Friday, July 30, 2010

328: Lesbians, Finally

Romans 1-3
"Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion." - Romans 1:26-27

Romans is written by Paul as a letter to the people of Rome. The time frame is a little unclear though. Paul says that he has longed to visit Rome, but has been unable to "until now". Does this mean he's about to go to Rome (right after his trial)? Or that he's already in Rome? If it's the latter there's not much reason for him to be writing a letter.

The first thing Paul talks about after his introduction is God's wrath against the world. He first talks about atheists (godless people). These atheists, claims Paul, are suppressing God's message, because God has so obviously made himself clear. He says this: "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse". Somehow I think believers in Thor and Zeus would debate you on how clear the Judeo-Christian God reveals himself.

Because of this godlessness, God "gave them over" to all sorts of sexual desires. Does this mean to say that sexual impurity is some sort of punishment for sin? The sexual impurity that Paul mentions is homosexuality. This is the first time that female homosexuals are mentioned.

Paul goes on to mention all sorts of other wickedness including greed, gossip, strife, deceit, disobeying parents, and being senseless. Paul says that all of these things are deserving of death. This would also imply that all these sins are about as bad as the homosexuality.

However, at the beginning of chapter 2, Paul says that nobody can pass judgement on anyone else, because we are all guilty of at least one of these aforementioned wickednesses. Paul says that the very things you condemn other people for are the things you do. Why do the people who use Romans to condemn gays then ignore this paragraph about not judging people?

Paul then goes on a rant about circumcision. And how someone who is circumcised, yet breaks the law, is like someone who isn't circumcised. However, he says that if you're not circumcised, yet follow the law, can still be righteous. Then what's the point of cutting of part of your penis? It seems to make absolutely no difference.

This all leads up to the end of chapter three where Paul says that we all sin, and that our only way to redemption is through Jesus. Finally, we receive this revelation. It seems that up to this point, Jesus has been more about bringing the Holy Spirit/wisdom to humanity than actually atoning for our sins.

A vicar from London says that Christianity needs some "street talk":
Rev Michael Land is encouraging worshippers to get 'streetwise' by swearing.

Offering up some encouragement he sermonised about a recent road rage incident where he told a motorist to ‘**** off ’ while wearing his dog collar.

The 67-year-old even claimed that Jesus regularly liked to swear and urged church-goers not to ‘place him on a pedestal’.
Where exactly does Jesus cuss up a storm in the bible? I think telling a fellow motorist to "fuck off" is rather contrary to the "love your enemy" concept. Jesus also said that hate coming out of your mouth would imply hate in your heart, and you're not supposed to hate anyone.

I would agree with him if he were merely saying that Christians should be allowed to use those words. I don't think there's anything about the word "fuck" that makes it inherently bad. It's all about the context in which the Reverend used the word.
He said: ‘The church needs to modernise and that means keeping up with the trends in language. People view Jesus through tinted spectacles and place him on a pedestal.

‘The reality is that he was poor, lacked any real education and did not fraternise with Pharisees or scholars. People today would probably be quite shocked at the language he used.’
Who's side is this guy on? The bible says that Jesus did fraternize with Pharisees and scholars. The bible says that Jesus was thoroughly educated on the Old Testament laws. Has this guy read the bible? Of course, everyone can choose for themselves whether the bible is absolutely true or not, but it seems like at least Reverends need to tow the party line.
The vicar also has a less than traditionally Christian view about doorstep begging, adding: ‘Whilst working in London I would often have people knocking on my door and asking for money. ‘I would never give in and usually shut the door on them. Just because I am a vicar I am not a soft touch.’
He wouldn't give to a poor person that came to his door? One of Jesus's biggest messages (if not the biggest) was to give all your money away. How could he have missed the mark this much?

In the name of experiment, I guess I should at least try this "street talk" thing (in the name of bringing myself closer to God, of course). So here it is: Dear Reverend Land, you're a fucking idiot. Yeah, that just made me sound like a douchebag.


  1. That reverend is AMAZING. "I know he's the Son of God, but don't place him on a pedestal!" Who SHOULD Christians be placing on a pedestal, then?

    Just found your blog from the Atheist Blogroll; I've started a similar thing, though not with nearly as much thought or discipline. Hooray for atheists reading the Bible, it makes for great justification.

  2. Finally we come to real, relatively early, Christianity. Heretofore we've been reading fictionalized stories written decades after the fact by persons unknown. Now we have, for the next few books at least, the earliest known Christian writings, from only 15-25 years or so after the time of Jesus, with only a few interpolations and light editing.

    It's striking to see how different this presentation is from that we find in the Gospels and Acts. When you read the epistles, think to yourself, what is the author saying about Jesus? What is he saying about the early church?

  3. Romans 1-3

    Rom 1:1. Paul refers to himself as an apostle, a designation that is inconsistently used for him in Acts, because Acts at first asserts that only the Twelve were apostles. The gospel (which means Paul's preaching, not a written document) is that of God, not Jesus.

    Rom 1:2. The gospel is based on scripture, not the teachings of Jesus.

    Rom 1:3. The gospel is about Jesus Christ, but its is God's gospel about him. The NIV reads into the Greek words here - the expression that they translate as "his human nature" is actually "kata sarka," which is a strange expression found only in Paul's letters and can be translated as "in accordance with the flesh," "of the flesh," "in the realm of the flesh," "in the sphere of the flesh," or, most famously, "in the flesh." What Paul exactly means by this is never clarified in his letters.

    That Jesus was of the seed of David (the literal words) was deduced from scripture, as we have seen.

    Rom 1:4. As in acts, we have here an assertion that Jesus was appointed (cf. footnote b in the NIV - this is the true reading) the Son of God after his death.

    Rom 1:5. Paul makes clear that his mission is to the Gentiles. No mention is made of him also trying to convert Jews. And apostles are called by Jesus. It is unclear who else is being included in "we" here ; presumably he means other apostles.

    Rom 1:6,13. He appears to be writing to Gentiles.

    Rom 1:9. Paul serves God in preaching about Jesus. As we've seen already, Paul usually expresses things this way - Jesus is a passive figure being preached about.

    Rom 1:13. Nothing was said in Acts about Paul intending to go to Rome prior to his final trip to Jerusalem but being blocked.

    Rom 1:15. Some manuscripts don't have "at Rome."

    Rom 1:16;2:9-10: "first for the Jew, then for the Gentile." By this expression, used thrice, Paul means that God's message (grace, etc.) first came to the Jews and then the scriptures. But in Acts Luke appears to have taken Paul literally, so he depicts Paul as always, when entering a new city, first preaching to the Jews, and then only after they reject him does he turn to the Gentiles. From Paul's letters we can actually see that Paul thought of his mission as that to the Gentiles from the start.

  4. I've seen a video of him giving a sermon. It made me feel horribly uncomfortable. I can only imagine how the christians must have been squirming...



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