Monday, November 10, 2008

Post No. 66b: Question to Ponder - Would Jesus Discriminate?

Those of you who are regular readers of our blog are aware that we, the Fellows at the Institute for Applied Common Sense, are big fans of the weekend book presentations on C-Span2 Book TV. Many ideas and concepts are discussed in a relatively short period of time.

After having our thoughts stimulated, many of the questions posed in our articles reflect our consideration of various issues raised by the authors, panelists, or participants in book fairs.

Today’s consideration is whether Jesus would discriminate. Yesterday, the Rev. Dr. Cindi Lowe (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cindi_Love) discussed her book, Would Jesus Discriminate: The 21st Century Question (http://books.google.com/books?id=GUD7MQAACAAJ&dq=%22Would+Jesus+Discriminate%22&ei=T8kXSePvE4uWyATUwNjqAw). You can actually watch the interview by clicking on this link: http://www.booktv.org/program.aspx?ProgramId=9616&SectionName=Politics&PlayMedia=Yes.

What’s interesting about Dr. Lowe is that she was apparently brought up in a religious environment where she was taught to be intolerant of certain behavior of others. In fact, when her brother was dying of AIDS, she initially took the position that God had punished him for his sexual behavior. However, at some point later, when her relationship with her daughter was at issue, Dr. Lowe decided to change her attitude and position.

Dr. Lowe, who is now a lesbian, claims that God called on her to disseminate her new message. After this occurred, she realized that there are all sorts of discrimination associated with religious beliefs. [It reminded us of how the Ku Klux Klan often couches its philosophy in religious terms. (http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761562317/Ku_Klux_Klan.html)] It is now her role to “correct the behavior of other people.”

Her original target audience consisted of religious fundamentalists and Christian Evangelicals (http://encarta.msn.com/text_761574399___1/Evangelicalism.html). She noted that she discovered that her book is appreciated by a much wider audience.

Of course, we do not have a position here. However, we’d be curious as to your views. Would Jesus discriminate or tolerate discrimination against any of God’s children?

34 comments:

  1. I don't think that is knowable. What you really seem to be asking for is opinions of what people think Jesus might have done. A Christian would be hard pressed to portray Jesus as a bigot, it would undermine his own faith. Strange as it seems, I see nothing in the stories in the Gospel that shows how Jesus might treat those outside his own faith or outside his own "race". Jesus was a Jew, not a Christian, His purpose, his goal, was to restore the Jews to their faith as he saw it. He did not seem to believe that he was put on earth to begin a new religion but to give new life to Judaism. So, to directly answer the question as written, I would have say "I haven't the foggiest but tradition and teachings dictate I should answer 'no'."

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  2. Thanks Douglas: Obviously an open ended question. Not clear whether the author of the book is posing the question as to Jesus himself. I think that one interpretation is she was rhetorically asking whether Jesus condones or tolerates the discriminatory practices and attitudes of some of his followers today.

    Let's just take the controversial referundum in California last week ,Proposition 8, which was designed to overturn the California State Supreme Court's ruling earlier this year to the effect that same sex marriages could not be banned. Many in California, in protest after the voting on Tuesday, claim that this constitutes discrimination against gays. Does Jesus condone or support such discrimination, if it is discrimination?

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  3. Whether or not one believes in the ressurection of Christ and the origins of the new testament, one can exhibit the values taught in Jesus' parables, thereby demonstrating christianity. Brava to Dr. Lowe for her metamorphosis from religious zealot to true christian.
    A co-worker once asked me if I had "been saved by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." She stated she was merely concerned for my soul and pointed towards a Jewish co-worker for which there was "no hope." I immediately changed gears from stammering about my own beliefs to high speed defense of my dear non-christian friend. "That woman is the most 'christian' person I know. She'd do anything for anyone and never condems others for their beliefs. I know God has a special place in heaven for her and if he doesn't, we are all doomed for Hell."
    The same Bible thumpers that would judge people as sinners based on the old testament seem to conveniently forget that Jesus stopped an angry crowd from throwing rocks in judgement and taught tolerance.
    As for the association to Prop8 - Supporters state that the measure merely defines marriages between men and women and is not discriminatory. Yet, we have federal laws that have banned exclusivity. We are not to discriminate on the basis of sex, race, or national origin. A law saying marriage is only between a man and a woman is discriminating on the basis of sex and boldly contradicts federal rights.
    If Jesus were alive today, he'd be in California marching along with those supporting gay rights. Unfortunately, He is not here and holier-than-thou Evangelicals are killing true christianity.

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  4. Thanks Iris for your insightful comments. This is turning out to be an interesting exchange.

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  5. I am going to disagree with Iris on this basis: If Jesus was transported here from the past and plopped down in California, he would be appalled by most of what he would see. He would be in favor of discrimination of gays. I say that because he would have the perspective of his own time and in that time, it would not be seen as discrimination but righteousness. He might sympathize with gay people, as he did with the adulterer in John 11:2 and try to protect them from punishment but would not countenance same sex marriage. It was not something that would have been acceptable within the culture that he knew. If one accepts the teachings and traditions of the Christian faith regarding Jesus then, as I said, one would say He would support their desire. But always remember He said "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's"

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  6. It occurs to us that "being a Christian" or "Christianity" might be defined in numerous different ways. (1) One could be a follower and adherent of a Christian religion, but not have formal membership, however that may be defined; (2) One may be the same as (1) but have formal membership; (3) one could be a follower and adherent, but not live the life of a Christian, according to certain specified principles; (4) one could be a follower and adherent, and actually live the life of a Christian, according to certain specified principles; (5) one could create their own principles for living the Christian life based on their interpretation of the teachings of Christ; (6) one could rigidly and without variation, follow the principles for living the Christian life outlined by some central authority; (7) ...................

    We're sitting here thinking of at least 5 or 6 additional permutations of the concept.

    It'll be interesting to see how this further plays out.

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  7. Next you will be trying to determine the number of Christians that can dance on a pin. :)

    Seriously, you make a good point. I would only argue that you need not go to, or belong to, any specific Christian church to be a Christian. As far I can tell, being a Christian only requires that you (1) accept Jesus as your savior and (2) try to live your life according to his teachings. You do not have to be completely successful, you do not have to be baptized in any given church, and you do not have to accept anyone else's interpretations of His principles. Now, of course, that is my interpretation of the issue and I am not an expert which means I am sure many would disagree with me.

    Logisitician, you always have such interesting and provocative subjects.

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  8. Douglas, you have raised the classic dilemma in analyzing issues of this type, most frequently brought up in the context of the analysis of our Constitution. For example, do we view the right to bear arms, what constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, the right to form militias, and other rights, from the perspective of society (or the drafters for that matter) at the time of the original debate surrounding the issue, or based on society's current mores and values, and the current status of the nation.

    The Catholic Church faces this issue continually. Same with Reform vs Orthodox Jews. Same with Fundamentalist branches of Protestantism versus more forgiving/liberal branches. Was a Jesus tolerant? Was Jesus forgiving? Are all people God's children? Are all religions "condoned" or accepted by Jesus? If not, why not?

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  9. Still with us Douglas. "We've only just begun."

    These are the issues about which I think on a daily basis. I admire people who are able to arrive at a position and stick to it, to serve their purposes and move on with life. As I indicated in the light green column along the right side of the blog, I want young people, particularly those considering being leaders in our society, to think through these issues, from the many different perspectives out there, at an earlier point in life, so that they might not travel the wandering non-specific road I traveled.

    C-Span, this past weekend, had interviews of Obama conducted in 2004 and 2006 regarding his then current books. What struck me watching those airings again, was how so little of his view of the world, and his personal philosophy, has really changed. In one sense, one might argue that he is inflexible, and is not willing to change. However, his basic, fundamental, guiding principles, and appreciation of his role in the universe, appears to be the same.

    I am reasonably confident that is what people saw and appreciated during his campaign. Speaking from a theoretical perspective provides a framework or construct through which people can anticipate your conduct by an appreciation of your values and priorities. Only speaking in pragmatic and concrete terms on gives you a sense of the here and now.

    If McCain had stuck to his fundamental values and principles, he probably would have won. He got off message due to his handlers and his spiritual incompatability with Palin, which showed. He was in personal conflict most of this campaign. He's a good and decent man and that did not really show.

    I have a new phrase these days. "It's always bigger than us, and it's always bigger than the here and now." I think that is what Obama spoke to.

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  10. I would have to agree with Iris. I actually made it a project to sit down and read the bible from cover to cover last spring for the first time. It’s still fresh in my memory and I know I didn’t read anything in the New Testament which outlined Christ’s dictates on ‘Gay Rights' or whether they should or shouldn’t be allowed to marry. I certainly didn’t read anything that would lead me to believe he’d join an Anti-gay march.

    All of His teachings were on tolerance and ‘loving everyone as God’s children.’ His short life focus was only on the basics of right and wrong: you don’t lie, you don’t steal, you don’t kill, love thy neighbor, etc. It’s really that simple.

    Part of the stimulus for me to read the bible was something that has always been a perplexing about the human race. The words of Jesus and biblical rhetoric have forever been used as weapon, even the basis for great wars and killing of masses of people. The meanings of these ancient stories have been interpreted, edited and twisted to fit whatever ‘the cause’ needs to substantiate or validate their claim for the past 2000+ years. Dare I say, when all else fails - pull the Jesus Card. Even from the greatest thinkers comes “What Jesus would have thought’ trumps all.

    I think we would find the truth faster if the ‘bible’ and the many meanings of ‘the words of Jesus’ were not be allowed in any legal equation as a supporting argument.

    And yes I do believe very dearly and I also live California.
    Vikki

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  11. Logistician, you and I are not far apart on certain core beliefs. We might be poles apart ideologically or politically but, in our hearts, we seem to see things in very similar ways. Your questions, the ones you ponder each day, are ones I have pondered as well. I am sorry to say that it is likely you will ponder them to the day you leave this life. They are questions which are either unanswerable or whose answers change with time and circumstance.

    You are right about one of the voters' enchantment (probably wrong word) with Obama. He seems to have established certain core beliefs and shows a willingness, a determination, to stick with them. That is an extremely attractive trait for a politician (for anyone, really). And you are right that McCain failed to project that and it definitely had much to do with his loss.

    While I admire those who have found a core set of beliefs, I also worry that this will make them incapable of being open-minded. It is a dichotomy, one of many, that I live with and which make up who I am.

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  12. Vikki, thanks again for being a loyal follower.

    [By the way folks, Vikki is a very good artist whose work frequently appears as a miniature next to her blog name (Vikki's Blog, Original Art Online, Fine Art Gallery, Contemporary Art) on our blogroll in the light green column on the right. I often feel guilty in that we are pulling her away from her first love, generating beautiful works of art, with which she offers accompanying written thoughts regarding the inspiration for her work, and thus she has less time to generate artwork. She's an Emmy Award (2x) winning talent and we feel honored that she takes the time to visit our blog.]

    Back to Vikki's comment, the Bible is regarded as one of the great books of literature of all time for a reason. That you should endeavor to read it speaks volumes. You would think that various religious groups would be able to agree on the basic principle that taught tolerance and love, and sue those as guiding principles, but apparently not. The Crusades, the Inquisition, and now Jihad, for example, are absolutely fascinatingly incomprehensible to me, although I appreciate them historically.

    I loved Vikki's comment about Jesus not marching in an "anti-gay march." On a sidelight, since I lived in Los Angeles for 30 years, I obviously touched base with many friends in California about the election last week. Interestingly, they wanted to discuss Prop. 8 and gay marriage just about as much as Obama's election.

    Let's hope that all of us learn something as we continue this conversation.

    BTW, a little historical teaser. Check out the history surrounding the bronze horses on the Palace of the Doges in Venice just off the Piazza San Marco in Venice. Spoils of war.

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  13. We've found it Douglas. "Eureka." That's what it's all about, "certain core beliefs." That's what the goal is if we are to solve some of the horrendous problems in our country today. We just need to do a better job of articulating them.

    It is the tone which I hope Obama strikes going forward. (I am sure that you would enjoy Arthur Schlesinger's "The Disuniting of America," to which we previously referred.)

    With respect to the establishment of one's core set of values, there was something on your blog a couple of days ago about your admiration for someone who continually challenges his or her own views, as much as he challenges those of others. Works for me.

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  14. Thank you, Logistician, but do you see the dichotomy between continually challenging one's own views and deciding on a set core of beliefs then sticking to them? It is one of those things puzzles me about human nature. We appear to laud both equally. The inquisitive nature, the seeking of truth, the continuous evolving of man and his nature. Yet, simultaneously, exalting those who are unwavering in their ideals (sometimes even if those ideals do not match one's own). "It is a puzzlement", said the King of Siam.

    It is not simply my admiration, it is central to my philosophy of life.



    [incidentally, if that story "Anna and the King of Siam" intrigues you, here's an interesting piece: http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/10/11/arts/IDSIDE11.php ]

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  15. Nope Douglas, no inconsistency or conflict at all. Let me explore my reasoning through an analogy. If you are the world heavyweight boxing champion, you have to defend your title. Many will come at you, trying to shake or rattle you, and knock you off your pedestal. If you are really good, and truly the best, you will remain steadfast and weather the pretenders. Even if you get knocked down by an occasional pretender, if you are really the champ and you have trained properly, and they have worked for you more often than not,
    you'll manage to rely on that foundation and extensive experience and get back up and prevail.

    If that foundation and experience no longer work for you, then you'll lose your title and have to do something different for work.

    Core values and principles are the same. They are the stabilizing influences and mechanisms which we use on a day to day basis, and over a period of time. They might work just fine in water of a particular depth. You might find yourself in waters unanticipated, but that same rudder will work the vast majority of the time. If you find yourself in much shallower or much deeper waters on too frequent a basis, then you need to seriously consider changing your boat or getting a rudder of a different design.

    Same with a spouse.

    That's the function of our Constitution in this country. It outlines our basic core values. It protects us from ourselves. If the public sentiment or conduct (like the Japanese internment) swings too far in one direction, it has a self-correcting mechanism to bring us back into line. That's it beauty. However, if necessary, we can alter it slightly through amendments, which require a substantial majority to effect.

    All similar concepts.

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  16. I concede that Jesus probably wouldn't march, but I do believe he would be opposed to those that judge others based on their sexuality.
    Douglas stated "If Jesus was transported here from the past ... he would be appalled by most of what he would see. He would be in favor of discrimination of gays. ... It was not something that would have been acceptable within the culture that he knew."
    I have to disagree in return. Anyone transported from the past would probably exhibit some culture shock but homosexuality is not new. I've even read evidence supporting that one of the disciples was believed to be gay. I can see where people would not have lived as a couple then, but the act of associating with someone of the same sex because you identified with them differently and had sexual encounters was prevelant among the Romans, exhibited by royalty throughout history and is demonstrated within the animal kingdom.
    Believing that Jesus rose from the dead would logically lead to the belief that he remains in the heavenly realm and has observed the progress of humanity. To think of his teachings and the accepting nature that he exhibited, leads me to believe he would embrace the gay populace and discourage others from discriminating.

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  17. Thanks much Iris. We will all learn from one another during this process. By the way, there is a program which periodically appears on The History Channel about the History of Sex. It is very informative, and carries the viewer through the changing values and mores, and the intersection with religion. If I remember correctly, at one point in the history of the Roman Empire, homosexuality was regularly practiced without stigma.

    However, I do not want to get off point by examining that now. Just last evening, I viewed another program about the establishment of monotheism by the Jews, and the transition from polytheism and paganism to monotheism. What I find interesting is the point in time in the evolution of certain religions and the motivations for a change of positions regarding certain conduct. Fascinating history which all religious citizens should explore further.

    Douglas: Following up on a theme which you mentioned in another article on your blog, should religious adherents be opent to or reluctant to conduct research into the origins and evolutionary positions of their particular religion?

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  18. I believe we see and hear that which echoes what we already believe or want to be true. It does not matter if it is true, only that it seems so to us. Nowhere in the Gospels is homosexuality mentioned. But adultery is and it is proscribed. Nowhere in the Gospels is marriage mentioned and anything but man and wife (as male and female) is indicated. The only thing attributed to Jesus that I think might apply, and suggest support, is this: "Blessed are those who are 1apersecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of the heavens." Matthew 5:10
    And that I would take to mean He would love them but it does not mean he would support same sex marriage.

    Yes, homosexuality exists across the animal kingdom and throughout the history of human beings. That means little, just that it is there. I never said He would condemn it but that He might based on what we know of Judaism at that time. You might also consider he asked people not to judge others but also to strive to live exemplary lives and not bend to temptation. I again remind you of what he said to the adulterer in John 8:11 "Go and sin no more."

    One of the problems in the issue of Proposition 8 is the role of the State in marriage. I think that is where the problem actually lies. Marriage is a religious act. The State's concern is the contract between people. I firmly believe that all current marriages should be legally considered as "civil unions" and the word "marriage" stricken from all laws and statutes. Anyone wishing to enter into a civil union should record a contract with the State. If the people involved also wish to have the church recognize the union as a marriage then they should petition the church to do so. Separate church and state and resolve these issues immediately; all would be treated equally under the law.

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  19. "Following up on a theme which you mentioned in another article on your blog, should religious adherents be open to or reluctant to conduct research into the origins and evolutionary positions of their particular religion?"

    Religious adherents should be ruled by the dictates of their particular faith. I would think that any adherent would want to study the origins and history of their faith.

    I should make clear that I am atheist. I have no religion and believe in no god. That does not mean that I do not respect religious faith or the beliefs of anyone. Quite the contrary, I admire and respect anyone who follows their beliefs as faithfully as they can. It also means I have no bias against or toward any particular religion. And though I joke that my being atheist makes it impossible for me to sin, I have a strong moral code to which I try to adhere.

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  20. Douglas brings up a point with respect to state involvement. I'll ramble here for a few minutes with no particular goal other than to suggest that the issue is very complex.

    The state can arguably, (a) prohibit something; (b) do nothing when acts occur; (c) encourage something; and (d) require something be done; (e) authorize criminal prosecution and sanctions for conduct, or lack thereof; and (f) authorize civil actions and damages for conduct, or lack thereof. There are other variations on this theme.

    In the analysis of conduct and acts of individuals, there are many characterizations. One can act affirmatively. One can refrain from doing something. One can have a responsiblity to do something and not do it. One can have a duty to investigate and determine whether something is being done. Etc.

    One can do something purposefully. One can do something purposefully and with malice. One can do something negligently, or inadvertantly.

    Needless to say, the involvement of the state along with the dictates of religion complicate the analysis. There is also the issue of whether the state should intervene in the private acts of individuals. There is another issue, whether the state recognizes or sanctions something, or whether there are benefits derived therefrom in which the state is involved or use tax payer money.

    (Obviously I am rambling here, and just trying to suggest other possible avenues of analysis.

    I think that one of the more fundamental issues is this. The legislative branch is supposed to make laws. The judicial branch examines disputes related to the laws, and ensures that the laws are upheld, if lawful, and whether they are constitutional. When a court, such as the Supreme Court of California did in case of the same sex marriage case, takes it upon itself to AFFIRMATIVELY establish law, then it is theoretically usurping or encroaching on the province of the legislature. (The Warren Court did this with respect to civil rights rulings, and a later court arguably did this with the Roe v. Wade case. In theory, this should have been left to the legislative branch, which represents the people and their will. In theory, judges are not supposed to make laws.)

    In California, the initiative or referendum process was devised to allow the citizens, to take matters into their own hands, and enact laws when they feel that the legislature has failed to do so. Some years ago, California voters, using the referendum process, voted to deny state benefits to illegal aliens, by some overwhelming margin. (I believe that it was Prop. 86.) If I remember correctly, something like 75% plus of the voters said "yea." Despite this being the will of the people, the California Supreme Court overturned it, saying that such "discrimination" was specifically prohibited by the California Constitution.

    Could, or should, gay couples desiring to marry simply go to another state that permits such? Will it, or should it, be recognized by the state of their primary residence? All of this becomes important, IN ADDITION to the religious issues.

    It ain't simple.

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  21. A well reasoned ramble, Logistician. It is, in my opinion, the religious aspect which drives this issue. Same sex couples wish to have the same status as the heterosexual couples. Not simply legitimacy and equal rights and privileges, which civil unions afford, but total equality in status. The fight appears to be, in my eyes, about who controls marriage; the church or the state. My proposal says the church controls marriage by tradition and the state controls inter-personal contracts (civil unions in this case) by tradition and law. Separate the status, granting each (church and state) their domain.

    At some level, I think the desire of the same sex advocates is a usurping of the church's "authority" by forcing them to the will of the state. Otherwise, the same-sex marriage advocates would have accepted civil union status happily but so many reject the concept. Wikipedia has as good a piece on this as any I have found.

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  22. You know Douglas, I used to "ramble" similarly during partnership meetings, and preface my ramble by asking my partners to "Work with me for a few minutes." It was my hope that by rambling, we'd come up with some reasoned approach to the issue.

    I actually did not think that would happen here, because of the religious, subjective, personal, and emotional factors. In business, we are not generally dealing with as many factors. However, you may come up with an analytical approach around which the various sides can start arriving at a solution, or compromise. I honestly don't know at this point.

    I definitely need to think about this further, because I am not sure that I fully comprehend all that is said here. Interesting for further consideration, however.

    Let's all come at Douglas' analysis for a while and see what develops.

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  23. Your partnership meeting rambles are known as "brainstorming sessions." I sat in on a couple of them while I was one of the unretired. I often didn't like them because some of the ideas (too many in my my opinion) were so far afield and/or so unworkable as to deter progress toward a solution. It is fine to freely express ideas but they should have some basis in reality. I am sure your rambles were more orderly because what little rambling you have done here has been within rational parameters.

    I would welcome debate/discussion about my proposal. In fact, it is fleshed out a bit on my blog post of October 31. Feel free to copy it here as a Guest post if you think it would draw debate in that manner.

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  24. Thanks Douglas: Actually, it was not quite like brainstorming per se, in that I would typically wait until everyone else had their say and had stated their respective positions. I would then walk through the "competing considerations" and try to address them, weigh them, and the pros and cons. It was my hope that a consensus could then be reached taking into consideration a multiplicity of factors, to seek an optimal approach.

    I will check out your piece and get back with you.

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  25. Then you have just earned even more respect from me for properly running a meeting.

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  26. Returning to the original question, if I may, I recommend James Carroll's "Constantine's Sword" on the issue of Jesus' bigotry. Carroll posits that Jesus' life, not his death, was what drew a hearty following to him. That after he died, his friends would gather and discuss him and celebrate his life. With the passage of time, the resurrection story developed. With the passage of more time, and Constantine's political genius and lust for power, his death and resurrection became the focus of Christianity. By combining Christianity with the political power of Rome, Constantine sent many thousands of peasants to battle with the promise of eternal salvation. They were really only solidifying his rule, not winning converts for God. I agree with Iris some number of posts ago. Jesus was all about accepting everybody, especially the different. He saw the Judaism of his time as rigid and hypocritical. He was all about some peace and love. He was no bigot. He was definitely for gay rights. Remember too that the original bible (Torah) was written over several centuries by at least 4 authors according to most biblical scholars. So a passage about Sodom and Gamorrah or putting to death a man that lies with a man is likely the view of some despot in rule at the time that particular passage was laid down.

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  27. Did Jesus discriminate? He dined with people who were deemed to be sinners. He also drove the money changers out of the Temple grounds. The unclean woman touched his garment and was healed. He healed lepers and that was a time of spiritual leprosy not Hansen's disease as when did Hansen's disease ever destroy the walls of a building. He spoke the the woman at the well who was an adulteress and instead of condemning her he pointed her to the Way, the Truth, The Light to the day when people would neither worship in that (Samaritan) mountain nor Jerusalem but would worship in Spirit and in Truth. He did not need to be liked or win a popularity contest. He came to save those who were lost. In what is probably the definitive passage that reveals the mind of Christ in dealing with sinners. John chapter 8
    And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
    And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

    This makes it clear that it is not our place to judge. We who are none of us without sin. Each of us must answer to God according to the light we have been given and it is not for us to judge. That does not mean we should not have discernment which is a very different thing from condemnation. Jesus did not say go on your merry way and do as you did before because all those others had hidden sin so it is OK for you to continue in that path. He says go and sin no more.

    So do I think Jesus discriminates? No. But that doesn't mean that he approves of all we do. Is homosexuality genetic and therefore not under the persons control? That is between that person and God. Who am I to judge another man's servant?

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  28. Stever: Love it. We've been waiting, not only you personally, but for someone to bring up some historical information regarding Jesus, because it is important, isn't it?

    People can not truly understand Christianity without examining history, and understanding that Rome initially regarded Christianity as a cult like sect and a danger, until it figured out how to take it over as "its religion,", erect a Pope to serve its goals, and then require that all of its citizens adhere to the ruling religion. (Oh yeah, by the way, Rome also figured out how to have occasional celebrations and other events to "cool out" the citizens.

    Additionally, with respect to the "Bible," I am amazed how few "Christians" take the time to research the history behind the Bible, the manner in which it was written, and the significance of, and reasons underlying, the King James Version. Just two weeks ago, I had a discussion with someone about the rewriting of the Adam and Eve story, and how some scholars believe that Lilith was Adam's original wife, and that she was an equal, which did not sit well with some in power at the time.

    Please visit us with more frequency, and insert your historical analysis so that we not spend too much time focusing on emotion and tall tales.

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  29. June - You say Jesus did not judge and you do not judge but if Jesus said: "go and sin no more" that is passing judgment. If you say we should have "discernment" that is passing judgment. There are moral wrongs that are clear and unequivocal. Sex, sexual preference, sexual mores are something Americans are way too concerned with judging. And I draw the obvious line at preying upon the young (something the clerical of the Catholic church have much history with) and mentally infirm. The rest of the modern world could care less who sleeps with whom. The Puritan tradition is alive and well in the USA. That is why I so delight in congressman Mark Foley's, senator Larry Craig's and all those self-righteous preachers outings. The list goes on and on. Funny too that we don't read about biblical men being unchaste and accused therefore of sin. That tradition lives on in fundamental Islam where cheating women are stoned to death to this very day. Thier cheating husbands? Not so much.

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  30. Thanks June. You're always welcome. Believe it or not, we here at the Institute regularly listen to Talk Radio show host Michael Savage, who has one of the most vicious tongues in the business. We believe that we should listen to all voices, since we can learn something from them all. Such is the case with Dr. Savage.

    Savage was arguing and yelling with his son one day, and a neighbor, who just happened to be a black high school coach, advised Michael not to take that approach with his son. The coach said, "Michael, he's young, and he's 'stronger" than you are, and he'll win the battle and you will not have gained anything."

    Michael then asked the coach for his recommendation as to how to deal with the teenager. The coach responded, "Deal with people as you see them, and the relationship will never improve. Deal with people as they could be, and it will always improve."

    One final point on homosexuality. I do not think that the issue of whether homosexuality is genetic in origin, and not a matter of choice, is not an issue between a person and their God. I believe that it is a matter of science, and I believe that there is more than ample science to support the notion that it is not a matter of choice, but rather genetic. Just do any reading about the development of the fetus after fertilization, and the role of hormones, and the fact that there are not always extremes in sex reflected in births. This is not to mention hermaphroditism.

    We plan to do a piece shortly about why academics, especially scientists, are reluctant to step forward and provide their insight about much of human behavior, while those with explanations which fit their selfish agenda, an openly their views which are lacking in foundational fact.

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  31. Steve brought up an interesting point, about which I thought occasionally during the week. I previously mentioned that the day after the election, I contacted a number of my friends in California to discuss their thoughts about Sen. Obama's election. Interestingly, virtually all of them had something to say about Prop. 8, and its effect on same-sex marriage, as if it were equal in significance.

    Stever mentioned our country's seeming obsession with who sleeps with whom, contrary to many other parts of the modern, industrialized world. Should one simply look at the religious views of the original settling colonists, and their successors, one can easily identify the roots. However, why have these views about such a small aspect of the human body and condition, persisted and occupied so much of our time and energy over the years?

    In the grand scheme of things, aren't food, clothing, housing, shelter, and lack of disease or deformity the most important things to humans, as opposed to where someone places his or her appendage or orifice? Geez, maybe I'm missing something here. Even if one has a conflicting view, why is it such a big issue that there be some uniformity in behavior or conduct, either way?

    I think that part of the answer is that when certain basic needs in society have been addressed, we then move on to deal with the less significant issues. That does not explain the sexual philosophies of so many in our country, who still struggle to provide the basics for themselves and their families.

    I am often reminded of a comment made by some one in Afghanistan about why the Taliban was welcome to his country. He noted that prior to the arrival of the Taliban, there was utter chaos and difficulty merely surviving. The Taliband (like Marshall Tito in the former Yugoslavia) established order, so that people could live in peace. In response to the international complaint about the Taliban's position on women's rights, he said, "Who cares about women's rights when you have order?"

    We here in the US have the luxury of looking at others and questioning their values, and the time to address issues that are not necessarily basic survival issues. Or, am I wrong? A friend of mine earlier in the week said that she wants to be able to "love" whoever she wants to love. But what does that mean? What if the law permitted "spiritual love," but no same sex touching, or penetration, or genital contact? Would we be satisfied? Would we allow them to get married as long as they did not have sex, or hold hands or kiss in public, so that minors not view this conduct?

    This deserves consideration of its own. We're going to make this a separate post.

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  32. Hi Stever-
    I see from your response that you choose not to distinguish between discernment (recognizing merits or faults) and judgment in the sense of condemnation under the law( final verdict, sentencing,rejection and denunciation ). I see a difference.
    Recognizing that going down a certain path is going to lead me into danger is discernment.Saying that because I have begun down that path I can't veer off into another direction is passing judgment.

    There are indeed things that are right and wrong. You expressed an aversion to what to you seems the obvious line of preying upon the young. The members of NAMBLA would disagree with you. They would say they love the young, not that they prey upon them and that the young enjoy their attentions. They would find you cold and judgmental. I do not condemn those members but neither to I agree with them in the slightest and the civil law finds many of their actions to be criminal. Final judgments will be made and it won't be by me. As to this life I have far too many faults, too many sins of my own to think that I know where a person stands or falls in this journey, and like a certain apostle I recognize I must work out my salvation in awe and trembling. As to a person's genetic disposition, perhaps I was unclear. I understand that genetics plays a role in gender and many other aspects of potential mental capacity as well as all sorts of physical and emotional predispositions. In fact I thought I had said that sexual orientation is between that person and God.

    You say the bible doesn't speak of unclean men and their punishment? We haven't been reading the same bible. "And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbor's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death." No distinction between male and female. Examples of male stupidity abound. Abraham the father of many nations gave his wife to a king saying Sarah was his sister because he was afraid and thought that king would kill he to get to her. The result was Abraham and Sarah having to wait a century for the birth of Issac. Oh she lyed to that king as well but she wasn't pushed into it by the cowardly lion. Sampson was destroyed due to his pride and need to have who he would have regardless of what the law decreed. King David who had been a man after God's heart allowed himself to stay away from the battlefield and in his idleness found Bathsheba bathing, coveted her, dishonored her, and murdered her husband to cover up his sin. He repented but there was a price to be payed 'Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife" Then David's son Solomon had a huge number of wives and concubines and in the end he not only strayed from God, he and his vile but gorgeous son Absalom had one of those Oedipal relationships well not exactly Oedipal as Absalom was more into his sister than his mother yuck but it ended badly indeed. Those are just a few examples. The only women I recall by name getting into a pile of trouble over sexual transgressions were Jezebel but she had a whole lot more wrong going on than things of a sexual nature and Dinah who seems to have been one of the first girls gone wild but was not nearly as bad as her sneaky homicidal brothers.

    Hi Reggie-
    I have studied the origins of the bible. I can read and have read the old testament in Hebrew with commentary by Rashi and Rambam in what I have since learned was Yiddish and antique French ( so who knew ). Raised as an Orthodox Jew, converted to secular humanism during post primary school years only to be converted in a near Saul/Paul road to Damascus style conversion to Christianity at the age of 30. That was 30 years ago. When I read the new testament for the first time is was as an adult. Reading of the new testament as a child would have been considered as sin for me when I was growing up and I had no interest in it as a young adult. The first thing I read was the Gospel of Matthew. It is no wonder he was called the apostle to the Jews. Reading that was like finding the pieces to that jigsaw puzzle that had been the old testament to me. It melds. It makes sense. I have read most if not all the apocryphal testaments as well as the Gnostic Gospels and I assure you they do not fit. There were many authors to the bible but only one Spirit moved them. How can I expect you to accept that when I myself would never have done so before the veil was lifted off my heart?

    PS The whole Lilith thing is cute. I could go into why Talmudic scholars like to pin a whole bunch of bad stuff on her and why she appeals to women who want to see themselves as rejected rebels of the evil Judeo/Christian thing but as it is I've rambled on like a Dephic Oracle.

    PSS I've a thick hide. Not a delicate flower. You needn't worry that seeing the world from another view would be a bad thing from my perspective.

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  33. Thanks much June. My comment about folks studying the Bible and its underpinnings was not directed toward you personally, although it was in the comment responsive to your comment. I thought that I was being generic enough. My apologies if I was not.

    I’m really enjoying the exchange. I personally like folks challenging my thoughts and beliefs. Keep it up.

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  34. Does any one feel that God prefers one political candidate over another? Does Obama have the backing of God now that he has been elected? Did he have the backing of God prior to the election? What did God say to evangelical Christians about how they should vote prior to the election? Are progressive Christians lesser Christians than conservative Christians?

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