I am curious about why is it that all these christian faiths believe in the same god, and practically the same bible (is there 2 versions?) but you still bash on each other? Another thing, why is it that when Mr.Chick creates tracts about homosexuals, they he depicts them as angry, and violent. And dressing in drag. And sometimes hating straight people and trying to "talk" straight people into a homosexual relationship? I know lots of homosexuals and they have never acted in this manor. I am upseted by this. I know he is trying to make it look horrible to young people and adults, but is it neccessary? It will just bring up more hate towards them if people are afraid of them. (Remeber Matthew Shepard). I know you have your beliefs, and I have mine, but I think this might be a bit too much. These tracts don't make me want to believe in a God, because he seems very hateful. And I am outraged by the messages sent by these, it pushes me farther and farther from the belief. I was once kicked out of a church because they tried to make me burn my cds (which aren't that bad unless you have a thing against Live, radiohead, and smashing pumpkins), they touched people and told them that God was touching them and they would fall back, and they condemed homosexuality to the point where they went to a homosexual church and told them that they were going to hell, they threw things at them and threaten to burn down thier church. I immeditly stood up and took up for them, saying that if thats what they are then thats what they are, and they have the right to be that way, for they have thier own mind. and if they are believing in the same God I was then more power to them. and I was kicked out after revealing that I was bi-sexual and that I refused to repent because I didn't see it as wrong. Since that inncident 2 years ago, I have not been in a church since. I believe that if we just leave people alone then things would be much peaceful. But then again, that could only be the words of a dreamer.
I will try to answer the main issues you raised, but you are all over the place in this e-mail. Each point you raise is not linear, that is, one point does not flow into the other in a logical, systematic fashion. However, I will do my best here. I will do my best to accommodate your postmodern, nonlinear Generation X or Y subculture, but you may not find the answer convincing. Personally, it doesn't matter if you like my answer or not, but I will answer your many questions in a way that I hope is comprehensible for you. My answer is not in a MTV soundbite, with flashing images, so I apologize. This is my response, since you requested it. This isn't a sermon, and I'm not telling you what to believe. The response gives reasons for why we believe the way we do.
For your information, there are many translations of the Bible, but there is really only "one" version, albeit from many sources. The Bible (really NOT one book, but a collection of books) was written in Hebrew and Greek. The science of textual criticism evaluates the best reading of biblical texts as they have been copied through time. Such a subject is not taught in a public school, I am sure. It requires a long attention span to learn this subject, and MTV has all but destroyed the attention span of a generation far removed from high SAT scores.
Anyway, these languages of ancient Koine Greek and biblical Hebrew are far removed from us in time and geographical distance (at least for us in the West), but scholars come to amazingly similar conclusions on interpreting it. Various interpretations of the Bible should be expected, since our cultural, denominational, even racial and class biases, color our entire look on the world. Consider this: with all of the races, cultures, and ways of thinking in the world which do in fact conflict, this doesn't change the objective fact that the world is round, whether some believe it or not. Likewise, the Bible's basic truth claims to morality and God's existence are not refuted, regardless of differing opinions on matters of it's doctrines. Many Christians, as you put it, "bash" on each other for various reasons: some disagreement is infighting like in any family, some is out of intolerance, some is out of ignorance, and some is out of a legitimate concern for truth. Since you recognize the fact that the world is diverse, and conflict is a part of diversity, then it shouldn't surprise you that diverse Christians will clash. You have answered your own question.
As for Mr. Chick's tracts on homosexuals, he can answer for himself. I have met gay people, and do in fact know that not all gays live in the stereotype of an angry, violent, crossdressing lifestyle. However, this doesn't change the fact that many gays ARE militant, and aggressively push an agenda for acceptance by ALL of society. The fact of the matter is, if many militant gays had their way, they would be intolerant towards people (like fundamentalist and Evangelical Christians) who disagree with their manner of sexual practice. Tolerance is for everyone, except for conservatives. The God of the Bible, whether He fits into your postmodern Generation X view of how people should be, set the order of creation to include only heterosexual sexual union. Such an all powerful God who set this kind of order doesn't have to conform to you or to what you want.
Obviously, breaking the law and murdering homosexuals like Matthew Shepherd (or anyone else) is wrong. However, the murder or attack on a gay person doesn't validate the gay lifestyle. All you have shown is an emotional argument for tolerance. This neither proves or disproves the validity of gay/lesbian practice. I quote Helen Louise Herndon, a freelance writer published in many periodicals such as The Chicago Tribune and The St. Louis Dispatch:
"Aside from any religious or theological considerations, homosexual acts are unnatural from a medical standpoint. Physicians can attest to some horror stories of what physically happens, especially to men, from such activities. The human anatomy is such that it is apparent what role and function each part of the body plays. Men engaged in homosexual acts suffer various serious physical side effects and debilitating diseases and injuries. If those acts were natural, it follows that such harmful effects and diseases would not take place.
The bodily canal designed to evacuate some of the body's worst filth and toxins is hardly inviting to normal people. Penetrating an orifice fashioned to evacuate the waste and toxins of another person rises to the level of abnormality for nonreligious as well as for religious people. Even nonsectarian scientists form similar opinions about certain acts, depending on the harm the body suffers.
Homosexuals need to realize that most people neither hate nor fear them (homophobia). They simply consider such a lifestyle as immoral and unnatural. Furthermore, they wouldn't even think about it much if acceptance of that lifestyle and behavior wasn't being forced upon them. There are many sexual acts, along with homosexual acts, that are not and never will be acceptable to them.
Their principles as to what is right and wrong are neither self-induced nor self-produced; they believe those principles were revealed early on by the One who created humankind and knew what was in the best interest for His creation. Many, if not most of them, also care about the physical, spiritual, and ultimate welfare of anyone caught up in such a lifestyle." ("If Gays March on Rome, Why Not Mecca Too?"
Christian Research Journal, Volume 23/Number 3 pages 62 and 63).
So is this type of a God who sets His own laws hateful after all? In my opinion, no. Such a God can do what it pleases.
You can be as outraged as you want to be, but assuming such the existence of an all powerful God of the Judeo-Christian type, He can make the rules and you as a mere creation have no say in the matter!
You say that you were once kicked out of a church, and I'm sorry that you were. In your subjective opinion, your CDs, (Smashing Pumpkins, etc.), aren't "bad." Well, the real "evil" of such rebellious music with it's Generation X cynicism has nothing to do with a demon in a red suit complete with horns and a pitchfork. Rather, the real evil in the music is that it fosters short attention spans, nonlinear thinking, low analytical and critical thinking skills, crappy test scores, and wastes time better spent communicating with parents and teachers. Hey, I would burn them along with old Doris Day or Barney the dinosaur records if it interfered with mainstream social skills and fostered the "up yours" rebellion that such Grunge music seems to do!
You mentioned that this church touched people and that they would fall back. I honest-to-God don't see what this has to do with your concerns, since it interrupts your train of thought. This practice is known among Pentecostal/charismatic churches as the so-called "slain in the Spirit" phenomena, that I don't practice nor approve. Nevertheless, this extremist group doesn't speak for all of orthodox Christianity and one should exercise better discernment between extremist practices (like threatening to burn down buildings) and more mainstream reasonable thinking. The problem today is that people have the "you have your beliefs; and I have mine" mentality that suggests that no beliefs are better than anyone else's. This is called philosophical relativism, and in the end, it's a very deleterious belief system. Truth on "right and wrong" isn't relative; something is either true or not. This does not mean that it is easy for us as limited finite beings to be able to determine truth at all times.
You also said that you were bisexual and that you saw nothing wrong with it. Of course you wouldn't; you don't have a biblical value system! You determine your own morality; so why wouldn't you see it as wrong??? Morality isn't determined by you or me; it's determined by an objective standard outside of us. What you and I see as "wrong" doesn't matter; you and I don't determine or define morality. Morality isn't defined by individual choice. Whether you care or not, in any religious faith, "morality" is determined by it's "Higher Power," and in the case of Christianity, this would be God in the face of Jesus Christ. If Jesus was who he claimed to be, and proved it by rising from the dead, then I would take anything he said about how we must behave very seriously. He condemned sexual behavior outside of heterosexual marriage (Matthew 15:19) as did the early Christian church that followed his standard of morality. I'm sorry, but Jesus nor the early church didn't go along to get along.
You said that "if we just leave people alone then things would
be much (more?) peaceful." A pastor friend gave us a conventional secular
definition of peace: "a state of harmony among people or groups."
Certainly, in a pluralistic society, this is desirable. Even the early church
understood this. "Follow peace with all men..." Hebrews 12:14.
This doesn't mean that in the church, by itself an expression of counter
culture, that all behaviors are to be tolerated. Christian life and doctrine
is not commensurate with a secular world that says that any lifestyle is
acceptable. The Christian worldview demands of those who choose willingly
to commit to it, that they stop serving their desire for instant gratification.
We are to submit our wills and fallen natures to the God who created us
and live as He would. Yes, this is foreign to you, and not very desirable
to be sure. It demands something of us. Whether or not you choose to accept
this and yield your will to such a God who demands our allegiance is your
business, and I'm not telling you what to do. As for me, I've made my choice,
and in the process, I've missed out on a lot of misery. I have a value system
of right and wrong with boundaries. I choose to let Jesus Christ, the greatest
philosopher and example of selflessness set my values and boundaries for
me. I choose not to let disaffected, alienated, spokespersons for the Grunge
generation who can't tell up from down and whose feet are firmly planted
in midair set my values for me. I pray that this God, whom you resist because
He doesn't follow your concept of tolerance, will make Himself real to you.
Thank you for writing, and I appreciate your time.
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