______________________ LIFE, FAITH, ETCETERA

Of Goats and Men June 25, 2011

As the victory for equality in New York is being celebrated, one of the first comments from the opposition I read is something to the effect of, “Well then, I want to marry my goat.” This echoes the quote used by Box Turtle Bulletin, “Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”

That would be like having said, “Gee, I might as well let my DOG vote,” when women were finally granted that right.

It’s a bogus argument emanating from people to justify their prejudice, hatred, or (maybe most often) plain ignorance.
It is an extension of the much-loved false notion of the old “slippery-slope” nonsense.¹

Our past shows us that the majority cannot always be trusted to insure the rights of the minority.
In 1912, there was a constitutional proposition to ban interracial marriage. It was claimed that if interracial couples married
the very fabric of society would dissolve.”²
Gee. That’s sounds vaguely familiar.

Many will say, “Yes, that was obviously wrong.”
THAT’S MY POINT. It wasn’t obvious to them at that time!
Listen people, these views were espoused by the “church!”  Complete with lots of Bible verses!
“God said it. I believe it. That settles it!”

You may see their error now, but if you were a conservative, right wing, protestant male at the time, the likelihood is that these views would have been YOUR views! AND you would have been saying, “It’s not me. It’s GOD.”

How can we be so oblivious to at least the possibility that we may be just as guilty of misunderstanding God as were our oppressive ancestors?
Yes, you’ve got your handful of verses.
So did they!

Even if you were right theologically, the one marriage that is truly devastating is that of church and state.
We were watching “The King’s Speech” the other night. It showed how the king was also the highest official of the Church of England.
The mini-series “The Pillars of the Earth” really brings home the atrocities that occur when the cross and the sword become one.
I digress.

When two humans who love each other and want to spend their lives together are allowed to unite in marriage, it has nothing to do with turtles or goats. There is no slope involved. Especially not a slippery one. The “fabric of society” will not unravel because of it. Marriage is not being “rediffined.” Others are simply being included in the existing definition.
We’re just talking basic human equality. Divorce is the great threat to the sanctity of marriage; not same-sex unions. I believe these unions will, if anything, strenghten our society.

It’s been said before, but our history shows that religious people are often the last to be swayed by the truth.
How sad is that?
Those who should be the ones championing equality and truth are all too often the ones fighting hardest against it.

— df

¹ “The slippery-slope argument – that we’d better not budge on or rethink anything for fear we’ll slip down into liberalism, apostasy, or some other hell – proves itself dangerous and naïve even as it tries to protect us from danger and naiveté. [For one thing] it assumes that we’re already at the top of the slope, when it’s just as likely that we’re already at the bottom or somewhere in the middle.”
Bryan McLaren, in “A New Kind Of Christianity.”

²  William Stacy Johnson, in “A Time To Embrace.”

Also see:
What’s So Amazing About Grace
Thou Shalt Not Love
Fall To Grace
Gay Christian Answers
The Myth of a Christian Nation
Evolving In Monkey Town


London, New York, LA, and Hell March 3, 2011

Let’s say I visit London, New York City, and LA.
Then, with ink to page I record the experiences of my travels.
Later, someone translates my memoirs, but everywhere the name of one of the
cities I’ve visited appears, the modern day scribe simply writes, “the city.”
Next, you come along and read these writings. You read in many different places about
“the city”, and with no external research, you assume it’s always the same city being referenced.
So from all this disparate information you form the idea of
a place that doesn’t truly match ANY of the places I wrote about!

Try as you may to find that “city” with the famous “Hollywood” sign, Big Ben, &
The Statue of Liberty,
it doesn’t really exist.

This is exactly what we’ve done with the English translations of the 4 different words all translated as “hell” in our Bibles.
We’ve combined all these fundamentally different and often incongruous elements into an erroneous whole.
Then, to make things even more ridiculous, we throw in some completely unrelated scriptures, and a
strong dose of pagan views of the afterlife (e.g. Dante’s “Inferno”).
We’ve combined all this into one view of a place we now call “hell.”
Indeed, a superficial examination of these teachings will reveal they even contradict themselves.

Plus: We do ridiculous things with some of Jesus’ teachings (as well as with the rest of the Bible).
Take, for example, the story of “the sheep and goats.” We say,
It’s not a real shepherd, that’s just a metaphor.
It’s not real sheep, that’s just a metaphor.
It’s not real goats, that’s just a metaphor.
The “Eternal Fire?” Well, yeah, that parts real.

We shove the falsely perceived point of “eternity” down peoples throats, while missing
Jesus’ only real point in the story:
The division between the groups is entirely based on the acts of kindness and mercy done
by people to their disadvantaged fellow men. This is not a teaching about “over there.”
It’s a teaching about the importance of how we treat people “here and now!”
The version of hell most of us have grown up with is simply not in the Bible.
Quote all the out-of-context verses you want, it’s still not there!

It’s very important to realize, as has been said,
that our view of eternity says a WHOLE LOT about how we view the core nature of God.
It certainly says something about our understanding of the cross.
— df

[By the way, Bert Gary has a great “in-detail” look at the “Sheep & Goats” story.
Check it out. Click HERE.]

And check out “Love Wins.” Click HERE.


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