Thursday, February 02, 2006

Who Would Jesus Firebomb?

The New York Times reports today on the controversy over a new film, "End of the Spear," produced by the evangelical film company Every Tribe, which tells the true story of the family of missionaries killed by a native tribe in Ecuador in 1956. Some conservative Christians have launched a protest and even a boycott of the film because one of the actors is openly gay.

The actor in question is Chad Allen, "who assists troubled young gay men and lesbians and speaks on behalf of same-sex marriage," according to the Times.

There is much to be troubled about. First, they're espousing employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, and the Rev. Jason Janz, who is leading the protest, defends his position by saying if a drunk who "promoted drunkenness" had acted in the movie, "I'd be just as mad." In deciding how to respond to the film, the president of the Central Baptist Seminary in Minnesota wrote in his weblog, "Granted, we must not overreact. And it would probably be an overreaction to firebomb these men's houses."

Probably? Do we need a new bumpersticker, one that says, "Who Would Jesus Firebomb?"

But let's put that aside, for a moment, since of course people are constitutionally entitled to various religious beliefs regarding sexuality, and parts of the Bible do expressly condemn homosexual behavior. (Right there next to where it bans eating pork, tells you to get a priest to get rid of your mildew, and declares women unclean for seven days every month.)

Here is the part of the article that really got my goat: Will Hall, Executive Director of BPNews.net, said the concern is that young people inspired by the movie will look up Mr. Allen on the Web and "get exposed to his views on homosexuality, and that would cause some of them to question Biblical views of homosexuality and every other sin."

I've written before on the importance of doubt when it comes to genuine faith.

There is nothing wrong with questioning God and questioning the Bible. Period. If you never ask questions, you never get answers. The almighty, all-powerful, omnipotent God is not afraid of a question. Seriously. But don't take my word for it, take the Bible's. Here are some people you may have heard of who openly questioned God.

Moses: Then Moses turned again to the LORD and said, "O LORD, why hast thou done evil to this people? Why didst thou ever send me?"

Joshua: And Joshua said, "Alas, O Lord GOD, why hast thou brought this people over the Jordan at all, to give us into the hands of the Amorites, to destroy us? Would that we had been content to dwell beyond the Jordan!"

Gideon: And Gideon said to him, "Pray, sir, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this befallen us? And where are all his wonderful deeds which our fathers recounted to us, saying, 'Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?' But now the LORD has cast us off, and given us into the hand of Mid'ian."

Job: "Why did I not die at birth, come forth from the womb and expire?"

King David: "Why dost thou stand afar off, O LORD? Why dost thou hide thyself in times of trouble?"

Isaiah: "Where are thy zeal and thy might? The yearning of thy heart and thy compassion are withheld from me."

The Apostles: Then the disciples came and said to him, "Why do you speak to them in parables?"

St. Peter: "Lord, why cannot I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you."

Did God strike these people down? Did Jesus say, "How dare you question me! I smite thee!" Yeah...not so much. In fact, when the disciples asked Jesus why he couldn't just give people a straight answer, he calmly responded, "Because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand."

So why do evangelicals, who believe in scriptural inerrancy, think it's wrong to question God when it happens so frequently in the Bible? The four Gospels are virtually a Q&A session with Jesus.

It's because they have no faith in their own faith. They know in their hearts that their messages of hate, bigotry and ignorance that they claim as the Gospel don't line up with what the Bible really says about how to treat people and what God's priorities for us are. God gave us eyes with which to see, ears with which to hear, and brains to process the information -- brains which are capable of asking, "Why?" But they choose not to see, they choose not to hear, and they choose not to ask.

Faith which has not been tested by doubt is not faith at all. It's delusion.

24 comments:

Jeff said...

Thank you!

That whole article really annoyed me, but that was the part that annoyed me most. It's in line with what the Bush administration has been saying lately - "don't question us."

I hate it when people don't think for themselves. Hate it.

little-cicero said...

I question my faith and God often. On secular issues such as gay marriage, I think secularly and openly, but I still believe that marriage ought to be reserved for a man and a woman, and civil unions should be protected for other types of unions which are not based in traditional and religious roots. Does that meant that I am a bigot, I certainly hope not.

As for evangelicals, many of them are truly narrow minded on this subject, not even allowing for civil unions, but this is not an inability to question God, it is an unwillingness to break His law. I appreciate your scriptural composition, because it proves that we CAN question God, but questioning God and breaking His law are two completely different things. You might notice if you go back to your well-selected quotes, that none of these prophets actually broke biblical law or went against God's will, or encouraged others to do so. God, like a parent, can be argued, but is always the authority, and must be obeyed if we are sure that He spoke of a law through the prophets. However, I must argue that evangelicals DO have faith, it is just misguided at times making them stray from compromise.

Esther said...

I've known a lot of evangelicals in my lifetime, I've even been one. And not one of the ones I have known have been the weirdos you constantly describe on here. Really, I am so tired of people bashing evangelicals just because the most outspoken evangelicals are screwballs like Pat Robertson.

Pat Robertson said...

Now that's just sinful Esther. I thought you were on my side. Looks like you joined the Left and all the others against me. God will punish you all, you will not be spared. A hurricane will hit your Indiana residence at exactly 12:00 tonight, and Hugo Chavez will have been assasinated.

Onward Christian Soldiers- Marching out to War...

Andy said...

Esther, sweetie, I love you, but...I'm the basher? I'm not making this stuff up. We've got people who actually believe that homosexuality is a disorder akin to alcoholism, when in fact the only condition homosexuality could accurately be compared with is heterosexuality. The President of the most powerful country in the world, in his most important annual speech about the condition of our nation and the direction it needs to take, felt that of all the issues out there, legal recognition of my relationship is such a threat that it was worthy of being mentioned, right up there with human-animal hybrids. If the evangelicals you know aren't like this, why don't they speak up and reclaim their integrity from the bastards in the spotlight? Don't shoot the messenger honey. Calling me a basher because I happen to point out the prejudice I live with every day, that threatens my civil liberties and even my physical safety, is ridiculous.

little-cicero said...

You gave me hell for generalizations, it only seems natural that I should do the same.

You are classifying all evangelicals as right-wing Bible Thumping ignorami like Reverand Jason Janz may well be. That would be like me saying that all lesbians are like Rosie O'Donnell...she is part of the fringe of lesbians, so I would not judge all lesbians by her. It would be fair to say that Rev. Jason Janz is a radical or extremist, but he is certainly not representative of the majority of Evangelicals, who are simply hardworking, faithful individuals. I realize in turn that not all lesbians are butch, chest beating man-eaters like Rosie seems to be. It's all about representation. The media focuses on the outrageous.

David in KC said...

Andy,

You demonstrate your true Christianity by continuing to let "little-cicero" comment on your posts.

Thanks for the line about "the only thing homosexuality can be compared to is heterosexuality." That's God's truth.

Aethlos said...

Hey, andy: just wanted to let you know that my blog, Weltanschauung, moved into a subdirectory. New address is: aethlos.com/welt
sorry for the inconvenience!
xoxoxoox
-Spencer

Andy said...

Actually, both Esther and L-C are right to admonish me for generalizations. Jim Wallis, one of my favorite theologians, calls himself an Evangelical, as do his many supporters and the folks who regularly read Sojourner's Magazine, which definitely would not appeal to the fire-and-brimstone crowd.

So yes, I'm quite happy to admit not all Evangelicals are the same.

Still, guys, you make it sound like Rev. Janz is part of the fringe extreme. During the 2004 elections, 11 states passed anti-gay legislation and Rove's entire strategy was one giant pander to Evangelical groups like Focus on the Family and the AFA. While I will happily admit that there is diversity within Evangelicalism, let's not deny that homophobia is more common than not.

Andy said...

Pat, you dumb twat. The song is "Onward Christian Soldiers, marching AS to war." No wonder the MSM thought Jerry Falwell was referring to an "assault ministry." Sheesh.

Kard said...

See... I have no problems with anyone of any religion but it *does* amount to something when they go all personal. To quote an incident, a new friend, whom I offered my hand in frienship asked me what my hobbies are. So yes, I told her and showed her some of artwork.

That night, the conversation turned into a nightmare of her "commenting" and "asking" why do I draw and edit pictures and whereupon I get my ideas from. Proceeded to ask me about my background and asked if I had any dabbling with witchcraft (the kind that does blood worship and the sort). On top of that, telling me how perturbed and disturbed she was after looking at my artwork because she felt that my artwork was eerie.

I'm absolutely fine with comments on my artwork. I could always use criticism. Constructive or otherwise. But hers was ultimate. She believes that my artwork had some form of demonic association to the Devil himself. To add injury to that insult, she believes that I have taken the Devil's hand and walk with him. And that I should turn back to Jesus and let go of this hobby because (quote) "there are more meaningful things to do".

And all this over me giving my hand in friendship. Says a lot doesn't it?

Oh yes, of course, being told that some will never be ordained to hold the hand of The Lord.

epicurist said...

I think god in whatever form s/he exists, will not be offended by a question of one's faith. Let it not be forgotten that Christ himself upon his death at Golgotha said "Yahweh, why hath thou forsaken me?"

If they are going to make a fuss about choosing a gay man to play the role in a Christian film, maybe they should burn all of Barbara Streisands "Christmas" albums. I mean honestly, if were going to stick with something, let's stick to it.

epicurist said...

Am I going to hell for wearing a shirt blended with cotton and lycra?

Andy said...

It depends on where you bought it.

Esther said...

Well, I guess I don't know many evangelicals who are pro gay marriage. So, you've got a point there. I just don't know any who would censor and hate a homosexual person on sight or sound.

Or on second thought, the outspoken evangelicals are a bit bigoted and the rest of them are always annoyed because their spokespeople are not in line with the mainstream. Most evangelicals are against gay marriage, but they would not stand out there holding signs that say "God hates f-----s." (I can't even write the word it makes me feel so bad.) On the other hand, homosexuals often have rather annoying outspoken people too. Maybe some better people in the PR positions would help both sides of the issue.

I didn't mean to call you a basher and I apologize. I just don't like the generalizations.

little-cicero said...

Generalizations in general are not something to be sorry for. The one you used did allow you to make a logical conclusion, but since it was not based in fact, it led to a faulty conclusion. I just wanted to clarify my opinions on generalizations.

Also, I would have to disagree with your sentiment that just because one votes against gay marriage, one is against homosexuals, or "anti-gay". People generally think on the basis of what is best for society, not what is worst for those whose ways they disagree with. I hope to God with all my heart that at no point will this country ever take away the actual individual civil rights of homosexuals, but those rights do not include the definition of marriage.

Kard said...

With that little bit on what L-C said...

I do not have anything against being in a relationship, short or long or life-long. I'm certain that all of us would want to settle down one day with someone we love.

Couple of friends have asked me about my opinion of gay marriage, my initial response (sorry Andy), I opposed it. It has nothing to do with the entire "marriage is for a man and woman thing". I was thinking more for the validity (loosely termed) and legal implications of such an institution.

I'm sure you are no stranger to this Andy. Most gay men (maybe just about anyone), in the initial part of a relationship, feel that yes, this is who I wanna be with for the rest of my life. Most of course don't work beyond the point of the "honeymoon" period. I can't imagine legalising such a thing and have tons of gay men who are in budding relationships lining up for that marriage certificate. Few months in bliss and then a divorce when things don't work out?

There are level headed people out there. I'm sure of that. There are those who have been in relationship that are far longer than I could possibly imagine too and for them, it has become a life-long commitment. In view for this group, I am for it.

My stand on it, is still a little unclear unless someone can explain how this whole marriage thing works.

On a side note, my bf would probably kick my arse for saying something like that. ;)

Andy said...

Well, if I can be so lazy, allow me to cut and paste a comment I left recently on a friend's blog: I will address the issue of marriage and tell you why it’s important. Lack of marriage rights has prevented people from visiting their committed partners in the hospital, and in some cases means they weren’t with them when they passed away. Recently in New Jersey, a grieving woman was told by the hospital that she did not have legal authority to say what should be done with her partner’s remains. Another woman was kept out of the delivery room when her partner gave birth because the law does not define her as “family.” When the biological parent in a same-sex couple passes away, the children are sometimes taken and given to foster families, even if the non-biological parent is the only other parent they have ever known, simply because they are not blood relatives. In Indiana, a judge tried to void an already-approved adoption after he found out the parents-to-be were lesbians. In New York, the family of a 9/11 victim successfully contested his will and took possession of his home and all his belongings as well as his pension, leaving his HIV+ life-partner with nothing because they did not approve of the relationship. Etc., etc., etc. That is why it matters.

I might also add that the American Psychiatric Association has come out in favor of same-sex marriage, saying the psychological harm that is done to people by official lack of recognition of their relationship status is very real.

Furthermore, here in America, we have a little thing called the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which says that all citizens must be treated equally by the law. Anything less than full marriage creates a second-class status for gay and lesbian Americans.

Kard said...

Nah it's fine. Nothing lazy about that (I think). Well, that makes things clearer. Your points are taken.

little-cicero said...

Wait just a minute before you convert kard to a pro-redefinition position.

Gay marriage, if you look at it realistically is a redefinition of marriage. Marriage has been between a man and a woman as expressed in State Constitutions for all of this countries history. For the great majority of states, there is no ban on same sex marriage, only said definitions. What has been happening in California has been a redefinition through a stealth resolution attached by way of pork to an unrelated bill. Surely you wouldn't deny that you are indeed aiming to change the States definitions of marriage to "between two people". That is not to say that said redefinition is wrong or right, but is that not what is occuring.

Kard said...

L-C,

Care to elaborate your points a little?

Andy said...

L-C, sometimes you are really a selfish little twerp. Here I share with you REAL stories of people who have been put through hell, all of which could have been avoided through simple recognition of the obvious: same-sex couples form committed relationships that are as deserving of legal protection as heterosexuals. It comes back to "seeing without seeing." It's so obvious.

And all you can respond with is this empty rhetoric of "redefining marriage." First, NOTHING CHANGES for the heterosexual community, got it? Nothing. If you would choose to open your eyes and see while you see, it would become plain to you how ugly and brutal the "tradition of matrimony that stretches back for millennia" is. Are you going to try to go all Biblical on my ass? Because the Bible says any man who divorces his wife and marries another woman is committing adultery. Period. Are the Republicans, the self-appointed guardians of God's righteousness, putting up legislation against that? No, they're getting married multiple times. Plus, our government is a secular one, so that line of reasoning is irrelevant anyway.

Just because something has always been "so" does not mean there is any good reason to continue it. Prior to the Emancipation there had always been slavery in the U.S.; would you justify continuing it just because we had it before? Segregated schools? How about a hereditary monarchy? It's absolutely stupid to say something is bad just because it's new.

Furthermore, it's not that new. Gay people have been forming relationships and making their own families since the dawn of time. It's time that the 14th Amendment was put into full force and equality under the law extended to all Americans.

Kard said...

It is really not difficult to see from Andy's point of view. Granted, I wouldn't want that to happen to me or my significant other. I believe Andy is asking for equal treatment, that a couple (who have been together for a long time), should be entitled to the same kind of rights that heterosexual are given. I think it's only fair.

Heh. Frankly, I think the entire concept here, is that homosexual couples want the same rights given to heterosexual couples. Equality in that sense. However, because it touches the word "marriage", it becomes some form of biblical redefinition if the government should give the same rights to homosexual couples. It's two entirely different concepts that has found common ground with a very obvious (perhaps, clever) by-play of the word, "marriage". Cause while one group asks for the same rights, the other claims that by doing so it is a redefinition. This argument, frankly, in my not so humble point of view, is just an argument *over-a-word*. Period.

I'm all go for the legalisation and extension of rights to homosexual couples. I think, by far and large, only fair. Because there should be no differentiation over something like skin colour, sexual orientation, gender, ethnicity, height, weight etc.

I mean since you're going pick on such differences, why not go all out and pick on something as small as height, weight or how much hair a person has on his body or head.

What's the point eh?

P.S.: Andy, I didn't ever know that that's what the bible says of men who divorce their wives to marry another woman. Cause you know how the whole islamic thing is, a man is able to marry 4 women (what a colossal joke).

little-cicero said...

"Selfish little twerp" That hurts coming from you Andy!

Honestly, I feel more pain than you think I do for those who are persecuted by unChristian scum that beat homosexuals to make themselves feel vindicated, but I try to keep my passion out of politics, which is exactly what you should do, which is hard for me to ask seeing that you obviously feel so much pain over these issues.

My comment was a result of my frustration over your apparent refusal to answer the clear cut question. Whether it is right or wrong, forgetting any nuance as to whether reality binds us to a more inclusive definition, which it very well may, are you or are you not aiming to change the definition of marriage. I am searching for clarity, not agreement, and I understand that your nuances are valid, but please answer the simple question!

I honestly am on your side for the equality and protection of homosexuals, and if I seem callous in my arguments, it is not intentional, just the Joe Friday in me. I should mention, by the way, that I was, at the beginning of this issue, pro-Gay Marriage.