Photo: Street preachers and scantily dressed woman on roller skates, San Francisco, CA.
“All correct codes of morals should be clear in their authority and practical in their application. This is the more necessary when severe penalties — as in the case of Christian ethics — are threatened for non-acceptance and disobedience. Now, the ethics of the Bible are both contradictory and impracticable. The same line of conduct is enjoined in one passage, and just as explicitly prohibited in another. One man is blamed because he is not cruel enough, and will not go on slaying the Lord’s enemies; another man’s chief glory consists in being a mighty man of war and a great destroyer of men, women, and children; while other passages proclaim, “Thou shalt not kill,” and enjoin mercy and “lovingkindness.”- Charles Watts, Vice President of the National Secular Society, 1873.
I am not a student of Theology nor of Philosophy, though I have read the Bible from cover to cover on more than one occasion. I even taught a Bible study at one point in my life though that does not make me a scholar. Admittedly, I have also read the Tibetan Buddhist “Book of Living and Dying”, several books by the Dalai Llama and Vietnamese Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. Yet the act of reading those books does in no way make me a Buddhist or even a Christian. I was raised in the Christian church and was preached Christian values for most of my childhood and into college, so I am not the “Heathen” some would think I am. I have never been to Seminary nor have I spent time in a Monastery. My professional life and “calling” did not lead me down the road to stand behind a pulpit to deliver the word of God.
My goal in writing this post is not to discount the Bible, my intent is instead to expose the hypocrisy and judgmental nature of certain Christians. Christians whose goal in life is to thump on that Bible and to encroach their personal moral compass and philosophies by placing judgment on those who make choices outside of their own personal belief system.
The Bible itself is filled with hypocrisy. To study it one feels swallowed up by a giant, dysfunctional family. One verse says “do this” while another verse says the exact opposite. Kind of like an alcoholic home environment. It seems logical that it is a book written by man since God is considered by Christians to be “perfect” and incapable of hypocrisy.
For centuries Christians have twisted the ideals of their faith in order to serve the personal, economic and political needs of groups of people. In modern times this twisting of principle is witnessed through political contributions that flow stealthily into campaigns to manipulate voter outcome on specific issues. Then there are the Mega Churches who bilk their flocks out of millions of dollars in tithes while their preachers drive Bently’s, live in mansions and espouse the “prosperity gospel”.
What bothers me the most is the Christian practice of picking and choosing verses of the Bible to use in their attack on certain issues. I hear it over and over again…”we need to return to the Christian principles that our country was founded upon”. If you believe in Christian principles then you believe in the Bible as being the inarguable word of God.
If you take the Bible at its word, then why in the world are there so many “Christians” behind the conflicts (wars) in Iraq and Afghanistan? The bible states explicitly: “Thou Shalt Not Kill”. Yet we do. Right to Lifer’s utilize the same Biblical principle when attacking a woman’s right by law to choose an abortion. An example of hypocrisy to the extreme. It’s not okay to abort a fetus in our country but it’s okay to kill men, women and children during conflict?
“The Bible says so”; the argument that is thrown out constantly in response to modern-day issues such as same-sex marriage. I hate to burst your bubble here, but the Bible is not the text we follow to enforce our laws and protect our rights here in the United States. It never has been. There is this little document called the Constitution and when push comes to shove, we do not flip open our Bibles in the court system to mete out punishment or weigh in on justice. Instead we turn to the law of man and ultimately measure all decisions against the one document that provides each one of us with our freedoms, the Constitution of the United States of America.
To take it one step further, the Bible is not the only “Holy” book that people turn to in our country. We are a nation of immigrants and have been since day one. We are a mixture of faiths and non-faiths alike and our Constitution protects each individual’s right to practice whatever religion we choose. Furthermore, there are protections in place that guarantee a division between religion and government. Religion shall not run the government and the government shall not interfere with one’s freedom to practice their own religion.
Yes, we have all heard over and over again to the point of turning blue, the infamous quote from Leviticus 18:22, something about man laying with man and it being an abomination. Another example of picking and choosing verses to match the “no-no” of the day.
If you truly take the Bible as the word and law of God then you must abide by all its verses. For instance, Leviticus 25:44 states we all may possess slaves provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. Well Hallelujah! I’m just going to run out and purchase me a dozen or so to work on my farm. But wait…there is this thing called the Emancipation Proclamation, part of the Law of the Land that prohibits us from owning slaves. Shucks, I guess that Bible verse has been struck down by some damn human law.
During these bad economic times, a little bit of extra cash would be wonderful. Well, by gum and by golly, Exodus 21:7 says its okay for me to sell my daughter into servitude but she absolutely in no way can go free like the man-servants can at the end of six years. Cha-Ching! More cash in my pocket.
I have this little problem with my neighbors. You see, they don’t go to church and have this rather rude habit of mowing their lawn and using the leaf blower on the Sabbath. But I have a solution! Exodus 35:2 says God has given me permission to put them to death. I hesitate here, as I am a bit confused about the “Thou Shalt Not Kill” and “love thy neighbor as thyself” verses, but heck, God also stated the above and since it applies to my immediate circumstances and my personal need for sleep, I should abide by it right?
Then there is the problem with all of those farmers in my town. They like to plant multiple crops in the same field. No, I am not kidding! This is in direct violation of Leviticus 19:19. So what should we do? Exactly what the Bible verse tells us to do. Call a town hall meeting, storm his farm and stone him to death. But wait, that “Thou Shalt Not Kill” part is bugging me again…ignore. In case I end up in prison, because of man’s laws, please remember “every man is a sinner” and don’t cast that first stone until you take a long hard look at yourself. Oh and I was only doing God’s will so though I may die here in prison, I am still going to Heaven. Yay!
It’s not just the conflicting Bible verses that get my goat. It’s the hypocrisy of the preachers that astounds me even more. In 1986 Jimmy Swaggart started the charge with his televised attacks on fellow evangelists Marvin Gorman and Jim Bakker. Mr. Swaggart exposed the sins of these well-loved men when he announced on national television they both were having extra-marital affairs.
A little bit pissed off at Swaggart’s outing of his indiscretions, Reverend Gorman did not “turn the other cheek” but instead went after Swaggart’s hide when he hired a private investigator to expose his own adulterous indiscretions with a prostitute. This forced Swaggart into a tearful televised apology for his own “sins.” He was so sincere, however, three years later he was arrested for driving on the wrong side of the road with another prostitute in his car. Something tells me he wasn’t preaching the word of God to her that day.
Then there is Ted Haggard. This man was president of the National Association of Evangelicals and pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs. Haggard admitted to regular visits to a male prostitute, methamphetamine use and another homosexual affair with a church member. Wait…isn’t he one of those who preached oh so loudly about the “abomination” of homosexuality?
Lonnie Latham, senior pastor of the South Tulsa Baptist Church and a member of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee who see homosexuality as a very strong no-no, was arrested for “offering to engage in an act of lewdness” with a male undercover officer. And all the Southern Baptists went “Hmmmmmmm.”
Then there is televangelist Oral Robert’s son Richard Roberts who was named in a lawsuit for the alleged improper use of university funds for political and personal purposes. Feel a need to sway the vote there, eh Mr. Roberts? What’s the Biblical punishment for stealing? I bet you are glad your offense falls under man’s laws and punishment instead of God’s, now don’t you?
Ah and Mr. Coy Privette. Who is Mr. Privette? Why he was a Baptist pastor, a conservative activist and a politician in North Carolina of course. He was also president of the Christian Action League and was highly involved in North Carolina moral battles. On July 19, 2007, this impeccably moral servant of God was arrested on six counts of aiding and abetting prostitution. Could it be Mr. Privette decided it was okay for him to do because Jesus himself hung out with prostitutes on occasion?
But let’s move on to the prosperity gospel lot shall we? To me these are people of prey, not of prayer. These are televangelist’s and local preachers who decided to pick and choose verses from said Bible to preach “prosperity gospel.” The concept in a nutshell is if you empty your own pocketbooks and tithe it to God, He will bless you with riches. From what I have seen, these preachers who are protected from taxation under the umbrella of their non-profit church status are the only one’s reaping the benefit. They drive around in fleets of Bentley’s, live in mansions, fly in private jets, and spend vacations in exotic places. All while their struggling flock are worried about how they will place food on their own tables to feed their families. Sheep blindly following a bastard, er um, I mean shepherd. Many of them are currently under investigation for alleged impropriety including Kenneth and Gloria Copeland, Creflo and Taffi Dollar (I know…), Benni Hinn (don’t even get me started on this abusive televangelist), Eddie L. Long, Joyce and David Meyer, and Randy and Paula White.
Personally, I think we should call a town hall meeting, rush their compounds and stone them to death. But that would mean I take the Bible literally and at its word. But I don’t. I much prefer in this case to snatch all verses in the Bible where Jesus talks about love. Loving everyone no matter what. Bottom line. This Jesus, he was a good man. Too bad his followers aren’t much like him.