In what do Christians believe?

Feb. 1st, 2007


I was just reading an article in The Advocate, a gay-issues national newspaper, entitled Gay marriage re-emerges as legislative issue, written by Brian Lockhart. In it, he quotes State Rep. David Aldarondo, D-Waterbury, as saying: “I am a Christian. I believe in the family, a married man with a woman.”

This got me to thinking: I, a former Christian, indeed a former Fundamentalist Christian, had always thought that Christians believed that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ paid the penalty for their sins, allowing them, on acceptance of the sacrifice, into Heaven without additional sacrifice or time in Hell.

Which brought me up against an earlier quote from the same article: “…Republican Senate leader Louis DeLuca said gay marriage goes beyond policy issues.

“The definition of marriage goes back to Christ,” said DeLuca, R-Woodbury.” (This is in Connecticut, not on the Federal level.)

Now, to the best of my knowledge, not only does marriage pre-date Christ by several millenia, but Jesus himself was somewhat ambiguous on the entire idea of marriage. He didn’t think people should divorce each other lightly (in fact, not unless there was adultery going on), but on the other hand, he was quite fine with people not being married at all. See:

Luke 14:25-27 (Contemporary English Version)
Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society
[American Bible Society]
(Matthew 10.37,38)
25Large crowds were walking along with Jesus, when he turned and said:
26You cannot be my disciple, unless you love me more than you love your father and mother, your wife and children, and your brothers and sisters. You cannot come with me unless you love me more than you love your own life.
27You cannot be my disciple unless you carry your own cross and come with me.

Paul agreed.

1 Corinthians 7
Marriage
1Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry.[a] 2But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. 3The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband.

Or, to paraphrase, If you must have sex, marry someone, don’t just sleep around. And if you getmarried, be sure and satisfy your spouse sexually. But it’s better if you just don’t have sex atall – so if you can get away without being married, do that.

So I have shown that marriage is an ambiguous question for historical Christianity; Don’t marry if you can get away without it, don’t love your spouse more than you love Jesus, and don’t be a celibate spouse – but don’t divorce unless there are sexual shenanigans on your spouse’s part.

Being a Christian is about something entirely different.

Mark 10 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society
17As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
18″Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.'[d]”
20″Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
21Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
23Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
24The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is[e] to enter the kingdom of God! 25It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

It’s about not only being just in all your dealings but also being generous to the poor.

And in Luke 10:

25On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26″What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
27He answered: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'[c]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'[d]”
28″You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
29But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35The next day he took out two silver coins[e] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36″Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Being a Christian is not only about being good to your own kind, but also about being kind to people who are entirely different from you, even to people whom you have no good reason to trust. In fact, if I’m reading this parable correctly, a punked-out lesbian biker might be a “better Christian” than a Moral Majority judge.

Moreover, being Christian is not about proving that you’re Christian to others:

Matthew 6:4-6 (New International Version)(NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

1″Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

2″So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 3But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

5″And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 6But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Instead, quite plainly, it is about doing things in private, in secret – and not in school or in elected office or in the boardroom.

Even further, though, come the various creeds that Christianity has designed to define itself as separate from, say, Judaism (its source religion) and Islam (its daughter religion): the Nicene Creed,which says in one version:

We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

– i.e., a brief biography of Jesus, and no mention of marriage in any form whatsoever. Or look at the much shorter Apostles’ Creed:

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. AMEN.

Nary a thing about marriage anywhere.

The only possible conclusion to which I can come is: these people have no clue as to whom or what they believe in.

And therefore they have no business whatsoever telling the rest of us what we should do or not do.

I see no reason to listen to, or obey, those who are illiterate in their own beliefs.

Tuppence in the change bowl.

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