Serious Musings

There’s something in every atheist, itching to believe, and something in every believer, itching to doubt.
~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic’s Notebook, 1966

This will be a bit different than most of my “real” postings. Now that I’m no longer doing MilSpouse Friday Fill-Ins each week, I have more time to do actual blogging.

This might become a heated debate. If it does, I’m expecting that my fantastic readers will maintain civility, even if there are opposing views. I expect that no one will attack anyone else or say negative things about other views. Differing, CIVIL opinions are welcome.

Let me preface this by saying I’m a Christian. I was brought up in a Protestant (Methodist) church and 100% believe in God. I’ve had enough things happen to me that just can’t be explained by anything except God. However, I don’t believe in pushing it down other people’s throats. I think each person is free to choose the religion–or choose not to believe in a religion–that they wish.

I’ve just recently been going back to church regularly for the first time in a while as an adult. Though I’m Christian, I believe the Bible was created and translated by humans. Meaning, there are probably errors in it, but that the general theme of a loving God, Jesus,  salvation, persevering during trials and tribulations, Heaven and Hell are true.

But I have things that I believe that make people say I can’t be a true Christian. And things that make me question myself.

I 100% believe in letting those who are gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transsexual marry whomever they want. Seriously, what is wrong with love when it is two consenting adults? Is love really that bad, in whatever form? Frankly, I think the world needs MORE love!

Yet, this past week at church, the pastor told us his thoughts on Washington’s then-upcoming law (which, as of today, is law). He encouraged the congregation (without actually saying it) to sign the petition that will temporarily repeal it and put it on the upcoming ballot so the voters can then vote it down.  He stated that there are six sexual sins of the Bible and God hates each equally: incest, bestiality, homosexuality, adultery, sex before marriage and one other than I’m not remembering at this moment.

He then said he’s looking into the legal ways they can prevent “those kind of events” happening in the church. This is where I have the issue… if God hates all sexual sins equally, then shouldn’t the church also prevent anyone who has had premarital sex or had an affair from having a wedding at the church? Is the church going to welcome GLBT’s into the congregation? If not, then why should anyone who has had premarital sex or an affair be allowed into the church? I mean… if all sexual sins are equal in God’s eyes… then why should ANYONE judge which sin is worse and which one will be discriminated against? What about “let ye who is without sin cast the first stone?”

And while I’m on this topic, we were talking about making marriages strong at the same service. He was talking about The Five Love Languages and was giving the example that his is affirmation. He said he’s vain and loves his wife to tell him he’s the best husband, man, lover, etc.   Wait a minute… isn’t vanity (pride) one of the Seven Deadly Sins?  I’m a bit rusty on my Bible, but doesn’t it say somewhere in the Bible that God hates all sins equally? So, if homosexuality is a sin and so is vanity… who’s “more wrong?” And really… there’s no one in this entire world that is without sin. So where does that leave us? Why does a church choose one “sin” to rail against?

Now, I can see the argument that marriage is something that is biblical in nature and therefore meant for a man and a woman. But if using that logic, ONLY a member of the clergy should be able to marry you. If you are “married” by a judge, captain of a ship, etc… it should be a civil union. And if the church wants to preserve the sanctity of marriage as only for one man and one woman, I can maybe be okay with that. BUT ONLY IF CIVIL UNIONS RECEIVE THE SAME LEGAL RIGHTS THAT MARRIAGE DOES. Because, if marriage between one man and one woman is based on biblical teachings and it’s those who follow the teachings to the letter, then what in the WORLD is anyone other than a pastor/reverend/member of the clergy doing marrying people?  (by the way, don’t tell our family, but Huzzy and I were married legally 15 days before our wedding in the courthouse… which, under this logic would be a civil union.. and I’m fine with that).

Also, if marriage is based on the Bible, then why does that give anyone legal rights? Aren’t we supposed to have separation of church and state? Isn’t that the foundation of our country?

Wouldn’t it stop a lot of the “marriage is for one man and one woman”  and “the gays are ruining the meaning of marriage” <insert eye roll from me here> if MARRIAGE was a church ceremony, but a civil union was what everyone had to have in order to be given the legalities provided by the state/federal governments, including insurance and legal rights? Then the church could keep marriage to one man and one woman… without infringing on the rights of others.

I’m not arguing one way or another. I really am struggling with these questions. I will never change my stance that two consenting adults who are legally able to make their own decisions should be able to be with whomever they want and get the same legal protections as anyone else. But I’m trying to figure out why we focus on certain things in the Bible and emphasize certain things.

I would think that if the church is against homosexuality and wants to make it (or keep it) so that it is against the law… shouldn’t they also be pushing for adultery and pre-marital sex to also be the law?

Does anyone have any way to clear this up for me? You will not change my views on being a Christian. I am one. You will not also change my views on gay rights. But what I’m looking for… is explanations. I’m horribly confused. Other than the above, I really do love the church.

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18 thoughts on “Serious Musings

  1. One big part where we differ in our belief is that of the bible. I believe that it is inspired by God and while it was written and translated by humans, there is no error in it (I’m not saying that there aren’t errors in translations though…that can happen. But in the original there is no error.) It is Truth (not truth). Because of that, I think you have to believe it all of it. If you can pick the parts that you think are true, how do you know they are? So for me, it’s all or nothing. That being said, there are parts that I struggle with. It’s not easy to follow everything said in the Bible. It’s a struggle.

    Because I believe that the bible is absolute truth, I believe that homosexuality is wrong and is sin. But like you said, pride, vanity, drunkenness, gluttony, murder, adultery, pre-martial sex are all sins too. None is better or worse than the other. God sees them all the same. It’s humans that make some worse than others. He says it wrong, so there for I believe it’s wrong as well, even when I struggle with it.

    I am not for same-sex marriage. That’s my unpopular opinion…but it’s mine. And I respect the opinion of others.

  2. I agree with all of your points. I am so glad to be part of the Episcopal church and celebrate its diversity and gay bishops & ministers. The bible is a nice guide (in my opinion) but with all of its inconsistencies it’s only a guide.

    I love the “Christians” who claim to to be christian yet use every moment to judge others. Last I checked that was God’s job.

  3. Poekitten,

    Thank you for your opinion. I really, really do appreciate it. It’s opinions such as yours that I’m actually seeking. I’m struggling with why the church focuses on certain sins more. They say all are sins, but focus on certain ones and work against certain ones in the world, but don’t really focus on all of them.

  4. I agree with you. I also believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God (I suspect you do too, just that you also think there could be room for human error… I’m not sure where I fall on that at the moment). I think that those who are vehemently against homosexuality do a lot of picking and choosing of passages (they think the same thing about me, I know this). I’ve also read some compelling interpretations of verses that are often quoted by those strongly opposed to gay marriage which suggest that maybe the common interpretation (i.e. being gay is always wrong) might be an overstatement.

    In my mind, our nation could use more monogamy and more stable loving relationships and the legalization of gay marriage seems a logical way to promote both. A very good friend of mine from high school was (I think is) a strong Christian. When I found out that she had a girlfriend and they were going to be married, I was thrilled for her. Every time I wonder if ‘homosexuality is a sin’ I can’t help but think of her faith and convictions.

    In the end, I’m not sure how God views it, but I know he calls us to love and most of the anti-gay sentiment that I’ve heard out there is less than loving.

  5. I’m a chaplains wife so maybe my perspective is unique and might contribute something to this… First let me say that I do believe that marriage is a union between a man and a woman but also that it is a covenant between them and God. Therefore that union must be made on God’s terms. My husband has recently been debating whether or not he should be performing marriages for couples that are not Christians, because marriage is completely tied to the Christian faith. I’m also starting to think that marriage is a Christian thing so a non-Christian can’t fully understand it. You can’t make a covenant with God if you don’t know him. Not that many Christians get it either! We differ slightly on our views of the Bible. If it is a man-made book as you say then there is no reason to follow it over following any other book. Is vanity a sin, equal to homosexuality? Absolutely! But some sins do have more painful consequences and so they stand out more. But all sins have the same effect on our relationship with God. They eternally divide us from him, without the saving death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And all people, Christians and non-Christians, are sinners so they all blow it. That’s one reason that the divorce rate is so out of control within the church. I wrote a post related to this not too long ago. May I share it? http://whateverp48.blogspot.com/2011/03/repeal-of-dont-ask-dont-tell.html

  6. What a great piece, thank you for posting it.

    I am not religious, used to live in the Castro in San Francisco (gay capital of the world), have gay family and friends who are married and strongly believe in equal rights for gays. I am so confused by people who use the bible to justify their hatred towards gays and gay marriage since the bible discusses many other sins that are completely ignored today. There seems to be so much hypocrisy regarding religion, it really is about interpretation and personal opinion. I’m saddened to hear about a pastor using the Church to drum up political ire. He forgets America’s founding principle of the separation of Church and State, a freedom we hold sacred and currently fight overseas to protect.

  7. First, thank you for this writing about this very touchy subject. I too am a Christian but have my questions. I, like Poekitten, believe that the Bible is from God and correct in the original but through human translation has gotten some of the writings wrong. Historians and theologians have pointed this out.

    I believe the Bible says all sin is created equal. God does not make a distinction about it. I too struggle with the question of homosexuality and marriage. I know what the bible says about homosexuality. (If it was translated correctly) I also know that homosexuality has been around since forever. I believe that it is not a choice but something genetic. I once had another christian person explain it this way. The mere fact that a person is homosexual is not a sin, it’s the act of homosexuality. So as long as the gay person stays celibate, there has not been a sin. It did make me think. But then as someone else said, if the couple is in a stable relationship, like any heterosexual couple how can that be wrong. We do need more examples of committed loving couples.

    I have had very dear gay friends a long time ago do a civil union in their home when it was not legal and embraced their choice. But I was much younger and way more liberal. I also have another very dear gay couple who are choosing right now not to. Not that they aren’t committed to each other but that is not the right choice now and the state they live in does not recognized gay marriage.

    I could go on and on about this and other things you brought up in your post but in the end I don’t know the answers. What I do know is God is a loving God and while He may not love the sin He loves the sinner. That includes us all.

  8. You might like to look into reconciling ministries network. It’s a movement within the united Methodist church. http://www.rmnetwork.org/

    1- I am a Christian & I believe the bible was inspired by god.
    2- I have studied Christian theology and own several translations of the Bible. I do not believe the bible is meant to be taken literally in all cases. It is a collection of stories that were passed down orally & have changed oftentimes with each translation. However, there are universal truths contained within it that do not change.
    3- I do not believe marriage is solely a Christian rite. Many other cultures & religions get married & it has nothing to do with the God I believe in & worship.
    4- we have separation of church & state for a reason. It is no more just for me to impose my religious beliefs on my neighbor than for my neighbor to I pose his/her religiosity beliefs on me.
    5- the government should not being in the business of marriage. That should be up to the consenting adults involved. If the government still wants to make a buck on the license, call it a civil union for everyone.
    6- as it stands the government has no legal right to prevent marriage between two consenting adults of any sex, race, or disability. Likewise, the government has no legal right to force churches to perform same sex marriages if they believe it goes against thir religious doctrine.

    Legalizing marriage equality will not force heterosexuals to be married to someone of the same sex. Marriage equality will ensure separation of church & state and ensure civil rights to ALL people in the country. The bible has been used to prevent interracial marriage, to support slavery, and to subjugate women in many of the same ways.

    We are a very diverse nation and one religion/denomination/etc is not supposed to dominate all of the others. Religious freedom is one of the cornerstones of our nation and the freedom to practice different relgions or not practice a religion at all is included.

  9. Sooo, I’m Mormon, so maybe you don’t care at all about my perspective, but I’ve struggled a lot with this myself. There seems a great mystery around why someone would be gay or lesbian, and why they can’t just change (unlike what some people believe). It’s a tough one to stand there and tell them they can’t enter into what is really a familial relationship (I’m not talking casual sex, premarital sex here, which I am not a believer in in any relationship). So, I can’t be all in anyone’s face about how they choose to live their lives.

    I know a lot of people think our church is against the gays because of their support of Prop 8 in California, but from what I have read and heard, the Mormons support civil unions with full legal rights. So, that is how I vote. I am against full marriage, which does kind of seem a religious issue and one that is central to peoples of all faiths, but will not curse anyone who who is gay or lesbian nor try to keep any legal rights from them.

    Am I right? I have no idea. But it feels right to walk this line, and until someone can prove that being gay is really some kind of disease and is curable, and not part of the “plan” in some strange way, I can’t imagine taking any other stance.

  10. So I was brought up quite different than my fellow church goers. I was raised as a Catholic, but my mother urged us to make up our own minds about what we truly believe. She urged us to question everything.

    According to my husband, my belief system is closer to Buddhism than Lutheran. The reason I chose to convert from Catholicism to Lutheranism is because I did not believe Mary was a virgin her whole life, as many Catholics like to believe. That was my main disagreement and reason I converted.

    The longer I’m a Lutheran, I realize there is plenty I believe differently than most of my fellow worshipers. I am not against gays. I have plenty of gay friends and I support them. I don’t believe they CHOOSE to be gay, but they are born that way, and God does not make mistakes in his creations. They deserve happiness and love, just like every heterosexual being. God made animals that mate with the same sex also, are those creatures of his creation wrong too?

    I also believe in reincarnation (for reason many don’t believe or understand, it’s not just because I was raised Catholic) and ghosts (again, many don’t believe or understand my reasoning for this). My husband struggles with my beliefs and I struggle with how closed minded he is.

    When I think of my husband (and friends in my church) I think of their kids. What is going to happen to their poor kids if they are gay? The parent(s) will not accept them or their lifestyle, they will either be alone or hiding their true selves and will hate/resent their parent(s) and fellow church goers/friends/peers for not letting them be who GOD created them to be.

    I say, make up your mind about how YOU personally feel about the subject and go with it. Do not let anyone’s opinion make it waiver. God created us to think freely and for ourselves, make up our own mind. We are all sinners, eventually we will know the whole truth when we are in heaven with our perfect creator (whom I don’t feel would shun anyone, regardless of lifestyle since he’s the one that created them…he’s all loving, he died for us and for our sins…just because someone is gay doesn’t mean they don’t believe in or love God any more or less than the heterosexuals).

    I may get looked down upon at church for my opinions, especially on this subject, but I still live how I was raised and know my own beliefs. No one will change my belief that our perfect God created all and wouldn’t want all this hate (especially from “Christians”) put toward any of his creations.

  11. This post more or less identifies why I *am* an atheist. I cannot stand how the church (any denomination of faith, in this case) is hypocritical to a fault.

    The topic of religion is never brought up between my Sailor and I; however I suspect once children enter the picture there might be some tension. I would prefer to not have them shoved into religion–instead, let them explore it on their own when they’re old enough–but I’m sure DH will push for sunday school and mass (he’s a catholic, but kind of a loosely associated one).

    If God created us to think freely/for ourselves, why does the Bible say (if I recall my years of half-hearted sunday school correctly) that non-believers will not go to heaven?

    I personally don’t believe in heaven, hell, god, satan, whatever else…just trying to understand why the religious folk think how/what they do.

  12. Kristi;

    In an earlier comment you stated: “My husband has recently been debating whether or not he should be performing marriages for couples that are not Christians, because marriage is completely tied to the Christian faith. I’m also starting to think that marriage is a Christian thing so a non-Christian can’t fully understand it.”

    Marriage is tied completely to the Christian faith? Someone better alert the Muslims, Hindus, and so on then, ’cause they’re apparently quite misinformed. Could you please cite your source where it says, specifically, that marriage = Chrisitan and nothing else?

    if marriage is a “Christian thing” and non-Christians can’t “fully understand it”, are you saying those who are not Christian can never have a fulfilling marriage, because they don’t “get it”?

    And if so, then that hurts. My husband is Catholic and I’m atheist, and I don’t think we will have some kind of “lesser” marriage than yours because we have different beliefs.

  13. You know I just read over my comment and I did a really rotten job explaining that. Sorry! Let me try again. As a Christian I believe marriage was created by God and that it is a covenant between two people AND God. If I believe that God is a necessary part of marriage then is a marriage without God all that it can be? I’m not saying that marriage involving nonChristians is doomed to failure or anywhere close. And The divorce rate among Christians is evidence enough that Christian doesn’t equal “good marriage” but I do believe that it was created by God and only a follower of God can get every possible benefit from it because only a follower of God can understand God better through marriage. That’s the best part of marriage -understanding God better. Can other faiths or “non-faiths” (is that a word?) have a happy loving marriage? yes! Can they know, serve, and honor God better through marriage? No. And a FYI that is relevant and similar… The catholic church believes (I’m pretty sure if this) that marriage is a sacrament and it cannot be performed outside of the church or between non Catholics. My ideas on this are not fully formed so I’ve been considering their position and i wonder if the Catholics are onto something. Anyway, i’m still thinking and learning. So I hope that I am clearer but we come from very different perspectives so it can be hard to understand each others point of view. We have such foundationaly different belief systems.

  14. To begin with, I loved this post, some very relevant questions there.

    Okay, my background, I grew up in a very Christian family, and was taught to believe that homosexuality was a sin. Today I consider myself spiritual, not religious, and my beliefs are closest to Unitarian Universalism, i.e., truth in all religions. Furthermore, my sister is a lesbian, and I have several homosexual friends, some of whom are married (same-sex marriage is legal here in Denmark, first country to legalize it actually, a fact of which I’m proud).

    I believe that the Bible and all other religious texts have elements of truth and divinity in them, but, that they must be interpreted within their cultural contexts. Furthermore, many of the verses used against homosexuality are mistranslations, and are based on a lack of understanding of the original meanings of the words in, e.g., Greek.

    One of my main issues with many of those who condemn homosexuality as an “abomination” is their “pick-and-choose” approach to Christianity. As already mentioned, not only are they picking which sins are “worse”, but they’re also choosing which verses need to be followed at all. For example, I don’t see many Christian women covering their hair, despite Paul’s clear command in 1 Corinthians 11:3-16 (incidentally, the mandate for Muslim women cover their hair is must less clear, and, in my opinion (I was a practising Muslim for 1½ years) more of a cultural thing).

    Also, many of those who call homosexuality an abomination, based on Leviticus 18:22, often forget that in the same book, eating shellfish is called an abomination (Leviticus 11:11-12), and in Deuteronomy 22:5 wearing the opposite genders clothes is also called an abomination, yet I don’t too often hear these Christians tell people to stop eating shell-fish, or tell women not to wear pants.
    Furthermore, there are scholars that discredit the meaning we give to abomination, and doubts the translation: Does the Bible really call homosexuality an abomination? – Religion Dispatches http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/sexandgender/2826/does_the_bible_really_call_homosexuality_an_%E2%80%9Cabomination%E2%80%9D

    For me, the main message in the Bible is love, and ultimately, we have no right to judge. “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; (Luke 6:37) and “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. (Matthew 7:1-2).

    Furthermore, at the end of the day, I don’t think we have the right to tell ANYONE how to live their lives, as long as they are not hurting other people.

  15. There’s so much more to it all then a list of rules. the whole point of the law that he gave to Moses was to show us how impossible it is to meet God’s standard. He did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it! He came because we couldn’t keep the law. That’s the whole point of Christianity. It’s salvation from the sinful natures that we are born with and bound to. It’s not about homosexuality or murder or lying or shellfish or whatever. It’s about all of that and more. We are all sinful and deserving of God’s judgement but he came to take that judgement on himself. And when we accept that gift of salvation we no longer want to lead lives that are displeasing to him. I found a couple of relevant articles…
    http://www.thewordoftruthblog.com/blog/87-are-we-still-under-old-testament-law
    http://exodusinternational.org/2009/12/what-does-the-bible-say-about-homosexuality/#.T025F_F5mSM

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