“Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”
“Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.
Complied, Edited & Augmented by Charles Toy
I've been wanting to compile this article since I was 12 years old, but I was just as much full of guilt, confusion, mixed messages, hormones, and passion as the rest of you may have been at 12. I didn't know which way was up. All I knew was that I burned and I burned frequently. It was an exciting, confusing and painful time. I wish I had this article then. It would have alleviated an enormous amount of cognitive dissonance.
The Bible does not forbid premarital sex.There is no passage of the Bible that references premarital sex as a sin against God. The association between sin and premarital sex is a new Christian idea. The only possible reference to premarital sex being a sin in the Bible is in the New Testament. This premise although, is generally dismissed by theologians because the Greek word pornei, or sexual immorality is commonly incorrectly translated into the English word fornication.
In Biblical times women were the owned property of a man. Men ruled over women and their children. Women had very few, if any, rights, and men often bought women from their families or at an auction, usually at age twelve and a half. The fathers owned the women (daughters, wives, concubines, handmaidens, servants etc.) and if you wanted to have intercourse with one of his properties, then you had to ask his permission.
If a father sold a daughter, he would get more money for her if she was a virgin. Non-virgins were less expensive to buy. If a man purchased a daughter at a virgin price, and she was not, or she did not bleed during intercourse, then he could return her to her father and get his money back.
Most marriages were arranged for financial reasons. Many couples never even met until the day of the marriage. On the day of marriage the proposed husband would give a dowry, or monetary compensation, to the father of a bride. The price of the dowry was different from woman to woman, was determined by the father, and was based on the woman’s beauty, ability to bear children, strength, household skills, and status as a virgin.
In the Old Testament, many verses that people cite for being against premarital sex are actual verses against stealing another man’s property.
In Exodus 22:16 - 17, “If a man seduces a virgin who is not engaged, and lies with her, he must pay the bride-price for her, and she will be his wife. If her father absolutely refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money equal to the bride-price for virgins.” According to this, the only reason any wrong was done is because the father of the woman lost money when the man and the woman consented to having premarital sex without her father’s knowledge. This passage showed that through premarital sex, the man is actually stealing from the woman’s father, the difference in value between her as a virgin and her as a non-virgin. It does not show that premarital sex is wrong.
In Deuteronomy 22:28 - 29 it says, “If a man finds a girl who is a virgin, who is not engaged, and seizes her and lies with her and they are discovered, then the man who lay with her shall give to the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall become his wife because he has violated her; he cannot divorce her all his days.” This shows that forced premarital sex, or rape is also stealing, but unlike the book of exodus, this trespass provides a punishment, as the male rapist not only stole from the woman herself but from the woman’s father as well.
Another example of premarital sex in the Old Testament is given in Deuteronomy 21:10. This is a case in which a man takes a woman captive and then if he wants to make her his wife he must follow the conditions it sets forth, and then have intercourse with her. Then, if she is found to be desirable he has the option of marrying her or sending her away. This passage not only possibly condones premarital sex, but maybe even divorce as well.
Even the 10 Commandments don’t forbid premarital sex. Most Christians would classify premarital sex under the seventh commandment, “Thou shall not commit adultery,” but adultery is defined as: voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and a person who is not their spouse. If neither persons are married, it cannot be adultery.
If the man performing the premarital sex was married and the woman was not, in biblical times this did not matter. The reason for this was that in biblical times adultery was defined as a situation in which there was the danger of a married woman being impregnated by another man. This is also why sex with a prostitute is/was not adultery, even if the man is married. In the Hebrew understanding of the Adultery Commandment of Moses, Adultery, as understood by what Moses said, was only wrong for married women, never a married man.
Even Solomon, a great prophet of the Bible who was said to be favored by God had seven hundred princesses and three hundred concubines. The Bible shows that polygamy, rape, incest, and orgies were not only accepted, but were often rewarded by God and were common practice of “great men of the Bible,” none of whom were ever spoken out against in the Bible.
Christ’s teachings at the Sermon on the Mount were that the only law is the law of love. He showed this by reversing four of the Old Testament laws which conflicted with loving people. Therefore, anything that was unkind, not by mutual consent, etc. would be immoral for a Christian, but obviously it would not be immoral to love sexuality before marriage or because of different but natural sexual orientation.
The New Testament says nothing about premarital sex. Some versions though do mistranslate the Greek word pornei, which means sexual immorality, into the English word fornication, which means sexual intercourse with someone who one is not married to.
Pornei, meaning sexual immorality, included such things as having sex with a woman during menstruations, adultery, temple prostitution, and pederasty.
Adultery although, is not the same sin we know today, in which it is common for a man and a woman to be considered equal. The Hebrew understanding of adultery was that it was wrong for a married woman to have sex with another man since that violated her husbands property rights to his wife. It was not wrong for a man because a woman had no such property rights. A married man could have as many wives as he could afford as long as he did not marry another man’s property.
Temple prostitution was actually the practice of the prostitutes in the Temples of Corinth selling their services as a part of the worship of a pagan fertility goddess, which was what Paul was warning against when he spoke of uniting the members of Christ with a prostitute in I Corinthians 6:12-17. This passage was not even specifically about prostitution, which was still legal and very popular in modern day Israel, but prostitution used as a form of pagan worship. He was speaking out against idolatry, not prostitution.
Pederasty was one of the worst of all sexual sins and it took on many forms. The practice of pederasty falls into three different categories. The first form is that of a sexual relationship between an older man and a young boy. Second is the practice of having a sexual relationship with slave prostitutes. Third is having a sexual relationship with an effeminate male prostitute, commonly called a “call boy” or Gigolo. Other such practices included two heterosexual males degrading one another by anal intercourse after capturing them in a battle. Another practice was heterosexuals’ using anal intercourse to drive away other heterosexual strangers they didn’t like. An example of this would be the story of Sodom and Gomorrah from Genesis 19:1-5. “The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. “My lords,” he said, “please turn aside to your servant’s house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning.”
“No,” they answered, “we will spend the night in the square.”
But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate. Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom, both young and old-surrounded the house. They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”
This story had absolutely nothing to do with homosexuality. Sexual orientation is a modern concept and was not labeled as such in biblical times. It is far better understood in the modern era. This was a story of hospitality, as displayed by Lot. The men had surrounded the house for the sole purpose of gang raping the unwanted travelers, and Lot, the owner of the house, even offered his virgin daughters to calm the mob and save his guests. This not only shows that pederasty was at times culturally accepted in biblical times, but it also proves that women were thought of as property and little more. That’s not saying either one of the above is OK. It was just practiced.
In every case of premarital sex in the Bible there is no punishment for the sexual act. The only penalty is the man had to pay compensation to the father for the woman’s change in market value.
Today however, because most women are of a comparable status to men in most parts of the Christian world, there is no market value for daughters in Christian cultures. Given this, it stands to reason that the only penalty for having premarital sex is now gone. In fact, a document authorized by the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church stated that the passages in the Biblical book SONG OF SONGS are “in praise of sexual love, celebrating youthful passion, with no reference to marriage... It affirms that sexual love is in itself good and beneficial.”
If the notion of God allowing one practice during certain periods of time and not during others seems absurd to you consider God, speaking through the prophet Nathan, saying that if David’s wives and concubines were not enough, He would have given David even more. (2 Samuel 12:8 ) Indeed the whole polygamy / bigamy thing can be rather confusing as it relates to God's expectations around sex and marriage.
Today many women have the same social and political freedoms that men have always had. But to say that responsible premarital sex, or fornication is somehow wrong, shows little more than ignorance to biblical teachings. Many of the sexually repressive teachings that developed in the middle ages are still being followed today. These teachings are based on oppressive Christian traditions that have no biblical basis other than ignorance.
As we shall see from further discussion the key word above is "responsible." It remains obvious when one examines the entirety of the Bible that marriage is God's desired endgame for partners in a committed, loving, sexual relationship.
A final note to those who might quote the "one man, one woman" passage in Matthew 19
. Jesus is talking about the act of marriage here, not premarital sex. Jesus didn't say one word about premarital sex.
Since Jesus was a Jew he was undoubtedly very familiar with the Torah. Let’s examine Judaism's attitude toward premarital sex as well. It’s rather intriguing.
After that we’ll wrap up with some additional thoughts at the end.
The Torah does not outlaw premarital sex
It doesn't outlaw many other types of sexual relationships either. Nonetheless, marital sex is considered ideal, and premarital sex is traditionally not approved of.
The negative attitude toward premarital sex, to a large degree, reflects the overwhelmingly positive attitude toward sex within marriage. Marriage is referred to as kiddushin, which comes from the Hebrew word for "holy." In Judaism, holy things are things that are set apart and made special and unique.
When sex is reserved for marriage, it too is considered holy. Most Jewish authorities disapprove of premarital sex because it does not take place within the context of kiddushin.
What of a long-term committed sexual relationship in which two people--though not married--have designated each other as their exclusive partner? This question has been raised by some liberal Jewish thinkers; however, both the Conservative and Reform movement (officially) reject the possibility of attributing kedushah (holiness) to such a relationship.
As mentioned, the Torah does not directly prohibit premarital sex. Indeed, at times, rabbinic authorities and traditional sources have been lenient in this area. In medieval Spain, Nahmanides permitted sex with an unmarried woman who was not involved with another man. Nonetheless, for traditional Jews, premarital sex is not without halakhic (legal) complication. The Torah prohibits sex between a man and a woman who is menstruating (known as a niddah). This prohibition is in place until the woman's period is complete and she immerses in a mikveh or ritual bath. This restriction applies to both married and unmarried couples, though it is considered inappropriate for a non-married woman (except for a soon-to-be bride) to immerse in a mikveh. Thus sex between an unmarried man and woman can violate a Torah decree.
Interestingly, the Torah does sanction one type of non-marital sexual relationship: concubinage. A concubine or pilegesh is a woman who, though involved exclusively with one man, does not receive the legal benefits of marriage. In biblical times, concubines were kept in addition to a wife or wives. In recent centuries, Jewish authorities have, for the most part, dismissed the validity of concubinage. An interesting exception is the 18th century legal authority Jacob Emden, who suggested re-instituting the practice. Today, liberal authorities like Arthur Waskow are once again exploring the viability of this concept.
Other liberal authorities have pointed out the need to develop a new sexual ethic to address the reality of premarital sex. Waskow, a leader in the Jewish Renewal movement, suggests altering our expectation of marriage to "make it easy for sexually active people from puberty on to enter and leave marriages." Even the Conservative and Reform movements, who still stress the ideal of marital sex, acknowledge that Judaism's position on human sexuality is not consonant with the trends of contemporary life. Both denominations have suggested that premarital sexual relationships--where they exist--should be conducted according to the ethical principles that govern married sex: namely with the respect due to all humans as beings created in the image of God. In addition, Conservative rabbi Elliot Dorff has stressed the importance of modesty, fidelity, health and safety in non-marital sex.
Let’s learn more about Dorff’s notion of “the importance of modesty, fidelity, health and safety in non-marital sex.”
The two roles Judaism assigns to sex are procreation and marital companionship. Sexual activity and procreation, of course, can take place outside the context of marriage, but classical Jewish texts do not see that as proper. Marriage (kiddushin) is holy precisely because a man and woman set each other apart from all others to live their lives together, taking responsibility for each other, caring for each other, and helping each other live through life's highs and lows. They also take responsibility for the children they bear. The willingness to assume these responsibilities is critical both for their own pleasure and growth and for the perpetuation of the Jewish community and the Jewish tradition.
Marriage is also important in Judaism because it provides a structure for achieving core Jewish values in our intimate lives--values like honesty, modesty, love, health and safety, and holiness.
Marriage is no guarantee that we will succeed in this, but it does help us attain those values. Thus Judaism is not being irrational, prudish, old fashioned, unrealistic, or mean in demanding that we limit our sexual intercourse to the context of marriage; it is rather responding to concerns that are at least as real and important in the fragmented society of today as they were in the more stable society of times past.
Sometimes, though, people do not meet an appropriate mate despite a conscientious search, and sometimes marriages end in divorce. Moreover, because Jews commonly go to college and graduate school, they are often not ready to assume the responsibilities of marriage until well after they mature biologically. Some can nevertheless adhere to the Jewish tradition's ideal of restricting sex to marriage, but others fall short.
Although Judaism clearly would have Jews restrict intercourse to marriage, singles in our society generally do not abide by that norm. Under such circumstances, it is important to understand that the violation of one Jewish norm does not entitle an individual to ignore all others; it is not an either or situation, in which one either abides by all of what Judaism has to say about these matters or follows none of it.
On the contrary, precisely those values that lead Judaism to advocate marriage--honesty, modesty, health and safety, love, and holiness--still apply to sexual relations outside marriage; they are just harder to achieve in that context. Indeed, precisely because unmarried couples cannot rely on the support of a marital bond to foster those values, it is all the more critical that if they engage in sexual intercourse, they must consciously strive to live by them. Even though their behavior will not be ideal by Jewish standards, to the extent that they can make those values real in their lives, they will be preserving their own humanity, their Jewishness, and their own mental and physical health, as well as that of their partner.
Since sexual intercourse can lead to conception, sexual activity outside marriage raises questions not only in the realm of Jewish morals but also in the arena of medical ethics. Specifically, couples who conceive out of wedlock face the question of whether to abort the fetus, to carry it to term and give it up for adoption, or to raise it under the parentage of one or both members of the couple.
Jewish norms would, first of all, mandate sex education for preteens, teenagers, and adults. The topics should include not only the anatomy of sex and the mechanics of intercourse and contraception but also the overarching concepts and values that should inform a Jew's approach to sex. In addition, it should be emphasized to teenagers in particular that their sexual activity should not be determined by peer pressure and that there are forms of sexual activity short of intercourse that can be quite fulfilling but preclude the possibility of pregnancy and its complications.
Moreover, for all ages, an adequate curriculum in sex education from a Jewish perspective must pay considerable attention to the health and safety risks involved in sex with multiple partners. This is especially important these days, since a number of sexually transmitted diseases that could be cured by antibiotics until the early 1990s have now developed strains that are resistant to the drugs currently available. Moreover, AIDS, at least as of now, is both incurable and lethal. Because these medical developments pose increased danger to those involved in sex outside marriage, and because condoms offer some measure of protection against those diseases, an adequate sex education program must provide condoms and other contraceptive devices with clear instructions on how to use them.
Some fear that if rabbis and Jewish educators frankly discuss sex outside marriage and even make contraceptives available, people will conclude that Judaism is not serious in prohibiting premarital sex. There is undeniably some danger of such misunderstanding. If Judaism is to affect the world as it actually is, though, contemporary applications of its norms dare not ignore the widespread behavior of Jews and others within our society. According to the U.S. government's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other studies, fully 72 percent of high school seniors, and 90 percent of twenty two year olds, have had sexual intercourse. Therefore, failure to distribute condoms and other contraceptives invites abortion, AIDS, and the other medical risks of unprotected sex with multiple partners for many, many people.
The Jewish tradition mandates that sex be restricted to marriage for very good reasons. Jewish law also requires, however, that we save lives and limit abortion. We must therefore earnestly engage in sex education, urging young adults to refrain from sexual intercourse before marriage for the many good reasons Judaism provides, but we must also deal realistically, supportively, and therapeutically with the many who fall short of that ideal to preserve their health and their very lives.
Wherever your thinking falls in all of the above admonishments does that mean you should resolve to head out and do the football team or the cheerleader squad as fast as possible? Absolutely not.
Sex is a powerful thing. It’s easy to hurt people with sex including yourself. People get attached when they give themselves in this way and if it doesn’t work out they can be terribly heartbroken. It’s a serious choice and it should be taken seriously. Since the most important law in Christianity is the Law of Love this must apply to sex too. Don’t use people. Don’t hurt people. Don’t hurt their feelings. Don’t lead them to think you feel one way when you really don’t just to get sex. Don’t view them as an object. Don’t push them to do something they may not be ready for. Sex must be mutual. Truly care for them before even considering sex. Care for them on a deep level so that you would never dream of hurting them. Be kind and giving to them. Have things in common that you consistently enjoy doing with one another. Don’t treat each other poorly or rudely. If you get in an argument resolve it quickly. Be monogamous. Don’t cheat. Don’t say bad things behind one another’s backs. Take care of each other’s emotions and well-being. Have each other's backs. Be best friends. Desire that your relationship lasts and use reliable birth control.Works Cited:
Adultery: An Exploration of Love and Marriage.
JLP Digital Publications, Odessa Ont., 1993
“Premarital Sex is Not a Sin Against God.” 123HelpMe.com. 19 Nov 2013
“Jewish Views on Premarital Sex” My Jewish Learning
“The Reality of Sex Outside Marriage:
Non-marital sex is not ideal, but that doesn't mean Judaism has nothing to say about it.”
By Rabbi Elliot N. Dorff
My Jewish Learning
NIV - Holy Bible.
International Bible Society, Colorado Springs, Colorado, U.S.A.,1984
There are folks on this page who say they’ve waited all their lives for “The Christian Left.” There are folks who thought they were the only ones who thought “The Christian Right” didn’t make sense.
Forbes says the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) makes nearly $300 million per year in revenue. The website Ministry Watch states that Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) makes nearly $900 million. These are only two organizations in a massive Christian news empire that spews right-wing rhetoric every day.
Who speaks up for the liberal values that Jesus stood for? Values that defend the poor, the sick, and those cast aside by society? We do. The road is getting rough though. We’ve been doing this for 4 years and we’ve never been able to get off the ground with things we’d like to accomplish. We’d like to take out ads in newspapers nationwide, issue press releases, get spokespeople out in the media, etc.
The bottom line is we need your financial involvement to keep going. If you view this effort as important become a donor today and donate regularly.Here’s how: Click here to go to donation page. It may take a moment for the page to load. This link will open the donation page in a new tab. You can go back and forth between this page and the donation page to view both the instructions and the donation process. We use PayPal to process donations but you do not have to have a PayPal account or create one.
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by Gary Vance
Liberalism has been under assault for years now. The battering of this grand political philosophy has altered the contemporary definition of liberal to the point that Conservatives use it as a profane word. They use it to paint a political opponent as anti-God and anti-American. It has gotten to the point that moderate and liberal Christians are afraid to be open about their political leanings. Sadly, it even affects their conscience and choices as they enter the voting booth. This is particularly troubling to me as a Christian evangelical minister who loves America.
Liberalism as defined by Webster’s Third New International Dictionary: a political philosophy based on belief in progress, the essential goodness of man, and the autonomy of the individual and standing for tolerance and freedom for the individual from arbitrary authority in all spheres of life.
I am not sure why anyone would feel threatened by Liberalism as defined by the dictionary. They are apparently unaware or simply refuse to acknowledge the long history of liberals who have labored for the betterment of society and the furthering of God’s Kingdom.
The labor movement of the early twentieth century was aided significantly when major Christian denominations got behind it. No average American would have a fair wage today if it weren’t for liberal Christians and labor activists. Liberal Christians and civil rights activists fought and still fight against conservative America for racial equality. Child labor laws were enacted because liberals fought for them. Medicare and Social Security exist today because of Liberalism. “Bleeding heart liberals” have long advocated for the homeless, the hungry, the less fortunate, and the disenfranchised. The women of America owe liberals a big thank you for their almost equal rights. “Tree hugging liberals” fight for clean air and water standards instead of favoring industrial polluters and short term profiteering that destroy God’s green earth.
Liberals believe in affordable health care for all U.S. citizens. They also believe in higher taxes for the rich and lower taxes for the middle class and the poor. Liberals love their spouses and children. Liberals faithfully attend their churches to worship God. Liberals love America and hate terrorism and have proved it by fighting in every war for this country. Liberals come in all shapes, sizes, and color. They are found in the ranks of Protestants, Catholics, Jews, agnostics, and atheists.
Conservative Republican policies generally favor the wealthy and ignore the needs of the poor. Their policies are so often greed-driven, with no concern for the environmental or societal consequences for their exploitive actions. Jesus plainly taught that the love of money is the root of all evil. So, Christians can go after the various “fruit” of sin in our society, but they won’t see the real change for the better until the axe is laid to the root. Christians should oppose greed-driven policies as a primary point of political concern.
I am sick of reading letters to the editor and editorials that paint Democrats and liberals as anti-God and anti-American and that portray conservative Republicans as the only true Christian patriots. We know that many Democrats are pro-choice and many support gay issues and this troubles most evangelicals. Democrats also support causes that should be of Christian concern that go untouched by Republicans. I have listed some in the above paragraphs. True prophetic vision sees that there is great need for repentance on the left and the right. The effects of powerful lobbyists, special interest groups, greed and corruption abound on both sides of the aisles of Congress. God sees it all and so should Christians. Christian voters need to see that God’s heart breaks over more than just a few political and moral issues. It is time to take off our blinders and mourn for the sorry state of affairs that is American politics.
Jesus was the ultimate liberal progressive revolutionary of all history. The conservative religious and social structure that He defied hated and crucified Him. They examined His life and did not like what they saw. He aligned Himself with the poor and the oppressed. He challenged the religious orthodoxy of His day. He advocated pacifism and loving our enemies. He liberated women and minorities from oppression. He healed on the Sabbath and forgave adulterers and prostitutes. He associated with drunks and other social outcasts. He rebuked the religious right of His day because they embraced the letter of the law instead of the Spirit. He loved sinners and called them to Himself. Jesus was the original Liberal. He was a progressive, and He was judged and hated for it. It was the self-righteous religionists that He rebuked and He called them hypocrites.
The primary issues of Christian Liberalism were birthed when Jesus spoke the profoundly prophetic words found in Matthew 25: 31-46. These scriptures reveal God’s heart for the poor, the sick and other neglected people through out history. Christians should read this text and judge for themselves which of the two groups mentioned there more accurately reflect the political parties of today. His Liberalism lives on today and the issues have not changed much.
I am glad that conservative Republican candidates advocate for the family and a few Christian issues, but we must quit pretending that they are the only ones that Christians should consider voting for. People should not call themselves pro-life if they are only anti-abortion and yet feel no twinge of conscience over the unfair application of capital punishment or wars fought for dubious motives. A true pro-life position cares just as passionately for living beings and views war as a last resort when all other options are exhausted.
Christians should look for candidates that will work for issues that are of importance to Christ and that can be tackled legislatively. Sadly, most of those causes have historically been opposed, ignored, and minimized by conservative Republican policy makers. They seem to dangle the moral issues carrot around election time. Then, even with a Republican controlled White House and Congress, prove themselves powerless to do anything about those issues when they convene to legislate. Issues such as eliminating poverty and homelessness in America, true equal rights for all citizens, environmental protection, a fair minimum wage, affordable health care, and lowering our infant mortality rate all go unattended. That’s just to name a few.
I have some questions for the Christian Right. Why have you not held our current elected majority officials accountable for their failure to address the full spectrum of Christian issues? Why would you vote for them again?
It is time for Christians of conscience to stand up to religious and political hypocrisy. Christians should proudly proclaim progressive values today and should advocate for the Christian Liberalism that is our heritage and our legacy.This article was originally published here.
Conservative trolls are generally a combination of stupid, loud, and persistent. It's sad to have to use such language but it's the truth. They embody the sentiments of Charles Bukowski
when he said, "The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts while the stupid ones are full of confidence."
We love it when folks step up, speak up, and put them in their place.Such an incident recently took place on the FB page Liberally Driven
.Here's what the troll said. It's typical condensed Faux Noise spew. In other words, nonsense.
Below is the response from one of the readers of Liberally Driven. M.L., who is a 9 year veteran of US Military Service. He responded point by point to the allegations of the Troll.
While it is quite lengthy, it is worth the read, and kudos to M.L. for one of the most thoughtful and intelligent responses to a troll that we have ever seen. The page administrators didn't want it to be hidden among the comments in an isolated post so they wrote it up on a separate post with M.L.'s permission. Enjoy.
Please share this in whole or in part as we regard this as an excellent example of how we all should respond to allegations of the Wrong Wing.
AN EXCELLENT RESPONSE TO POINT BY POINT MISINFORMATION FROM A WRONG WING TROLL:
(The first part of each section is what the troll stated, followed by the response of M.L.)
1. "America is in a constitutional crisis."
Primarily because we allow people with the educational level of an eighth grader vote, and they ALWAYS vote for the Republicans, a party that has proven to the nation, time and again, that they couldn't care any less for the poor or the middle class. You, my brainless adversary, are one of those who CAUSED that "constitutional crisis."
2. "Obama is on the verge of impeachment."
Based on what charges? Can you name JUST ONE THING the president has done to warrant another tens of billions of wasted taxpayer money on impeachment investigations? And this time around, we're going to demand that, should you TRY to impeach the president, in return, Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld all be turned over to the nations who have arrest warrants issued on them, to stand trial for war crimes. The knife will cut both ways, this time.
3. "Obamacare is a death spiral."
Nope. Wrong again, O brainless one! Your own Republican party is in the death spiral. Your side is presently demanding the government be shut down unless the ACA is defunded. Should that happen, your party will commit political suicide on a national level, and will be damn lucky if they can field candidates who can win office higher than township janitor outside the former Confederate States.
4. "Obama's spending is ripping off the very people you lefties purport to help."
OBAMA's the one ripping the poor and middle class off? Whose party is spending copious amounts of time saying NO to every jobs bill or infrastructure repair bill brought to them by the president? It's YOU PEOPLE ripping us all off! Perhaps if you pulled your head out of Glenn Beck's tuchus long enough to see the real world, you'd know that.
5. OBAMA's the one ripping the poor and middle class off?
Whose party is spending copious amounts of time saying NO to every jobs bill or infrastructure repair bill brought to them by the president? It's YOU PEOPLE ripping us all off! Perhaps if you pulled your head out of Glenn Beck's tuchus long enough to see the real world, you'd know that.
6. "Record unemployment exacerbated by Obama's stifling Obamacare."
No, the same obstructionist tactics of Boehner's House on every jobs bill, every infrastructure bill, and every bill designed to take care of the people who return home from your wars of profit and convenience, by saying NO to every single thing the president tries to bring to you, is the reason why the unemployment - which is NOT "Record" unemployment (that was under your boy Bush) - isn't going down to pre-Bush levels.
7. "Our national security is compromised."
Remember Robert Rosen of Fox News? Whether or not he was complicit in it, he helped to compromise national security by using Top Secret national security information on North Korea's nuclear program to "scoop the other news networks." The Associated Press was stopped by the NSA from blowing the cover of numerous undercover intelligence agents still in the field. If that hadn't happened, and those
gents would've died, you'd be screaming for the president's job even louder than over the bogus scandal of Benghazi. You folks on the right of the aisle would compromise national security if it meant damaging the president's legacy or even help advance your side's wet dream fantasy of a "Republican supermajority."
8. "The IRS is being used by Obama to crush is political adversaries."
Now, we all know the truth about this. Why you choose to keep up this track is pointless. We ALL know that both conservative AND progressive organizations were targeted by the IRS, and we ALL know the president had ZERO involvement and ZERO knowledge of the BOLO lists. We also know that the Conservative organizations, like True The Vote and the Tea Party groups, all were APPROVED for a tax exempt status they neither were qualified to get, nor deserved to get. And we ALL know many progressive organizations were DENIED the same status.
9. "The NSA is being used unconstitutionally."
My my, how soon we forget the Patriot Act of 2001. Signed into law by George W. Bush, in response to the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. Obama merely re-authorized the act. That baby is your side's product, and now you're using it against a president because he's a Democrat.
10. "Obama shut down the pipeline."
The Keystone XL Pipeline was flagged due to environmental concerns (like those of the oil pipeline leak in Arkansas last spring), and aside from that, there are a number of ethical questions Speaker Boehner needs to answer, regarding his stock holdings in numerous companies involved in the pipeline's construction and operation. And then there's the lies about how many jobs the pipeline will create. It's not a couple hundred thousand, as Boehner claims. more like a couple THOUSAND, and maybe a couple thousand more temporary jobs involved in the construction of the pipeline. Finally, there's the ecological disaster being inflicted upon the Alberta province of Canada. There are hundreds of aerial photographs showing the damage the tar sands production is doing to the Albertan countryside, and the Canadian government's push to get the pipeline constructed down the middle of America, with no regards to the damage a leaking pipeline with the dirtiest oil produced could do to the water tables of many states in the Great Plains - oil to be loaded into tankers bound for China and East Asia - is beginning to do irreparable damage to conservative Canadian PM Stephen Harper and his conservative party.
11. "The scandals...oh the scandals...and people died!"
The bullshit...oh the bullshit! There are NO scandals. Your side is batting 0 for 4, and have yet to hit anything other than foul balls in the scandal department. You have NOTHING on the IRS. Nothing on the AP. NOTHING, PERIOD! As far as Benghazi is concerned, the only scandal involved there, aside from the fact several Republicans were the ones who edited the talking points, to make it look like the president and former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton doctored them. is the fact you won't allow Ambassador Stevens and the three men who died with him that night last year, REST IN PEACE! You keep exhuming their memories, drag them from their graves and nail them to crosses to score political brownie points with your equally-brain dead base, in the hopes that keeping this up will help you keep your ever growing tenacious hold on your House majority, or your wet dream fantasy of "retaking the Senate." You all over on the right of the aisle should be ashamed of yourselves for using the memories of those four, and your exploitation of their survivors, for political gain. But in order to feel shame, one would have to have a conscience and a soul. And none of you on the right of the aisle have EITHER!
2. "Our schools are crap."
That's something to be laid on the doorstep of the Republican Party. Your side has systematically destroyed our educational system in this nation, and then turned around and claimed that our schools are "liberal indoctrination centers," which you scum-crullers then use to demand the issuance of "school vouchers," pieces of paper you then use to put your precious neo-con larvae into either private or religious schools, in the hopes that insulating them from reality will allow you to indoctrinate them to be mini-me versions of you and your side of the aisle. And what has your side produced to help our schools? Letting them pray to your prostituted version of Christ and God. Nothing more. Nothing less. Your side of the aisle wrecked our educational system, mainly to produce successive generations of people who will never be able to think critically, or for themselves, relying on a corrupt, corporate media machine to tell them how to do everything short of how to wipe their own butts, and just dumb enough to strengthen their gullibility enough to keep them turning out en masse at the polls to vote Republican without fail.
13. "Is there anything thing of substance the left can point to and say: We made America better?"
There are thousands of things we can point to and say it made things better, fool. Our parents and grandparents left us a world with a system of governmental checks and balances, to ensure we had it just as good as they had it. And then we, the Baby Boomers in charge, took Jim Morrison's famous line, "We want the world, and we want it now!" literally and to extremes, and began systematically dismantling those checks and balances, deregulating everything in sight, allowing corporations to swallow up everything they possibly could, unmindful of the devastation they left behind, and then sit idly by and let the wealthiest one percent of America hoard wealth like a crazy old woman hoards cats, stashing their wealth in safe offshore havens in the Cayman Islands, and then amass obscene profits which they refuse to share that windfall with the people who actually do the hard work in their companies, preferring to give themselves eight or nine digit end-of-year bonuses, which go into the same offshore havens. We, our parents and our grandparents made America a country to be proud of. We put you idiots in charge, and you surreptitiously turned around and screwed everything up.
14. "I say no!"
Why not? Your pals Boehner, Cantor and McConnell say that all the time. In closing, all I can say is this: Do us all a favor. Stay home in November, 2014. You proved to all of us, above, that you're incapable of separating fantasy from reality.
Liberally Driven Administrators Note:
L.M., who writes under the pseudonym of Humma Kavula, stated after I asked him if I could share his post, “I served my nation honorably for nine years, defending the rights of people like the troll I took to task above, to speak their minds, and would gladly lay my life down to allow that person to speak their mind, even if I don't agree with them personally.
We think this is a fantastic example of the thoughtful, reasonable but forceful response that we need to give when faced with wild accusations against our core beliefs. We felt obligated to share this and hope that you have enjoyed this as much as we have.
We are, after all, all in this together.
Larry at Liberally Driven
“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
-- James 2:14-26
Jesus begged for mercy for the very people who were killing him on the cross, telling his father they didn't know what they were doing. That's love.
By Josh Johnson
Women are amazing!
Beautiful. Feminine. Intelligent. Sexy. Alluring. I love women! I love the female body too. There isn’t a woman out there who can’t be sexy when she wants to be. Their eyes....their lips...... I could go on and on. And there is nothing better than a sexy woman with a beautiful mind too. A woman you can talk to on many levels is a beautiful woman indeed. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am no longer 16. I am past the age where I need to give every woman I see a second look.....and a third look.....and on and on. But I do notice. Unlike most followers of Christ, I do not feel ashamed to notice. That’s because I know something that a whole lot of other people of faith do not know, and this knowledge has set me free.
Matthew 5:28 is the most famously condemning Scripture I know of. And nearly everyone I know has heard it. Its the part of the sermon on the mount where Jesus says this.......
“You have heard it said do not commit adultery, but I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Man, I always hated this verse. I couldn’t understand why God would put a billion hormones inside us specifically designed to react to the opposite sex......and then call us adulterers for doing just that. This verse is the reason for soooo much of the baloney that goes on in Christian circles. Sexual attraction is viewed as a sinful and dangerous thing, especially the desires of the male. So Christians set up all kinds of rules and regulations for themselves to protect themselves from developing attractions and desires for someone of the opposite sex in their church. It’s the reason there are separate Bible studies for men and women in most churches; It’s the reason guys and girls are separated in nearly every activity of the church; and, its the reason that church leaders and Christians themselves are very paranoid of spending any time alone with a member of the opposite sex. Because the absolute worst thing that can happen.....the absolute end of the world thing a Christian can do to disgrace God........ is to end up having sex with someone. So let’s avoid male/female contact altogether. I mean, according to Matthew 5:28, you are not even supposed to look at a woman who is fully dressed, much less have sex with a naked one.
I’m not addressing the issue of sex itself in this post. But rather, I’m addressing our natural desires and inclinations toward women, sexual, emotional, and otherwise. Either way, this is what Matthew 5:28 says, right?..... Or does it............?
How is this possible? God, you gave us all these hormones and yet we can’t even look at beauty when it’s before our eyes? What’s up with that? I got stuck on this Scripture for a long time. I was actually kind of upset at God for saying it too. I was starting to view God as a jerk. To me, God was becoming a tyrant..... like someone who forces an alcoholic to sit at a table full of beer all day and then tells him he better not even think about drinking. What are you trying to do to us, Lord? And then.....then it started to hit me.......maybe there was nothing wrong with God. Maybe Jesus didn’t really say what we all think he said. Maybe there’s something more to what Christ was saying.
Eventually, common sense took over. Before I had a chance to study the issue, I started to realize that there is no way in hell that looking at some single woman with “lust” for her is adultery. I know this because it’s not even adultery if you end up actually HAVING sex with her. Adultery can only happen when a married person is involved in a sexual act with someone other than his spouse. And that’s the Biblical definition of the word. So I was on to something, but it would be a long time before I got internet and finally had the chance to study the issue for myself. I eventually discovered the proper meaning of the Greek words behind Matthew 5:28, and I came to find out that our English translations of the Bible simply do not translate this verse properly. Dang it! .... I KNEW something was up!
So let’s look at the verse in question again. Matthew 5:28:
“You have heard it said you should not commit adultery, but I tell you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Here’s the truth about this verse. The Greek word for “lust” in this verse is epithumeo, which means to long for; to covet. The word has no sexual connotation and the same Greek term is used to describe coveting of all kinds in other parts of Scripture. I would provide proof, but I don’t want to turn this post into a 30 page essay. You are more than welcome to study the word meaning out for yourself. Either way, the Greek term here should not have been translated to lust, but to covet. To covet is to desire with intent or longing to steal. Moving on, the Greek term for the word “woman” in this verse is “gunh,” which can mean woman or wife, but usually means wife. The word “gunh” is generally not used in Scripture to describe a single woman. It means wife in Greek, and in the context of this passage, the verse would make no sense if the word simply meant woman. So..... in light of this new knowledge let’s examine this verse again. The Greek word behind “lust” here actually means to covet, moreover, desire with intent to steal. The Greek word for woman here is “gunh,” which usually refers to a woman who is a wife. Knowing this, we now have a better idea of what Jesus really said. And here’s what he really said, as best as I can translate it in English:
“You have heard it said do not commit adultery. But I tell you that every man who looks at another man’s wife to desire to take her for his own (covet).... this man has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Because he would do it if he thought he could get away with it.”
That.....my friends....is what Jesus really said. Or at least its a lot closer to what he said than what you’ve been taught to believe. The verse in question has nothing to do with your desire to look at women in bikinis on the beach. It has more to do with what’s in a mans heart. The Jewish leaders of the Jesus day were legalists. They had pride in the fact that they followed all kinds of rules. And what Jesus was saying in this verse is that they were missing the mark. The only reason most of his listeners were not adulterers is because they had too much pride in following the rules. They were obeying the commandment against adultery to feed their own arrogance, not to honor God. And Jesus knew it. He also knew that these men would love to have any opportunity to get their hands on other men’s wives.
But back to the point. Jesus was not saying that your natural desires for the opposite sex are sinful and adulterous. God made your hormones, not Satan. God made women beautiful, not Satan. And it was God, not Satan, who gave you your other natural desires toward women. Not just the sexual ones, but the emotional and spiritual ones as well. As I said earlier, there is nothing better than a sexy woman that can hold a deep spiritual conversation. And that female perspective brings something very valuable to the spiritual table that we as men simply can’t bring. Yes.....God made women beautiful......and not just on the outside. Most definitely he made them beautiful on the inside too. And that’s not sinful talk. That’s just truth.
Its just such a shame that this verse has been taught the way it has for so many years. Christian men drive themselves crazy over this passage. They try very hard not to notice and not to look at beautiful women. Young Christian guys try sooooo hard not to look at women. They think they are sinning against God by allowing themselves to look at or desire them. So every day, they put themselves thru a torturous cycle of trying to get through their daily classes or their job while also focusing very hard on trying not to notice the hot women around them. It’s a brutal mental and emotional situation and a useless cause. Christians have been almost driven to the point of suicide over this very issue, thinking that their minds are constantly sinning when thinking of women, and therefore convincing themselves they are evil and not good enough for God. And do you know what you can end up with when you put yourself through this every day? You can end up with a porn addiction!
You cannot overcome your desire for the opposite sex. It’s not possible no matter what the conservatives who run our churches tell you. Sexual desire, and your other desires toward women, are a natural function. Trying to force yourself not to look at or desire women is about like trying to stop your own heartbeat just by thinking about it. It can’t be done. So the more you try to suppress these inclinations, the more these same inclinations are going to end up exploding all over you. Hence the porn addiction I just mentioned. Trying to stop your brain from reacting to something it was designed specifically to react to is utterly useless and will lead to despair. A man is better off to enjoy thinking about the hot waitress he saw earlier in the day than try to convince himself that his desire for her is sinful. And I will tell you a little secret. Once you realize that sexual desire is not a sin and it’s normal, you end up doing far less actual lusting! I know from experience that this is true. I look at women wayyyyy less nowadays than I ever did when I thought looking at them was a sin. As a matter of fact, I am often in a roomful of beautiful women and never give a second thought to how sexually appealing they are. I’m not sure why that is. I think it could be that once the stigma of sin is taken away, lusting, if that’s what you want to call it, just ain’t as much fun. In either case, Christians have to stop teaching these things.
What the church teaches on this issue is false. All this doesn’t even take into account the immense pressure put on women in the church to avoid male contact because men’s desires are supposedly so evil and they can’t control themselves. It really upsets me when I think about the rules that have been imposed on women over the years because men felt they could not control themselves without strict guidelines. So women were....and still are.....punished because of men’s desires. The point is that desire is no sin. There is a saying in Christian circles that the first look is not a sin, but the second look leads to darkness. I have shown here that looking isn’t a sin be it first or second or whatever. Of course, common sense must be used. If you are looking at a woman in a way that makes her uncomfortable, that’s invasive. Stop doing that.
There are going to be times when you notice women and their beauty. There are going to be times you want get together with a couple guys, hit the beach, and “girl watch” for the day. There are going be days when you’re out and about and you think about how many hot women you see. And THAT is totally OK. Allow yourself to enjoy those days. God made women beautiful for a reason, and it was not so you could cower your head in shame every time a hottie walks by. So for those of you who are struggling with this burden, please read the link I attached
. It’s a much more in depth exegesis of Matthew 5:28 and it will set you free from this chain if you are ready to receive it.
Time to kick Teavangelical politics out of God’s house
By David D. FowlerNOTE from The Christian Left:
As supplementary reading, the author recommends you check out the following perspectives on abortion and homosexuality. These articles contain in depth analysis on these two topics as they relate to the Bible:. Clobbering "Biblical" Gay Bashing and The Bible Tells Us When A Fetus Becomes A Living Being
.The author would also like readers to know that
this piece was originally timed to appear on the same day as Obama's inauguration.
An angry Messiah is not a nice concept – or a pretty sight – as Rembrandt vividly demonstrates. ‘Christ Driving the Moneychangers from The Temple’ is based on one of the most famous Bible scenes, featuring one of Jesus’ defining statements: “This is a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves!” To see one of the better dramatizations of this extraordinary scene, click on the image. The video is from Jesus of Nazareth, the 1977 mini-series.
Cleansing the Temple
In one of his most important and dramatic acts, Jesus of Nazareth picked up a whip and furiously ordered intruders out of “my Father’s house”, denouncing the local religious leaders for their deeply entrenched spiritual hypocrisy. In short, the Blessed Redeemer kicked ass, big-time. The cleansing of the Temple in Jerusalem was one of the great iconic moments from the amazing life of Christ. What made the meek and mild Lamb of God so incredibly angry? Abortion? Same-sex marriage? Gun control? Secular humanism? Saddam Hussein? Obamacare?
None of the above, of course. The Son of Man was incensed by the legalistic behavior of most of the much-respected Pharisees; and the last straw was the invasion of the Temple by an alien presence – in this case, the intrusion of moneylenders into the sacred House of Prayer. In our day and culture, a new kind of spiritually corrupt leadership has commandeered a significant part of the religious establishment, especially in the U.S., and has been peddling a distortion of Christ’s gospel. Since the Reagan years, a large segment of American Christianity has been occupied by a different kind of invasion: the colonization of the mind, by an alien ideology.
This ideology incorporates buccaneer capitalism, blind jingoism, rampant militarism, the demeaning of women, and an obsession with eradicating alternative sexual practices; and its advocates thrive on their considerable talent for exploiting reliable hot-button issues to rally the troops. For far too long, this faction of influence mongers has extolled a form of idolatry, worshipping and coveting legislative power – and in the process, transforming a portion of the church into a den of conniving politicians. So we must ask ourselves: what, indeed, would Jesus do? I would not be so presumptuous as to speak for him. But I am absolutely convinced that he would say it’s time to kick right-wing political extremism out of his Temple. ‘Faith-based politics’ has had its 15 minutes of fame. Time to get a new script – or bow out for keeps.
On a personal note, I should emphasize that I am not American, and I don’t claim to be an expert on everyday Christianity in that troubled nation. I also want to clarify that I believe in the same God as the people I’m writing about; however, my perspective on society is vastly different. For 15 years, I worked for a moderately conservative Christian media organization; however, to paraphrase scripture, one could say I was “in but not of” that particular world, politically. During that time, I often pondered what Jesus himself would make of the poorly-named ‘Christian Right’. As part of that job, I frequently encountered conservative believers; and for the most part, I found them to be decent, well-meaning folks who are totally sincere in their faith. A few of them even became dear friends of mine. However, I came to the conclusion that some card-carrying members of this subculture were seriously misguided; and their responses to events of the past few months have only bolstered this conviction.
Loathing & Alarmism
This is a most appropriate time to address such issues, as the United States marks the re-inauguration of a man whose candidacy was so vehemently reviled by many people of faith. Some of them, like WND’s Joseph Farah, have responded to Barack Obama’s victory with loathing, hostility and alarmism. Others feel qualified to pass judgment on the president’s personal faith, like controversy-mongering pastor Mark Driscoll – who had the arrogance to tweet presumptuously, during the inauguration, that Obama "will be placing his hand on a Bible he does not believe to take an oath to a God he likely does not know."
While not all such people are directly affiliated with the infamous Tea Party, I’d like to borrow the term ‘Teavangelicals’, which Christian broadcaster David Brody coined as a positive label to denote evangelicals who support that benighted movement. I prefer to use the term in a broader sense, referring to the Religious Right’s cadre of professional ‘Bible snatchers’. By this I mean certain socially conservative ideologues and their supporters, who are blatantly manipulating the faith for political purposes; I am not referring to the average conservative church-goer. By this definition, Teavangelicals are those who are expropriating Christian faith to attain and wield power, with the aim of altering society in very specific ways. If they ever attain sufficient power, I believe they are quite capable of using that faith as a weapon to punish transgressors in the name of righteousness. Am I being alarmist myself? Hear me out.
Many of these leaders, I’m certain, are well-intentioned people who honestly believe they are ‘doing God’s will’. I have no right to judge their status in God’s eyes; and I’m not for a moment suggesting they are faking their worship of Jesus in church services, or ought to be shunned by fellow Christians. Their ideology, however, is another matter. The fact remains that it inevitably spawns a Machiavellian abuse of faith, for questionable ends. I’m convinced that the gospel revered by Teavangelicals is distorted by this ideology, no matter how sincerely they admire the figure of Christ. In concrete terms, I simply can’t imagine the Prince of Peace endorsing the social aims and political tactics promoted by many on the Religious Right. “Blessed are the merciful / love your enemies / when I was hungry, you fed me / take up your cross daily and follow me / bless those who curse you / store up treasure in heaven / your sins are forgiven / love your neighbor as yourself / turn the other cheek / do not judge, or you will be judged / take the log out of your own eye / whatever you do for the least of these, you do for me / blessed are the meek” – that there goldurn liberal propaganda don’t sound very dang Republican, do it?
The Socialist Peril
Indeed, utilizing government for truly Christ-like purposes – such as feeding and sheltering the poor, giving compassion to prisoners, taking care of the sick, and promoting peace – appears to be anathema to hardcore Teavangelicals. Such activities would likely be dismissed by them as manifestations of their new favorite bogey man: ‘socialism’ (which always makes me wonder what they would think of the communal life of the early church). Rather than implementing essential societal reforms embodied by genuine biblical concepts, these people appear to be far more interested in penalizing their fellow citizens for private moral choices. Despite their constant invocation of God and ‘biblical principles’, the sinister social engineering advocated by Teavangelicals is not theology; it is politics, pure and simple. Spiritually, it is indeed a form of idolatry to make an ideology more important than the gospel. It is a toxic misuse of faith to hijack it for the promotion of a chilling ultra-conservative agenda. It is, in short, pharisaical hogwash.
A good recent example of one attitude inspired by this ideology was the response to the Newtown school massacre by Fox broadcaster Mike Huckabee, moral crusader James Dobson and evangelist Franklin Graham. It demonstrated the sheer ineptitude which is found at the heart of Teavangelical politics, when it comes to dealing effectively with a crisis situation. Rather than confront the facts about the need for better gun control – and instead of using the political system to address that issue the way they use it to promote their favorite causes – all three of these men merely mouthed useless, spiritually dubious platitudes, characterizing the massacre as just another example of a secularized society paying the price for supposedly abandoning God. Nice way to offer comfort to the victims’ families, guys.
The Pat & Jerry Show
Their comments were reminiscent of the disgusting, idiotic pronouncements of Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 catastrophe, when the pair had the partisan arrogance and temerity to blame the atrocity on abortionists, feminists, gays and liberals for triggering God’s wrath. Like those two theological giants, Huckabee, Graham and Dobson exploited a terrible tragedy as a self-serving opportunity to make ideological points. Their generalities deflected discussion from the real issues, conveniently allowing them to avoid dealing with the whole question of gun control. While not quite as reprehensible as the Pat & Jerry Show, the hypocrisy of their comments was astounding, considering these are people who pontificate endlessly about the slaughter of unborn children. Will they do anything practical to help stop future massacres of children who are outside the womb? Such people love to spout off about Family Values. How about some actual protection for the families they supposedly value so much?
Like the recent Newtown slaughter of schoolchildren, the 9/11 tragedy elicited offensive and ludicrous comments from some Teavangelical leaders. For the infamous response of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, click on the photo. Image by Harjinder Kalirai, obtained through Creative Commons license.
Will these leaders, for example, use their considerable influence to support something as fundamental, pragmatic and obvious as universal background checks for would-be firearm purchasers? If not, then why not? Until I hear people like this offer some real solutions, I have absolutely no interest in hearing them babble homilies about collective national culpability for sin. As for Teavangelicals who are National Rifle Association supporters, I have three simple questions for them: 1) If you believe in the Romans 13 admonition to be obedient to government, and the Founding Fathers envisioned a “well-regulated militia", why are you so adamantly opposed to government regulation? 2) If the Second Amendment was written decades before the invention of the gatling gun, how can you use it to justify the possession of rapid-firing weapons by average citizens who have no legitimate need for them? 3) Who would Jesus shoot? If you carry the NRA’s logic far enough, every American should have the right to carry a nuclear weapon. This heinous organization has clearly enabled a lot of mass slaughters by repeatedly blockading progress toward intelligent gun control, and should be held accountable for this; their response to Newtown, proposing the posting of armed guards in schools, was simply moronic. Where is the faith-based movement to outlaw the NRA and imprison its leaders? Ain’t likely to happen. After all, a good, well-oiled gun collection is an integral component of the Teavangelical Family Values toolbox. Well, pass the Lord ‘n praise the ammo, dude; they’ll take muh Bible when they pry it from muh cold, dead fingers!
Ineffectual & Oblivious
Instead of attempts to seriously grapple with factors clearly pertinent to the Newtown massacre, we’ve gotten responses such as an article by Citizenlink, which is affiliated with the Dobson-founded Focus On The Family. It quoted Focus counselor Tim Sanford, who said: “Children may ask challenging questions, such as: ‘Why did this happen?’ There is no simple answer.” He advised readers to reassure their children that “God is still on the throne. He is still loving and kind.” The article also declared: “the media is looking to blame guns, video games and other politically expedient targets.” This is typical of the ineffectual, oblivious response of many conservative Christians to previous mass gun slayings. They might as well just say: “Treat the kids to a Happy Meal and a Tarantino flick, and take ‘em to target practice after church.”
This evidently cavalier Teavangelical attitude toward mass violence has been exceedingly troubling in the most dangerous arena of all: international warfare. Presidents Ronald Reagan, and George Bush Senior & Junior, as chief priests of this cult, virtually baptized war – and the threat of war – as their primary tool of foreign policy. Reagan & both Bushes very publicly identified themselves as conservative Christians; and they all consistently demonstrated a proclivity for militaristic aggression and adventurism, frequently using their armed forces for dubious purposes. Under their successive regimes, we had the near-fatal peak of the Cold War; ill-advised conflicts in Grenada and Nicaragua; the catastrophic Persian Gulf War; the botched operation in Afghanistan; and the orchestrated deception of the Iraq invasion. All three of these clowns were virtual pimps for the weapons industry, manipulating fear and strife to build up the US arsenal to a truly insane degree. Related to this talent for toying with Armageddon is the Teavangelical equivalent of the recent Mayan Apocalypse no-show.
Gog & Magog
Since the 1970s, self-styled ‘prophets of God’ have exploited a specific interpretation of the infamous ‘Gog & Magog’ passages of the Book of Ezekiel, to drum up holy anxiety by identifying various unstable world situations with end-times events. This reached a fever pitch during the height of the Cold War, thanks to books such as Hal Lindsey’s The Late Great Planet Earth, and The Coming War with Russia by Jack Van Impe. The heart of the scenario was the notion that the Soviet Union would precipitate Armageddon in the Middle East. Some astute Christians have disputed this idea. Scholar Thomas Williamson contends that the identification of modern Russia with the “Prince of Rosh” mentioned in Ezekiel 38:2 is based on a mistaken translation. The phrase in question, he maintains, should be translated “chief prince.” Further, he cautions, it is a mistake to turn Ezekiel’s descriptions of ancient weapons into metaphors for modern implements. He concludes: “The best explanation of Ezekiel’s prophecy is that it was a reference to the invasion of Israel by the Syrian king Antiochus Ephiphanes in 168 BC.” Despite these kinds of level-headed responses from fellow believers, Van Impe is still flogging this foolishness after more than four decades – now repackaged to incorporate the ‘Islamist menace.’ He erroneously predicted that “the war of the latter days” would occur in 2012. Big-time fail, Jacko!
Irresponsible & Dangerous
Not only is this kind of thing incredibly irresponsible, it serves only to foment fear and hatred, and sell worthless books and DVDs – and in particularly ominous times, it makes things very lucrative for survivalists peddling freeze-dried foods, gold hoards and guns. What do Christians accomplish spiritually, by obsessively anticipating doomsday to this degree? To show just how dangerous these ideas can get, I would point out that many of those who buy into this scenario believe that, because nuclear war is prophesied in scripture, therefore peace initiatives are doomed to failure – and should thus be viewed with suspicion. If that is the case, then just what, precisely, was the point of Christ saying “Blessed are the peacemakers”? That appears to be one of God’s blessings Teavangelicals are happy to do without.
The Stillson Factor
It is not entirely far-fetched to imagine that a president sufficiently committed to this misbegotten viewpoint might conceivably trigger a nuclear holocaust with the aim of defending a ‘Godly nation’ – or even to ‘fulfill his destiny’ as a ‘Godly leader’, like a Bible-thumping equivalent of Stephen King’s psychotic Greg Stillson in The Dead Zone. If you think I’m being just a tad hyperbolic, consider this 1971 quote from Reagan: “Ezekiel tells us that Gog, the nation that will lead all of the other powers of darkness against Israel, will come out of the north. [Now] that Russia has become Communistic and atheistic, now that Russia has set itself against God . . . it fits the description of Gog perfectly.” That quote should give any thinking person a chill, when pondering Reagan’s policies during the Cold War. His evident belief that Scripture predicted Russia would trigger the ultimate End Times battle could possibly have led him to push the nuclear button, for the purpose of enabling ‘God-fearing’ America to play its appointed role in this unbiblical twisting of the Almighty’s prophetic Last Days plan.
The Teavangelicals’ feeble perception of reality was exemplified by the orgy of Gipper Fever which oozed from people such as James Dobson when Reagan died. As an actor, Ronnie should have gotten a special Life Achievement Oscar for brilliantly playing the role of the ultimate folksy, genial, all-American President. As a leader, he was a disaster, and probably the most dangerous demagogue in US history. He should have been impeached for the Iran/Contra debacle – because he either knew more about it than he was telling, or had lost control of the people behind it. His ‘trickle-down’ economics presumably set the stage for the economic catastrophe which has befallen the U.S. He falsely got credit for ending the Cold War; clearly, the fall of the Soviet Union was an accident waiting to happen, long before his presidency. Worst of all, his recklessly stupid nuclear buildup could easily have resulted in a holocaust due to a computer accident. His infamous joke about bombing the Soviets was simply disgusting, coming from a man in his position. And to this day, does anyone know what actually happened in Grenada? In spite of all the obvious evidence, the fact is that the Gipper is still idolized by many Teavangelicals, as the greatest president of all time. This speaks volumes about their current politics.
The Usual Suspects
Teavangelicals certainly flew their true colors in the recent U.S. election. By supporting Mitt Romney, they confirmed their allegiance to big money – underlining the fact that they consider ideological capitalism more important than the Bible’s stated priorities. Utilizing a frightful mix of patriotism and faith was one of their key tactics. This was most evident in Chuck Norris’ histrionic Dire Warning for America; and Dinesh D’Souza’s nonsensical hatchet job, 2016: Obama’s America. Especially tasteless was a polemic by grandstanding black preacher E.W. Jackson. He blatantly played the ‘race card’ – imploring African American Christians to leave the Democratic Party, while making outrageous allegations about the Democrats. And what were the pastor’s reasons for pillorying the Dems? The usual suspects, of course: abortion and homosexuality – the same pet issues Teavangelicals incessantly harp upon, while continually ignoring key scriptural concerns such as poverty and greed. Elsewhere, Jackson insisted that he was not trying to get people to vote for a specific party. That was both cynical and disingenuous, because there was obviously only one other viable electable alternative if voters rejected the Democrats.
The support for Romney demonstrated precisely how desperate the Teavangelicals were getting. They were determined to elect a man whose religion misrepresents key portions of the very Bible they profess to honor, all in the name of ‘biblical values’. With all due respect to sincere Mormons, their sect has long been considered a heretical cult by most evangelicals; but the Billy Graham organization took material critical of Mormonism off their website, when Graham and son Franklin endorsed long-time Mormon Romney. Whether Teavangelicals wanted to admit it or not, Obama was a declared Christian; he was just not their kind of Christian. Romney was clearly the less truly ‘biblical’ of the two candidates. So for someone of Graham’s caliber to put his politically-neutral reputation on the line to support a Mormon over a fellow Christian was very revealing. And what was Billy’s reason for supporting Mitt? You guessed it: to promote the same old same old: pushing abortion and homosexuality as the most crucial issues for Christians to focus on.
“Patriotism is the last refuge to which a scoundrel clings”, Bob Dylan once sang, and nationalistic zeal has often been exploited by religious demagogues in the name of Christ. Such people have often cited America’s founders, such as George Washington, to bolster their thesis. Click on the image for a video which calls this notion into question.
Clearly, the Bible is ‘pro-life’ on the topic of unborn children; but there is not one single specific scripture, to my knowledge, which directly condemns the actual practice of abortion. Further, there are only a handful of verses which address homosexuality; it is portrayed negatively, but it is not discussed to any great extent.
Contrast this with an estimated 300 Bible verses which deal with poverty, and many others which condemn greed and caution against the pitfalls of wealth. Furthermore, Christ himself said not one recorded word about abortion or homosexuality; but he repeatedly admonished people to look after the poor and dispossessed, and warned of the folly of putting faith in riches. Obviously, these issues should be the key concerns for Christians. Despite this, Teavangelicals have, for decades, used opposition to abortion and homosexuality as the litmus test for politically acceptable faith. Meanwhile, many of them thrive on a system which perpetuates poverty, the one social ill most often condemned by the Bible.
However decent a guy Romney might be personally, he represented big money – and by extension, the continuing oppression of the poor. He obviously did not represent anything which would combat greed, feed the starving, or strive for peace – which are the things Jesus truly valued, according to the New Testament. Furthermore, Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan was an advocate of the witless, profit-mongering selfishness of Ayn Rand’s philosophy. Christians who were prepared to choose the Romney/Ryan agenda over Obama’s platform were clearly willing to jettison Christ’s priorities – in the name of right-wing ideology.
One key element of the Teavangelical philosophy is the notion that America was founded as a ‘Christian nation’. This has been spouted ad nauseam, by ultra-patriotic preachers. As it turns out, this myth has either been a deliberate deception, or based on lousy research; I suspect it is the latter. This canard was laid to rest in the scholarly 2006 book, The Faiths of the Founding Fathers. While some of America’s founders were indeed active believers, according to author David L. Holmes, several key figures were Deists, not orthodox Christians. These included Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe. According to Holmes, Adams, Jefferson, and Thomas Paine “questioned doctrines that they believed could not be reconciled with human reason . . . As a result they rejected such Christian teachings as the Trinity, the virgin birth, the resurrection, and the divinity of Jesus.” Jefferson, who composed the original draft of the Declaration of Independence, literally sliced and diced the gospels with a razor to concoct his own text, entitled The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth. The so-called ‘Jefferson Bible’ eliminated all references to Christ’s miracles, his resurrection and his deity.
This appeal to the mythical ‘biblical nation’ idea has resulted in a baptized form of jingoism, equating ‘Americanism’ with Christianity. The implication is that loyal American Christians have the right to demand that all of their fellow citizens, Christian or otherwise, must conduct their lives in strict accordance with the Bible. To this end, Teavangelicals have been strenuously striving to elect politicians, appoint judges and change laws. The last thing sincere Christians should do is support the divisive ‘culture wars’ that these people constantly fight in our name. If a believer’s mandate is to reach people with the gospel, then perpetuating social polarization is a clumsy and self-defeating way to communicate the story of Christ. If non-believers see Christians constantly striving to enact legislation to enforce their narrow interpretation of the Bible, they will likely assume all believers are self-righteous dogmatists who threaten their freedom of choice; this approach will do absolutely nothing to convey the majesty of the Risen Christ. In the end, the people Teavangelicals want to evangelize will write off Christianity as a political party with dictatorial ambitions, and will not be remotely interested in its actual spiritual content.
No Girls Allowed
While Teavangelicals have won some battles in the culture wars, these victories have seriously damaged people’s lives. Nothing demonstrates this more clearly than the issue of women’s rights. The watershed legislative battle over this issue was the early 1970s fight over the Equal Rights Amendment, which was scuttled by a campaign spearheaded by reactionary Christian pit-bull Phyllis Schlafly. In some American churches, discriminatory attitudes toward women have long been rationalized by certain interpretations of scripture – despite the clear biblical admonition that “in Christ, there is neither male nor female”. The most high-profile battleground has been the Southern Baptist Convention – whose leaders remind me of a bunch of little boys locked in their treehouse with a ‘no girls allowed’ sign on the door.
Exalt or Subjugate
In 1998, the SBC proclaimed its ‘Family Amendment’, which stated: “A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ.” In 2000, the denomination made an official declaration that women should not serve as pastors. Other Baptists have opposed these edicts – most notably, former president Jimmy Carter. In a 2009 piece severing ties with the SBC, he wrote: “It wasn’t until the fourth century that dominant Christian leaders, all men, twisted and distorted Holy Scriptures to perpetuate their ascendant positions within the religious hierarchy. The truth is that male religious leaders have had – and still have – an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter . . . in clear violation [of] the teachings of Jesus Christ.”
America’s devout Christ-followers need to face the facts: for decades, zealots with neo-fascistic tendencies have been attempting (with some success) to co-opt the Christian faith, to promote their own draconian social aims. This reactionary agenda of taking over society is evidently far more important to them than the stated views of the One they claim to follow. To be blunt, this is disgraceful and indeed idolatrous. It is also curiously inconsistent. Teavangelicals have often cited Romans 13, the chapter which famously tells believers to be submissive to government rulers, as a means of exhorting their youth to obey authority unquestioningly; and yet, no one opposes the current U.S. government more strenuously than they do. More importantly, from an evangelistic point of view, the culture wars are sidetracking evangelicals from Christ’s Great Commission, which simply calls believers to humbly tell the world about the Redeemer “with gentleness and respect”, and to help people understand what it really means to follow him.
Render unto Caesar
Since when did Jesus instruct his followers to take over the government, for the purposes of promoting big business, hyper-patriotism, the oppression of women, sexual repression, and military supremacy? The Savior’s closest brush with political discourse was his classic statement, “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s – and unto God, that which is God’s.” Jesus never commanded anyone to use political power to enact laws which would force others to behave ‘biblically’, and which would legally punish non-believers for violating a judgmental view of scripture. The Teavangelicals’ insane ‘Culture War’ crusade has seriously compromised their spiritual credibility.
Ignoring Jesus’ values in favor of their own ideology could even be seen as a betrayal of the Great Commission. Their peculiar vision is a theological train wreck, which bears no relationship to the nature of God as outlined in the Bible: the God of forgiveness, justice and mercy, who condemns self-righteousness, exhorts us to combat poverty, and calls his followers to communicate the gospel with a humble and loving attitude. As long as Teavangelicals embody this spiritually bankrupt vision, their moral and political campaigns will totally overshadow the faith they express as individuals, however sincere that faith might be; thus, no matter how well-meaning they are, their ideology will continue to be an embarrassment to real Christianity. Presenting Christians as the moral police of non-believers’ lives is lousy evangelistic strategy – and kinda creepy.
It is also troubling for Christians who focus on non-Teavangelical issues – such as poverty, nuclear proliferation, military recklessness, violence against women, and climate change – to see so much energy being siphoned off into party politics. Hopefully, the resounding, much-deserved electoral defeat suffered by the Republicans will marginalize these people permanently. If that does not happen, then we should brace ourselves for more of their fanatical shenanigans. Either way, it’s high time for grassroots Christians who do not share the ultra-conservative perspective to stand up – and reclaim the dynamic beauty of genuine Christianity from these usurpers. It’s time Teavangelical propaganda was booed off the stage. It’s time to shout down, and shut down, the poisoning of true biblical faith – before this polarizing stupidity drives the real thing permanently underground.
How would the renowned Sermon on the Mount have sounded, if the Son of God had based his thesis on Teavangelical principles? Check out the video below to hear the words of the Tea Party Jayzuss.
Doing What Jesus Did
I speak fluent Christianese, and have always appreciated one of the evangelical culture’s more popular slogans: ‘Do What Jesus Did’. That’s really all I’ve honestly attempted to do, in my imperfect way, in the preceding editorial. An old friend on Facebook, a Texas pastor who is on the other side of the political fence (but definitely not a Teavangelical), conceded that I had some good points. But he told me he thought my tone was “way too angry”, full of “vitriol”, and therefore not an expression of “Christ-like anger”. I’d like to share part of my response to him: The article is a polemic; yes, I expressed anger. So did Jesus. I am, of course, not worthy to be compared to him. But we are exhorted to emulate him – and one implication of this is that there may sometimes be valid reasons to express extreme anger, the same way he did. He felt he had reason to be enraged at what was being done to his Temple, and I feel a similar indignation at what I believe is a violation of the spiritual life of the church, a misuse of the pulpit, and an obstacle to evangelism. This, I believe, is something that should be forcefully denounced. At least I didn’t take a whip to anyone, like Jesus did! Speaking of vitriol, let’s look at how Christ expressed anger. Consider the words he used in the famous Matthew 23 denunciations of the Pharisees: “Snakes / brood of vipers / woe to you, hypocrites / blind guides / full of greed and self-indulgence / whitewashed sepulchres / full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean / full of wickedness / sons of hell / how shall you escape damnation?” Makes my little rant look kinda tame, don’t you think? The Lord was passionately angry at the behavior he saw, and so am I. For several decades, I’ve been observing Teavangelical antics, and have kept a lot of this to myself; but the nastiness of the election campaign was the tipping point, and I couldn’t hold back. Please note that I critiqued the political behavior of the Teavangelicals, but I did not pass judgement on their personal lives, or presume to speculate on God’s view of their souls. And indeed, I freely admit that I could possibly be wrong about some of this. But I’m totally convinced it is the truth. I leave you with one question: If you think some of my points are valid, then why aren’t you as angry as I am about this? 8-) And I have a final question for the Teavangelicals: Who would Jesus bomb?David D. Fowler blogs at MuseMash
By the Rev. Howard Bess
If the teachings of Jesus were really taken seriously, the Christian Right wouldn’t be devoting so much time to protecting the wealth of the wealthiest. True Christians would be demanding redistribution of the world’s riches in ways far more radical than modern politicians would dare propose, as Rev. Howard Bess explains.
Jesus made his reputation as a Jewish economist, one with very strong opinions about wealth and property, about the relationship between the rich and the poor.
He also was intensely religious and loved nothing more than debating the meaning of the law of God or Torah. For instance, he is presented in the Gospel of Luke as being a precocious 12-year-old boy absorbed in debating religious leaders about the meaning of Torah.
Jesus as the Good Shepherd, in stained-glass depiction by Alfred Handel. (Photo credit: Toby Hudson)
From early childhood he must have understood that he was seen as a brash, pushy kid from a small town in Northern Palestine, an area without religious leadership and an unemployment rate well over 50 percent.
Whether by divine wisdom or genius insight, Jesus figured out what wealthy and powerful people were doing to the poor, illiterate people with whom he lived. Primarily through his teaching and storytelling, he became identified as a populist teacher with a good deal of influence. He was good news to the poor and bad news for those who clung to their riches.
Clearly Jesus was fascinated by Torah and its application to everyday life. Luke’s gospel reports that a lettered leader of the religious community approached Jesus and asked how to attain eternal life. Jesus responded with two questions of his own: What does Torah say? How do you read it? The first question is easy to answer. The second question is the real test.
Jesus knew what Torah said, and he had strong opinions about how Torah should be read. Jesus had come to his own understanding of the property codes in the book of Leviticus. These codes are credited to Moses, but more probably come from the massive rewrite of Israelite traditions during the years of Babylonian exile in the sixth century BCE.
Torah is very straightforward. Land and ultimately all wealth belong to God, who places property in the control of human beings, not as owners but as stewards who must share it and return it to God every 49 years for redistribution.
For Israelites, time was divided into blocks of seven years. Land was not tilled in the seventh year. After a series of seven, seven-year blocks of time, a Year of Jubilee was declared. During the Year of Jubilee, all land was to be returned to the control of the priests, who, in the name of God, were to make a new and fresh distribution of all land.
In other words, the wealthy were supposed to surrender their stewardship and the poorest of the poor were given land with the encouragement to be productive for God and their fellow Israelites. All slaves were set free and all debts were canceled.
At the time when the Israelite system of Sabbaths and a Jubilee was codified, the economic and political structures may have accommodated such radical economic and social changes in a one-year observance of Jubilee.
Hundreds of years later, however, when Jesus lived and taught, the combination of Roman rule, compliant fat-cats and religious elites made the observance of Jubilee impossible. So, almost every Israelite knew what Torah said, but the prescription had not been followed in anyone’s memory. The poor had given up on the idea of a Year of Jubilee, but apparently not Jesus.
According to Luke’s gospel, early in the public ministry of Jesus, he went to a synagogue gathering and read a passage from Isaiah:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. God has sent me to bring good news to the poor. God has sent me to proclaim release of captives and liberty to the oppressed. This is the acceptable year of the Lord.”
Everyone in his hearing understood what he was saying. Israelites had gone too long without a Year of Jubilee. It was time for the wealthy to turn loose what they had accumulated. It was time for the poor to receive their full stewardship.
But most poor people had taken on the understanding of life that their oppressors presented and taught. It was true then; it is still true today. So, the Year of Jubilee code was regarded as impractical. However, the principles of the ownership of God, the end of slavery, and economic justice still were possible.
The Israelites who held wealth and power knew what was in Torah, but they were not interested in reading it with new eyes of compassion and justice. (When Jesus finally took his message to Jerusalem – riding in on a donkey to mock the rich who favored horses and turning over the money tables at the Temple to protest religious corruption – he was deemed an insurrectionist and was executed.)
Jesus died almost 2,000 years ago, but the laws of Sabbaths and Jubilees are still on the books today. Torah still has a powerful message, especially since the evils of greed and mindless ownership are with us in ever growing magnitude. Resulting inequities and injustices surround us.
We Americans live in a secular society, but Christians have a responsibility to influence and to train the conscience of our fellow citizens. Here in election season, Jesus appears on the scene and asks the same two questions: “What does Torah say? How do you read it?”
The Rev. Howard Bess is a retired American Baptist minister, who lives in Palmer, Alaska. His email address is email@example.com
Many folks criticize The Christian Left by saying we ban people who disagree with us. The people who have been banned are of course the worst. They run to other pages and cry about being banned; They criticize us in comment streams on independent articles, and 99% have one big thing in common: They lie about not knowing what they did to get banned or they severely minimize what they said to get banned, usually completely re-wording what they actually said. We've seen it 10,000 times over the last three years.
Case in point. We posted this meme yesterday:
Here we go with one of the threads in the discussion. It always starts out innocent.
Here we go. It almost always degenerates to this: Name calling, generalizations, swearing, curse words, lectures, on and on.
Sheena has now descended in to a vicious cycle that never ends called trolling. In the early days of the page one troll thread would spiral on an on and take up an entire day. It would take over the page for hours at a time.
Folks, we don't ban people for disagreeing with us. People disagree with us all day long. We ban trolls. There's a BIG difference. If you disagree, fine. Do so with common courtesy. 90% of the people who participate on this page get it and have no problem with it.We don't have time for trolling. This is our policy. It will not change.