We often hear about the "Christian Right," or "Conservative Christians." Yet, if you think about it, Jesus was the original liberal.  He cared about motives more than the deeds themselves (Matthew 23:5 & Mark 12:41-43) and more about compassion than adhering to rules (Luke 6:1-11 & Luke 13:10-17). This blog will reflect liberal Christian values of compassion, tolerance, mercy, charity, a thirst for knowledge & understanding, and, above all, love.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Spirit Of The Bible

"Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God." ~ Romans 13:1 (ESV)

I've started to write this piece umpteen times since Jeff Sessions used the aforementioned Bible passage to justify sending children to internment camps.  Not wanting to get overly political on this blog I deleted draft after draft.  Yet, the longer I worked on it the hotter I got under the collar.

He cited THE BIBLE to justify GOVERNMENT SANCTIONED CHILD ABUSE!  If I have one spiritual pet peeve, it's people using Scripture to justify crappy behavior.  The same verse was used to justify slavery and Jim Crow laws.  In fact, I'd bet good money someone in authority was quoting this little get in Berlin in 1933!

It's not just Romans that gets twisted.  Men looking to keep their wives barefoot and obedient quote 1 Peter 3:1 (ESV) which commands wives to be subject to their husbands.  I once saw a man screaming this verse on a street corner in protest of some women's rights issue.  I don't even remember what the issue was; I just remember him being red faced and screaming, desperate to make people understand that God wanted women to obey men.

Of course, he was completely ignoring Ephesians 5:25"Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her."  He's not alone though.  The Bible was written by so many people with so many points of view that we can find a passage to support anything we want.

Some people think the Bible's "flexibility" renders it useless as a guide for life's struggles.  I'm not sure that's fair.  You can take a passage out of context in any great work and miss the point of the piece.  One might read a single chapter of Gone With the Wind and come away thinking it's a book about birthin' babies.  Loidy, loidy, loidy!

Books are meant to be read in their entirety.  It took me two and a half years, but I've read the Bible from cover to cover.  It's a lengthy process, but it can be done.  Once a person has read the entire book, assuming they've been paying attention, they'll hard pressed to find an overall message of hate.

The story progresses and evolves as it goes along.  In the beginning, humanity is an infant child-like species.  Thus, God rules with a firm punitive hand.  Then when His chosen people have the law pretty much mastered, He sends His son to teach us about forgiveness, mercy, charity, and love.

The Bible, as a whole, conveys a spirit of love.  To zero in on a single passage to justify hateful actions and attitudes is not only inappropriate, it's offensive.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Go, Eat Your Bread With Joy...

"Before you die, treat your friends well. According to your ability, reach out, and give to them. Enjoy a good day, and don’t let your share of a good desire pass you by. Won’t you end up leaving behind to another what you have worked so hard for? Won’t the things you have toiled for end up being divided by lot? Give, take, and distract yourself, because you can’t search for luxury in the grave." ~ Sirach 14:13-16
I came across this passage during my regular reading this morning. I sat back and stared at my Kindle for a long minute before letting out a gleeful, "YES!" The passage gives us permission to splurge without guilt.
It's an issue I've wrestled with for years. God commands us to give alms to the poor. One could argue that once we've met our basic needs, any money left over should go to the poor and needy. Thus, anything extra we treated ourselves to was tying up funds we could be using to feed and clothe the needy. Even though the rule seemed inescapable, I had a problem; I liked my extras.
  • I like to eat out
  • I like my DVD collection
  • I like to go to the movies with a big tub of popcorn and a sugary drink
I don't feel evil when I enjoy these things. God wants us to be happy and enjoy life. I can't imagine a God who would want us to whip ourselves and deprive ourselves of the joys of life. I think Ecclesiastes 9:7 says it best, "Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do."