Posts Tagged ‘divorce

07
Oct
12

The Heresy of ‘Pro-Life’ Christians

Our scripture readings in ELCA Sunday service often provoke my thoughts. My thoughts are never aligned with the Pastor’s sermon, for sermons are typically generalized and oriented toward a certain orthodoxy. The last Pastor who made sermons a challenge to our lives was the late, great Bill Christman (a Presbyterian).

Today’s First Reading, Genesis 2:18-24, included:

Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman, for out of Man this one was taken.’ Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh.

Today’s Gospel, Mark 10:2-16, included:

Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?’ He answered them, ‘What did Moses command you?’ They said, ‘Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.’ But Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation, “God made them male and female.” “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.’

Those who identify as Pro-Life assert that a fertilized ovum – the zygote – is a person, fully equivalent*. Their justifications for tying this assertion to a “right” to life are invariably shallow, effectively being ‘It just is, that’s all’. I have never seen or heard of a Pro-Lifer using Genesis 2 and Mark 10 as an authority for this assertion. It seems obviously applicable: in what way does a couple literally “become one flesh”, except via conception? If God demands that the couple not be separated, surely He intends that the very “one flesh” also not be separated.

*Except when it isn’t – some Pro-Life advocates defer personhood until implantation of the zygote.
And even those notable Conservative Protestants, the Southern Baptists, have previously sanctioned some abortions.

This Mark 10 justification of the Pro-life agenda would better adhere to scripture than the typical citations. Will Pro-Lifers embrace this justification? It is unlikely that any will ever notice my comments in a tiny blog. If they independently make this association, they will risk an accusation of hypocrisy, or worse, for the scriptures do not instruct us of an isolated facet of our relationship with the Almighty.

Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, Son of God, brought a New Covenant between God and man. Jesus was overt in his violations of many Jewish laws. He affirmed a fairly small portion of the Old Covenant, for while He said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfil.” – Matthew 5:17, that left a large body of legalities to be voided. His statements in Mark 10 were remarkable for specifically citing Law that was to remain unaltered, without allowance for obliquely fulfilling the spirit of the Law. Jesus established finally, as explicitly as we ever see in scripture, a linkage between conception and marriage.

There are Christian denominations which ban divorce, such as the Catholic Church, the LDS-Mormon Church, Eastern Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox, and Conservative Protestant such as Southern Baptists. Every one includes exceptions.

Exceptions are something which Jesus did not often offer. He certainly did not instruct us that conversion to Islam, or adultery, or other exceptions apply to divorce. Yet such exceptions are normative in even the most conservative denominations.

Is this why Pro-Lifers do not cite Jesus’ authority from Mark 10? Do they attempt to conceal their hypocrisy which is already well-known?

If they are sincere in claiming that their attitudes about reproduction are guided by Sacred Text, let them permit themselves to be guided by the only words of Jesus regarding the “one flesh”. Let them embrace the same hatred and violence at the most-closely related offense to the Law of God – divorce - that they exhibit toward those who make, and even to those who merely advocate, reproductive choices.

25
Sep
11

The Real Ten Commandments

{Updated with an additional link.}

The Ten Commandments of GodStone‘ just didn’t appeal to most folks. Ohh, maybe that’s putting it a bit too diplomatically. Even my friends (yes, there are some) wouldn’t read it. That is, they wouldn’t admit to reading it. I gave my Pastor a copy, and he never had time to read it. For a year. So, I get it – folks don’t like the concept of re-writing The Big Ten. Or maybe they detected a degree of hubris in the title. Gee, it is my version – why not an eponymous title?

Some people simply could have been satisfied with the Bible’s original re-write: it’s either Exodus 20:2-17 or Deuteronomy 5:6-21. Don’t ask me which was first, much less which is closer to being ‘original’. And do not ask me to stick with exactly ten (10, diez, dix) items for my next version. If the Bible can have sundry versions, with miscellaneous numbers of specific shalts and shalt nots, then I can also.

A n d  h e r e  i t  i s .

We usually discuss religious doctrine (I am herein concentrating on my heritage of Christianity) in terms of its official scriptures and their formal interpretations. It’s time to look at the practical reality of Christianity. The following is The Real Ten Commandments – the rules that certain Christians (Lord bless the many for whom this does not apply) actually hold sacred. Well, sacred for application to others, if not for themselves. I also retained some of The Original’s sticky bits. You might want to follow along with one of the Original versions (some folks might be sufficiently lax to think that I am fabricating things), but a more general knowledge of the Bible and Christian behavior is most pertinent.

  1. God is a jealous, spiteful, vengeful god. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
  2. Thou shalt not make idols. Building oversized mansions and driving overpowered cars doesn’t count.
  3. Thou shalt not worship the idols that you make. If you do, you’ll probably get away with it, but your kids will get screwed.
  4. If you love Me, a thousand generations will have it easy. If any of them crosses me, the deal’s off.
  5. Thou shalt not use the name of God in vain. If you can get some profit or manipulate someone by doing so, you’re golden.
  6. Observe the Sabbath Day, or whatever day that you feel like substituting, and keep it holy so the football game or round of golf will be guilt-free fun.
  7. For six days thou shalt labor, since you’re gonna count Saturday fishing as work. You, your family, visitors, livestock, and male and female slaves shall take it easy. You can decide whether the hermaphrodite slaves can participate.
  8. It was work for the Lord to create everthin’ in six days, so He rested on the seventh day and his slaves had better rest, too. They should consider it practice for Jubilee. They’ll get to return to the foreign country from which I permitted you to kidnap them. The wives which you took in conquest just get the Sabbath, not the Jubilee.
  9. Honor thy Father and thy Mother so that your brother or sister won’t take the inheritance that you so richly deserve.
  10. Thou shalt not kill unless the person deserves it or a Christian Governor or President says ‘it’s ok’. You shall satisfy your blood thirst with executions and unprovoked wars.
  11. Thou shalt not commit adultery, for serial monogamy is sufficient and wholly acceptable to thy brethren. Thou shalt also not divorce, unless a TV preacher says that it’s ok because your wife has Alzheimer’s.
  12. Thou shalt not steal, for connivance and manipulation will serve as well without the appearance of criminality.
  13. Thou shalt not lie about your neighbor, for gossip is equally effective.
  14. Thou shalt not desire thy neighbor’s goodies, or thy neighbor’s wife, or livestock, or male or female slave. As before, you can figure out what to do with hermaphrodite slaves. Your neighbor’s husband, and anyone else not proscribed, is fair game.
  15. Thou shalt not permit a woman, or anyone acting in a woman’s behalf, to decide her own sexual or reproductive behavior. Women shall know their place.
  16. Thou shalt not suffer the uninsured to live, or at least to live without suffering, for the uninsured and those not self-sufficient have not My favor.
  17. A man shalt not lie down with another man. Thou shalt interpret and extend this injunction in any way that suits your thoughts and fears. But lesbians are pleasing in My sight, and probably in yours, too.
  18. These Commandments shalt be sacred and inviolable until the Lord establishes a New Covenant. Thereafter, thou shalt enforce these Commandments selectively, as it pleases you. Definitely ignore all that Levitical stuff, like avoiding mixing nylon and cotton, unless it suits your purpose. Just don’t get carried away, like Thomas Jefferson did.

All in all, I do prefer Jesus’ answer regarding the two greatest Commandments. May it be so with you.




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Basic Understanding

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Intellectual Property Notice

All original material Copyright James R. Stone 2010, except where specifically noted. Some images licensed under Creative Commons, or GNU Free Documentation License, or unlicensed and public domain.

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