How to Find a Skunk

Philosophy, Politics, Religion

Skunk

During the height of his steroids scandal, a reporter asked pitcher Roger Clemens about his opinion on those who accused him of juicing. His response was a quote from his mother.

“Never get into a pissing contest with a skunk.”

This is pretty good advice, especially when it comes to social media. In the past couple days I’ve found myself soaked quite a bit in skunk urine thanks to the discussions surrounding duck caller Phil Robertson. In case you haven’t heard he made some ill-advised comments about the lives of African Americans prior to the Civil Rights movement and the sexual effect of a woman’s vagina vs. a man’s anus. Like many of the great debates in our time, the intellectual back and forth has been aired out on Twitter and Facebook.

Most of the time when there’s a controversial news topic, I shy away from the online bickering. I once lost a friend (well on Facebook anyway) about the Trayvon Martin shooting. When I do venture into a hyped discussion, I try to keep my opinions on topic and usually I stick to it.

Couple of things I’ve learned about social media squabbles 1) you never change anyone’s opinion about the subject matter and 2) you never feel better after unleashing your view on said subject matter.

My  latest foray into online debate centered on Robertson’s incendiary comments and how 1) he was entitled to make them, 2) A&E was entitled to kick him off the air, 3) Biblical edicts are sometimes relative (i.e. slavery, bacon, gays, etc.) and 4) I have a poor habit of “selective reading” as one of my friend’s friends put it.

I had a long night answering comments from people who claim 1) that Christianity is under attack,  2) that my education is inadequate, 3) that Muslims have free speech which Christians don’t, 4) that my remarks really miss the point, etc. etc. etc. etc. Luckily I think I survived the night with most of my friends and followers lists intact.

I knew what I was getting into but I just couldn’t help myself. Why do I, and others for that matter, feel the need to argue even when they know they can’t win? For me, I guess there’s this hope that maybe I can at least get others to see a different point of view. Their personal stance may not change but they’ll broaden their perspective. Hopefully.

This never happens. Ever.

I think that social media and the Internet in general fuels people’s sense of self-importance. Maybe because we feel that we can broadcast our opinions to the entire world in an instant it somehow gives those opinions some sort of credence. It’s particularly enticing when you know that your message is concentrated to people you know. (Only egomaniacs spout their opinions for everyone on a blog.)

Unfortunately though, online “debates” usually become nothing but a bunch of people sharing opinions that everyone already knows. No one becomes educated or enlightened. It just turns into a digital yelling match and the volume of your voice does not make you right. (Except for me. I’m always right.)

Word of advice though, when you see a skunk, turn around. Walking away doesn’t mean the skunk is right about gay marriage.

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Slavery, Bacon, Gays and Jesus

Philosophy, Religion

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One of the things that has always bothered me about the Bible is the flexibility of the social codes. So many Christians are willing to tout the infallibility of the text and yet claim some of the more unsavory aspects are no longer applicable.

Jesus didn’t have a problem with slavery. (More often than not, the Bible referred to them as “servants” but really, they were slaves.) He never condemned it. He never advocated that a person’s life is their own. In fact, he actually healed a man’s dying servant. He was willing to save the slave’s life but not give them freedom. The Bible is riddled with rules that delineate the relationship between master and slave.

There were many times during the days of American slavery where owners would use the Bible as justification for their owning slaves.

But today, we have a moral repulsion to slavery. It’s even an established right in America that you can’t be owned by anyone.

Then there’s divorce. Jesus was pretty clear on this one.

“Now I say this to you: anyone who divorces his wife — I am not speaking of an illicit marriage — and marries another, is guilty of adultery.'” (Matthew 19:9)

Sooooo, either there are a sea of adulterers out there (half of all marriages) or we’re not having a whole lot of proper marriages.

I’m willing to bet that a lot of divorced Christians don’t consider themselves adulterers. I can’t stop myself form typing out that Evangelicals have the highest divorce rate among Christians.

Many times I hear the arguments from fellow Christians that Jesus preached during a different time in history, when slavery was allowed and divorce was frowned upon. They say that the times have changed since He walked the Earth.

This applies to the entire Bible of course. Polygamy, slavery, stonings— they were legal, encouraged even. Divorce, eating pork, women serving food while on their periods—they were forbidden. Yet so many Christians want to use the Bible to justify their positions to castigate homosexuality, hate Muslims, legislate morality among others.

Homosexuality is a personal favorite. Just like eating pork and divorce, it is condemned in the Bible. Why is it that views on divorce, premarital sex and ham have relaxed but not on being gay?

Bottom line: if values change from one era to another, then we can’t cherry pick elements out of the Bible that we want to apply and others that we don’t. Buffet-style morality based on the Bible isn’t based on the Bible at all.

When you do that, you’re selections aren’t Bible-based— they’re really the mores that WE want to see enforced. If you really believe in God or Jesus Christ, then you would already know that people don’t have the authority to play Solomon with the Good Book.

Let’s just admit that Christians are using the Bible and its text as a front for their own personal fears and hatred of things they don’t like. When they say that the Bible says homosexuality is wrong, they’re really saying that THEY personally think homosexuality is wrong and that they have the authority to deem it so.

Well, we are not God or Jesus.

But we are divorcees, gays, bacon lovers, sinners and most importantly, free.