hope you enjoyed it and it made you think about your own life. Feel free to discuss, but before you do, know this: I, too, learned about “a man with an experience is never at the mercy of a man with an argument.” I’m not trying to argue anything here, I’m just telling my experience and the thoughts that brought me there. I could also tell you about the experience I had on LSD and MDMA where everyone’s head turned into balloons and floated away, and you could try to convince me that it never happened and was just all “in my head” – but I experienced it. Sorry, experiential reality is another topic for another time…