"Down into the never-ending valley of toil and agony, stretching mile after mile, an inferno of mud-soaked bodies, where the treaders' feet churn clay and straw into the mixture for Pharaoh's bricks, and everywhere the lash of watchful taskmasters, ready to sting the backs of the weary. Blades chopping straw... mattocks chopping clay, a ceaseless cycle of unending drudgery. From the mixing feet of treaders to the pouring hands of brick molders, moves the constant stream of mud, the lowly seed of tall cities. Day after day, year after year, century after century, bondage without rest, toil without reward. These are the children of misery, the afflicted, the hopeless, the oppressed." -- The Ten Commandments
Many people think that a human being is created at the time of conception but this belief is not supported by the bible. The fact that a living sperm penetrates a living ovum resulting in the formation of a living fetus does not mean that the fetus is a living human being. According to the bible, a fetus is not a living person with a soul until after drawing its first breath.
After God formed man in Genesis 2:7, He “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and it was then that the man became a living being”. Although the man was fully formed by God in all respects, he was not a living being until after taking his first breath.
In Job 33:4, it states: “The spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”
Again, to quote Ezekiel 37:5&6, “Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord.”
In Exodus 21:22 it states that if a man causes a woman to have a miscarriage, he shall be fined; however, if the woman dies then he will be put to death. It should be apparent from this that the aborted fetus is not considered a living human being since the resulting punishment for the abortion is nothing more than a fine; it is not classified by the bible as a capital offense.
According to the bible, destroying a living fetus does not equate to killing a living human being even though the fetus has the potential of becoming a human being. One can not kill something that has not been born and taken a breath. This means that a stillborn would not be considered a human being either. Of course, every living sperm has the potential of becoming a human being although not one in a million will make it; the rest are aborted. .
God has decreed, for one reason or another, that at least one-third of all pregnancies shall be terminated by a spontaneous abortion during the first trimester of pregnancy and that a number will be terminated after the first trimester. It would appear that God does not have any more regard for the loss of a fetus than he does for the loss of a placenta or a foreskin despite the fact that these were living tissue as the result of conception.
In a number of versions of the bible, one of the commandments in Exodus 20 that was spoken by God to Moses states: “You shall not kill”. According to the Mosaic text, this should read “You shall not murder” since the bible has commandments stating that people shall be put to death for a number of different offenses. Exodus 21:17 states: “Whoever curses his father or mother shall be put to death.” There are other capital offenses in Exodus 21. Of course, the commandment “You shall not kill” is not present in the commandments written by God on the stone tablets. For those who are not familiar with the commandments on the stone tablets that were placed in the Ark of the Covenant, they are enumerated in Exodus 34. The popular ten commandments that are enumerated in Exodus 20 were spoken by God to Moses who then relayed them to his people; they were never written.
There is nothing in the bible to indicate that a fetus is considered to be anything other than living tissue and, according to scripture, it does not become a living being until after it has taken a breath.
Source: "The bible tells us when a fetus becomes a living being," by Dr. Joe Schwartz
Many cite the scripture Jeremiah 1:5, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." God is omnipotent. He has known all of us since before creation. This scripture is irrelevant as it pertains to when a fetus becomes a living being. The same reasoning applies to Psalm 139:13-14.
Numbers 5 describes "the Lord" ordering an abortion. Many argue that this is a misinterpretation. It is clearly stated in verse 22, "May this water that brings a curse enter your body so that your abdomen swells or your womb miscarries."
Before extremists turned the issue of reproductive choice into a political football, views on this matter were weren't nearly so drastic. For some history, read "The ‘biblical view’ that’s younger than the Happy Meal" Then check out, The Not-So-Lofty Origins of the Evangelical Pro-Life Movement. and How I Lost Faith in the “Pro-Life” Movement.
In 1973, Wallie Amos ‘W. A.’ Criswell, President of the Southern Baptist Convention from 1968 to 1970, said this:
“I have always felt that it was only after a child was born and had a life separate from its mother that it became an individual person, and it has always, therefore, seemed to me that what is best for the mother and for the future should be allowed."
If you don't like abortion, don't have one. But don't judge others who may be in terrible circumstances that you can't possibly understand. Especially when your judgements are based on a politically motivated and questionable interpretation of the Bible (at best). When women don’t have personal choice over their own reproductive decisions they end up butchered in back alley abortions or thrown in jail for having a miscarriage. Certain types of birth control are outlawed when a fertilized egg is classified as a “person” as well.
Those who say, "If you're a Christian, you have to be against abortion, and therefore you must vote republican," are simply reciting talking points from false teachers.
In the end, if abortion was such a grievous sin Jesus would have mentioned it. He said nothing.
“She heads for the clinic and she gets some static walkin' through the doors;
They call her a killer, and they call her a sinner, and they call her a whore;
God forbid you ever had to walk a mile in her shoes;
'Cause then you really might know what it's like to have to choose.”
~ Erik Francis Schrody (Everlast), from the song, “What It’s Like.”
For those looking for additional in-depth analysis of abortion and the Bible here's another great article.
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The Christian Left began as the result of a conversation between two childhood friends sitting around a camp fire at an annual 4th of July picnic held by the surviving members of the Merry Pranksters. One, Mark Baldwin, is a Quaker and a Green Party member. The other, Charles Toy, was raised in the Lutheran Church and is a Democrat.
The story in a nutshell goes something like this:
Mark Baldwin pointing at Charles Toy and laughing: “Hahahahahahaha! And there’s my evangelical Christian friend!”
Charles was taken off guard and had to think a moment.
Charles Toy: “I’m not an evangelical Christian.”
Charles was aware of the connotations of that term and he wanted nothing to do with it.
Mark Baldwin: “What are you then?”
Mark is the kind of person who likes to draw people out and make them define themselves.
Charles Toy: “I’m a disciple of Jesus.”
There you have it folks, short and sweet. The conversation that launched a national movement of more than 100,000 people, and growing. At the time, Charles was unaware of other progressive Christian movements like Sojourners. He only knew that he was a Christian, and for that reason he was a liberal of course. He was also firmly convinced that the agenda of 'The Christian Right' had nothing to do with anything Jesus taught.
That conversation led to many more conversations on the topic of “The Christian Left” between Mark and Charles and ultimately resulted in the launching of a website and the related social media pages. Since that time The Christian Left has become a wonderful team of contributors with similar visions.
Fast forward to today.
Charles thinks that there is no possibility of Jill Stein ever winning the Presidential election and a vote for Jill would a vote for Mitt Romney. He has a more favorable view of President Obama than Mark and thinks if you’re a Green party member you should only vote for Jill Stein if you live an a solid red state or blue state. If you live in a swing state (Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, or Wisconsin) you should sacrifice your vote for the common good and vote for President Obama. A Romney presidency is unacceptable in Charles’ view. It would be an unmitigated return to Bush policy which would crash the country into a dark nightmare, just as it did before.
Mark says that shouldn’t matter and people should vote their conscience.
So, without further adieu, we give you the view from the Green Party wing of The Christian Left, by Mark Baldwin.
Why, as a Christian, I'm Voting for Jill Stein
by Mark Baldwin
My choice is based not only on how he chose to negotiate with Congress on numerous issues, ranging from Obama care to the tax code, defense spending, and financial regulation. To clearly see who Obama represents, I chose to focus primarily on what he has done within the area solely governed by the Executive Branch. This analysis avoids the entangling arguments about whether or not he was stopped by an obstreperous Congress, and focuses on Obama's actions in the domain where he is the unequivocal decision-maker.
Some people are voting for Obama because of their fears for the LGBT community if Romney gets elected. Obama has successfully dismantled discrimination against gays and lesbians in the armed forces. More states will legalize marriage equality, no matter who is President. The rising of consciousness about equality for our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters is irreversible.
Some people are voting for Obama because of their fears over abortion. Roe v. Wade has stood for 40 years. In that time, we have seen a phenomenal and much needed rise in the power of women in society. We have more women graduating from college than men. We have women working as CEOs, lawyers, bankers, judges, professors, doctors, scientists, elected officials, and other positions of influence in society. We have more to do to have equality for women in our society, but there is no possible way for abortion to be made illegal without an immediate uprising in this country.
The Republicans use the fear of Obama taking their guns to herd conservative voters into a pen. Democrats use the fear of eliminating abortion, or rounding gays up for execution, to herd liberals into a pen. None of these will happen based upon who is elected President.
Where the President has domestic power is through departments such as the EPA, and the Justice Department. The President has enormous power in the area of foreign policy, namely negotiating trade deals, and the use of troops and special ops abroad. Where Obama has a choice, he chooses to side with the global financiers and the military-prison industrial complex.
Blessed are the Peacemakers
The Obama administration has pursued global military domination and the use of military solutions in foreign affairs in a manner similar to other President’s since WWII. Obama did not get us out of Iraq. He just waited for the Status of Forces Agreement to kick in. Like Bush before him, he lobbied the Iraqi government to keep US troops in Iraq beyond the agreed withdrawal date. Depending on your source, 5-10,000 troops and private mercenaries remain in Iraq today.
Obama escalated the war in Afghanistan. If you, as a Christian, believe that more violence in Afghanistan has helped to alleviate suffering in that country, then vote for Obama. If you believe that drones strikes that kill and dismember the poorest women and children in the world is truly making America safer, then vote for Obama.
Here’s a little dose of drone war reality.
If you think that Obama is doing things more ‘surgically’, more ‘rationally’, then I encourage you to read this and wake up to what the logic of secret wars really means. Make sure to read the core source documents to understand the insidious nature of these types of wars.
If you oppose drone strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and other places around the globe, then vote for Jill Stein.
Obama supported the military coup in Honduras, supported a fraudulent election there, and now Honduras leads the world in the murder of civil activists.
Obama undermined democracy in Haiti by preventing the largest party, the Lavalas party, to participate in the elections after the hurricane. This will bring you up to speed. Note that the President’s policy for Haiti comes right out of the arch-conservative Heritage Foundation playbook. Don’t take my word for it. Read it yourself and decide.
Obama is escalating tensions with Iran. No evidence whatsoever exists that Iran is producing a nuclear bomb, yet Obama is supporting an economic blockade of Iran? This blockade is preventing medical supplies from getting to Iran. Such a policy is inherently immoral. Read more here. If you support punishing the Iranian people for crimes not committed, then vote for Obama. If you oppose escalating tensions with Iran, vote for Jill Stein.
In the area of “free-trade,” which is undermining our economy at home, depressing wages, destroying our manufacturing base, and furthering environmental destruction, Obama is leading the charge on behalf of the global financier class.
Obama is conducting secret negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). No, you and your representatives in Congress are not allowed to read the agreement, but CEOs for Fortune 500 companies are. If you liked NAFTA, you are going to love the TPP.
Obama made disastrous decisions for the environment in terms of his appointments and his environmental agenda. His major appointees are handmaidens for oil, coal, nuclear power and natural gas, and his policies have empowered and enriched them at the expense of our communities and our environment. His nominated Van Jones, but as soon as there was the Republicans whinged the tiniest bit, he backed down. Then, he appointed Ken Salazar as Secretary of the Interior.
When the gross malfeasance of BP and a consortium of other oil related industries disregard for safety decimated thousands of families in the Gulf, the Obama administration showed a callousness toward the victims of this calamity. The Coast Guard restricted access to scientist and journalists trying to examine the damage of the spill, study the effect of dispersants. Obama let BP administer the distribution of funds to those affected, a process that has done every thing possible to minimize damages paid to the families devastated by this tragic testament to greed.
I stand unequivocally opposed to the Tar Sands and XL-Pipeline production. If you vote for Obama, then you also support the XL Pipeline.
If you support these people, you support Jill Stein.
Obama is promoting off-shore drilling in the Arctic. I cannot support a person who is supposed to represent me blithely ignoring that repeating the tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico in the treacherous Arctic Seas is just a matter of time. I agree to a degree with those that argue that it is up to the people to put pressure on him after he is elected to stop drilling in the pristine Arctic, but isn't that why we elected him? Nobody says Shell must have a big protest to get a seat at the President's table.
If you truly oppose drilling in the arctic, you support Jill Stein.
Obama's support “clean” coal will impact the health of our communities throughout the nation. Coal shipped from across the nation will be exported from Oregon. Sulphur, mercury, and other contaminants will spill into our water and our air. These poisons will enter the bodies of our children while they are undergoing complex metabolic changes resulting debilitating birth defects, physical and mental health problems, problems learning, and cancers.
Obama unequivocally supports nuclear power. Can you spell Fukushima? If you support Obama, then you support expanding nuclear power, and upgrading our entire nuclear arsenal. If not, then vote for Jill Stein.
Obama said (I paraphrase), "Governor Romney and I have similar positions on Social Security." Obama has proved his willingness to be a spineless negotiator, and will negotiate away our earned retirement pension.
Have you noticed how Obama has not mentioned raising the minimum wage in this campaign? Ask yourself why not?
Has Obama supported forgiving student loans? Why not?
If you want to make a vote based on fear, then fear what Obama and Romney agree on. Those areas of agreement will have a far greater impact on your daily life than will the areas where they purport to disagree.
Jesus did not work out a deal that was 'pragmatic', or 'reasonable'. Those are the words used by the elites, so that you will see the practicality in accepting 1.1% of the crumbs rather than 1%. They want you to see the logic that they need the whole loaf in order for you to be properly fed.
My choice is based on who will most act like Jesus. Jesus did not compromise with the money-changers in the temple; he grabbed a bull-whip and drove them out.
My conscience as a Christian compels me to vote for Jill Stein, and not for one who will compromise with the money-changers.
Don’t trust me; trust yourself. Take this quiz, make sure to click on “Show more questions” to see all the choices, and decide for yourself who really represents you.
In the Spirit,
Timothy Kurek, raised within the confines of a strict, conservative Christian denomination in the Bible Belt, Nashville, Tennessee, was taught the gospel of separation from a young age. But it wasn't long before Timothy's path and the outside world converged when a friend came out as a lesbian, and revealed she had been excommunicated by her family. Distraught and overcome with questions and doubts about his religious upbringing, Timothy decided the only way to empathize and understand her pain was to walk in the shoes of very people he had been taught to shun. He decided to come out as a gay man to everyone in his life, and to see for himself how the label of gay would impact his life. In the tradition of Black Like Me, The Cross in the Closet is a story about people, a story about faith, and about one man's "abominable" quest to find Jesus in the margins.
'Jesus in Drag': Straight Christian 'Comes Out' for New Book
Homophobic author pretends to be gay
Timothy Kurek, Homophobic Christian, Pretends to be Gay for One Year
WATCH: 'Homophobic Christian' Poses as Gay, Writes Book About It
“Tim Kurek has written a book that could be described as ‘spiritual espionage.’ As a young fundamentalist, he goes undercover—accepting all the attendant moral and personal ambiguities—and gathers ‘intelligence’ that few heterosexual people have ever had access to. He tells his story with skill and grace, revealing secrets that need to be heard from where he began (Liberty University) to wherever you are. A one-of-a-kind book with unforgettable moral impact.”
—Brian D. McLaren, Author, Speaker: A New Kind of Christianity; Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?
“It took great courage and serious commitment for Timothy Kurek to begin his year long journey into our world, the world of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans. I’m delighted that readers of The Cross in the Closet will gain a whole new understanding of the stereotypes and untruths that cause my sisters and brothers so much suffering. I hope many will standby this straight ally and support the message found in his book, the message that says God truly does love us all. I encouraged him to take this journey and now that it’s over I will stand by him still. I admire Timothy’s courage and creativity, and his journey into our world will make a difference! You go, Tim!”
—Mel White, Author, Stranger at the Gate
“I hope Tim’s voice echoes through the halls of every McMansion church until Christian hubris is humbled. Fundamentalist arrogance is today threatening a religion founded foremost on empathy and love. The Cross in the Closet serves as a blunt reminder and should be a wake up call to every closeted bigot that dares to thump a bible.”
—Greg Barrett, Author, The Gospel of Rutba: Christians, Muslims, and the Good Samaritan Story in Iraq
“The Cross in the Closet is the book I’ve been waiting for. Now—at last—I have the book to give to every person I know (and there are many) struggling to understand how and why so-called Christians hate gay men and women and what to do about changing their minds. Kurek writes movingly and well. This is the best book I’ve read that opens the door to understanding what it is like to be labeled gay and trapped in a community that dismisses your very self before even hearing you out. Brilliant!”
—Frank Schaeffer, Author, Crazy For God
Where To Purchase The Book:
Amazon.com: Hardcopy Purchase
Barnes & Noble: Hardcopy Purchase
Autographed Copy: From BlueHead Publishing Catalog
The birth of The Christian Right can be traced to a 1979 meeting where televangelist Jerry Falwell was urged to create a "Moral Majority" organization. Since then they have come to be an immense power in American culture and politics. We don’t think they’re doing the work Jesus taught us to do. While throwing around terms like “Family Values” and “Christian Nation” they subjugate women, and cast aside the poor, the sick, the alien, the oppressed, and anyone else that doesn’t fit in their exclusive club.
Here's a loose timeline of their activities:
The Organizations of The Christian Right
The Christian Coalition of America
The Christian Coalition of America (CCA), a 501(c)(4) organization, is the successor to the original Christian Coalition created in 1989 by religious broadcaster and former presidential candidate Marion Gordon "Pat" Robertson, and is a US Christian advocacy group, which includes Christian fundamentalists, neo-evangelicals and conservative charismatics. In 1990, the national Christian Coalition, Inc., began producing voter guides which it distributed to conservative Christian churches. 40 million guides were distributed in the 1992 and 1996 presidential election years. Complaints that the voter guides were actually partisan led to the denial of the Christian Coalition, Inc.'s tax-exempt status in 1999. Later that same year, the Coalition prevailed in its five year defense of lawsuit a brought by the Federal Election Commission. They continue to publish Voter guides to this day which they distribute to churches. While they use clever wording, they are obviously partisan.
The Family Research Council
The Family Research Council is a hate group according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The Council opposes abortion for any reason, believes homosexuality should be against the law, and believes global warming is a hoax. FRC was listed as a hate group after it falsely linked gay males to pedophilia. It basically lobbies the government to make laws that govern our personal and private lives. The Council is a Christian Right-wing organization that has a heavy influence on the Republican Party, hence all the abortion laws they propose.
Council for National Policy
Tim Lahaye founded the Council for National Policy and and Kenneth Cribb is the current President. Tim LaHaye (born April 27, 1926) is an American evangelical Christian minister, author, and speaker. He is best known for the Left Behind series of apocalyptic fiction, which he co-wrote with Jerry B. Jenkins (for more on 'the rapture' check this article out). He has written over 50 books, both fiction and non-fiction. The CNP is a conservative organization for social conservative activists. Described by The New York Times as a “little-known group of a few hundred of the most powerful conservatives in the country,” the organization is perhaps the most powerful among the ranks of The Christian Right. Members include the likes of James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Tony Perkins, Phyllis Schlafly, and Edwin Feulner Jr. What makes this group particularly dangerous is that they support theocracy and Dominionism as national policy. They are also incredibly secretive and that’s scary.
The American Family Association
Classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the American Family Association is headed by Tim Wildmon. AFA is just like every other conservative Christian group. It opposes abortion and gay rights, as well as other public policy goals such as deregulation of the oil industry and lobbying against the Employee Free Choice Act. The group has actively boycotted just about any business that disagrees with them. In the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings, the AFA released a video in which “God” tells a student that students were killed in schools because God isn’t allowed in schools anymore and blamed the shootings on abortion and lack of prayer in schools. AFA is against all other religions and has an obsession with Christmas, often boycotting companies that do not mention Christmas in their advertising.
James Dobson is a Family Talk radio personality. A frequent guest on Fox News, he is perhaps the most influential religious leader on the Christian-Right even though he has never been ordained. Dobson believes that women should only focus on mothering (and probably cooking too) and is totally against gay rights. He supports private schools and special tax privileges for religious schools. He opposes sex education and only supports abstinence as the only technique for pregnancy prevention. Dobson started all of the anti-gay, anti-women, and anti-education speeches that are now commonplace in the Republican Party. [Note from The Christian Left: This is the saddest entry for us. Some of us used to really enjoy James Dobson. It's unfortunate that he joined the extreme right. Maybe he'll see the light some day.]
American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ)
The American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ) is a conservative Christian, pro-life group that was founded in 1990 by Pat Robertson. It was conceived as a counterweight to the American Civil Liberties Union, an organization which Robertson maintains is "hostile to traditional American values." The name and acronym, ACLJ, was intentionally chosen for its similarities to the ACLU. It has attracted much media attention for its lawsuits, such as its campaign to oppose changes to the constitution of United States that would permit abortion and its attempts to block the construction of an Islamic cultural center near the former site of the World Trade Center. Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow quickly established the organization as a key player in the right-wing movement, litigating a variety of cases at all levels, including the Supreme Court. The ACLJ has been particularly active in fighting marriage equality and defending the Pledge of Allegiance, while Sekulow has maintained very close ties to the Bush White House and played a central role in pushing for the confirmation of Supreme Court Justices Roberts and Alito.
Salem Communications (NASDAQ: SALM) is a U.S. radio broadcaster, Internet content provider, and magazine and book publisher specializing in evangelical Christian and conservative political talk radio. It owns 99 commercial radio stations, 65 of which are in the top 25 markets. Salem is the fifth largest U.S. radio station owner after Clear Channel, Cumulus, CBS Radio, and Entercom. The company focuses on acquiring radio stations with powerful transmitters, unlike most Christian broadcasters who tend to purchase many low-power translators. Salem owns more AM than FM stations, and covers one-third of the U.S population.
Salem Communications was founded by Stuart Epperson and Edward Atsinger III and, unlike many Christian broadcasters, is a for-profit corporation. Also, unlike their non-profit counterparts, Salem stations transmit high-powered signals in commercial radio bands. The founders of Salem Communications support various religious causes. Epperson was recently reported in Time magazine as one of the "25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America." In 2004 he co-chaired Americans of Faith, a religiously-based Republican electoral campaign. Both founders have served on the Council for National Policy. They gave $100,000 to the Bush presidential reelection campaign and $780,000 to the 2000 "California Defense of Marriage Act" (Proposition 22) ballot measure. On air personalities include, Bill Bennett, Mike Gallagher, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved, Hugh Hewitt, and Cal Thomas.
The Heritage Foundation
The Heritage Foundation is an American conservative think tank based in Washington, D.C. Heritage's stated mission is to "formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense." While The Heritage Foundation isn't a Christian organization per se, they are in bed with The Christian Right and cooperate with its organizations on a regular basis. The Heritage Foundation is extremely powerful and has its hands in every level of government. For more information read the Wiki article.
by Charles Toy
Jesus was involved in the world, on every mundane level.
Jesus cried; Jesus got angry; Jesus ate; Jesus drank water; Jesus slept; Jesus sweat; Jesus went to the bathroom, etc. Jesus attracted people of all types and he never sent them away.
He was about as involved in the world as any person could ever get. He became a dirt (and water) man, as he himself had created, and lived in a dirt and water body. Then he got his hands dirty with the world, by washing, healing, fishing, blessing, speaking, teaching, walking, and traveling. He ran moneychangers out of the temple with whips, overturning their tables. He called the self-righteous of the time 'vipers and snakes!'
That’s why it always baffles me when I hear Christians say, “We aren’t to be involved in the things of this world.”
That’s just not right.
Jesus was involved in this world on a deep level. We follow Jesus. That means we must be involved in the world as well, on every level, including in government and politics. Exerting influence and applying pressure where needed in the defense if the least of these is a Christian duty.
Laws govern how the least of these are treated in society and therefore we must be involved in the political process and in the means by which laws are made. It’s not that hard once the above points are realized. I don’t want church and state joined. I want fair, compassionate, uplifting, and peaceful policy as it pertains to least of these. Policies that protect their dignify as human beings with basic needs. The least of these are anyone who is oppressed. Gay people fall in to this category, as do women, minorities, aliens; children; the poor, the sick, the mentally ill, the disabled; the unemployed; the drug addicted; the wrongfully or unfairly incarcerated; on and on.
Until Jesus returns (in whatever scenario that may be), we need to keep being his hands and feet, and his mouth. He told us to be the salt of the earth. That means we are to season everything we touch with as many gifts of the spirit we can muster.
Are you ready to live that way?
Footnote: I'm aware that in Jesus' day salt was used for purification. I prefer the concept of seasoning for the above topic, but you can use whichever metaphor you prefer.
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 a founding member of The Christian Left. We're sure you will enjoy his passion as well as his wit.
Roger Smith has to tilt his head to shake the words out, as you can see. He is an organizing member of The Christian Left who also blogs at "Roger's Shrubbery."