Traditionless

To my readers who attend church, what was your favorite part of the whole experience? I’m an audio engineer and musician, so the music was always more mechanical observation than worship. When it came to the sermons I have plenty of theological studies under my belt, so I also analyzed that for specific theological points. I was moved by it all and remained engaged throughout every bit of the service, but I felt like I was consistently letting God down. Not because anything was written down in the Bible, but because of the tradition of being moved by the experience. Biblical historical texts such as 1st and 2nd Samuel show David worshipping like the child who would be the cause of many disapproving stares and murmurs of parental responsibility at far too many churches. Reread those portions of the Bible and you will see that these are things that people do, and are not commanded by God. I couldn’t tell the difference between normal and normative for most of my life, and I had questions that had to start with that distinction.

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My wife for years had been following the rules of what it means to be a Christian, but never moved on to a real connection with God. This is normal today and so many people who live this way will be horrified when their life comes to an end. Then one day my wife was particularly fed up with me, and we went through a short separation. During this time she got some of the connection she was missing, by seeking help from one of our heavily charismatic friends. My wife thought and still thinks that her life was saved by this experience and maybe it was, but she came back with more rules and more superstition than connection. This led to her condemning me and trying to “help” me. So this was where I started to question the status quo. I had to find a way to cope with our disagreement, so I dug into the Bible and came to the realization that the fundamental problem isn’t as cut and dry as right and wrong. It is an issue of tradition, and not being legalistic.

 

Legalism describes being so attached to the letter of the law that the spirit of the law is entirely missed. Legalists justify their unbiblical belief with appeals to authority, where the authority is either themselves or the mainstream Christian culture that believes the word of man to be the word of God. We are so far removed from the patriotic faith of the 1500s A. D. but we still hold on to tradition despite having no biblical basis for its existence or any idea why, how or when many traditions come from. We won’t be put to death for doubting like we would have 500+ years ago, but the idea that questioning tradition is sacrilege has stayed with us.This issue goes back to around 600-700 B. C. when Israel was invaded and taken captive.

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Israel was split into two countries starting in the last years of King Solomon’s life, lasting until the end of the Babylonian Captivity. Prior to the captivity, Israel had a long history of obeying God for a time and then messing up big. Finally, God allowed Israel to fail in a big way and Babylon invaded and Assyria invaded Judah. During that time Babylon assimilated Assyria, and the two broken pieces of Judah and Israel are forced back together under the humiliation of being forcibly removed from their homeland. Even more amazing, after living 70 years in exile some were allowed to stay in Persia, while the rest left were able to leave in large groups in order to rebuild Jerusalem. Persia helped them rebuild their capital and religious center, and returned much of what was plundered during the initial invasion and captivity. So to wrap up the story, Israel and Judah turned away from God who allowed them to be taken prisoner on a massive scale. Due to the nature of governments at the time, Babylon took control of Assyria causing the two Jewish nations to rejoin to some degree under Babylon. Then Babylon fell to Persia. Persia released Israel, returned their wealth, helped them rebuild. The result was a set of new traditions and laws designed to make sure that Israel never returns to captivity, or fall out of favor with God again.

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For example, one of these new traditions took the law that said that carrying out work on the Sabbath was wrong, and added that a person could only take so many steps on the Sabbath. Further ridiculousness ensued, and then Jesus came along and condemned them for their legalistic view of God and died because of their legalism. Now here we are, nailing Jesus back onto the cross with all sorts of new legalism. In the year 70 A. D. Jerusalem was attacked again, this time by Rome. Rome totally destroyed Jerusalem under their emperor Nero. He robbed Jerusalem of any ability to carry out their traditions by destroying all family records. Some of those records were found after the fact, but many family histories were lost entirely. The line of priests that was meticulously kept track of since the time of Aaron (Moses’ brother), was lost. Under the law, sacrifices could only be carried out by priests, and there was no way to tell who a priest was. Tradition led to the death of Christ, and real Judaism is lost to history.

 

 

This has hardly been a complete commentary on Jewish history, and if I am wrong on any point I hope you will call me out on it. My point is that tradition has the potential to cause monumental pain. In a post-modern world, I would go so far as to say that tradition should have no place in modern Christian thought. We need to go back to scripture, and base our belief on what the Bible says and not on what culture or tradition says. Be traditionless.

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Clanging Cymbals Get The Grease

Last time I talked about the mainstream Christian argument against those who are Transgender. I hope I got it right, hope you liked it, and I hope that I did not hurt anyone. I know that I will not please everyone, that I will hurt someone at some point, and that I’m human. These things are bound to happen at some point, and I hope that you call me out on it. I make mistakes like everyone and I hope that you don’t just accept them as my point of view, but that you ask me to clarify or just tell me where I got something wrong. You can safely assume that my position is not something set in stone. You can convince me (provided you have a solid point), and that’s the way I hope you will be. In today’s language, a Pharisee is someone who is hardheaded and dogmatic no matter if their argument is based on truth and fact or just tradition and an insular Christian culture. To break down argument based on the latter, you have to understand what makes up that belief and wherein that person the conviction comes from.

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Pathos is the person’s emotions. They have to emotionally buy into something to be able to accept it. Emotion is without logic. You can feel strongly that something is true, you bend the facts to support it, you deny logical arguments against it. Like it or not, we are all like this. An important part of life is recognizing your bent toward your emotional presupposition, and putting it under a microscope and honestly determine if it corrupts your worldview. That’s the goal anyway. The pursuit of knowledge is endless, and ridding yourself from emotional bias is no different. However, it is important to remember that while emotional bias is always going to happen, recognizing the signs and doing your best, to be honest about it is the mark of intelligence and goodness in a person. Overcome this on your own, and you can understand the emotional bias of others. People I would identify as having an emotional bias that prevents them from being completely objective would be Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Michael Shermer.

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Ethos can be defined as a person’s ethical nature. While defeating a person’s emotional bias is unbelievably hard, Ethos is a close second. Part of the reason for that is how our brain was created to operate. Have you ever put down someone’s argument on ethical grounds? Even if you don’t win the argument, your brain rewards you for defending your ethical code! Ethics are part of our brain’s reward system, and when you defend or attack from your Ethos your brain gives you a shot of adrenaline and dopamine for your trouble. While you are in the argument, your brain floods with cortisol which makes you feel like you have suddenly become detached from your body followed by an uncontrollable reaction from your fight or flight response. We are all capable of falling into this trap of our biology, and if we don’t keep our cool we can not only lose the argument but cut off all future dialogue with that person. This response from an opponent in an argument is the end of the dialogue. Your brain will reward you for it, but you have just damaged your opponent and that should never be your intention. If it is your goal, stop talking and walk away. No if’s, and’s, or but’s. All stop. Logical argument is key for overcoming ethos, but you have to present it with your heart, not your logos.

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Now we get to my favourite, logos. What makes up the human dilemma is a nature that is at odds with itself. This is cursory, and not a complete psychological description by any means. These are the basics of what makes a man. Logos is our logical nature. It is without emotion and ethical concern (though it is based to some degree on both). It is pure. Pursuing logical argument with others is the easiest to get a result because you’re either right or wrong without a grey emotional area. Present your evidence, and rebut the reply. What will always get you into trouble is to focus only on logos and forget that pathos and ethos are always present. Don’t allow yourself to be blindsided by a person’s ethos and pathos which are guiding their logos, but are hiding beneath the surface. Remember that every debate and discussion is fueled by all three parts and overwhelming one with a show of force will only enrage the other two.

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Now with the basics of argument out of the way (which I’m sure you were aware of, but more perspective is always a good thing), I will conclude with the basic principle that will always win over logos, ethos, and pathos: love. If you enter arguments with a forceful logical approach, you cause your opponent to lose objectivity and all respect for you. However, if you apply logic from a place of gentleness and love then you will have influence and respect from your opponent. Your opponent no long is your opponent, but someone you have come along beside and shared your view with. An understanding of the three (an admittedly overly simplistic view of the human experience) parts of a person will help you in your interaction with the rest of the world, but without love, you could have the chemical formula for the cure for cancer but never impact anyone. There’s a reason that love is discussed so often in the Bible, and that is because you cannot make a disciple of anyone without love. You cannot turn the other cheek and have it mean anything unless it is done in love. Your perspective needs to become that you have no opponents or adversaries, but people who you need to open your heart to.

If you want to read more on how our brain is addicted to being right, check out this article by Harvard Business Review.

 

A Transgender Apology (It’s not what you think)

When I say “apology” it is not saying “I’m sorry.” One of the many skills I don’t have enough of is biblical apologetics, which is Merriam-Webster defines as a  ”reasoned arguments or writings in justification of something, typically a theory or religious doctrine.” So, first let me tell you what this post isn’t. First, it is not an eisegetical argument (adding my or any other viewpoint to biblical text). I have little to no bias on this subject so I will give as fair an argument as I can. I have no ax to grind. Second, this is not an attempt to force Christianity into a transgendered worldview or vice versa. This is a post identifying issues on both sides of the argument, with the hope of providing a greater perspective for those on both sides of the aisle.

cc546f7d873652fce35655357f7f52e827438e7ea113dd1a5ebf005be2dd3bd3First I’ll start with Christian arguments against being transgendered. Don’t get offended by my word choice, because I know you’re thinking, “It’s not like I chose to be transgendered.” That’s the first understanding that needs to happen; Many Christians view it as a choice, and not nature. That’s just the perspective, because “God made Adam and Eve, and there was no crisis of gender.” This is so ingrained in Christian culture that people will make that argument point without even knowing that that is their reason behind it. From there, all arguments stem. Some Christian groups will argue that early Genesis (first book of the Bible talking about the creation of the world and birth of the nation of Israel) talks about God creating separations and boundaries. An example of this would be God created light and dark, land and water, and then man and woman. So they see this as a commandment from God, that those are boundaries that morally should not be crossed. Where this unravels, is in the fact these are statements made in Genesis. I believe that God created the universe and science backs it up with minimal leaps of faith, but from a biblical perspective, these are just points of fact. To make the argument that this means that gender has boundaries is an assumption and untenable.

The next argument is even shakier: “Transgenderism” cause chaos. Seeing a trend yet? To make this into a modus ponens argument:

  1. To be transgendered is to be at odds with natural law (according to Genesis if you’re closed minded).
  2. To be at odds with the natural law, means you are directly attacking God himself.
  3. If you are attacking God by pursuing your way of life, then you are living in intentional sin.

blog-0677692001403897932This is the worldview of many Christians. To be fair, their argument only holds weight in so far as God remains silent on the issue. You can’t just come out and say that to a Christian though because they would say that “God created man and woman” is proof positive that God is not silent on the issue. I’ve debated and debated with Christians and non-Christians alike, and you just can’t argue with this kind of stupid. It doesn’t matter how the first line of argument is based on a logical fallacy (argument from silence). What you have to understand that when you are arguing with anyone, you can only convince them if pathos, logos, and ethos are in agreement.

2 jack insanity meme fixedThis post will have two parts, this is the end of part one. The basic outline of the Christian view is simple to understand, hard to relate to, and completely untenable. It relies on the silence of God and makes logic jumps that assume that the creation story in Genesis is a commandment. We are all Pharisees at heart. Pharisees were the religious leaders in Jesus’ time, and they took the hundreds of laws in the Old Testament and added even more. We create rules and fold them into our belief box. We can only escape being a Pharisee when we realize what the other side of the argument is, and gain perspective from it.

Facts and Figures

One thing that really annoys me is when Christians speculate on how God would feel about situations that he is silent on in the Bible. Recently a friend of mine came out as trans. I find that brave, slightly uncomfortable due to trying to recovering from a religious upbringing, but brave nonetheless. What I didn’t expect is the arguments against it from my wife. She doesn’t believe what I do, and we both feel like the other is misled, but what really caught me off guard was her speculation on how God would respond to someone coming out as trans. Before I go any further, if I misrepresent transgendered people at all please tell me. The last thing I want is to hurt someone, and I am new to this so it may happen that I say the wrong thing. Just chalk it up as unintentional stupidity, and leave a light-hearting scathing in the comments.

10170910_547389785379603_6807713330758827652_nThe arguments I’ve heard so far have mainly followed the assumption that if they are transgendered, they have no real understanding of either their identity or what identity is in general. Secondly, I’ve heard that because they lack identity means that they don’t have a relationship with Christ, and therefore are sinning. Pretty cut and dry right? Other than the fact that Biblically there’s nothing said about this issue. So if there’s nothing Biblically wrong with it, why/how is it wrong? God had the foresight to see what 2017 would be like (and Tom Petty still died…), and yet he was silent on the issue. Now, arguments from silence (example: the Bible doesn’t say x is a sin, so x is totally acceptable) are a logical fallacy. So that is the first blow to this argument, as her argument is based on that silence and worse that she is making presumptions about how God would respond. Now the really tough thing about this argument is not just in showing how the initial argument is wrong, but how we respond to it.

If we respond with,”Well God is silent on this issue, therefore it is totally acceptable to be trans,” then we are guilty of the same fallacy. Basically, on this issue, we are left with transgendered people being right and wrong. To continue that thought, let’s also look at what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:23, “Everything is permissible,” but not everything is helpful. “Everything is permissible,” but not everything builds up.” This seems pretty cut and dry, but this freedom is a double-edged sword. 1 Corinthians chapter 10 deals a great deal with what freedom we have as Christians (which is considerably more than what fundamentalist Christians would have you believe). Verse 28 and 29 says, “But if someone says to you, “This is food offered to an idol,” do not eat it, out of consideration for the one who told you, and for conscience sake. I do not mean your own conscience, but the other person’s. For why is my freedom judged by another person’s conscience?”  Many well-meaning pastors have taken this passage and said that it means that we have to be incredibly legalistic in order that we don’t cause our brother to stumble. The good news is, that’s only half of the meaning of this passage.

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The other half is in verses 31-33, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for God’s glory. Give no offense to the Jews or the Greeks or the church of God, just as I also try to please all people in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, so that they may be saved.” In other words, “don’t live your life for your pleasure, but to enhance the pleasure of others.” We have to be careful in how we “come out” so that people who are weak don’t have their faith destroyed for our freedom. The other side of the coin is that those who you feel are strong enough to take it, those people are safe to share with. These verses are saying that the enjoyment of our freedom in Christ is wonderful, and to do it to the glory of God. If you’re trans, be the best trans person. If you’re gay, be the best gay person in the kingdom of God. To those who you know are weak, and couldn’t see the truth if God bodily forced them to see it, don’t share your choices with them. In their weakness, they will sin by hating you or worse yet losing their faith entirely. Both would destroy the person, and you will be held accountable for those people. So in summary, by all means, come out and share what you’ve found to be true of yourself, but only do so to the people who are strong enough in their faith to take it.

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To those who you know are weak in faith, and couldn’t see the truth if God bodily forced them to see it, don’t share your choices with them. In their weakness, they will sin by hating you or worse yet losing their faith entirely. Both would destroy the person, and you will be held accountable for those people. So in summary, by all means, come out and share what you’ve found to be true of yourself, but only do so to the people who are strong enough in their faith to take it. Control the sharing with those you can control it with, but going out in public and being you however you do is perfectly acceptable. Enjoy your freedom, guys. Be the best you that you can be for the glory of God.

Angry Racist Bigot Christians

So here’s the basic assumption that I can see from the people outside of Christianity looking in: Christians are bigots. If that is your assumption, you’re right. People claiming to follow Jesus boycott, picket, protest, hate, fight, attack unbelievers and believers that they disagree with. I have news for you, and you may need to read the next sentence twice. Jesus never condemned nonbelievers. He had lots of contact with nonbelievers, but never did he outright condemn them. The only people that Jesus really condemned were the fools that should have known better; believers and rabbinical scholars.

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Jesus made the religious look like they had drool running from their mouths. He accused them of perverting the word of God. And in all of these things, he was right and the only one who could do it and be right. Of course we are our brother’s keeper, and we have to help our fellow believers where they are weak, but the difference is that we have to do that in quiet desperate love for our neighbor. Jesus had a righteous anger towards the religious, but being perfect, he was the only one who could do it without slipping into sin. For example, have you ever been angry for the right reasons? Say someone was hurting a child, or a case of spousal abuse. As humans, I would say that while our anger is right in that situation, we have to really check ourselves. We are unequaled in our ability to slip from anger to hate. Jesus had a great deal more than we have, so the chance that anger led to hate is nonexistent.

 

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Let’s move on to today. We see shootings, death, war, hate, all day everyday. To me, the most heartbreaking is the response of the influential “Christians.” They say that natural disasters and death are God’s judgement. My own grandmother believes that to be true. The death of children is God’s plan? God’s plan was never death. One of the people I look up to the most told me once,”Christians are the only group to shoot their wounded.” That can be applied broadly to say that many Christians are only out to attack. Natural disasters destroys lives, and some Christians take that as an opportunity to kick people when they’re down. Matthew 22:37-40 says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Do you see anything there that says anything about boycotting, killing, hating, condemning?

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How do you deal with someone who doesn’t believe the same thing you do? Love them. What should we do when nature brings ruin to a neighbor? Help them. In response to the recent shooting in Las Vegas, my heart goes to all who were impacted by the horror that occurred. Same goes for the victims of the recent hurricanes. On a complete side note: a real leader would be hugging and holding victims, not handing out supplies like he was shooting three-pointers into the crowd. Don’t hide your heart because the world is uncaring. Instead love others in spite of it. Don’t follow the crowd and cast your lot to destroy believers and unbelievers. Instead place yourself in the middle and be the embodiment of peace. Stand your ground and be bold, if you want to be a Christian.

I’m Finally Home

I’ve been back home since February, but have been reluctant to share anything new. There’s no logical reasoning behind the reluctance, but maybe fear would be the best way to describe it. I am an INFJ, and a have a decent working knowledge of how people work. Unfortunately, I have a very poor understanding of how I work. For months I was verbally and emotionally abused on a daily basis (while I was away from home recently, that is). From the first week of October until around the second or third week of February. I know for certain many people have it worse, and to those who would say that to me, what I went through is not up for their interpretation.
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The biggest issue is that I don’t know how to go from constant fear on a minute by minute basis to a healthy mental state. I’ve seen a therapist once recently, and plan to continue that. However, the whole reason I’ve dusted off my blogging hat, is that my wife is taking my kids on a trip back to the hell we just got out of. Her reasoning is that her mom is in a really bad place (depression and entirely unstable), and I can understand that. I’m not an unreasonable guy, and knowing her instability definitely explains the abuse she dealt me constantly. But she thought it would be a great idea to bring my kids along on this trip.
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Can any of you imagine saying in the same sentence, “my mom is unstable, so I’m going to take my kids to go visit her.” Am I the one at fault for thinking that’s more than a bit nuts? (You can answer that honestly, because the arguments I’ve had with my wife lately have been making me question that.) I would feel better about this if my wife wasn’t arguing and acting the same way that she did while we were there with her parents. She is the reason that we had to stay. It was a prison for me. Now, the person that agrees with the facts about returning for a vacation with my abuser is planning on going anyway. I’m hurting folks. I’m sorry the substance of this post is so personal, but I hope you can understand why this is something that is inescapably on my mind. Please pray..

-GT

Crashing 

One topic that is near and dear to my heart is mental health. Specifically, the topic of fibromyalgia, which I suffer from. Since moving south, and being forcibly removed from all support from family and friends, I have been physically beaten by my own wife on one occasion and verbally abused daily by her parents. I have no comfort and nobody to count on for emotional or any other type of support. I’m told I don’t have fibromyalgia, and that I’m just a liar, bad husband, and bad father by people who are supposed to be trying to live like Christ. I have no hope. This is a deviation from my normal service of this blog, but I hope to share from anonymity things which I cannot the closest people in my life. 

I drive a cab, and a phrase popped out of my mouth that I didn’t quite expect. I said that for all of the abuse and hate I receive, that you might have thought I came out as gay. That “alternative lifestyles” get people treated as bad as a medical condition. Now, I fully believe that people are made to be who they are, and these lifestyle choices are not choices but are how they’re wired and there should be no shame or taboo against it. Strong opinion is the hallmark of people who care about both of these subjects, so please comment respectfully and tell me if I’m off course in my thoughts. You will be my peer reviewer. I do think this could be true, and if it is true, there’s something interesting that comes out of it. 

The comparison in outside hate and superiority complex toward these two topics, and really a far range beyond, are what I’m talking about. People in general fear the unknown. Homosexuality, PTSD, polyamory, fibromyalgia… These are complete unknowns to a lot of people, but this should never be an excuse for bad behavior. The patterns of their behavior are telling, though. With fibro, one common cliche we hear is, “it’s all in your head.” Not too different from telling someone that their relationship choices are based on a psychological trauma or abuse. Another stance taken is morality. People with fibromyalgia are accused of being lazy and generally lousy human beings. “Christians” target the lgbt+ communities and say that it’s all perversion of the natural order (despite a plethora of evidence to the contrary). In war, Christians would be the ones walking around shooting their own wounded soldiers. Just like the Pharisees, the normal Christian faith now includes exclusion to the point of hate. That’s not to say that Christian belief should be inclusive of other faiths, but that as Christians we’re supposed to love our neighbors, and the behavior I’ve been subjected to and have witnessed towards people who fall into nonnormative categories makes me ashamed to call myself a Christian. I have no shame in Christ, but his followers have made an abominable mess of this world (as always).

I hurt for my own suffering as a fibromyalgia ridden polyamorous man hiding in plain sight, and for the suffering of those who are in the crosshairs of ignorant believers. We are the resistance to this hatred. Our battlefield is the hearts and minds of those who would sooner shoot down the wounded than help them. Remember this every day, and don’t be afraid of doing the right thing. 

-Guerilla Theo

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8 NIV

http://bible.com/111/mic.6.8.NIV

The Ten Commandments:What’s the Point!?

bible-scripture-gospel-testament-52513When I see or hear anyone talking about the ten commandments, my first thought is the Charlton Heston movie by Cecil B. Demille. Wonderful movie about the events of Exodus, with some admitted embellishment. So the Old Testament represents a covenant agreement with the people of Israel, and Deuteronomy, Numbers, and Leviticus gives a massive list of laws. By the book of Isaiah, the rules have been narrowed down to six laws, the book of Micah narrows it further to three laws, and Jesus brings the grand total of laws to just two. However, Jesus still mentions the ten commandments as mandatory. So does that mean that there are 12 laws, two laws, or two laws that govern ten laws? It’s pretty obvious that I’m going to say it’s the last one, but let’s delve into this a bit and see what is really there.

      1. Do not have any other gods besides me.

      2. Do not make an idol for yourself in the shape of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth.

      3. Do not misuse the name of the Lord your God.

      4. Be careful to remember the Sabbath day.

      5. Honor your father and mother.

      6. Do not murder.

      7. Do not commit adultery.

      8. Do not steal.

      9. Do not give dishonest testimony against your neighbor.

      10. Do not covet your neighbors wife or desire your neighbors house, his field, his male or female slave, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

These are all from HCSB version and what Jesus says is, “love your God with all of your soul, mind,pexels-photo-27633 and heart. The second is like it, love your neighbor as yourself. All of the law and prophets hang on this.” Commit that to memory in whatever version of the Bible you prefer. What Jesus is saying is that those two laws are the completion or fulfillment of all other laws. It’s done, game over, and no recount in Florida. But is it a contradiction for him to say this after talking with a man about keeping the ten commandments? Don’t really think so…

At the end of the life of Jesus and after his resurrection is the day of Pentecost. On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit comes and gives supernatural ability to the remaining disciples, but another thing happens as well. With the Holy Spirit giving supernatural abilities, also comes a discernment that was never there before (this is mainly conjecture, and any pastor who tells you this as absolute fact is off in his theology). So with this discernment, the Ten Commandments should become obvious, in my approximation. This is a simple answer, but further investigation leads the the first proof of polygamous (and by extension polyamorous) marriage.

The first five are fairly self explanatory, along with eight and to some degree nine. I will be focusing on six, seven, and ten. Six is an important one these days, because the world seems to be going absolutely crazy. The Middle East has always been a disaster zone. People have been killing over the land there as long as there has been people, and people killing over land and other possessions has been the story of every nation of the world. With all of this “manifest destiny,” how do Godly people just gloss over the sixth commandment!? Two Sunday’s ago, a pastor at a church I was checking out claimed that the key word was “murder.” So you can kill anyone you like as long as it isn’t murder. Someone stealing your standard edition Ford Escort from the early 90s can be shot dead. Home break-in? 12 gauge loaded with buckshot is the way to do it. We can’t let them get away our gold plated juicer from Ikea… The word used here for “murder” is ratsach. It can mean murder, but it also means kill or slay. No complication or bending it, just simply stated: do not kill. This means that the pursuit of peace is a much harder line to follow, since as a tax paying citizen of most countries, our taxes fund killing. Christians have supported America being the world’s police, and in some cases it was justified, but in other places we have no moral right to do or say anything.

Some people will scream “CONTRADICTION!” because God commanded Israel to take the promised land mercilessly by killing the Canaanites, making no exceptions. So is it? No, not so much. I have a hard time with this, because it really very much seems like it’s contradictory to say on one occasion not to kill, but then in the next breath say to commit genocide. The best explanation I can come up with is that it is morally wrong to kill, but if you’re commanded by God it becomes morally right. It sounds like I’m making up the rules as I go along, and I would agree, but I really don’t know how to justify it when God says not to kill and then goes on and on throughout the book of Joshua how God supported this to the point that Jesus showed up (Arguably Christophony) and says that he’s neither for them or against them. It’s commanded of them to kill the Canaanites, and not to kill. Another theory is that the Canaanites were not actually human. Crazy conspiracy theory, but give it a chance. I believe that one way to try and ruin God’s plans was demonic interference in the natural progression of humanity. It has been documented that at the time, there really were such things as giants with red hair and six fingers and toes on each appendage. What if they were a demonic creation? God would be fully justified in killing all of them at this point. Theories are welcome, but basically unless you’re legitimately commanded by God himself, don’t kill.


Now on to adultery. The “
voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and a person who is not his or her spouse” is the common definition today, but the Bible’s definition is very different. In the Bible, adultery had nothing to do with sex, but it had everything to do with property rights. In those days, if a man married a woman, she became his property. If another man stole her away, then he would be the adulterer. The gray area at that point is, what if the husband or wife has sex outside of marriage. Biblically, there’s nothing saying that that kind of behavior is immoral or even frowned upon. Moving on to the New Testament, Jesus makes a strange statement on the topic of divorce in Matthew 19:9, ”And I tell you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” Most Christians look at this verse and thing it simply means that if one spouse cheats on the other, divorce is justified. However, that’s not at all what it means. Jesus makes statements as extreme as if you hate, you are guilty of murder, and this is just another extreme line that Jesus is taking on divorce. When a man divorced a woman, she lost everything. She had no property rights, no voice, no possessions of any kind. Marriage always was a transaction in those days, and women were essentially sold into a marriage. If a woman was divorced, she was penniless, and had no value to another marriage transaction. Essentially what this means is that to divorce a woman is to rob the next man, as the woman would be valueless.

pexels-photo-237647As for ten, it’s a list which inevitably means that each thing in that list is of equal value, but it goes further than that. Listed in the 10th commandment are possessions. This means that a spouse is the same type of thing as an ox, a slave, a donkey, a house… possessions. This was a cultural artifact of the time, and I believe that it was made part of the ten commandments because it was a revelation from God describing the right way to do things in a way that they would understand it. This isn’t making a statement of the place of a woman in society, just on the fact that anything at all that can be perceived as a possession, shouldn’t be coveted. It’s also entirely possible that this is there to shame them for even considering women as possessions, but that is really just me looking at a different culture through today’s lens.

Simply put, the Bible doesn’t define adultery as cheating or even sleeping around. Killing is wrong unless God appears to you personally and tells you to kill someone, and you happen to have a smartphone handy to record the conversation. I hope this shines a light into an area where people have continually gotten it wrong, and added modern culture to an entirely different culture, then made it a hard line to always be followed. These ideas are controversial to the point that it would take such a miracle to change the collective minds of the church, such as having every visible star reorganize itself into spelling out the truth in the night sky. Until then, I’ll share the truth here. A Guerrilla Theologian, in a crowd of the deceived.

-G.T.

I’m Trapped

Do you blame the prisoners for beating you, or the guards for keeping you locked up?

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I’ve been put into a rough situation. I was forced to move under threat of losing my kids, only to live with my wife’s parents who hate me for being disabled. The situation has improved because my wife has apologized for putting me in this situation, but she still refuses to leave. I am trapped because I could never remove my kids from their mother, nor could I leave my wife. This isn’t a pity party, but this has really gotten me to think about my ordeal and how it applies to faith.

In my life, something consistently weird happens to me everywhere I go. People I have never met feel safe to just start talking to me. I have never understood why that is. I’m an introvert, love isolation, and have a mile wide personal bubble. At some point in conversation the topic of faith comes up. I’m a fairly outspoken Christian, but I rarely ever bring it up. The general point that nonbelievers relate is that they don’t want to choose Christianity because they feel it would be a jail cell, when I believe it to be the exact opposite.

prison-1331203_640One big point of Christianity is that we all have a sin nature, and anything but complete moral perfection is a death sentence. Have you ever lied (Little white lies count!)? Have you ever hated anyone? Minor “innocent” things that we don’t consider evil, are worthy of death in the eyes of God. If God is real, that is (quite literally) hell of a situation to be in. But doesn’t that mean that there should be an even better reason to choose Christianity? To nonbelievers, not so much! The reason for that is legalism. Let me make this incredibly clear… CHRISTIANS ARE THE PROBLEM!

We have made Christianity look like a perpetual jail cell! That’s not what Christ died for. Christ was killed, in part, because the religious leaders of the day made the Mosaic law (Deuteronomy, Leviticus, and whatnot) a jail cell instead of a path to freedom. There were hundreds of laws, but the Jewish leaders of the time took those and added even more laws. The Apostle Paul roughly said that God gave us the law so that we would know what sin really was. What this adds up to is that the law is there to show us that we need a savior, and that the legalistic Jewish leaders had no want for a savior. They had no desire to give up the jail cell they had created, because doctrine is comfortable and religious nuance is something to be wary of. So what does this look like in Christianity today?

Let’s say that we’ve given up Mosaic law, and all we have is the New Testament. Since around 70 A.D. there has been no new scripture given, so where do all these rules come from since there’s only two “laws” given in the New Testament? The truth is we made new rules, and misrepresented scripture to make even more rules on top of that. These rules come from Roman culture (as it was a Roman emperor who made Christianity a nationally accepted religion), and Roman social standards being included into Christian doctrine and theology. So what modern Christians have done is make an ancient culture’s social norms part of our moral framework. From that we have made even more rules on top of that, and made scripture fit that (eisegesis). To question if homosexuality is acceptable is heresy to most evangelical denominations. Same applies to plural marriage and sex before marriage. These are just a few big “hot buttons” today, but to many people these are the jail cells we’re trying to get people to commit to. And that is an incredibly painful thought if you can think for just a second that doctrine isn’t what we thought it was.

We’re supposed to be bringing peace, but instead we bring hate. Christ taught a message of unconditional love, but we have perverted his message to be isolation. This doesn’t have to be our future. To many I am a perverted heretic who is trampling the name of Christ, and from their perspective they are right. However, from my perspective that’s exactly what they are doing. That’s exactly what I have been guilty of in the past when I shared their perspective. Today I am doing everything I can to make up for that. I hope you read this and can see that I’m tired of Christianity being presented as a jail cell. I sincerely hope that you can help me change the message of the church to be unconditional love.

 

I Need You!

Halp!

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