This is a long time coming. Almost a lifetime of listening, reasoning, and evaluating has culminated in this outpouring of discontent and confusion. I am not writing this to ruffle feathers or insight rage; I am writing this to try to get people to think about things, start questioning the status quo, and because I just want to articulate my thoughts on the subject in a real way. I realize this is a heavy-handed subject, and I don’t have the hubris to think this is the end-all-be-all of this topic; think of this as the fast-food version of the gourmet meal that is the studies of Theology and Ethics.
I will preface the article by saying I was raised (grammatically I think it’s actually reared, but that just sounds the worst) Catholic. I went to a Catholic school for nine years of my life and am well acquainted with the teachings of Jesus and the New Testament. While we covered much of the New Testament in religion class as well as during the numerous visits to mass one platitude was stressed above all others, Jesus’ Golden Rule. In Matthew 7:12 Jesus is quoted saying “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” Which is an Old-English (the Queen’s English!) way of saying Hey, bro, don’t do junk to people you wouldn’t want done to you. Which is think is the best possible rule I think anyone, religious or not, can live by. This rule had its roots in humanity far before Christianity and will probably long after (if we make it that long, yeesh, you see all this fighting?). This is the reason I don’t dismiss religions because I feel they can serve a very good purpose. If people would live by this maxim I can guarantee within a percent error of +/- 0.00001 the world would be a better place. Yes, that will happen, Unicorns and Bigfoots will procreate, Republicans and Democrats will agree on something, and I am, in reality, Batman. It’s a lofty goal that is realistically unachievable, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t work towards it. What I am getting at is even in a large Christian environment The Golden Rule reigned supreme. Jesus lived his life by that and we should aspire to live like Jesus. At least, that is the impression I got. Keeping this in mind we move to level 2.
There is some decisive and hot-button issues out there. One that really get’s my blood boiling is gay rights. To be honest, I don’t even understand the arguments against it from a logical standpoint. Since the scope of this article is based on the religious side I will try to keep my arguments within the realm of Christianity. Every anti-gay activist likes to point to one statement in the Old Testament to support their claims that God is totes a homophobe. Leviticus 18:22 says "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination." This is brought up EVERY time religious justification is needed for some egregious action or sentiment. Which, to be honest, if your beliefs are laid out in a neat two-volume set, namely, the New and Old Testament, and it contains such a phrase, then homosexuality would technically be against your religion and would bear consideration. Here is my problem, those books are filled with ALL KINDS of craziness. For example, there are several passages that outline rules for slavery such as in Leviticus 19:20-22: "And whosoever lieth carnally with a woman, that is a bondmaid, betrothed to an husband, and not at all redeemed, nor freedom given her; she shall be scourged; they shall not be put to death, because she was not free. And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the LORD, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, even a ram for a trespass offering. And the priest shall make an atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering before the LORD for his sin which he hath done: and the sin which he hath done shall be forgiven him." In a more modern colloquial dialect, if you knock boots with a slave, she gets whipped and you have to sacrifice a ram, then you and God are square. (There is a more detailed outlining of slavery found in the Old Testament on this site) There is also several human sacrifice sentiments found in the Bible (those can be found here). My point is not to berate you with anti-Bible predilections, but to show that not every word of the Bible should be taken as sacred and how we should live our lives. This also dovetails nicely into my main point, and that is that if your basis for hating gays or whoever is based on one sentence you picked out of the Old Testament, then be prepared to enforce all the other nonsense that goes along with it. If God’s word is the Bible and God’s word is irrefutable then everything within its pages should be enforced, not just what you feel like quoting. I argue that the Bible was written by man, as as such is imperfect and should be reinterpreted as time goes forward.
Jesus preached The Golden Rule, and in this “Christian Nation” (as so many believe it is) with so many Christians the goal should be to treat everyone as you, yourself, would like to be treated. If you honestly believe that God would rather you hurt your fellow neighbor rather than embrace him, you might need to review your religious beliefs.
In the spirit of full disclosure I not Christian, I actually am Agnostic, but lean more to the Atheistic view. (Nothing makes you question your beliefs like the Catholic Church) Even with my penchant towards Atheism I still think The Golden Rule is how we should live. It’s unrealistic and is not all encompassing and I realize that, but even making strides in that direction, I believe, leads to a better society. I have so much more to say on this topic, but I feel if I write anymore it will be too daunting to read. Please, if you have any opinion on this, positive or negative, I would love to hear about it. Just post the comment below. The point was to open up the debate so anything you think on the topic would be greatly appreciated.