Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Faith, Saddleback, and Wrath of the Evangelicals

On Saturday, John McCain and Barack Obama made the pilgrimage to Pastor Rick Warren's Saddleback Civil Forum, where they each spent an hour being asked questions designed to get answers that weren't necessarily rote talking points. And from the coverage (as I was working, then on the road during the event) I've gleaned the positives and negatives of both candidates, as well as the general effect on hte election. That, however, was just an event that brought another situation to light.

What really crystallized the issue was listening to Dee's coverage of the event on her radio show while reading Rivka's recent post at the same time.

First, the background. Growing up Catholic, with the pro-life message being driven into my head almost every Sunday, I marvelled at how anybody Christian could vote for Democrats who were traditionally pro-choice. But that upbringing (Catholic school for 8 fucking years!!!) wasn't really big on comparative religions. I knew there were others, but they were few and far away.

Obviously since then, I've had opportunities to study various religions, the similarities and differences, and the background that gave us the religions we see today. And I've discovered, in my examinations, only two things I know are true. First, there is a God. Second, when I die, the universe will hear a groan as He sees me show up and says, "Oh shit, I have to put up with this bastard?" Actually, the second thing is that nobody probably has it all right.

So given that no one has the exact set of beliefs God intended (no matter what they say), I'm willing to take anyone at their word on their faith on three conditions. First, they need to live what they preach. Second, they need to recognize that other people are just as sincere in their beliefs, right or wrong. And third, their faith should be a positive force. Otherwise, you fuel what can only degenerate into evil.

Okay, here's where I'm going with all of this. Several years ago, after listening to the more evangelical of Christians, I decided that I was (and still am) a Catholic, but I sure didn't want to be a Christian. Because I have always believed in moderation in all things, this rabid immersion in that faith, to the point that it dominated every aspect of their lives, was repugnant to me. With that level of apparent certainty, there's no room for discussion, learning, discovery.

So enter the leftist Christians. Here's a bunch that have steered clear of such subjects as gay marriage and (especially) abortion, favoring instead social justice and climate change. Naturally, the right wing evangelicals see this as a dilutiuon at the least, and a perversion at the most, of the literal text of the Bible. And between these two poles of Christianity, enhanced by the big money megachurches (Big Religion for you moonbats), nost people find themselves wondering why these people of faith are so polar opposite.

In the end, personal faith is a path of discovery, both of yourself, and all that which is greater and beyond yourself. And while I have my beliefs, I accept you came to where you are honestly. Because while there are somethings that are clear, like good and evil, I know I don't know all the answers. So my final nugget of wisdom, partially quoting Abraham Lincoln: "
Whatever you are, be a good one." And let God sort everybody out.


Rivka said...

Patrick, Great honesty I must say! I am glad you are on the journey you are on and just keep the discovery going. You are asking great questions and making great points. I, too was turned off on some things evangelicals did.

I agree. I don't think we should be outwardly rabid against gays or other issues, but when confronted we can't skirt over the issue. We have to state what we believe to be right and wrong according to what God says.
That said, we don't want to be like the media likes to portray us as 'Fred Phelps'..
There has to be balance, as to not come across like we 'hate' the person because we don't.

I think loving the person is the best thing we can do. Why? Because we aren't any better. As Paul said "A wretched man am I". If there is any good in me it is because of what Jesus did for me.

That said, I don't think forcing Christians to accept the gay 'lifestyle', adultry or any other sin that secular society deems as o.k. is right either.

I happen to have two gay people in my family whom I love dearly and I wouldn't force Christianity down their throats by any means, yet there are activists who want to shove their lifestyle down the throat and even sue and jail those who have convictions about it.

Most Christians don't desire to sue homosexuals and would not approve of laws that would jail them. However, the opposite is true of how the activist gay community feels about Christians.

So there you have it. That said, I am not into anti-gay bashing. I just don't think it is right due to what God says about it in the bible,just like I don't think other sins are o.k., but I don't make that issue the forefront of why I am here and I am not politically active in it or anything. Quite the contrary actually.

I would prefer to just not mention the issue with the gay people in my family and those I meet and just love them and if they want to seek and know God on their journey then I will plainly just encourage them to read a bible for themselves.

I will definately talk about my faith when opportunities arise but won't push it on anyone. I don't have to, that is God's deal.

Beth said...

Patrick, don't let the bad eggs in Christianity turn you away from it. Christians are suppose to try to live like Jesus did, and I know Jesus Christ loves all, homosexuals included, and would never chastise them. Of course I cannot judge those Christians who I don't feel are being Christ-like. But remember, Jesus is about love and forgiveness, so He forgives the extreme evangelicals, and He loves you and wants you to follow Him. After typing that I realize that using the title "Christian" is really not necessary for you to follow Him, or accept Him as your Savior, those are the important things, not what you call yourself.

Obob said...

I think tap dancing around religion is BS. For the simpl e reason, it exposes us. Me, an average Catholic who is raising my children in the same faith. My wife is non-religious due to her upbringing, but we have mutual repsect. I taught in a Catholic school that was a majority non-Catholic. I even taught Religion to 6th and 7th graders. It was about education, not preaching. I also taught about Taoism, Buddhism and any -ism we could discuss. Why? To create thinkers and understand accros the street.
There is one God, he knew that one route was going to be to much for the billions to follow. Thus, the spread option of faith. You spread the recievers, look for open man. You can pitch it to the tailback or keep it and run.
Thus it exposes us. How you act when your faith is questioned, your fear of the unknown and are you willing to own up for your choices decide your fate at the end the play of life. Or are as many faiths will preach, the next play. Now I have to tie in Pope Urban Meyer.
As for the gay issue, my eldest daughter's Godfather is a gay. And black, which is very difficult in that community.

Toad734 said...

Actually, I can find more verses in the bible supporting abortion than you can opposing it. I can also find just as many verses where Jesus accepts homosexuality as you can where he condemns it.

The problems with, especially the evangelicals, is that they don't take the entire bible into context; they pick one verse and say that’s the law and there is no discussion about it and that it's Gods will. They don't realize that those verses were actually written for Jewish priests, not Christians. Christians didn't exist for another thousand years.

Find me one verse where Jesus, the father of Christianity, not Judaism, speaks about Gay Marriage and Abortion.

You see what you want to see but sometimes it isn't really there. The arrogance of man decided what Jesus would think and then tries to sell it as Gods law. If you think it's arrogance that someone could think they could help save the earth, what is it when someone says they know for sure where Jesus intended?

And by the way, at what point is McCain going to get down on his knees and stick the Christian right's man pump into his mouth. If there was ever a bigger example of pandering, I sure haven't heard about it.

shaw kenawe said...

That said, I don't think forcing Christians to accept the gay 'lifestyle', adultry or any other sin that secular society deems as o.k. is right either.

I am a "secularist" or better, a nontheist--I have no belief in a god.

I also have many, many friends and members of my family who are nontheists. Not one has ever said that adultery is okay. So I don't know what the hell you're talking about. My nontheist family members and friends do not try to impose their beliefs on anyone, they wish to live their lives unmolested by those who do choose to believe in a god.

You are sadly misinformed if you really believe nontheists promote "sin." Think of this. The very liberal, blue state of Massachusetts has the lowest rate of divorce in the country, and the very red born-again Christian states have some of the highest rates of divorce.

And not one nontheist I know ever, ever, ever "forces" a Christian to accept the gay lifestyle. What we do wish Christians did, was not demonize our gay family members and friends. If Christians believe god makes everyone, then it follows god made gay people. Lots of god followers actually believe god makes gay people then tells them not to act on the strongest impulse in human nature (a god-given impulse, if you are a believer)--sexuality. That's a very weird god. In fact, that's a stupid god.

PS. Re: adultery: John McCain, for example, expressed his Christianism the other night. He is an adulterer. Is he trying to force his adultery down the throats of his followers?

Or maybe he just asks that we accept it.

There is a difference.

Patrick M said...

Rivka: If you hadn't guessed, I have issues with anyone who is excessively evangelical in their beliefs (Christian, gay, whatever) to the point they attack other people over them. But the lesser thing is the incessant nitpicking between the churches. Being Catholic, I have heard pretty disparaging (and inaccurate) things from some quarters, often over minutia. So I sometimes question the wisdom of those who go off on tirades on other faiths beyond substantive disagreements. Somehow, I think Jesus would be annoyed by the bitchy faithful.

That's not you, but, you get the idea.

Beth: Too late! But don't worry, God and I have an understanding. Or I'm going straight to Hell. Wait, been there, done that (Catholic school).

Obob: Amen to that.

Patrick M said...

Actually, I can find more verses in the bible supporting abortion than you can opposing it. I can also find just as many verses where Jesus accepts homosexuality as you can where he condemns it.

Toad: Go for it. Just post the chapter and verse and I'll look it up. then we'll see if any evangelicals want to waste their time proving you wrong.

Shaw: Those are good points, and are exactly the kinds of attitudes I have seen that make me question significant chunks of the dogma I was raised on.

Aathough I usually disagree with you on many a thing, I surspect you definitely live up to the quote I ended the post with:

"Whatever you are, be a good one."

Toad734 said...

To begin with, Jesus never talks about Abortion or Homos. So there, I found just as many verses where he speaks for it as you can him speaking against it.

And since Christians are so concerned about following Jewish law when it comes to homosexuality, I assume they would want to get their abortion views from the same place. Jewish law clearly separates the difference between a fetus and or unborn child from life, or a living human.

Exodus 21:

12He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death.

15 And he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death.

22If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.

23And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life,

The first two are setting up the punishment for murder, which is clearly punishable by death in Gods eyes. 22 states that a man can decide what the punishment is for someone who causes his wife's miscarriage and then 23 says that if he causes the death of the mother and child then he will be put to death. God doesn't say that aborting babies is his favorite thing but certainly doesn't consider it murder or consider it life.

Current Jewish law is similar.

A couple chapters later is where the first version of the 10 commandments appear.

So, if you want to call Abortion murder then fine, just don't use the Bible to back up your case. Oh, and if abortion happens in the first trimester, you can't use science or biology either.

Patrick M said...

Toad: Interesting. Of course it's the combination of the bible and current science that define the pro-life belief that life begins at conception. But you also happen to illustrate that there are many things that people of similar faiths (or lack thereof) can't even agree on.

You know, I'm going to have to lay out my thoughts on abortion one of these days. I haven't really addressed it because it is almost wholly polarizing, with no one wanting to agree on anything. That will be for after the convention.

Toad734 said...

the stage at conception is no more human than my sperm. If you wanted to argue life begins in the second trimester I don't think I could argue against it. As far as abortion goes, again, anything that gets traffic moving faster I am for which includes assisted suicide, abortion and the death penalty...for some. My personal beliefs on abortion are probably closer to the views that the bible lays out. On one hand, it could maybe become life but it isn't yet and sure, that is worth something. On the other hand, its not a guy taking his kids to the park and what right do men have to tell a woman that she has to have a parasite grow in her for the next 9 months and can't drink, or do any streneous activities, smoke, etc. just because a condom happened to break?

Now, some personal responsibility does fall on a woman not to get pregnant assuming she wasn't raped. But I don't think there are too many women out there who use abortion as contraception and I doubt there are many women who have had more than one abortion. Shit happens and sometimes you just can't raise a kid that year.

I actually wouldn't be opposed to to banning late term abortions if I didn't think it was just one small step toward banning abortion all together or even womens rights for that matter. You know, the gun nuts think that banning people from owning howitzers will eventually lead to the government bursting into houses to confiscate hunters shot guns. So you can understand my concern with small steps. If you can't make up your mind to have an abortion in the first 6 months, maybe you shouldn't reserve the right to abort at such a late stage. Of course if you are that indecisive or you couldn't figure out you were pregnant perhaps it's best you don't reproduce.

Another point: People say you are destroying life or even preventing life when you abort but how do they know that pregnancy would have come to term? Up to 30% of all pregnancies miscarry. What I am saying is that you don't know if you are really destroying a life when you get an abortion, you are just making sure the pregnancy doesn't take.

And until you adopt all the babies that are in orphanages I don't think you have the right to tell some poor woman who doesn't want a kid that she has to have it.

I can show you a picture of a cow blastocyst and a human blastocyst and you wouldn't be able to tell the difference, I can show you the early embryos of a lot of animals and you couldn't tell me if they were human or animal. A bunch of cells are a bunch of cells. It's hard for me to call something human that doesn't have a heart beat, has no functional central nervous system or brain, can't reason, think, communicate and has virtually no anatomical features of a human.

I talked about this a long time ago when the stem cell debate was heating up. If you want to hear more you can:


and the follow up:


Toad734 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Patrick M said...

Toad: I'll have to quote you when I get my abortion post done. Until then save it for battle, milkylicker!

As for your issues with Rivka, if they're not related to posts on this blog (as in getting deleted), take it to hers or yours.

Toad734 said...

A couple more points:

If life begins at conception and has some sort of soul, why does God take those souls when he allows a woman to miscarry. Seems like a lot of work for nothing. And if God does it, doesn't it make it ok for us to do it? That being said, God works in mysterious ways right? Maybe abortion is his way of preventing the next Hitler or the next anti-christ.

And abortion or pregnancy isn't just about the life of a potential child. Are women just some sort of baby recepticles or something? And what about a tape worm, are you against getting rid of tape worms? Its life, it lives off the food you eat, it's a parasite similar to what an embryo would be. Maybe a pregnancy is just as menacing to a woman as a tape worm would be to you? Why doesn't anyone care about the mothers life? And why are prolife people always pro death penalty and pro war? And if they aren't helping all the unwanted children around the world that exist now, why do they want to bring more unwanted children into the world? Unwanted children burnden society and create crime and create a larger welfare state, something you are against. So I think you should stop talking about food stamps and welfare cases if you are profile because youre part of that problem if you are trying to make it illegal or trying to convince mothers to have unwanted children. What kind of life is that for a child? Be born so you can live in squaler and then spend your adult life in prison until some prolifer fries you in the electric chair. That makes a lot of sense.To me that's anti life not pro life.

But, does an 8 month old fetus have a heart beat? Sure, but how many abortion cases like that are there every day? Today alone over 20,000 children will die of starvation. Shouldn't your efforts be put to use elsewhere if you are so pro life?

Patrick M said...

A couple more points:

Did you miss where I said to save it until I do my abortion post?

Guess so. Just bookmark the post so you can cut and paste later.

Toad734 said...

I just thought I would give you something to think about before you wrote it. I assume that unlike the Mikes and Rivkas your views on the issue are at least up for discussion and new information could sway your stance. Again, if you wanted to convince me that a fetus in its third trimester was "human life" and deserved to live I could be convinced of that. I would stil have to weigh that against the rights of the mother.

Patrick M said...

Fair enough. You'll see where I come from on this once we get through the conventions.

Dee said...

While the Bible clearly supports the pro-life view and is against gay marriage you make a good point in that science itself testifies that abortion is wrong.

I have had 4 children and have seen all of them in sonograms inside my womb. At even the earliest stages all babies have everything that makes up a complete person. Now that we have 4d sonograms its almost impossible to say that abortion isn't taking a human life. We now know that it isn't a "mass of tissue" as the old pro-choicers used to claim.

This is exactly why Obama had such a hard time defending his position when asked the question by Rick Warren. To Warren's credit, it was a great question, "When does a baby get human rights?" Also, his follow-up question was great too. When has Obama voted to reduce or restrict abortions? And if abortions aren't murder or the taking of a life then why would they need to be reduced???? Food for thought.

Toad734 said...


Except for the fact that they didn't look human, have heart beats, higher brain functions, a nervous system, feel pain, reason, etc... Other than that, they were human. Of course my mom was pregnant between my brother and I and you would say that she was pregnant with life but when she miscarried, all that came out was a bloody clump...not a dude. So, was that pregnancy going to bear life?? No, and you are not God so you don't get to play God and pretend you can see the future.

I am dying to see one biblical verse where Jesus speaks out against gay marriage and abortion. Please post those for me and prove me wrong. Because I can find bible verses describing Homosexual relationships accepted in Gods eyes and also verses that clearly state that an unborn fetus is not the same as a human life.

Your turn, please don't disappoint but I am sure you will.