Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Thou shalt not bear false witness


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Gay Marriage in Washington


From the Associated Press:

An influential Islamic group has demanded the removal of an online video game depicting religious figures such as the Prophet Muhammad and Jesus Christ fighting each other, saying it is offensive to Muslims and Christians.
The video game in question is a game called Faith Fighter, which you can play here. I have to say, that as I tend to hang out on the heathen side of Christianity, I kind of found it hilarious. I also have to say that as Buddha, I kicked some serious deity ass, and even managed to vanquish the mystery character, aka the Evil Lord Xenu. NO THETANS FOR ME, BIATCH!! I also found it pretty entertaining that while I was kicking Jesus' ass (Jesus, I am so sorry. To be fair, it was on "easy" mode), a flying spaghetti monster made its way through the background. 

So, what do we think? Am I going to Hell for playing this, or is it funny? Discuss.

Lessons of Hate in the Bible Belt

Lessons of Hate in the Bible Belt from Stuart Productions on Vimeo.

You know, I do not see this as a lesson of hate. The Superintendent is a dick, sure. But the people of the town (at least the ones in this video), seem open to discussion, and (if nothing else) at least respectful of individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation. If anything, I see this as hard proof that we as a nation are moving forward. As one woman said in this video, "it's not the 50's anymore."

And now for something completely different...

Inspired by listening to too much This American Life, I thought, if you don't mind, that I'd tell a few stories. Rest assured that those of you waiting for me to bitch about the Pope or something will most certainly be in luck by the next post, but for now I'm going to indulge myself. Please believe me when I say that I whole-heartedly apologize for what you may or may not be about to read.

In the great land of Canada, where I was born, Catholic school receives as much funding from the government as the regular old public schools do. I believe this is because of some deal struck a long time ago with the French, with whom many deals in Canada are and were struck, but I can't really be bothered to look it up. As a result, Catholic school is free, so pretty much all Canadian Catholic kids go to Catholic school. I was no exception. I am not sure about the exact religious beliefs of my parents, but I think that in all likelihood they are, in actuality, both atheists. My mother, in the tradition of her Jewish father (who abandoned the faith pretty early in his life), has a strong disdain for organized religion, and my father is the kind of Catholic who believes Jesus matters more as a symbol than as someone who actually existed. But, they were both raised Catholic, and therefore so was I.

Not long after I turned five, my dad was transferred at his job, and we moved to the United States. As Catholic school was not free there, I did not go. I did, however, have some trouble making friends in my American kindergarten class (having moved there mid-year), and my teacher decided it would be best to hold me back another year until I got adjusted. My mother was not pleased.

When I say "my mother was not pleased", what I mean is that I find it hard to believe that said kindergarten teacher survived the altercation that ensued. She would not re-think her position, however, and so I was sent to the local (not free) Catholic school, where they felt it would be fine for me to enter first grade. It wasn't long after that my trouble with the Catholic Church began.

Some time at the beginning of first grade, my teacher took us on a tour of the school and the church. We were told that at Mass, we would eat Christ's body (once we had received our first Communion). As a five-year-old, I, of course, assumed that they had Jesus' dead body in the back, and that they carved it up for every service. Nobody had bothered to explain otherwise.

When I was nine, I went to visit my mum's sister, whose religious beliefs are limited to "the Party Plane" (which is where people go to party after they die). I had been having some trouble with reconciling what I had learned in science class (evolution) with what I had learned in religion class (Genesis), so I asked my aunt, "What is the Garden of Eden?" 

"It's a myth," she answered, to my great relief. Unfortunately, it was soon followed by "that Christians believe." I can pinpoint the start of all my trouble with the Church to that exact moment. It was Christianity versus logic, and even as a 9-year-old, I had to side with logic. Of course, we later learned (in junior high) that these things did not have to be mutually exclusive. The Bible taught us one kind of truth (the why) while science taught us another (the how). But, the time it takes to get from nine to twelve is a long time for a kid, and in that time I had started to form some other, more pressing questions.

I can't remember when it started, but at some point during Mass, I developed a problem with the call-and-response thing. There is a point in the Catholic Mass (and, I believe, in most mainline protestant services) where the priest says "let us give thanks to the Lord our God," and the congregation responds "it is right to give Him thanks and praise." Sitting there repeating those words with a bunch of droning kids who probably didn't really understand what they were saying started to get to me, and I began to wonder "is it?" This question in my head really bothered me, and I suspected that I might be possessed. I started getting stomach aches every time I went to Mass and did everything I could to get out of it. I tried explaining my theory of possession to my mother, but she freaked out at the mention of it and told me not to say that. I guess old superstitions die hard.

Of course, we were later taught (in high school) that questioning our faith was a good thing. But, the time it takes to get from twelve to fifteen is a long time for a kid, and in that time I had started to have some doubts about the virgin birth (convenient excuse?) and the resurrection (the apostles didn't even recognize Jesus when he came back! Didn't it occur to anybody that it might have been somebody else?).

I still prayed every night, but I removed Jesus from my prayers. I still loved Him, but it became clear to me that he was not divine. I started to explore other religious paths. I asked my grandpa about Judaism, and he proceeded to explain to me the moment he lost his faith. "We were in shul," he said "and they were telling us the story of Abraham and Isaac. Now, G-d gave Abraham a son when it was thought that he and his wife were too old to have children, and Abraham cherished his son. But then G-d told him that if he was really a man of faith, he would sacrifice his only son. So Abraham took Isaac up on the mountain, and he almost killed him, but an angel stopped him just in time and said he had proved his faith and could keep his son. But it doesn't matter that He took it back. Any G-d who would ask someone to kill their child to prove their faith is no G-d in my mind." Needless to say, that story didn't really help me.

I then decided I was Hindu (which was related to the fact that I really liked Indian food, art, and music, and enjoyed wearing bindis to piss off all the Catholics at my Catholic school). My aunt (the one who believes in the Party Plane), however, suggested that I might want to think about the role of women in Hinduism before I committed myself. Of course I later learned (in university) that Hinduism is less one religion than a collection of mythologies that are sometimes as closely related as Christianity and Buddhism, and that the role of women in Indian society varies from place to place and is more of a cultural phenomenon. But, the time it takes to get from fifteen to eighteen is a long time for a kid, and in that time I had learned that my attraction to India was an aesthetic one, and that I was just being silly in calling myself a Hindu.

In high school, I had the great fortune of being accepted to a math and science school for math and science nerds. It was a half-day deal - we spent the mornings at the nerd farm, and the afternoons at our home schools. I loved the nerd farm, because I met other liberals there (liberals were a rare breed at my Catholic school). I also met a kid who took particular issue with belief in God, and chose to argue it logically. "Think of the numbers in pi," he said, "they are random and go on infinitely. But in those numbers, if you look long enough, you can find any numerical pattern. That is the nature of chaos. There's no reason to believe that this universe, with all its natural laws, is anything more than just a pattern in chaos."

This idea was devastating to me. I did not believe it at first, mostly because I didn't want to. But one day (in the shower, hilariously), it really hit me. There is no God. This realization did not come at a good time. 10th grade was a pretty shitty year all around, and losing my faith did not help. I was not at all a happy camper.

We moved to another city in the summer between grades 10 and 11, and I was fortunately not forced to return to Catholic school. Furthermore, my dad really didn't like the Catholic church where we had moved ("bunch of yuppie WASP-wannabes"), so I was never forced to go to Mass (except, of course, on Christmas and Easter). I still did not feel comfortable with my atheism, however, and had begun to form a new notion of the divine. It seemed to me that if everything was infinite, and so much was unknown, even more unknowable, then there must be something that encompassed it all. Something bigger and stronger than humanity could ever fathom. I began to think of God again - this time, not as some deity created in our image, but as the Sum. The entire breadth of existence, in all its unfathomability, was God. I took comfort in this.

In grade twelve, I did some research into eastern philosophy for a project I was doing, and found an interesting theory that came from Hinduism. The idea was that there really was only one God - Brahma - who encompassed all of existence (aha!) and that each and every deity recognized by man was a manifestation of this God, and as such evangelism was a ridiculous concept. This idea grabbed hold of me immediately. If God encompasses everything, then everything would be a manifestation of God, not just the various worldly deities. The difference, however, must have been faith. Not in the traditional Biblical sense, but in a philosophical sense. It was faith in the oneness of everything; faith in the beauty of life; faith in the goodness of humanity. This was an idea I could get behind and as such I eventually returned to Jesus, whom I had abandoned but not forgotten.

And... here I am. It seems funny to me that I found my Christianity through philosophy and Hinduism, but I guess the world sometimes works in mysterious ways. I realize my beliefs are not conventionally Christian (and definitely not conventionally Catholic), but I'm pretty happy with them. Everyone's brain works differently, and logic, like everything else, is not a universal constant. What makes sense in my head may not make sense in others. I think it is really, really important, however, to make sure that you get to your faith from a place of logic. If that logic is "the world is beautiful so there must be a God," then great. If it's "this God business doesn't make any sense, so F that S," then more power to you. What we all need to remember, I think, is that staunchly as we may believe something to be true, none of us actually know. I am 100% certain that my belief system is correct, but I do not actually know. Evangelism is a ridiculous concept.

I sometimes frighten myself into believing in the Christian right's idea of Hell (a place where everyone who doesn't believe in the exact right thing gets stuck to suffer for all eternity). But then, fear of eternity seems to me to be the only reason to believe those things, and I won't live my life that way. As I said, I'm pretty happy with what I believe.

The end.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Attention WTFWJD Readers

Now, we all know that making fun of the Pope (particularly this one) is hilarious, and that he is a super douche and everything, but I'm not sure that this picture I found on a Google image search is really an appropriate logo for WTFWJD. So, I thought I'd take the chance that one or more of you has any talent for graphic design and would like to design a newer, awesomer logo (for which I will not be paying you, but you will reap your reward in Heaven).

The parameters are this: I have no idea.

You can send your (hopefully) plentiful submissions to wtfwouldjesusdo [at] gmail [dot] com. Thanks in advance!

And, as we all know, making me a new logo is totally WTF Jesus would do.

UPDATE: Thanks to John at You Are Hated for the awesome image! It is truly blessed.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Pope Nazipants is at it again

From the Catholic News Agency:

Pope Benedict addressed representatives of the Pontifical Biblical Commission following their plenary assembly and said that a correct understanding of Scripture does not come from "the individualistic illusion that biblical texts can be better understood outside the community of believers" but rather rises from the Tradition of the Church.
"The individualistic illusion." That's really something, isn't it? By 'something', I, of course, mean 'something out of 1984.' Or, perhaps, 'something out of the more frightening chapters of the history of the Church.'

There was a time when the Church hierarchy, as leaders of what can most accurately be called an 'oppressive theocracy', felt it pertinent to ban reading of the scripture under the guise of preventing heresy. This made sense, of course, because the Bible contains little support for things like the death penalty, holy wars, or even the idea of purgatory (which was, in my opinion, little more than an excuse for the Church to make money selling indulgences). So, in her infinite wisdom, the Church made possession or translation of the Bible by lay people illegal.

From The Church Council of Toulouse in 1229 AD:
We prohibit also that the laity should
not be permitted to have the books of the Old or
New Testament; we most strictly forbid their having
any translation of these books.
From The Church Council of Tarragona in 1234 AD:
No one may possess the books of the Old
and New Testaments, and if anyone possesses
them he must turn them over to the local bishop
within eight days, so that they may be burned...
This is history. This is what the Church used to be.

I believe quite vehemently that the Catholic Church has, ultimately, benefited from the advent of protestantism. As opposing views on Christianity moved from heretical to commonplace, and as the Church's political power waned, they were forced to re-asses their roll. No longer did they run the western world. As such, it became time for them to actually become a religion. Granted, this took longer than would seem reasonable, but change is slow. That said, the Catholic Church now is undoubtedly an entirely different entity than she was in the thirteenth century... but not if Pope Nazipants has anything to say about it.

Before Nazipants, the Church's opinion on birth control had gotten to a point where it was almost never stated. It became an unspoken issue of personal morality, and was no longer perceived as dogmatic. When Nazipants gained power, however, he made sure the world knew that God hates condoms. Because sperm is magical. Not that there's any scriptural precedent for that, but only the Church knows how to interpret the Bible, so I guess they must have read something I missed.

Before Nazipants, the Church reformed the structure of Sunday worship into something that could be understood by the Masses. No more minimally-participatory Latin droning for us Catholics, oh no. Now we have minimally-participatory droning in our native tongues (I mock it, but it was a big step for the Church from irrelevant medieval political institution to an actual viable religion). When Nazipants gained power, however, he decided to play buddy-buddy with the Society of Pope Pius X, who are known not only for their opposition to Vatican II, but their antisemitism. Now, there's nothing in the Bible that says anything about Latin Mass, nor is there anything in there that justifies racism (not in the New Testament, anyway), but only the Church knows how to interpret the Bible, so I guess they must have read something I missed.

Before Nazipants, the Church condemned all kinds of murder, from abortion* to genocide. Gone were the days of Church-sanctioned executions, replaced by letters from the Pope written to world leaders, asking them to abolish the death penalty. When Nazipants gained power, however, he elevated abortion to the level of "worst kind of murder ever" (in a clear attempt to attack the position of women in western society), and declared the death penalty a political matter, not to be interfered with by the Church. Now, the Bible says not to kill pretty clearly, but nowhere in there does it define a hierarchy of the worst kinds of killing, but only the Church knows how to interpret the Bible, so I guess they must have read something I missed.

(I might also add that a religion who prays to a man who died becuase of the death penalty should probably think about universally opposing it. Just sayin'.)

I realize the Bible is a challenging document. So much of what's in there is downright morally repugnant; the God portrayed in the Old Testament is a psychopathic, murderous, insecure, angry monster, whereas the God portrayed in the New Testament is kind, loving, and forgiving; there are verses in there that directly contradict each other, with no indication as to which is correct; the translations will always be questionable, as modern language is a very different entity from the ancient languages of these texts. All of this makes the Bible a difficult thing to interpret, and I believe that asking for help in reading the text is often quite necessary and important. It's also important to remember, however, that every single possible interpretation of the Bible comes with an agenda, including and especially the Catholic Church's (which, I've noticed, is also not uniform).

So, is the Bible a document that can only be understood through the ancient, slowly-changing teachings of the Catholic Church? Absolutely not. Every single person, Catholic or not, has a right to read whatever they want from the Scripture. And we all have a right not to have dogma shoved down our throats by a Pope who wants nothing more to command the Holy Roman Empire. Sorry, Benedict, but you were born a few centuries too late.

Matthew 23:1-15 says:
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: "The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

"Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them 'Rabbi.'

"But you are not to be called 'Rabbi,' for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called 'teacher,' for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.
Woe to you, Pope Nazipants, you hypocrite! WTFWJD?

*I just want to specify that while the Catholic Church considers abortion to be murder, and I am technically a Catholic, I do not consider the kind of abortions that are carried out by responsible medical practitioners to be murder. I've written a letter to my Archbishop, but apparently this is not enough to get me excommunicated.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Day of Truth?

I just read an article in the Christian Post about a student-run counter-protest to the Day of Silence. Now, I disagree with these students and their views against homosexuality. I'm also not a fan of the way they claim to represent all of Christianity with these views. That said, I think they're going about what they're doing in the right way. The "Day of Truth" is merely a non-violent reaction to a non-violent protest. If only we could all air our grievances in such a mature and dignified way.

Unfortunately, I felt the need to read more than the first few paragraphs of the article, and came upon this little gem:

Christian conservatives ... argue that the event politicizes the classroom
to support the belief that homosexuality is moral and forces propaganda and
acceptance of high-risk behavior into schools with little – if any – room for
opposing views.

Now, forgive me if I'm wrong, but isn't staging an in-school counter-protest because you're opposed to disrupting classroom time with politics a little counter-intuitive? They say they're only participating in their counter-protest "outside of class hours", but how likely is that to actually be the case? Also, what difference does it really make? And since we're on the subject, isn't it a bit rich for the Christian right to accuse people of politicizing things that shouldn't be politicized? I'm quite certain that the Christian right have politicized their religious views on homosexuality by passing constitutional bans on gay marriage in 29 states. I'm also certain they've politicized their religious views on abortion by continually looking for new ways to attack Roe v. Wade. I'm downright positive that they've politicized Christianity in general by making the repeated claim that "America is a Christian Nation." Not only that, but they've brought their politicization of Christianity into the classroom by attempting to get "intelligent design" (AKA unintelligent creationism) taught alongside evolution in public schools.

Matthew 22:17-21 says:

Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?"

But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, "You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax." They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, "Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?"

"Caesar's," they replied. Then he said to them, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's."

To me, this passage is about keeping politics out of faith, and faith out of politics. Not everyone may read it that way, but it's important to keep in mind that if you're going to go around bitching about people politicizing the classroom, you probably shouldn't be politicizing your faith. Just sayin'. WTFWJD?

P.S. I'd also like to point out that this article's "expert on sexuality issues" is a man named Dr. Warren Throckmorton. You can read more about him here, here, and here.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

What it means to be Christian

Friday, April 17, 2009


(Via Christian News Wire)

This video makes me really sad. I understand where this Bible-tearing man is coming from. He is under the impression that Christianity is uniformly opposed to homosexuality, and is an aggressor towards him. Therefore, he returns that aggression. The problem, of course, is that what he's done hasn't accomplished anything for the cause of gay marriage. On the contrary, it has only made the wing-nuts more firm in their stance that homosexuality is inherently anti-Christian.

The best way for anyone to prove to those against it that gay marriage is not diametrically opposed to Christianity, is to not attack Christianity in their arguments. In short, it is absolutely imperative that, regardless of one's personal beliefs or religion, all of us make a decided effort to be the bigger person.

It is also absolutely imperative that those of us who are religious, and are also socially liberal, make our presence known. This man attacked the Bible because he believes the Bible, and Christianity attack him. And who can blame him? The wing-nuts are a noisy bunch, and those of us who also profess faith in Jesus Christ but apply his teachings differently don't seem to raise too much of a fuss. Granted, this has changed somewhat recently. We've heard from Bishop Gene Robinson (God bless him) a lot lately, as well as seen some liberal policies put into place by Barack Obama, who is also a Christian. But there is more to do.

Between the extremes of secular liberalism and the religious right are those of us who are believers not only in Christ, but in social justice. We, the religious humanists, have a unique opportunity in the "culture war" being fought across America. We alone have the ability to sway people's hearts and minds, because we alone share significant commonalities with both sides of the argument. Sure, there will always be fundies who question our faith, just as there will always be atheists who discount the fact that we agree with them politically only because we believe in something they see as stupid. But there are people in both camps who will benefit from our vocal presence, and with their help we can all work to build a better country for all of us.

This video is tragically pointless. In the end, nothing has been accomplished. Everyone is still angry. Nobody's mind has changed. Would it have been different if we or people like us had been there? WTF would Jesus do?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Big News!

Because I am lame, and also stuck in an office by myself with not enough work to do, WTFWJD? now has a Facebook page!

And, as if that weren't awesome enough, WTFWJD? also has a Twitter*!

Fan/follow that shit, yo.

*I would like to note that I am still completely morally opposed to Twitter.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Stand up for families, guys

Oops. And there I was participating in pseudo-Satanic rituals in high school by not speaking on the Day of Silence. If only I'd known our peaceful protest against bullying was attacking the American family. Sorry, Jesus.

Oh, also, if Day of Silence was a requirement at my school, then at least 85% of the student body got a failing grade on that one.

Oh, also, fuck you, Illinois Family Institute.

UPDATE: With no mention as to why on their website, the Illinois Family Institute has removed the video from Youtube. One assumes this is because the links to it were coming from places like Towleroad, and the comment thread was probably not a very bigot-friendly place, but we may never know.

In other news, it turns out the Illinois Family Institute is a certified hate group. Seriously? WTFWJD????

RE-UPDATE: It's back up.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


What does this remind me of?

Oh yeah.


Jesus would TOTALLY give you His kidney

From the Chicago Tribune:

A priest in Normal decided to stand in solidarity with a parishioner by donating
to her a kidney.

Isn't that nice?


Divinity vs. Morality

I have a lot of issues with the Christian right. I'd like to say it boggles my mind how they can use Jesus Christ as an excuse for bigotry and violence, but the truth is it doesn't. The core of my belief in Jesus Christ is based on the moral code that he laid out. Christ told us not to judge each other. He told us to live in love and tolerance, and that is why I love Him.

For the right, however, the value in Christ lies not in his teachings, but in his divinity. They assert that the only way to be deemed good in the eyes of God is to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior. In doing that, they not only elevate themselves (in their own minds) above everyone of even slightly dissimilar belief systems, but they also negate the value of Christ's core teachings (in their own minds). This is a problem.

Luckily, I'm not the only person who has noticed this problem. Apparently Eric Reece has too. From The Washington Post:

American Christianity has historically been focused so obsessively on the
Nicene Creed—which says Jesus was the son of God, who was crucified for our sins
and rose from the grave three days later—that it never made much room for the
actual teachings of this radical Jewish street preacher.

This is why I'm against Easter. It celebrates the death of Jesus nearly to the exclusion of his life. If the Easter miracle can save us from this life, then why bother with the harder work of enacting the kingdom of God here? It is, after all, much harder.

Back in Catholic school (from which I will probably never recover), some religion teacher or another explained to us why Easter is the most important holiday in the Christian calendar (instead of Christmas, which is what we all thought it was). It is, they said, Jesus' death and resurrection that make his life significant, not his birth. Even as an eight-year-old, this argument didn't hold water for me. First of all, how can a man die without first being born? If He hadn't been born, none of this would have happened. There would be no Christian code of morality to ignore, nor would there be a resurrection to revere (though some of us might argue that it's pretty unlikely there actually was a resurrection).

Every denomination of Christianity, whether or not they like to admit it, has evolved out of the Catholic Church. Nothing makes this more evident than the prevailing Christian obsession with the death of Christ. I mean, what's the central symbol of Christianity? It's the cross on which Jesus died. While most Christian denominations have progressed from mourning the death of Christ (as the Catholics do every day of their guilt-ridden lives) to celebrating it, the obsession is still there, and still disturbing.

To follow the Word of Christ, or rather to follow the spirit of the message, is a brave thing to do in America. Now, as ever, the prevailing religious sects are self-righteous and corrupt. They praise a God who said not to judge, yet all they do is condemn. They worship a God of Love while spewing only hate. They follow the letter of the law (the parts they like, anyway) without understanding the meaning behind it. They are fucking ridiculous, and they think we're fucking ridiculous. It's pretty fucking ridiculous.

So, good on you, Eric Reece, for calling them on it. That's WTF Jesus would do.


This is interesting (from the Grand Junction Daily Sentinal).

Marriage, as defined by the Bible

From the Penn State Colegian:

When a homosexual or atheist makes an attack on Christianity or any other
religion, the response is they are 'progressive.' I will listen to any
homosexual's argument that they put forward, but I don't have to support this. I
tolerate their views, even if I don't agree.
Contrarily, Christians are put
down by these groups with no rhyme or reason intact. That is intolerance in the
true sense of the word.

I do not support gay marriage and here is why: Marriage is not a
'civil' thing, it is something that is given to a man and a woman from a church,
because marriage is defined in the Bible. Therefore it supersedes what your view
of marriage may be.

Without a church, as far as I'm concerned, it is a civil union. I have
no problem with gays getting civil unions and having the same rights as a
married couple in the eyes of the state.
I do have a problem with a religious
word being applied to people who are not following the word of God as
Christianity, Judaism and Islam are all clear on their definition of marriage as
the unison between a man and woman.

It really concerns me that the Christian right has done such a good job as presenting themselves as the only viable form of Christianity, and that others seem to believe them. This guy is talking about "atheists and homosexuals" attacking Christianity, which raises a few questions. First of all, what constitutes an attack on Christianity? Attacking the politics of the Christian right and attacking belief in Jesus Christ are very different things. One attacks bullshit intolerance, which is fine, and the other attacks personal belief, which is not. Another question raised by this idea is why can't homosexuality and Christianity coincide? I know LiturgyGeek, who'll be marrying gays any second now, is pretty confident that a person can be both gay and Christian. Why does the Christian right get to define for everyone what Christianity is? You know, people really amaze me sometimes...

Anyway, that's not the point. The point is that this letter to the editor talks about marriage as a purely religious institution (which it most certainly is not), and presents his definition of religious marriage as the only option (which it most certainly is not). Since his definition of religious marriage is so firmly rooted in scriptural precedence, I thought we'd take a look at how the Bible defines marriage.

Genesis 4:19 says:
Lamech married two women, one named Adah and the other Zillah.

Genesis 28:6-9 says:
Now Esau learned that Isaac had blessed Jacob and had sent him to Paddan Aram to
take a wife from there, and that when he blessed him he commanded him, "Do not
marry a Canaanite woman," and that Jacob had obeyed his father and mother and
had gone to Paddan Aram. Esau then realized how displeasing the Canaanite
women were to his father Isaac; so he went to Ishmael and married Mahalath,
the sister of Nebaioth and daughter of Ishmael son of Abraham, in addition to
the wives he already had.

Genesis 29:16-30 says:

Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the
younger was Rachel. Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel was lovely in form, and beautiful. Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, "I'll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel."

Laban said, "It's better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me." So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.

Then Jacob said to Laban, "Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to lie with her."

So Laban brought together all the people of the place and gave a feast. But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and gave her to Jacob, and Jacob lay with her. And Laban gave his servant girl Zilpah to his daughter as her maidservant.

When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, "What is this you
have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn't I? Why have you deceived me?"

Laban replied, "It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one. Finish this daughter's bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work."

And Jacob did so. He finished the week with Leah, and then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. Laban gave his servant girl Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her maidservant.

Jacob lay with Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah. And he worked for Laban another seven years.

Exodus 6:20 says:
Amram married his father's sister Jochebed, who bore him Aaron and Moses. Amram lived 137 years.

Exodus 22:16 says:
If a man seduces a virgin who is not pledged to be married and sleeps with her,
he must pay the bride-price, and she shall be his wife.

Deuteronomy 22:13-20 says:
If a man takes a wife and, after lying with her, dislikes her and slanders
her and gives her a bad name, saying, "I married this woman, but when I
approached her, I did not find proof of her virginity," then the girl's father
and mother shall bring proof that she was a virgin to the town elders at the
gate. The girl's father will say to the elders, "I gave my daughter in marriage
to this man, but he dislikes her. Now he has slandered her and said, 'I did not
find your daughter to be a virgin.' But here is the proof of my daughter's
virginity." Then her parents shall display the cloth before the elders of the
town, and the elders shall take the man and punish him. They shall fine him a
hundred shekels of silver and give them to the girl's father, because this man
has given an Israelite virgin a bad name. She shall continue to be his wife; he
must not divorce her as long as he lives.

If, however, the charge is true and no proof of the girl's virginity can be
found, she shall be brought to the door of her father's house and there the men
of her town shall stone her to death. She has done a disgraceful thing in Israel
by being promiscuous while still in her father's house.

Deuteronomy 24:1-4 says:
If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds
something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives
it to her and sends her from his house, and if after she leaves his house she
becomes the wife of another man, and her second husband dislikes her and
writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his
house, or if he dies, then her first husband, who divorced her, is not allowed
to marry her again after she has been defiled. That would be detestable in the
eyes of the LORD. Do not bring sin upon the land the LORD your God is giving you
as an inheritance.

Joshua 15:16 says:
And Caleb said, "I will give my daughter Acsah in marriage to the man who
attacks and captures Kiriath Sepher."

So, according to the Bible: polygamy is cool, selling your daughters into marriage is cool, marrying your aunt is cool, women who have been raped get the awesome prize of marrying their rapists, women who get married and can't prove their virginity get to be stoned to death, men can't marry again after divorcing their wives unless their wives successfully re-marry, and offering your daughter in marriage as a prize for murder is totally kosh.

So, the question becomes, how much of this Biblical definition of marriage is acceptable by the standards of modern Christianity? Many on the right argue that allowing gay marriage is just a hop, skip and a jump away from allowing polygamy, so clearly they're not down with that. Incest is not so hot in anybody's eyes, and I also find it unlikely that the majority of Christian fathers would want their daughters marrying men who raped them. Christians also don't stone people to death (mostly), even if they weren't virgins when they married. That rule about men not marrying again unless their ex-wives find a new husband and stick with him is just ridiculous, and I doubt anyone who has been divorced - whether Christian or not - ever even thinks about following it. It's also been a while since I've heard about anyone offering their daughter's hand in marriage as a prize for anything, let alone murder. Even fundamentalist Christians do not subscribe to these ancient, irrelevant marriage laws. Women now are free to choose who they marry; and the virginity thing is the exception, not the rule. Almost nobody is killed for fucking that one up (in the west, anyway).

What this means, of course, is that Christians have been re-defining marriage for a long time now. What, then, is so fucking hard about extending that re-definition to include homosexuality, which is barely mentioned in the Bible (but for some reason, is vilified by the right as the worst sin ever)? Once again, my friends, we have a big steaming pile of hypocrisy coming from the Christian right. Fuck that shit. WTFWJD?

Gay Marriage = Religious Freedom

Damn right.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

What day is it?

Oops, I meant...

Much better. Happy Easter!

(Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go eat some breakfast chocolate.)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Nature of Divine Love

I just read a really lovely piece on Religion Dispatches that you should all probably read. A highlight:

. . . this is why I cannot prioritize Romans 1:26-27 (let alone the Leviticus texts) over what I’ve learned through listening to the life stories of my gay and lesbian friends. When God comes to me in the form of the neighbor in need, even the gay neighbor, I cannot in good conscience send the neighbor away empty-handed just because Paul—a product of his time—believed that every instance of same-sex sexual activity was simply an expression of inordinate lust. I know better, not because I’m wiser than Paul, but because I live in an age when gays and lesbians have a public voice that enables them to share what it is like to be gay. Paul didn’t.
You can read the rest here. Isn't it wonderful to hear intelligent, articulate commentary from the religious left?

And on the other side of the isle, this little blurb is really something, but mostly because the one comment on there at the moment is pretty hilarious.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Dem gays in Iowa...

Are getting married?!

(From the DeMoines Register):
The Iowa Supreme Court this morning unanimously upheld gays’ right to marry.

“The Iowa statute limiting civil marriage to a union between a man and a woman violates the equal protection clause of the Iowa Constitution,” the justices said in a summary of their decision.

. . . . Richard Socarides, a former senior adviser to President Bill Clinton on gay civil rights, said today’s decision could set the stage for other states. Socarides was was a senior political assistant for Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin in the early 1990s.

“I think it’s significant because Iowa is considered a Midwest sate in the mainstream of American thought,” Socarides said. “Unlike states on the coasts, there’s nothing more American than Iowa. As they say during the presidential caucuses, 'As Iowa goes, so goes the nation.’”

. . . . “One could easily argue, and we do, that fostering same-sex marriage will harm the institution of marriage as we know it,” [Assistant Polk County Attorney Roger] Kuhle said. “It’s not going to happen tomorrow. We’re not going to see any changes tomorrow, next week, next year, in our generation. But you’ve got to look to the future.”

Kuhle said state support for same-sex marriage would teach future generations that marriage is no longer about procreation despite thousands of years of history.

Fuck you, Kuhle. And congratulations, LiturgyGeek!!!!! Who ever thought we'd live in a world where you could get gay married in Iowa, but not in California?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Weird headline of the day

"NYC ultra-orthodox Jews give Amish walking tour" (from the Associated Press):

The city's ultra-Orthodox Jews took the Pennsylvania Amish on a walking tour of their world Tuesday, saying their communities are naturally drawn to each other with a commitment to simpler lifestyles.

"It's reinforcing to the Amish community to see us Jews living the way the Bible says Jews are supposed to live, and have lived since the time of Moses and Abraham," said Yisroel Ber Kaplan, program director for the Chassidic Discovery Center in Brooklyn. "The Amish are also living their lives as the Bible speaks to them."

. . . At a workshop where a young man was touching up a Torah, a scroll of the holiest Jewish writings, Epstein told the group how a Jew in wartime Germany had rescued the sacred scroll by wrapping it around his midriff under his clothes as he fled to safety.

The Amish listened, commenting to one another in Pennsylvania Dutch, a dialect of the German of their ancestors.

When Epstein, a native of Chattanooga, Tenn., had first greeted the Amish with the Yiddish "Zei gazunt!" — "be healthy" — they understood. After all, the expression is derived from the German word "sei gesund."
My cousin is a Lubavitcher rabbi in New York. I wonder if he was in on this. I'm always trying to get my mom to ask him to get me in on that birth right free trip to Israel thing, but she somehow thinks that is dishonest. Whatever, my friend Lisa is Jewish and she, like me, only has one Jewish grandparent. Luck of the draw that it was through the maternal line, I say. And SHE doesn't even want her free trip to Israel... grumble grumble grumble.

Anyway, this is adorable. The end.

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