by Charles Toy
“This country is going to hell in a hand basket. When the abomination of homosexuality is allowed full legal legitimacy; when women can murder their babies by the millions with full legal protection from the government; when lazy freeloaders can sit back and collect government support while hard working Americans pay their way; God is mocked; and His wrath is sure to follow!”
How many times have we heard this from fire and brimstone preachers? It’s repeated daily from pulpits across the nation. These three issues have become the core focus of modern Christianity, and it’s all a big lie. It’s the reason I’ve grown ashamed of my religion. I’m not ashamed of Jesus though, or my faith in him, which is the reason I remain a Christian. I will never turn away from Jesus. He’s my oldest and most loyal friend.
We are in dire need of a national conversation about these topics. It can’t happen soon enough for me. Jesus said nothing about homosexuality or abortion. Nothing. If these were such big important topics, you’d think he would have at least mentioned them. He did say whole lot about the poor, the sick and the oppressed though. How we treat the least of these seemed to be the core focus of his message, in addition to loving God of course.
In fact throughout the Bible God seems to get the most upset when we don’t treat each other right. Pharaoh said the slaves had become lazy. He treated them poorly. After many warnings God crushed him and delivered the slaves out of Egypt.
Contrary to popular belief God decimated Sodom and Gomorrah (after repeated warnings), for the following reasons: “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.” -- Ezekiel 16:49
When the crowd gathered stones to kill the woman caught in adultery, Jesus ran to her rescue and called out each one of their sins. They dropped their stones and left. And yes, of course he told her to go and sin no more. When was the last time cheating worked out well for anyone? He was a trusted adviser to the woman. He was her friend and he did not condemn her.
As has been studied and researched by many, many theologians, the verses in the Bible about homosexuality are few, and those that are there are not taken in context and thus misconstrued. Sexual orientation is not a concept that exists in the Bible. Gay people were born gay. As Christians, we are to treat them with love and full inclusion in the community, which of course entails marriage equality.
I look forward to the day that when and if fire and brimstone is preached from the pulpit, it sounds like this:
“This country is going to hell in a hand basket. When the abomination of greed is allowed full legal legitimacy; when women are thrown in prison for making free will choices about their own bodies; when we exploit the poor and the oppressed and ignore the sick; God is mocked; and His wrath is sure to follow!”
Prologue: God's commands are universal. They don't just apply to individuals. They apply to governments and businesses too.
Deuteronomy 10:18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing.
Deuteronomy 14:28-29 At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year's produce and store it in your towns so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.
Deuteronomy 15:7-8 If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. Rather be openhanded and freely lend him whatever he needs.
Deuteronomy 15:11 There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.
Joshua 1:14-15 ...You are to help your brothers until the LORD gives them rest, as he has done for you...
1 Samuel 2:7-8 The LORD sends poverty and wealth; he humbles and he exalts. He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor.
Nehemiah 9:15 But when they were oppressed they cried out to you. From heaven you heard them, and in your great compassion you gave them deliverers, who rescued them from the hand of their enemies.
Job 5:15-16 He saves the needy from the sword in their mouth; he saves them from the clutches of the powerful. So the poor have hope, and injustice shuts its mouth.
Job 24:5 Like wild donkeys in the desert, the poor go about their labor foraging their food; the wasteland provides food for their children.
Psalm 9:9 The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.
Psalm 9:18 But the needy will not always be forgotten, nor the hope of the afflicted ever perish.
Psalm 12:5 "Because of the oppression of the weak and the groaning of the needy, I will now arise," says the LORD. "Then I will protect them from those who malign them."
Psalm 17:14 You still the hunger of those you cherish; their sons have plenty, and they store up wealth for their children.
Psalm 22:26 The poor will eat and be satisfied; they who seek the Lord will praise him.
Psalm 35:10 "You rescue the poor from those too strong for them, the poor and needy from those who rob them."
Psalm 37:25 I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.
Psalm 72:4 He will defend the afflicted among the people and save the children of the needy; he will crush the oppressor.
Psalm 72:12-14 For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death. He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight.
Psalm 82:3-4 Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
Psalm 102:17 He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea.
Psalm 107:9 … for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.
Psalm 109:31 For he stands at the right hand of the needy one, to save his life from those who condemn him.
Psalm 113:7 He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap.
Psalm 140:12 I know that the LORD secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy.
Psalm 145:14-18 The LORD upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. The LORD is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made. The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
Psalm 146:7-9 He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free, the LORD gives sight to the blind, the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves the righteous. The LORD watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
Proverbs 3:27-28 Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, "Come back later; I'll give it tomorrow" — when you now have it with you.
Proverbs 10:3 The LORD does not let the righteous go hungry but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.
Proverbs 11:24-25 One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.
Proverbs 14:20-21 The poor are shunned even by their neighbors, but the rich have many friends. He who despises his neighbor sins, but blessed is he who is kind to the needy.
Proverbs 14:31 He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.
Proverbs 19:17 He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward him for what he has done.
Proverbs 22:9 A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.
Proverbs 22:16 He who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and he who gives gifts to the rich — both come to poverty.
Proverbs 22:22-23 Do not exploit the poor because they are poor and do not crush the needy in court, for the LORD will take up their case and will plunder those who plunder them.
Proverbs 28:27 He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses.
Proverbs 31:8-9 "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy."
Proverbs 31:20 She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.
Isaiah 1:17 Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.
Isaiah 10:1-3 Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless. What will you do on the day of reckoning, when disaster comes from afar? To whom will you run for help? Where will you leave your riches?
Isaiah 14:30 The poorest of the poor will find pasture, and the needy will lie down in safety.
Isaiah 25:4 You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat.
Isaiah 41:17-18 "The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the LORD will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs."
"Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter — when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
"Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.
"The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail."
Isaiah 61:1-3 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion — to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.
Jeremiah 22:3 "This is what the LORD says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of his oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the alien, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place."
Jeremiah 22:16 "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" declares the LORD.
Lamentations 4:4 Because of thirst the infant's tongue sticks to the roof of its mouth; the children beg for bread, but no one gives it to them.
Ezekiel 16:49 "Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy."
Micah 6:8 He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Zechariah 7:9-10 "This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each other.'"
Matthew 6:3-4 "But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."
"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'"
Matthew 26:11 The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.
Mark 14:7 "The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me."
Luke 4:18 "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed."
Luke 6:20 Looking at his disciples he said: "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God."
Luke 6:36 "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful."
Luke 14:12-14 Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."
John 12:8 "You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me."
Acts 20:35 "In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"
Romans 12:13 Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Romans 15:1-2 We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.
1 Corinthians 10:24 Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
2 Corinthians 8:2-4, 7
Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.
For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints.
But just as you excel in everything — in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us — see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
2 Corinthians 9:6-13
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
As it is written: "He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever." Now he who supplies seed to the shower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity wil result in thanksgiving to God.
This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.
1 Timothy 5:3 Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need.
James 1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
James 2:5 Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?
James 2:15-17 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
1 John 3:17-18 If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.
We met Frank Schaeffer at the Wild Goose Festival 2012 last week-end and we found him to be a wonderful and charming man. He says he’s a “jerk” in some of his talks, but we’re not buying it. His talks were entertaining, informative, touching, and funny. He was also very approachable as he walked around the Wild Goose camp.
Frank Schaeffer was born in Switzerland in 1952 to American missionary parents. Frank grew up in Switzerland's L'Abri, an idealistic community founded by his parents, the American evangelicals Francis and Edith Schaeffer. By the time he was 19, his parents had achieved global fame as best-selling authors and speakers, l'Abri had become a mecca for spiritual seekers worldwide — from Barbara Bush to Timothy Leary — and Frank had joined his father on the evangelical circuit. By the age of 23, he had directed two multi-part religious documentaries and had helped instigate the marriage between the American evangelical community and the anti-abortion movement. But as he spoke before thousands in arenas around America, published his own evangelical bestseller, and worked with such figures as Pat Robertson, Jack Kemp, Jerry Falwell, and Dr. James Dodson, Schaeffer felt alienated, precipitating his own crisis of faith and eventually resulting in his departure.
What caused this feeling of alienation that led to Schaeffer's departure and a reexamining of his faith? The following three books tell a good deal of the story. We highly recommend them:
In 2007 Schaeffer published his autobiography, Crazy for God: How I Grew Up As One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back, in which he goes into much more detail regarding what it was like to grow up in the Schaeffer family and around L'Abri, in Switzerland.
Purchase on Amazon
In 2010 he completed the second book of what Schaeffer calls his "God trilogy." Patience with God: Faith for People Who Don't Like Religion (or Atheism), describes his spirituality as it exists since abandoning conservative evangelicalism. The first half contains critiques of both the New Atheists and of Christian fundamentalism.
Purchase on Amazon
In 2011 he published the third memoir called Sex, Mom, and God, in which he discusses growing up with his parents and their role in the rise of the American religious right and argues that the root of the "insanity and corruption" of this force in U.S. politics, and specifically of the religious right's position on abortion, is a fear of female sexuality.
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About TCL Blog
We’re not about Dogma here. We’re just Christians who think the political and Christian right-wing have their priorities wrong.
Charles Toy is the founding member of The Christian Left. We're sure you will enjoy his passion as well as his wit. Guest bloggers featured often.