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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Not everything Biblical is Christian. Part 14 - dehumanization

When Jesus told the story of the good Samaritan he tried to enlighten his listeners on the principle that we are all children of God. All of us are each other's neighbors. He wants all of us to love our neighbors. In the kingdom of Jesus, there is no us and them, just us. Even enemies are us. Jesus tells us to bless our enemies, like we would our friends. Our neighbors are those in need. Who is not in need? Jesus teaches that when we help those in need, we are worshipping him. "Whatever you have done to the least of these, you have done to me," and it's corollary, "Whatever you have not done to the least of these, you have not done to me." Matthew 25.

Who are the privileged in the society I am a part of? Me. I am a white, educated male. Who suffers under the privilege of white males in my society? Women. African Americans. Minorities...racial and sexual. These two topics in particular are huge this week in America.

1- A young white man sat in on a Bible study at the Immanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina. At the end of it, he stood up and shot to death nine people, because of his racism. I listened to a great podcast with two interviews of African American believers. I encourage everyone to listen to episode 99 of the Bad Christian podcast, either through iTunes or Soundcloud. One of the men interviewed is the son of an usher at that church. His dad mistakenly thought the study had been canceled that night, otherwise he would have been in that room as well. Although the people of Charleston are rallying together, racism is alive and well. This man has a music ministry in the South, leading worship at camps and churches. Once he married a white woman however, his invitations evaporated. One friend of his, lost his job at a church after inviting this man and his wife to sing. Miscegenation, intermarriage between "races" (a social construct), though not supported by most of the church historically or universally, still has a hold in congregations of racists. These racists find Biblical support for their views from the Bible's commands against intermarriage. Google makes it easy to find these arguments, gag. Their interpretations may be Biblical, but not Christian.

2- The Supreme Court of the United States ruled this week that homosexual couples cannot be denied the benefits of marriage contracts anywhere in this country. It's ruling is not unlike the ruling nearly 50 years ago overturning anti-miscegenation marriage laws. It is awkward seeing so many Christians warning about the wrath of God in light of this ruling. The thing that seems to piss off God, according to Jesus in Matthew 25 is the maltreatment of our neighbors. Denying our gay neighbors the social and legal benefits of marriage contracts because of their orientation, in my thinking, is the same as denying marriage to interracial couples. Just as churches still refuse to marry interracial couples, churches will still have the "freedom" to refuse to marry gay couples. Jesus still loves those churches. Anti-homosexuality may be biblical (or not), but not everything biblical is Christian.

Stupid and ignorant are not greater than God's love. I am both and Jesus loves me. I know this because Jesus is love. We can either receive him or ignore him. I want to be a conduit of his love. From him through me, to my neighbors, white and black and in between, straight and gay and in between, judgmental and open and affirming. I think this is biblical and Christian.



Series review----------------------
This is part 14 of the series, Not everything Biblical is ChristianPart one points out that the words of Satan recorded in the Bible are not Christian doctrine. Part two shows the Sermon on the Mount overruling the cursing of enemies exhibited in Psalm 137. Parts three and four show Moses getting overruled by Ezekiel and Jesus. Part five merely brushes the concept of source criticism.  Part six looks at the Old Testament application in the early church: a brief summary of the book of Acts. Part seven looks at how the church has worked this out regarding slavery. Part eight, showed one example of how an unchristian part of the Bible helps tell the Christian story. Part nine asks who would Jesus hate? Part 10 discusses women as Biblically approved spoils of war. Part 11 discusses divorce. Part 12 discusses the imposition of Bronze Age social constructs onto our diverse and complex modern world. Part 13 discusses women as property in the Biblical world.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Not everything Biblical is Christian. Part 13 - women as household property, like farm animals

Deuteronomy is a rich source for these topics. It is such a schizophrenic book. There are progressive ideas right next to crazy, crazy stuff. I'm not sure there is any coherence to these verses and chapters, sort of like Proverbs or James, but a collection of rules for the community. Recently I read chapter 22. Half way into this chapter I read this crazy stuff on women.

Deut. 22:13 Suppose a man marries a woman, has sexual relations with her, and then rejects her, 14 accusing her of impropriety and defaming her reputation by saying, “I married this woman but when I had sexual relations with her I discovered she was not a virgin!”

This is a situation where a guy acts like a Neanderthal. Who knows if he entered the marriage as a virgin? Who cares if she wants to reject him? Not Moses. But he has a solution for her problem. Her parents can whip out her wedding night bedding to show off her blood. Like an animal without a voice. Then the Neanderthal has to pay a fine to his father-in-law and keep his wife who he rejected. Again, no voice on her part. She has to stay with someone who hates her because Moses forbids the guy from ever divorcing her. But if her parents cannot prove her virginity (and not every virgin woman bleeds during her first intercourse) she must be stoned to death. In the Mosaic law, are women fully human?

There is an escape-from-death clause for her. Her parents can produce her bloody wedding night bed sheet. Its production will result in the continued marriage to the Neanderthal, after he pays a fine.

Deut. 22:16 The young woman’s father must say to the elders, “I gave my daughter to this man and he has rejected her. 17 Moreover, he has raised accusations of impropriety by saying, ‘I discovered your daughter was not a virgin,’ but this is the evidence of my daughter’s virginity!” The cloth must then be spread out before the city’s elders. 18 The elders of that city must then seize the man and punish him. 19 They will fine him one hundred shekels of silver and give them to the young woman’s father, for the man who made the accusation ruined the reputation of an Israelite virgin. She will then become his wife and he may never divorce her as long as he lives.

For this partial human being born without a penis, her options, when accused of not marrying as a virgin are death by stoning or continued marriage to her owner who hates her. How is this anything like Jesus?

It gets worse. If she is raped while engaged, but is not heard crying out in the city, she and her rapist will be executed. But if he rapes her in the country, only he gets executed.
Deut. 22:23 If a virgin is engaged to a man and another man meets her in the city and has sexual relations with her, 24 you must bring the two of them to the gate of that city and stone them to death, the young woman because she did not cry out though in the city and the man because he violated his neighbor’s fiancĂ©e; in this way you will purge evil from among you. 25 But if the man came across the engaged woman in the field and overpowered her and raped her, then only the rapist must die. 26 You must not do anything to the young woman—she has done nothing deserving of death. This case is the same as when someone attacks another person and murders him, 27 for the man met her in the field and the engaged woman cried out, but there was no one to rescue her.

Unbelievably, it gets worse - for her. If she is raped while not engaged, she has to marry her rapist.
Deut. 22:28 Suppose a man comes across a virgin who is not engaged and overpowers and rapes her and they are discovered. 29 The man who has raped her must pay her father fifty shekels of silver and she must become his wife because he has violated her; he may never divorce her as long as he lives.
Jesus changed the world of religion by fully humanizing all humans, slaves, Gentiles, oppressors, the oppressed, Samaritans, and women. Because of Jesus, I am seeking to love all my neighbors, not just the ones most like myself. This chapter of Deuteronomy is a horrific example of dehumanization in the Bible in the name of God. Who does Jesus deny full humanity to? Jesus is the Word of God in the flesh. He perfectly represents God because he is God. The living, embodied word of God contradicts these words of Moses. Why is that?

Because... Not everything Biblical is Christian.


Series review----------------------
This is part 13 of the series, Not everything Biblical is ChristianPart one points out that the words of Satan recorded in the Bible are not Christian doctrine. Part two shows the Sermon on the Mount overruling the cursing of enemies exhibited in Psalm 137. Parts three and four show Moses getting overruled by Ezekiel and Jesus. Part five merely brushes the concept of source criticism.  Part six looks at the Old Testament application in the early church: a brief summary of the book of Acts. Part seven looks at how the church has worked this out regarding slavery. Part eight, showed one example of how an unchristian part of the Bible helps tell the Christian story. Part nine asks who would Jesus hate? Part 10 discusses women as Biblically approved spoils of war. Part 11 discusses divorce. Part 12 discusses the imposition of Bronze Age social constructs onto our diverse and complex modern world.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Not everything Biblical is Christian. Part 12 - social constructs

Hey Johnboy

Deuteronomy is a rich source for these topics. It is such a schizophrenic book. There are progressive ideas right next to crazy, crazy stuff. I'm not sure there is any coherence to these verses and chapters, sort of like Proverbs or James, but a collection of rules for the community. Today I read chapter 22.

It starts off with taking care of lost animals until their owner shows up. That's cool. Finder's keepers does not apply in this community. Then it attacks cross dressing. Then it talks about creation care, and not killing a mother bird. The lines on cross dressing are, Deut. 22:5 A woman must not wear men’s clothing, and men must not put on women’s garments. The Eternal your God is horrified when anyone does this. How does this even work out in the world today? Are Scottish Christians who participate in Highland games wearing kilts horrifying Jesus? How did that even work out in ancient Israel? If priests are walking around with long robes, how different are they from dresses? If shepherds are wearing short robes, how are they different from mini-dresses? Before spandex was invented, some very strong and tough football players use to wear large women's hosiery to stay warm on the field. Was God horrified by them? If these verses are translated to a tropical culture where everyone wears speedos and nothing on top, what is the application of this verse? This might be a Mosaic thing, just like an "eye for a eye" principle which Jesus overrules, but it's not Christian. 

However, Christians want to impose rules like this both inside and outside the church. Why? Before the invention of the word "homosexual" in the 1800's the King James Bible translated Paul's greek in Romans and Corinthians condemning "effeminate" men. What does this even mean? It's a malleable, social construction. When you go see well-costumed Shakespeare plays in the park, those guys in hosiery and fine silk were wearing the masculine outfits of the day, but not in our culture. If it cross-dressing means different things to anyone depending on their location and time then does it mean anything? If men kissing men is offensive and slightly creepy to Americans, but not to Italians, then what does it mean to ignore Paul's command to "greet each other with a holy kiss"? Is this or is it not a biblical command for the church for all time and across all cultures? If not, who is truly an inerrantist? Since no one really is, why do lines get drawn arbitrarily at what we accept as to what Jesus really meant? Head coverings are essential and holy kisses are not. It's not rational, nor does it have to be, but it shouldn't be defended as rational, just arbitrary social distinctions, like Boy Scout uniforms. 

You cannot imagine the uproar women caused in the 1900's when they started dressing like men and wearing pants. Were they sinning against God? Can't we rejoice with sisters today who are not constrained by non-Christian social constructs?

Are you opposed to men wearing makeup? But aren't you aware that men, even conservative leaders in the church, if they want to appear on video, or on the big screen, need makeup. Without it they look unnatural under the the bright lights for the camera. Whether they are on a news program or preaching with a video audience in mind, they need makeup. It doesn't make them effeminate. 

I haven't even gotten to the crazier stuff  in this chapter yet, that is next, in part 13.

There are more non-rational social distinction rules. 9 You must not plant your vineyard with two kinds of seed; otherwise the entire yield, both of the seed you plant and the produce of the vineyard, will be defiled. 10 You must not plow with an ox and a donkey harnessed together. 11 You must not wear clothing made with wool and linen meshed together. Being defiled is a religious, not physical issue. I plant basil with tomatoes in my garden. They grow well together. The native americans taught the piligrims to grow corn and peas and squash together. And the pilgrims ate all of them. Most Americans wear clothes made of mixed materials, denim and spandex is quite common these days. But I had a Christian friend who was taught that only single material clothing was acceptable to God. His life did not go so well at the church after a while. This is in the Bible, but it's not something for Christians to literally apply to their own lives. It has no bearing on their relationship with God. 

I am not opposed to social constructs. As social creatures, these are unavoidable. What I do warn you though is calling many of these social constructs as markers of another's relationship with Jesus. Jesus tells you to watch for two markers, love of neighbor and love of himself. These are harder to distinguish than clothes or makeup or garden plantings.

Not everything Biblical is Christian.


Series review----------------------
This is part ten of the series, Not everything Biblical is ChristianPart one points out that the words of Satan recorded in the Bible are not Christian doctrine. Part two shows the Sermon on the Mount overruling the cursing of enemies exhibited in Psalm 137. Parts three and four show Moses getting overruled by Ezekiel and Jesus. Part five merely brushes the concept of source criticism.  Part six looks at the Old Testament application in the early church: a brief summary of the book of Acts. Part seven looks at how the church has worked this out regarding slavery. Part eight, showed one example of how an unchristian part of the Bible helps tell the Christian story. Part nine asks who would Jesus hate? Part 10 discusses women as Biblically approved spoils of war. Part 11 discusses divorce.