Wednesday, August 8, 2012

I'm always up for a spot of iconoclasm!

This morning, I dropped Nana off for dominoes and the church sign read "marriage is between a man and a woman, Ephesians 5". Being the curious person I am, I actually go home and read Ephesians 5. I'm guessing the specific verse they're referring to is Ephesians 5:3: "Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God's people."

Let's break this down, shall we? By various interpretations over the years, "sexual immorality" can mean anything from having sex before marriage to any position other than missionary to sterile people having sex, as they aren’t having sex to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28). Marriage and sex with people of other faiths (which is sometimes extrapolated to other races, since those are different “tribes”) is also forbidden in the Bible, because “their daughters who prostitute themselves to their gods will make your sons also prostitute themselves to their gods" (Exodus 34:16) or “that would turn away your children from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of the Lord would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly” (Deuteronomy 7:3-4).

Impurity, another forbidden thing, can mean anything from skin problems (Leviticus 13-14) touching and/or eating animals that are unclean (Leviticus 7:21), eating off unwashed dishes or touching the bones of the dead (Matthew 23:25-27) – Christian anthropologists not allowed? -  or eating before you wash your hands (Mark 7:2).

Greed I would think would be pretty straightforward, but then again, if you’re looking for a biblical definition, then I don’t know a single person who follows this law. Let us not forget that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:24, 10:25; Luke 18:25). And the only person who actually isn’t greedy? The person who gives everything to the church/God and doesn’t even keep a penny for themselves (Luke 20:1-4).

Things that aren’t immoral? A wife being subordinate to the wants of her husband (no matter what you want, if he wants something different you better give it to him.) (Ephesians 5:22). Proving a woman’s virginity before she gets married. She can’t prove it? Fine and dandy to kill her. (Deuteronomy 22:20-21). The best marriages are arranged, too (Genesis 24:37-38). If a woman's husband dies and she hasn't had a son, she must marry his brother and have intercourse with him until she has a son (Genesis 38:6-10). You can also keep slaves and your husband is more than welcome to go and get the slaves pregnant if he wants (Genesis 16:1-2). Oh and as long as we’re on the subject of Abram/Abraham and Sarai/Sarah, they were either brother and sister or uncle and niece (Genesis 20:12 says that they have the same father, while Genesis 11:29 says that she was his brother’s daughter). Having multiple wives is just fine too, since Lamach (2 wives), Esau (3 wives), Jacob (2 wives, 1 concubine), Ashur (2 wives), Gideon (many wives and at least one concubine, the Bible isn’t really precise), Elkanah (2 wives), David (once again, the Bible isn’t precise, but he had several wives), Solomon (700 wives and 300 concubines), Rehaboam (3 wives), and Abijah (14 wives) all have more than one wife. And it must be fine, because we still refer to David as “beloved by God” and lots of people are certain that once Solomon’s temple is rebuilt Jesus will return to Earth. I can go on and on, like mentioning how if a virgin is raped she has to marry her rapist, and he has to pay her father for loss of property, because hey, that’s all your daughter is (Deuteronomy 22:28-29) or once against how those handy, dandy slaves you can own are your property as well, so you tell them who they can marry and they better do the deed and make you more little slaves (Exodus 21:4).

Now before someone tells me that I’m taking this all out of historical context and this isn’t what it means, Jesus stressed faith not laws, God accepts me for not being perfect blah blah blah let me say this: NO KIDDING. The idea of being a Christian, so far as it’s always been explained to me, is one of faith, not law or legislated morality. Most of the Old Testament (and quite a few of the New Testament) laws aren’t followed anymore as people don’t see them as requirements to get into heaven. I don’t know about you, but I don’t know any modern Christians who think someone is going to hell for having a bowl haircut, eating pork, or getting a divorce from a spouse that abuses them – even though that’s forbidden in the Bible; you can only get divorced if your spouse commits a “sexual immorality”, and then you can’t get remarried (Deuteronomy 24:1-4, Mark 10:12, First Corinthians 7:13, Mark 10:9, First Corinthians 7:10-11, Hebrews 13:4, Matthew 19:9 et cetera).

There’s a word for people who don’t follow their own rules and/or laws but expect other to; that word is hypocrite. Personally, I don’t give a darn what you do or don’t do in your own family house or house of worship; what I do give a darn about is when you cross the line into hypocrisy and require things or me or other while not requiring the same of yourself.  Let me be clear: I have no problems with people who are “true” Christians, those that follow the loving and selfless examples set by Christ, who truly live by the idea of “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven” (Luke 6:37). Heck, I strive to be just like them (emphasis on “strive”, not “to be”). I do, however, have problems with people who pick and choose their morals and laws for the sole purpose of making other people feel bad while making themselves seem more holy.

So why don’t you leave the picking and choosing to God, worry about yourself, and follow this simple rule: This is my commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you (John 15:12). Seems to me that if Jesus said it that plainly, then that’s a rule that really need to be followed.