Category Archives: Uncategorized

Corporate Sin: Fact or Fiction?

I was just now reading a review of the movie ‘Blue Like Jazz‘ (I know I’m late to the party). There are a lot of things I could say about it, but one line specifically caught my attention.

The writer said, “Clearly, the church doesn’t condone adulterous affairs, which are an individual’s own sin, not the church’s.”

This is a piss-poor attitude and probably why the author felt justified in critiquing an autobiographical movie like it was a Sunday sermon.

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12 that just like a body is one thing and has many ‘members’ (arms, legs, eyes, ears, etc.), so the Church is ‘one Spirit’ and many members. He writes specifically, “If the foot would say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body.”

Which means we cannot dissociate ourselves or cut ourselves off from other people who claim to be a part of the Christian body, even if we want to. We are bound to those who confess Jesus in thought, word, deed, and action because we are the same body.

Paul continues, “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you…”

Which means we can’t cut THEM out of our lives either!

We can’t remove ourselves and we can’t remove them.

If you don’t think this is fair, let me remind you that in Jesus’ final prayer in Gethsemene he asked that God make all of us “one, as [God and Jesus] are one.”

Jesus prays that all of us Christian brothers and sisters share the same kind of relationship that He has with God the Creator. If you don’t know what that relationship looks like, the author of Hebrews tells us that Jesus is the “reflection of God’s glory” and the “exact imprint of God’s very being.”

Jesus WAS God. We ARE each other.

If my tongue sins, my mind and heart are still guilty. When my hand sins, my foot is guilty. When my eyes sin, my ears are guilty. When my father, mother, brothers, or sisters sin, I am guilty.

Still not convinced?

James tells us that if we have broken just ONE POINT of the law, then we have broken all of it.

That means if I am a liar, then I am also an adulterer, a thief, and a murderer. The sin that you are committing now, I have already committed. The law that you break now, I will break tomorrow.

There is no such thing as individual sin. Not if we believe Paul and respond to Jesus’ request. Not if we believe what James (the very brother of Christ) taught about keeping the commandments.

Nope. All sin is corporate because it never affects only ourselves. Every single member is guilty…

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Theology/Spirituality, Uncategorized

Critical Thoughts on Gay Marriage

I want to address some points made in an opinion piece by Katherine Kersten concerning the Minnesota marriage amendment.

1) “…we “limit” marriage in a variety of ways. You can’t marry your sister or your father. You can’t marry a 12-year-old, or two people, or someone who’s already married to someone else.”

Incest, pedophilia, and polygamy are all considered forms of oppression in the modern day United States and are thus legislated against. How do they in ANY way compare to a consensual relationship?

2) “The vital role of marriage… has been to link men to women and the children produced by their sexual union, in order to create the optimal environment for rearing the next generation.”

Well Ms. Kersten, since 1978 we’ve seen that the sexual orientation of the parents have absolutely NO significant effect on the child’s development.

3) ” Boys and girls need… both a father and a mother to model how to live.”

So what you’re saying is that there is only one way to be a man and one way to be a woman?

“Mothers tend to nurture, while fathers tend to encourage risk-taking”

So not ALL mothers nurture, or fathers encourage risk-taking! Wait… that’s confusing.

4) “Society should be wholly indifferent as to whether a child has a mother and a father, [same sex marriage supporters] say. Any two (or three?) people will do.”

Yes, I think the world’s 143,000,000 orphans would agree with that sentiment (along with the psychological community).

5) ” If same-sex marriage becomes law, all Americans will be required to adopt or conform to this view.”

Don’t worry Ms. Kersten, you won’t be required to adopt this view. What you meant to say is that because everyone else will see your views as bigoted and prejudiced you will feel pressure to conform. There is nothing making you do that though!

6) “…the notion of a unisex reality contradicts both our daily experience and the testimony of human history.”

Pretty sure gay people exist right now in my daily life and the first recorded gay couple was in 2400 B.C.E. that’s pretty far back in human history…

7) “Our public schools face growing pressure to promote unisex ideology — often under the guise of “antibullying” education.”

Yup, let’s let our straight kids beat the gay right out of ’em! Or just verbally harass them until they take themselves out of the game (33% of homosexual youth attempt suicide which is 2 to 3 times more likely than heterosexual youths).

8) “In Massachusetts, Illinois, and Washington, D.C., Catholic Charities’ public adoption and/or foster care programs have been compelled to close, because of claims of discrimination.”

“Sorry, Timmy. I know you’ve been wanting to be adopted for 8 years and there’s a really great home for you, but you’ll have two dads. I’m going to have to keep you on the government’s dollar for another 6 years or until one of those couples who can make their own kids wants you. Trust me. It’s what Jesus would have done.”

9) “At corporations like Target and General Mills, employees who believe children need a mother and father increasingly fear that making their views clear could threaten job advancement.”

This just in! Supporting inequality is looked down upon in the United States…

10) “Meanwhile, in California, Gov. Jerry Brown is poised to sign a law saying a child can have three legal parents.”

Meanwhile, in New York City, Jane Doe’s mother just remarried and she now has… three parents!

11) “Same-sex marriage advocates assure us that they oppose “limiting” the freedom of others. Really? It’s time for them to look in the mirror.”

Are you even aware that straight folks can still get married? We aren’t swapping out ‘hetero’ for ‘homo’. With this worldview EVERYONE can get married!

12) “The Minnesota marriage amendment ensures that the people of our state will retain the power to define marriage. Without it, politicians and judges will seize that power.”

Power hungry politicians! If only there was a way I could choose a different one to represent me. One that agreed with MY political stance…

13) “If… you believe that children NEED both a mother and a father, be prepared to be declared ‘persona non grata’ in civilized society. Be prepared to live with a target on your back, proclaiming in bold letters: ‘Bigot.'”

Finally, you heard me!

All joking aside, EVERYONE needs to have interaction with both males and females… LOTS OF THEM. Lots of both, because every single person has a different worldview and perspective. What our states, countries, and world need are people with a wide understanding of perspective in order to bridge the gaps that close us off from each other. Cultural, biological, and geographic differences are wreaking havoc on us politically, economically, and socially. Choosing ignorance and legislating discrimination against a specific group of people is not going to help solve this problem.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Blasphemers must be put to death!

Leviticus 24 contains the story of a blasphemer being stoned to death.

Most would say that the young man insulted God and must be put to death because of it.

I can’t help but feel that assumption is wrong. It communicates that God is proud, that God’s pride can be hurt, and that God is vengeful because we hurt his pride…

I’m not buying it.

Imagine if a father doused his son in gasoline and set him on fire until he burned to death because his son called him a jerk, said he hated him, and broke all the father’s rules.

We would be appalled at such a parent! We would probably condemn the father for not showing more restraint against someone acting so immature!

So why do we as Christians write it off as ok when God is interpreted that way? Why is it ok for God to have such pride? Why is it ok for God to retaliate?

The answer Christians usually give is because “We can’t possibly understand how God’s ‘goodness’ fits into his ‘pride and revenge.'”

Let me flip that statement and ask…

What if we ACTUALLY can’t see how the ‘pride and revenge’ fit into God’s ‘goodness?’

In the English Standard Versions the translation of God’s words to Moses are, “Whoever curses his God shall bear his sin.

The God I know is the proud father of ALL of humanity; all religious and non-religious folks. God is equally joyous when a Christian tithes as when a Muslim offers Zakat, or when a Buddhist feeds an orphan and when an Atheist adopts a child. God is equally hurt when an Israeli or a Palestinian is killed. God is equally distraught over tsunamis in Japan and hurricanes in the U.S.

Jesus is the advocate for all of humanity and all of creation. The enemy is not other humans, but inhumanity. Thoughts, words, and states of being that remove our humanity from us include evils like guilt, pride, slander, gossip, poverty, and sickness.

The sin the blasphemer committed was not insulting God, but dehumanizing someone else.

Religion (or lack of a religion) is a deep piece of most people’s identity. By blaspheming the Israelites’ God, the young man was insulting the identity of the Israelites in an attempt to reduce their humanity. As Jesus would later teach in the Sermon on the Mount to insult someone is worthy of the fires of hell. Not because it’s “mean” or “cold-hearted,” but because it dehumanizes someone.

And so the same command was given to the Israelites, “Whoever curses [the blasphemer’s] God will bear his sin.”

Christians are not better than other religious or non-religious people. We are all children made equally. That is our confession whenever we refer to God as ‘Father.’

So let’s quit with the ‘Christian Exceptionalism‘ rhetoric, stone our own ‘blaspheming’ selves, and start living what we claim to believe; that ALL people are made in Christ’s image and are worthy of our love, compassion, and servitude.

Leave a comment

Filed under Theology/Spirituality, Uncategorized

How SHOULD we read the Bible?

“I believe that all people should read the Bible and try to decide its meaning, as much as they are able, for themselves. Ideally, religious leaders should be there to help facilitate an individual’s reading of the Bible, not predigest their flock’s faith for them. They should help guide, not impose.”

-Joshua Einsohn (Banned Questions About the Bible)

I’m just going to go ahead and throw up a ‘Second’ to what Joshua says here. It’s much more concise and accessible than I could say it. And here is why I’m going to second it.

1) Jesus had a different relationship with everyone he met. He had different questions, commands, and conversations with every single individual. To Matthew he said, “Follow me.” To Mary he said, “Your sins are forgiven.” To Zacchaeus he said, “Let me eat with you.” To Martha he said, “Be still.” To Thomas he said, “Do not doubt.” He told Nicodemus to be “born again.” He asked Peter, “Do you love me?”

Our perspective matters. Jesus comforts and confronts us in exactly the way in which we need to be at any given time. If he is truly at work in the scriptures then we must assume that this is also true of them. How can someone else tell me what God is communicating to me through the scriptures if only God and myself know my heart?

2) Religious leaders are Shepherds, not representatives/rulers. The difference between the two is that shepherds are guides to help us decide our own actions (and possibly help us out of crappy situations we put ourselves in), while representatives act on our behalf while demanding certain responses. When religious leaders act as representatives they put themselves in between the flock and Jesus. They make themselves a ‘medium’ for the relationship between us and God. It is an extremely inefficient and unbiblical method of leadership. Ezekiel put it this way…

You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally.

Religious leaders who act as SHEPHERDS do just the opposite. Shepherds help the weak become strong. They nurse the sick and treat the injured. They don’t just bring the strays back or search for the lost (for that would be by force), but they TEACH them how to find their way home when they are ready.

God has a personal and intimate relationship with every individual. Perspective matters. When we claim to know the “Truth” we are acting as representatives, we are picking up the Spirit’s staff, putting on Jesus’ crown, and sitting on God’s throne.

There must be space for all people to meet and experience God in the scriptures through their own lenses.

Leave a comment

Filed under Theology/Spirituality, Uncategorized

God has “a plan” or God has “plans”?

I’m comparing the tired cliche’ of “God has a plan…” (singular) vs. Jeremiah 29:11 God has “…plans…” (multiple).

I think the distinction is very clear and extremely important.

Personally, my natural mindset is bent towards the singular. I think it has as much to do with my personality as it does my indoctrination to a specific theology that God has one right way to do things. Questions like…

  • What job should I take?
  • Who should I date?
  • Where should I live?
  • When should I call?

All cause me to spend WAY too much time thinking. I toss and turn over which decision best represents my feelings and faith towards the God almighty (I lose sleep, I don’t eat, I lock my mind away from the world).

But that is what happens to me. If I make the right choice… God will be happy and I will prosper. If I make the wrong choice… God will not be happy and I will suffer because of it (or just not prosper as much and we all want to be as happy as possible, right?).

That’s a bad thought process. AND a wrong one. That thought process limits God. As if God could not make me prosper anywhere else than Houston, or St. Louis, or Beijing, or Rio de Janiero, etc. And I could not prosper without this girl, or that one, or the one over there! Or that I REALLY won’t do any good or learn anything if I teach in that school versus this one.

This is where I find myself fighting my natural inclination and agreeing with Greg Boyd on his view of Open Theism (the belief that God does not know which choice we will make).

If God doesn’t know which choice we will make, he must prepare to work good in all situations.

I believe that I serve the God of POSSIBILITYA God that desires to partner with us as we develop our own self-consciousness, rather than stand in opposition to our foolishness (think of the difference between helping solve a problem and telling you there is a problem).

In the book The Shack the God character is quoted as saying,

“Just because I work incredible good out of unspeakable tragedies doesn’t mean I orchestrate the tragedies. Don’t ever assume that my using something means I caused it or that I need it to accomplish my purposes. That will only lead you to false notions about me.”

God is not a math problem. Even when negatives are part of the equation, the answer is always positive.

Bad things don’t happen because we make wrong decisions. Bad things happen because bad things happen; but when they do we have the comfort of knowing God has a plan (for EXACTLY that situation) to somewhere, somehow work good in our lives. We must not worry about getting off THE plan, we should be working to discover God’s NEW plans for good.

2 Comments

Filed under Theology/Spirituality, Uncategorized

Recycling. Whether or not you believe in it we all need this.

I recently read a quote from Annie Leonard about recycling, that I must say, is pretty convicting…

“There’s a reason that ‘recycling’ comes last in the mantra: Reduce, Reuse, Repair, and Recycle.”

Moving to Houston last August I was fairly disappointed and a little bit distraught at the barriers facing those who wish to recycle.

If it isn’t obvious, my social-moralism took a hit. The creation care that I had preached so heavily throughout college felt like a distant identity. I was forced to throw recyclables away…

Ok, that’s all the crying you’ll hear from me on that, because… there is so much more to creation care than recycling!

“Green” folks out there, put your judgments where they belong… in the trash can.

You anti-long haired, hippie, hackysack playing, earthlovers… listen up.

Whether you believe in recycling or not, we could all use a little reduction in our consumption. We would all benefit from eating less, buying less, and using less. When there are floating islands of trash in the ocean, I think it is a sign to reduce what we use.

We could all benefit from some reuse as well. I recently was given a massive and sturdy desk in fairly good condition for $10. Something comparable from Office Depot would run me about $300. The price difference is worth a couple nicks in the finish if you ask me.

And lastly, I know for a fact we could all use a little more repairing in our lives. We all complain about planned and perceived obsolescence (click for a video explanation and feel free to watch the whole “Story of Stuff”), but we aren’t willing to do anything about it. We just go along with the program and throw away broken things and buy new ones instead of repairing what we have.

Obviously, I’m going to keep searching for ways to recycle, but I’m also going to be challenging myself to reduce what I use, reuse what others don’t want, and repair things we all use.

I don’t know how this applies to your individual life, but I’m not you. So, try it out and let me know how it goes.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

New wine into old wine skins

Jesus uses this metaphor in the middle of Mark chapter 2. I honestly never really understood it until a few days ago.

In a discussion with a friend I argued that Jesus often breaks the Mosaic law to prove a point. Like most Christians upon hearing such a claim, my friend quoted Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, “I did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it.”

Immediately I thought that it was a stupid argument because in Mark 2 alone Jesus and his disciples break at LEAST four Mosaic laws… (claiming to be God, communing with sinners, disregarding the fasting laws, and working on the Sabbath).

However, I stand corrected, because Jesus did not come to abolish or even break the Mosaic law… he came to burst it open and expose its blood and guts!

Jesus came to ‘fulfill’ the law… to fill it to its fullest.

I like to think of the Mosaic law as the bottle in which God fed an infant humanity. We were force-fed one way to live life. Compare it to the way we force-feed babies one kind of food. It sounds bad, but really infants shouldn’t be exposed to much else besides water and milk, but as they grow other drinks become more accessible and more enjoyable.

The same can be said of how we relate to God.

As we grow and experience more things we become better acquainted to who God is, what God wants, and how we are supposed to interact with him.

Jesus (the physical representation of God) fills the Mosaic law so full that it ends up breaking itself trying to contain him.

Jesus is the new wine that is bursting the old wine skins open.

While this may seem scary or counterproductive to the covenant Abraham made with God, it does allow for greater freedom for the expression of love to both God and to other people (the blood and guts of the law).

  • If we aren’t required to pray a certain way, then we may express ourselves more honestly
  • If we aren’t required to Sabbath a certain day, our rest habits may serve our life schedule more appropriately/productively
  • If we aren’t required to kill adulterers, there is more freedom to extend forgiveness
  • If we aren’t required to pay our tithe to a corrupt Church, our funds may better serve the needy
  • When women are allowed to be in leadership, our Churches are filled with a more diverse and representative voice
  • When we are allowed to commune with those unlike us, we evangelize wordlessly and without confrontation

When the old wine skins are ‘burst’ in this manner, God’s love is able to be experienced on a whole new level by all sorts of new people.

This video is a good visual representation. Notice how the pieces of the balloon burst everywhere leaving just the water… like the love of God. Acting as a “flood” like the man says. Floods are scary, but they also fertilize dry and barren land. Let’s not be scared of living lives that ‘burst’ the law open.

1 Comment

Filed under Theology/Spirituality, Uncategorized