Friday, May 4, 2012

It's all in the definition.

I was at a Christian wedding the other day, and knowing how unpopular it is to take the Biblical and traditional stance on submission of the wife to the husband, I was interested to see how, or if, the preacher would get around the subject. Not surprisingly, he didn't say you should go against the Bible, (that would be heretical!) so he simply redefined the word.  He said "it must" mean something different in every application of the word in the Bible. Not surprisingly though, he said it is "probably" most like the usage of the one used in the verse "submit one to another". (Which in it's best meaning, says "to put oneself under another.")

So where does that leave us in wanting to follow the Bible? If we want to believe that wives should submit to their husbands, like Christian people did for many generations (In the Bible, a godly woman was even praised for calling her husband "lord", typical of a man centered society), then we are taking the extreme road that most people know is going to end up in an unequal treatment of each other as fellow humans (and a bad marriage).  Or we can listen to our conscience as a moral person, believe the Bible wouldn't condone such immoral behavior (even if it was rampant in those days, as slavery was not too long ago here), and change the definition of the word "submit" to mean nothing more then putting ourselves under, as others should also do. . .in other words, the golden rule (common to every culture) or common sense.

There are so many cases of that latter redefining of the Bible, that people keep breaking off into new denominations to further distance themselves from the associations (and embarrassment?)with traditional or even Biblical meanings of words. Could it be it isn't cool, or Kosher to be asking us to do now what was considered good then, but our enlightened morals now help us realize is unacceptable? That reminds me of a quote I've found to be true in my life:

 "With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion."

Steven Weinberg,

What about the word "moderate"? The Bible says, "let your moderation be known unto all men." So what is moderation?  The definition in the dictionary says:
  "Being within reasonable limits; not excessive or extreme.
   Not violent or subject to extremes; mild or calm; temperate.
   Opposed to radical or extreme views or measures, especially in politics or religion."

So, is this word, in it's present-day definition, what Christians strive for, or does it define Biblical Christians today?  Or have Christians denied this word's meaning to be less divisive in culture and to sooth their own conscience as well?  It seems to me that "moderation" is the least of things they are known for. If anything they are on the extreme side of a lot of issues! When I look at "extreme Christianity," though, instead of them being the black sheep, and the insincere Christians, I see that camp taking the Bible in the most traditional way, which may have been moderate once, but is now very extreme! Also, when I Google "extreme right wing" I see mostly Christian political groups. Notoriously Christians are not moderate in spending, as they have fancy churches, nothing against flashy big homes, and/or expensive toys and clothes. In this 76% Christian country, they must not be moderate with their bad food either, as this country is notoriously overweight. So we could say that Christians aren't obeying scripture when we see it as negative to not be moderate, but what about when the Christian leaders even admit to being extreme, and call all Christians to it as well? Here are some classic teachings I found online:

  "If we take the current state of the average Christian to be our ideal, then we might
   assume the proper view of our humanity to be as straw on water, tossed about and
   carried along by every slightly forceful current until, saturated and weighed down,
   we sink to the bottom under the power of the circumstances, or until we are cast
   upon rocks or shore.  We see that scenario often in Christian culture. However, 
   it’s needful to point out that we do not see it in scripture.  So we have a choice: to
   pattern our lives after our culture or after scripture."

  "In an effort to make the gospel more palatable, some of us have avoided topics
   such as sin, hell and the second coming, downplaying the controversial and 
   mysterious nature of the God we serve."

 "These emerging trends threaten to rub the rough edges off the divisive (but 
   life-giving) message that should be the core of our ministries."

Living Biblically and how that has been translated into life down through the years cannot be considered "moderate" anymore, and yet the Bible says be "moderate", so it seems to me that the person following the Bible is again left with a tough choice: we can "pattern our lives after scripture. . .that would often be abusive, offensive or intolerant of other beliefs or "truths", needing it's "divisive" "rough edges" rubbed off to make it more "palatable". . .or we can follow the basic morals of conscience like the golden rule, and using the true definition, pattern our life without extremes and call it "moderate". Either way is following the Bible to some degree, but one way is following our conscience, while the other is following past scribes and translators consciences. So, if we are to understand the words of an ancient text using culture, and common sense, as well as our conscience, (instead of how it was originally understood and used,) then that would mean that everyone is still translating the Bible for themselves. So basically, you are making up your own religion.
So, simply because "the Bible says it, that DOESN'T settle it" even for many others who try to sincerely follow it.

That being the case though, why are many so offended when after being very knowledgable in it, we dismiss their personal religious beliefs? Well, the way I see it, it's a part of their identity. It may be justified as righteous indignation, but their defensiveness is way too personal for that.
Deep down they may feel uncomfortable about some of the questions plaguing them in their own conscience and logical mind. So knowing that anything supernatural is a weak point to try to prove, they shout! Just like the pastor who wrote in his sermon notes "weak point here, shout and pound the pulpit." Much as we realize that now about human nature, we also know what that passion causes in others. . .ever noticed how many wars and fights are started over religion?

When I push you to think a thought, by constant passionate propaganda, or I won't accept you the way you are (as is the near inevitable consequence of believing dogmatic thoughts), I become the problem. When we can all see this, we will all have peace. No one will have truth for others, but know that most truth (except that rare truth which science proves beyond a shadow of a doubt) is only "truth" for them.

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