Aug 102012
 

chick-fil-aThere has been a social media war going on since Dan Cathy honestly answered the question about his viewpoints on the definition of marriage. While the media storm now appears to be settling, the debate will continue for a long time as American society deals with the issue.

What saddens me most, however, is the behavior of those on both sides of the fence. While I defend Christian values, I am often embarrassed by the behavior and attitudes I see from some of my brothers and sisters. It offends me even more than what I hear from those who hate Christianity and traditional values since they are not be expected to know better. But we as followers of Christ certainly should. And we have a responsibility to defend righteousness in a biblical way, not through hatred and condescension.

The following is a conversation I took part in on the New York Observer’s website that I thought I would share with you:

 

Post that got my attention:

Why do Christians seem to forget that they are making a choice to believe the Bible? It’s not the law or guidebook for our nation. Many of us in this country don’t believe that homosexuality is a sin. I personally believe people are born that way. The only “sin” I see is a group of people spending their time deciding to hate people who have done nothing to them. Why don’t you forget about what other people are doing, and worry about your own sins.

 

My Reply:

Why do anti-Christians seem to forget they are making a choice to not believe the Bible? In our nation, you have the right to choose. But believers happen to believe there is an absolute right and wrong. Murder is wrong. Child molestation is wrong. Stealing is wrong. Christians believe that homosexuality is wrong, but we certainly do not hate the homosexual. The only time I hear hatred is from the anti-Christians, not from the Christians themselves. As you say, we must certainly worry about our own sins, and to not warn others about a lifestyle choice that can cause harm to themselves is the sin of omission. We certainly have plenty to clean up in our own lives, believe me. But we do not hate anyone, and I am routinely in contact with gays who know my beliefs. We seem to get along by them not forcing their position on me and I do not force my position on them. And I truly love them. I believe that the feelings are mutual. The only intolerance I see for the most part is the intolerance of moral viewpoints, which I find quite sad. Morality, regardless of what historical revisionists may try to deny, is what our nation was founded upon. I agree that America is not a Christian nation, but it did certainly start out that way.

 

A Reply to my Post:

Now, if we can only see morality as an evolving viewpoint.

I don’t believe for a second that all Christians are as you say, non-hateful, and neither would I agree that most share your view that you can coexist with people who you believe lead wrongful lives without forcing your position on them. “Forcing” is not the word we’re looking for here though is it? You believe that people who aren’t believers need to gain the faith in your religion, do you not? You believe in “spreading the word” so that your religion is known to all, correct? It isn’t forcing, no, but the simple act of “warning” others about their lifestyle choice is what is really being discussed here. That in itself, is the intolerance of Christianity.

That being said, I believe religion is wrong. Christianity, Islam, Judaism, all 1001 different religions that the world has now or has seen in the past. It is wrong because it is the spreading of moral viewpoints that are, for a large part unreasonable, not to mention ancient in their creation. Until we can define morality in terms that has nothing to do with religion, then we will always have a mess of intolerance within this world because there will always be different moral standpoints on what is, as you say, absolute rights and wrongs.

I think in pretty much any moral standpoint, we can agree that murder, child molestation, and stealing is wrong, but to compare those with homosexuality is rather absurd in this day and age. The first 2 are quite a bit more offensive than stealing as it is, but what if we’re talking about murdering for the belief, the faith if you will, in a moral standpoint? You know where I’m going with this, right? Is it in your nature to tolerate murder? It is rather odd, don’t you think, that as far as we’ve come along we still haven’t developed a reasonable insight as to what should or shouldn’t be tolerated as morally correct. Maybe this is just the point where you claim Christianity for that correctly developed moral perspective and I say you’re wrong?

On a side-note, I imagine that the sanctity of marriage is far from what it once was. It is more of a legal binding nowadays, which is why the religious implications of marriage should be abandoned, or vice versa. The point is if 2 people choose to be committed to one another, regardless of who they are, they should be entitled to the same benefits, or no one should be entitled to anything.

 

My Reply:

First, thank you for taking the time to respond. And thank you for doing so in an intelligent, well-thought-out, and logical rhetoric. It’s quite refreshing and very much appreciated. Your post has sparked so many things in my mind that I owe you yet another thank you as well (I think…because you’ve created a lot of work for me. LOL). There is so much to explore with misinformation on both sides of the fence that I’ve just purchased a domain for a website specifically for that purpose. So while I cannot respond to everything you mention in-depth in this venue, let me do a relatively quick fingernail scrape of the surface if you’ll perhaps indulge me.

As you aptly state, I agree that not all “Christians” are non-hateful. But I use the quotation marks since “hateful Christian” is arguably an oxymoron, and in the truest sense of our faith such cannot exist. Therefore I would tend toward the viewpoint that the ones who hate are actually not Christians at all. Most of the Christians I hang out with (admittedly not all) really do love people and truly believe that we are all far from perfect. So how can we possibly hold others to a level we ourselves cannot attain? And if we are not kind and forgiving of others, how can we expect God to extend His mercy to us? Jesus specifically taught that to love those who love us is easy and worth nothing. Everyone does that. To love those who hate us is where the true test of faith comes in.

And I know exactly where you are coming from in many of your statements. I personally was raised in church, and then as I grew up I saw so much hypocrisy that I became very cynical toward religion in general and wound up hating God and church people for a quarter century. During that time there were few things I could have done wrong that I didn’t, and I never missed an opportunity to blast religion in all its various forms. I had some really great intellectual arguments to prove beyond all doubt the folly of religious fantasy. So I’ve used your same arguments myself many times over the course of many years. I was a really proficient sinner.

And I still hate religion. Probably more so now than ever before. Although I’ll bet our definitions differ slightly of just what religion is. And I still bash Christians when I see them doing stupid things that make us look foolish to the world. Quite bluntly, if I were not a Christian knowing some of the things I know now, I would hate Christians too. We can be a pretty flaky bunch at times.

Do I spread the Word? Yes, at every opportunity. Are you not in effect also spreading your own viewpoint with your rebuttal? You believe religion is wrong. I respect that. But is spreading the gospel any better or any worse than spreading an anti-gospel? When we believe in the value of something, as the social creatures we are, we tend to share it. Otherwise Facebook, Twitter, Disqus, and all Madison Avenue advertising would have no reason to exist. I doubt that you spend your entire day defending your non-religious position. Nor do I spend my whole day defending my Christian one.

And based upon our values, yes, we do offer it to all who will receive it at the appropriate time. But it cannot be forced upon anyone. All you can do is offer. And the very best witness for Christ will actually say nothing, but merely allow others the opportunity to observe his/her life, and then individuals can make their own choice as to whether they want what a Christian has or not. If they do, they will ask. That’s when the discussion starts. You’ll never find me yelling, “Repent!” on the street corner. That’s absurd and in the realm of the mentally unstable.

Christianity is definitely not for everybody. Some people will never become Christians. According to scripture it’s not even made available to all. But that’s a whole other discussion. The point being, each person must decide on their own what is true and trying to force someone to believe something they cannot yields nothing worthwhile for either participant.

As far as morality being an evolving viewpoint, let’s say that I agree with what you are saying if we can agree to define morality as “society’s definition of acceptable behavior”. Societal morality is indeed evolving now, as has been the case throughout all of history. But does absolute morality as a gauge of right and wrong change? By definition it cannot, or it is no longer an absolute morality.

If you believe that all religion is wrong, are you saying that you do not believe in a deity of any type? If not, then what is your gauge of morality? If there is no deity, then life evolved through random chance alone, and is therefore devoid of any moral standards. Morality places value in the worth of something. But if we are merely the random assemblage of elements, molecules, and cells which evolved into tissues, organs, and unexplained cognizance, then we have no inherent value whatsoever. We are a roll of the cosmic dice. Nothing more. Our value would be exactly the same as a rock, tree, or worm.

But you mention that we can agree that murder is wrong. How can it be wrong to kill something with no purpose nor any reason to exist?

If we are but a random self-creation, then “morality” as such would have to be based upon some benefit to survival or evolution, would it not? So kindness, unless it can show a value in the survival quotient, isn’t morally necessary. Perhaps freedom has no tangible benefit since a controlled population can accomplish more than a chaotic one. What wrong is there in molesting a child if they are merely a random occurrence? Why is stealing wrong in this scenario? Isn’t there actually a survival benefit to me being able to obtain what I need from someone who already has it? Isn’t there something about survival of the fittest in the science books I’ve read? Using this argument for a moment about the same-sex marriage controversy, what then is the survival advantage of a union that cannot reproduce?

Ah, perhaps you do believe there is a worth to people? And it’s about personal choice. Is that what you are saying, the freedom to decide for one’s self? Just as all marriages should be free from sanctification, we should have the freedom to choose one partner, tire of them and then choose another? But doesn’t that point back to the worth of the individual and say that inwardly we actually do believe that we are more than merely a random chance?

Isn’t it odd that people everywhere from societies all over the world share such common laws and such common belief in the core values of what is right? Freedom and justice are right, while assault is wrong, murder is wrong, rape is wrong, not paying taxes is wrong, etc. How did so many different people arrive at such similar conclusions independently of one another?

Could it be there is actually something inside of us that inherently functions as a moral compass? While we may disagree on the details, I think in the larger picture the entire world comes together closer than we may think in that area. And for a very good reason.

Personally, my only complaint about same-sex marriage is the term marriage. I think it specifically means the union in a covenant relationship vowed before God between a man and a woman for life. If society accepts same-sex unions and gives same-sex couples the same rights that a husband and wife currently enjoy, so be it. It certainly will not keep me awake at night nor urge me to hit the streets with a picket sign. I can personally think it’s not right, but who am I to judge? It’s not my business what they do behind closed doors, and we all have to account for our own choices and actions. I have my own sins to worry about, and believe me I have plenty.

Will I claim Christianity for a correctly developed moral perspective? Since we all see through the glass darkly, and there are many aspects of life scripture doesn’t cover, I have no right to do that. In the arena of this article we are commenting on, scripture does say several things. It clearly states homosexuality is wrong. But it also states that I am not to judge another as sinful, since I need to worry about my own sins first. We are taught that Jesus prevented a woman convicted of adultery from being stoned for her actions, so just because something is wrong doesn’t mean it cannot be forgiven. And we are instructed to be respectful to the authority of our land since all government is created and ordained by God.

So from that my stance is that I will choose in my own life to not practice homosexuality but will not harshly judge others who do, knowing that like any sin committed by any of us, it can be forgiven by a kind and loving God. And if the laws of our land say they have the right to be together, then I will comply with that legislation. Regardless, I will not discriminate under any circumstances since we are all occupants of the same planet trying to do our best between cradle and grave. So will I say that you’re wrong? The absolute truth is I don’t know. I’m living by faith, and I’m too busy trying to keep my own life in order for it to matter a whole lot.

But let me end with this thought. As a Christian I am now happy and content. I can look at others with eyes of love, instead of those hate-filled eyes I used to peer through. I sleep well at night, believing all my needs are met. I believe in the promise that I will never have to face any challenge I am not given the ability to overcome, so my days are pleasant. And no matter what this life may bring, when I die I shall be raised again and become a citizen of a glorious kingdom in which I shall live forever.

Let’s say that I’m wrong and you’re right. I’ve been good to people. Generous and loving. I have family and friends who care for me, and I for them. I feel tremendously good about not who I am, but about a God who loves me in spite of all my shortcomings. So I wind up living my life as a happy fantasy and then I go to the grave peacefully without fear and never wake up. Regardless, it’s been a good, fulfilling life.

But what if I’m right, and we are not here by chance alone but are divinely-created citizens of a fallen world filled with sin, and there actually is a just God who holds us individually accountable to the standards He has set? For a lot of people’s sake, they better hope I’m wrong.

 

A comment from another:

Very well said!

 

And another:

amen!

 

I was blessed by the two very nice replies to my post, but I did not hear back from the originals to continue the discussion. Perhaps I simply bored them so much they went to other pursuits. But hopefully they thought about it, and the Holy Spirit allowed the goodness of Christ to be perceived. For that is the only thing that can truly change us. It is never about winning an argument or making a valid point. It’s about the deep and sudden realization there is something greater than all of us combined, and that greatness is a kind, loving, merciful, yet just and holy God who cares deeply about every creature in His creation.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

– John 13:34-35 ESV