I came across an interesting jewel of an article. The original was mentioned in a piece about “blaspheme”, which I of course found both ignorant and hilarious. The article was by a Reverend Matthew Westfox who is the Director of Interfaith Outreach, Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. The article is entitled Resurrecting Pro-Life.
The article itself is pretty interesting and there are two lines that essentially sums up how I feel about the subject: “To live is to use our God-given conscience and power of moral decision-making. It is to act as a truly free person with control over one’s own body, sexuality, and reproduction.” Check it out here: http://katie73.wordpress.com/2011/04/24/happy-easter/
The articles I read attacking the Rev for blasphemy and being “… a mouthpiece for the culture of death” all took the position that God has given us the right to judge people.
The Catholic Church places quite a bit of importance on the right of people to judge other people based on a New Testament passage giving Peter the keys to the kingdom of Heaven.
And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Yeah, well, I can read. Please notice that this passage tells us that those Peter binds will be bound IN Heaven? Shall be loosed IN Heaven?
So what does bound mean? The definition is pretty interesting. I grabbed this from www.greekbible.com
1) to bind tie, fasten
1a) to bind, fasten with chains, to throw into chains
1b1) Satan is said to bind a woman bent together by means of a demon, as his messenger, taking possession of the woman and preventing her from standing upright
1b2) to bind, put under obligation, of the law, duty etc.
1b2a) to be bound to one, a wife, a husband
1b3) to forbid, prohibit, declare to be illicit
So what does “loose” mean?
1) to loose any person (or thing) tied or fastened
1a) bandages of the feet, the shoes,
1b) of a husband and wife joined together by the bond of matrimony
1c) of a single man, whether he has already had a wife or has not yet married
2) to loose one bound, i.e. to unbind, release from bonds, set free
2a) of one bound up (swathed in bandages)
2b) bound with chains (a prisoner), discharge from prison, let go
3) to loosen, undo, dissolve, anything bound, tied, or compacted together
3a) an assembly, i.e. to dismiss, break up
3b) laws, as having a binding force, are likened to bonds
3c) to annul, subvert
3d) to do away with, to deprive of authority, whether by precept or act
3e) to declare unlawful
3f) to loose what is compacted or built together, to break up, demolish, destroy
3g) to dissolve something coherent into parts, to destroy
3h) metaph., to overthrow, to do away with
Now just maybe if this verse said “loosed from Heaven” I could believe that Peter has the right to decide who is in Heaven and who is outside of Heaven.
Here is that word in Greek:
1) in, by, with etc.
Yep, pretty clear, in Heaven. Not outside of Heaven.
So what does it mean to be bound or loosed in Heaven? I think this passage gives Peter the RESPONSIBILITY to Open the Gates of Heaven by witnessing the Good News of Christ, but, whatever. My point is only that scripture does not agree with the interpretation that Peter can keep people out of Heaven. Peter can only loose or bind people IN heaven.
The entire philosophy of excommunication is built on this one passage.
Pretty lame huh?
So who decides if someone actually can get into Heaven? If you read the New Testament it is pretty clear that the judge is God.
What does Christ want us to do? There are essentially two passages that summarize this. The first is that people who love Christ do as he tells them to do. The second is in the second is in the parable of the rich young man where Christ tells us what to do to achieve heaven. Christ tells us:
18And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? 19And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God. 20Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother. 21And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up. 22Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou
one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. 23And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich. 24And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!
Okay, so here we have a roadmap of how to get into Heaven. People who make their material possessions more important than their relationship with God cannot enter into Heaven. Anything else? Sure, In John 14 there is a passage I like that reiterates Luke 18:22.
If ye love me, keep my commandments.
What are Christ’s commandments? I am sure that all of us
are well acquainted with some of them. “Let he who has no sin throw the first stone”, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” I kind of like the last one, Judge Not. Pretty simple command.
Is witnessing the same as judging? Aren’t I judging when I say that an article is “both ignorant and hilarious”? Lets see.
Ignorant means uneducated, not necessarily completely without education. A person can be ignorant about a subject or can be ignorant about some of the details around a subject. If someone says something like “You are wrong when you say cortisol is not caused by fear” when you have said no such thing the person is ignorant about what has been said. If the words were written and obviously say no such thing the person making the false statement must be illiterate and have difficulty comprehending what has been written.
There isn’t anything wrong with ignorance or illiteracy. Everyone is ignorant on most subjects. Most of the people in the world are illiterate. In my opinion problems occur when people claim they are literate and educated and not only are not literate or educated they are too stupid to know how uneducated and illiterate they are.
There is some ambiguity in people’s opinion on what Christ means by following the commandments. Not for me, but for some. There are 613 Mizvot or commandments listed at jewfaq.org. Traditionally there are 615 commandments, but, either or is okay for the purposes of this discussion. If Christ has not released us from the Old Testament commandments (law) eating pork is a sin. If Christians are released from the Mizvot we sin trying to force others to obey some of these and not all of these commandments.
Be that as it may the commandment on abortion in Exodus 21:22 never found its way into the “law” or Mizvot.
If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.
Some people will claim that God defines abortion as murder when here we have a law written by Moses, from God, about abortion that does not tell us abortion is murder. In fact, unless “mischief follow” the abortion there is no mandatory punishment for abortion.
Personally I think it is pretty ignorant to believe that Christians are bound by the Mizvot. I could deal with the whole reading comprehension issue concerning Christianity and being released from the law, but, this blog would be so long no one would ever read it. (not that anyone will anyway :-)
So when I witness that someone is ignorant about something I am not using a descriptive term I am using a factual term. No matter how often people use the term ignorant as a descriptor it is not a descriptive term. Since the word is not a descriptor, I am not making a judgment. I am making a statement of fact. A person is ignorant when they do not have information necessary to make an informed decision. When people do not have or reject information they are ignorant. This is not a judgment it is something that is observed.
Once we have information we can use basic logic. Using basic logic God must be pro-choice.
God invented choice. God gave people the ability to choose. God must want people to use that ability, even if God would like us to make specific choices. God, with the help of scribes and prophets, has outlined specific choices he would like us to make in various religious texts. God does not force a specific choice on us. God respects us enough to allow us to make our own choices. God advices us what choices to make and tells us what the consequences will be if we make other choices. "Go clean your room!" the choice here is clean your room or suffer the consequences. Still a choice.
I don’t believe abortion is an appropriate choice. God made a rule, God must know there is something wrong with it even if it isn’t murder.
I don’t believe homosexuality is an appropriate choice. God made rules, God must know there is something wrong with it. Personally I think God does not want people defining their lives physically or materialistically. Focusing on or defining our lives based on the physical or material takes the focus away from the spiritual. I think this is why Paul suggested Christians should not marry and if we are married we should be husband and wife focusing on God’s plan rather than our own physical desires.
Do I have the right or the responsibility to force my ideology down anyone else’s throat? No. I have a responsibility to witness the Good News of Christ and the Forgiveness of Sin which has been revealed to me through my Lord and Savior, Christ.
Do I expect everyone or even anyone I know to agree with everything I believe? Of course not.
To me the important idea is to accept people and reject ideas. I don't have to agree with everything or anything a person believes to care about them?
A person can’t witness a belief. A person can explain a belief.
A person can’t teach something they have experienced. A person can witness an experience.
Christ did not charge his followers to judge people and then accept them IF they were ok and condemn them if they were sinners. Christ told us everyone is evil, “..if you, being evil..”. As we have read even Paul having the keys to heaven can’t keep sinners out of heaven.
In my opinion Paul told people who were suffering doubt to stick with people of strong beliefs. Those whose faith went beyond belief into experience are charged by Christ to witness the truth of that experience throughout the world, to everyone.
Witnessing is done by consent, not by force. If someone is not interested Christ tells us to walk away and shake the dust from our feet. Witness in love and respect.
When should we witness in sarcasm?
In my opinion Christ used a lot of sarcasm. My favorite example is when he told a bunch of religious leaders that he did not come to teach the righteous, only the sinners, and then told people that everyone is a sinner. No one is good. If that isn’t a carefully worded, sarcastic response to someone who is ignorant and thinks they have a clue I don’t know what sarcasm is.
One of the things I am sure of is that Christ laughed, mostly at himself I am sure. I am also sure that he laughed at other people, hopefully with them as well. Sometimes people take themselves so seriously they can’t laugh at their own ignorance or imperfections. Sometimes people spend their whole lives putting others down or only hearing when someone else puts them down. They never have anything good to say about anyone and they never hear when anyone says anything good about them.
My daughter was laughing about how bad the makeup on a woman who was talking about being a cosmetologist was. My daughter can talk for hours about coloration and face structure and about hard it would be to become a serious cosmetologist because there is so much to learn about chemistry and anatomy and lighting and coloration. Some people think of cosmetologists as “low level” technicians. Personally, I am ignorant about the subject.
The people who called this reverend blasphemous are ignorant on this subject also. Not because they disagree with the reverend. Because they present their opinions as if their word, their understanding, their belief is God’s law.