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A blog dedicated to the Source of everything good.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Kerry's reference to Mary Cheney

during the final presidential debate, as quoted by FoxNews:

We're all God's children, Bob, and I think if you were to talk to Dick Cheney's daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that she's being who she was. She's being who she was born as. I think if you talk to anybody, it's not a choice.

First of all, to which God is Kerry referring? The One as revealed in the Bible? The One he supposedly worships as a Catholic?

Note to whom he gives authority to decide whether or not homosexuality is a choice.

He’s saying, ask the homosexuals whether or not they have a choice. He seems to be assuming that each individual knows themselves best, and knows the truth about themselves the best. If this is true, Sen. Kerry, then where exactly does your God fit into the picture?

There are many issues besides homosexuality, some common to just some of us and others common to all of us, that require us to look to a higher authority for truth and understanding. In one instance, we may have many choices according to God, whereas on our own, we fear we have none. Or, in another instance, perhaps we don’t have a certain choice that’s acceptable to God, but wish we did. None of us can “save ourselves.” This is why we need God’s mercy and forgiveness through Jesus Christ. Not to mention His teaching. That’s the gospel.

Of course, Kerry is wrong in saying “if you talk to anybody, it’s not a choice.” I’ve read accounts by former homosexuals who testify that there was choice involved. (I couldn’t find those particular accounts online, but did find this and this.)

And then there’s the science involved, as discussed in this article.

It’s pretty clear that Kerry hasn’t been talking to just “anybody.”

Matthew 7:15-16 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?”


22 Comments:

  • So people who used to be gay think that there was a choice involved? That sounds pretty reasonable. Do you think the fact that they 'gave it up' might be a self-selecting factor? I suspect that close to 100% of people who used to be homosexuals think there's choice involved, but I'm not sure I'd describe them as homosexual. I certainly don't feel any choice about being 'straight', but if I did, and if I decided to become gay I'm not sure I would count myself a good example of what heterosexuality is.

    PS, I imagine he was referring to God, of whom the bible and the Catholic church are but fleeting reflections. One of the problems I have with faith is that (assuming its existence) God isn't just really powerful, he's omnipotent, so to suggest that anything we could understand would reflect even a billionth of his true nature is laughable.

    By Blogger Paul, at 4:39 PM  

  • Incidentally, do you have any insight on why someone would 'choose' to be gay? Is it because they like being institutionally discriminated against, or hated/pitied by large parts of the world, or just because of an overwhelming interest in printed fabrics? I've posted about this before (http://bopl.samharris.us/pivot/entry.php?id=138) and I'm genuinely curious.

    And the comment there has just reminded me of something. What did Jesus say about homosexuality?

    By Blogger Paul, at 4:44 PM  

  • Paul, this subject is incredibly complicated. I'm not saying that as a cop-out, I'm saying that because it can't be reduced to the simplistic terms you have stated. If you read a few testimonies of "ex-gays" you will see that. "Gayness" runs deep, and is not something that can be cast off like an article of clothing.

    Incidentally, do you have any insight on why someone would 'choose' to be gay? Is it because they like being institutionally discriminated against, or hated/pitied by large parts of the world, or just because of an overwhelming interest in printed fabrics? Sheesh, Paul. Seriously. See paragraph above. I do have some ideas but I think if you follow a couple of the links in my post and look around from there, you'll find plenty of "insight."

    About knowing God's true nature: it's all over the Bible for anyone to read. God says in Isaiah 43:1-2: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you..."

    Psalm 103:7-8: He (God) made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel. The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.

    John 10:14: (words of Jesus) "I am the good shepherd; and I know my own, and My own know me."

    John 14:7: (Jesus, speaking to his disciples) "If you had known me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him..."

    Matthew 7:7-11: Ask and it shall be given you; seek and you shall find; knock and the door shall be opened unto you...what man is there among you, when his son asks him for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!

    By Blogger Bonnie, at 12:01 AM  

  • Using those links to find information presupposes that being gay is a choice, because they are about people who reversed their choice. I've spoken about this with gay friends, and the only choice they have made is to accept how they feel rather than giving in to societal pressure around sexuality. The links you gave provide no information (that I could see) about people who are still gay, but only because they choose to be. So the question stands (and it's not aimed at you specifically, I understand you didn't come up with this idea), though perhaps I should rephrase it slightly:

    Why would (how could) anyone choose to be gay at such a fundamental level that they couldn't even see it was a choice?

    Oh, and a corollary - if they can hide that decision from themselves, what reason is there to think that you and I aren't actually hiding the choice we made to be heterosexual from ourselves? I certainly don't think I am, but then perhaps I'm just hiding it very well.

    A little on what I think - I don't believe that this subject is complicated at all. Most people are heterosexual, some number are homosexual, and a small minority is at some point unsure (either because they're wired that way, or because something in their upbringing has pushed them off their natural path). The only complexity is that I believe sexuality isn't black and white anyway, but that most people fall so heavily into the very dark gray or barely off-white categories that it makes no difference.

    By Blogger Paul, at 7:53 AM  

  • Using those links to find information presupposes that being gay is a choiceNo it doesn't, Paul. Do you believe all those people realized they had a choice all along?

    because they are about people who reversed their choice."reversed?" No, you're misunderstanding the nature of the choice involved.

    I've spoken about this with gay friends, and the only choice they have made is to accept how they feel rather than giving in to societal pressure around sexuality.

    I know lots of people (including myself) who make all kinds of choices. Doesn't mean they are always good choices.

    You are talking from a point of view that assumes everyone is an equal source of authority about everything, and that there is authority in "societal pressure." I'm coming from a point of view that assumes there's an authority above both of those -- as you know. That's the context for what I'm saying.

    Why would (how could) anyone choose to be gay at such a fundamental level that they couldn't even see it was a choice?I answered this in my post -- because all of us need guidance to see past our own foibles. And, as I said, this applies to basically everything human, not just the area of sexuality. Jeremiah 17:9 "The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man (and woman) according his (her) ways, according to the results of his (her) deeds."

    A little on what I think - I don't believe that this subject is complicated at all. Most people are heterosexual, some number are homosexual, and a small minority is at some point unsure (either because they're wired that way, or because something in their upbringing has pushed them off their natural path). The only complexity is that I believe sexuality isn't black and white anyway, but that most people fall so heavily into the very dark gray or barely off-white categories that it makes no difference.I agree that sexuality isn't "black and white," that's part of what I meant about it being complicated. The other part is that it's not just about which gender one feels attracted to; there are a myriad of other components. There are countless heterosexuals with unhealthy sexual attitudes and practices as well. ALL of us need to bring our sexuality under His authority, and not just for His sake.

    By Blogger Bonnie, at 12:56 PM  

  • Please tell me the nature of the choice involved, as it's difficult for me to see? Are you suggesting that homosexuality is some sort of natural resting place for the average person?

    I'm not assuming that everyone is of equal authority on things - I'm assuming that gay people are more of an authority on being gay than, say, you or I.

    I've asked before, but it's worth repeating - what did Jesus say about homosexuality? He took the time to mention divorce (Mark 10:1-12) as being an act that breaks one of the ten commandments, so he must have had a lot to say about homosexuality, right? My understanding was that he didn't say anything, and we assume that he believed what those who came before him believed, even though he so often overturned what people who came before him said.

    By Blogger Paul, at 1:47 PM  

  • Please tell me the nature of the choice involved, as it's difficult for me to see?Paul, I’ve been trying to explain the “nature of the choice” all along.

    Are you suggesting that homosexuality is some sort of natural resting place for the average person?
    I don’t think so.

    I'm not assuming that everyone is of equal authority on things - I'm assuming that gay people are more of an authority on being gay than, say, you or I.I see what you’re saying. I’m assuming that people with homosexual inclinations that make a different choice than your gay friends have some authority on the issue. I’m assuming that Scripture has authority on the issue. I’m assuming that what I can surmise based on my own observations and knowledge of my own self have a measure of authority as well.

    I've asked before, but it's worth repeating - what did Jesus say about homosexuality? He took the time to mention divorce (Mark 10:1-12) as being an act that breaks one of the ten commandments, so he must have had a lot to say about homosexuality, right? My understanding was that he didn't say anything, and we assume that he believed what those who came before him believed, even though he so often overturned what people who came before him said.Jesus didn’t exactly “overturn” what his predecessors said. He came to fulfill what had come before. Rusty wrote about this here.

    In the passage you referred to, Jesus is responding to Pharisees who are trying to trap him. He clearly states that “from the beginning, God made them male and female. For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and the two shall become one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” I think that says a lot about what marriage is, and for whom it is intended. Jesus also has words to say about fornication in Matthew 15:19. Therefore, if Jesus says marriage is to be between a man and a woman, and sex is to be reserved for marriage, then what is He saying about homosexuality?

    In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he says the following: “...Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator...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 inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.” (Rom. 1:24-27)

    By Blogger Bonnie, at 1:57 PM  

  • I'm sorry, I'm still not understanding what the choice is.

    As to the idea of a natural resting place - well you argue later in your reply that god gave men and women over to sin, and that homosexuality is one form of that sin. So it is a natural resting place then? Not a desirable one (by your argument), and one that we should be fighting to leave, but because we've been given over to sin that's where we will naturally tend to end up?

    You and Rusty use the word 'fulfill' as if it means 'carry on just as before'. Jesus overturned many aspects of existing religion. This may have been a fulfillment of existing prophecy, but it was still a revolution.

    I'm unsure how to respond to the last part. Is your argument that homosexuality is sinful (as is divorce, in this example), and as we don't *have* to commit sin it must therefore be a choice?

    By Blogger Paul, at 9:48 AM  

  • Paul, that passage in Romans is best read in a larger context, i.e., chapters 1 & 2, at the minimum. God gives the unrepentant over to sin because of their choice. Yes, I suppose you could say that if one makes that choice, that’s where one will end up. God does not “rescue” people from their bad choices – he allows them choice, and choice results in consequence.

    As to the Jesus “revolution,” it was only a revolution to those who didn’t “get it” before. It wasn’t a revolution to John the Baptist, nor the centurion in Matthew 8, nor the woman who touched Jesus’ robe in Matthew 8:18-22. It was culturally revolutionary because of the traditions which had become mere custom and formality. But for those who still understood the spirit behind the traditions, Jesus was recognizable for who He was.

    Is your argument that homosexuality is sinful (as is divorce, in this example), and as we don't *have* to commit sin it must therefore be a choice?To answer the first part of that question, yes; to the second part, I’d answer yes, to a degree. Sins as committed, per se, are to be distinguished from the sin nature. We cannot escape our sin nature (I know, another one of those boggling concepts) except through God’s redemption in Jesus. The sin nature is what drives us to sin. Yet we can choose obedience when we are aware of how and when to do so. I would say that homosexuality is part of both conditions – rooted in an inescapable sin nature, yet privy to choice in how it’s dealt with.

    By Blogger Bonnie, at 4:57 PM  

  • I took a little time to think about this over the weekend. First, you asked what Jesus' comments about mariage and fornication mean for homosexuality. From what I can find out, fornication is generally defined as sex outside of marriage (either before or as adultery). The biblical definition seems pretty clear that homosexuals can't get married, therefore it is impossible for them to 'fornicate' - I can't break the rules of a club I can't belong to.

    Now I have no idea if that's a fair interpretation, and I would suggest that neither do you. Clearly you'd disagree, but that highlighted the main though I came up with over the weekend. You can argue biblical texts much more effectively than I can (just as I could argue IT-related issues better than you, I imagine), but they don't have any more authority than what I say, *unless* you believe them. I don't question your belief at all, but ultimately all you have is the belief. If I can't attain that same belief, then we could never agree on moral issues except coincidentally, and then not fundamentally.

    So saying all that, I thought I would explain why I don't believe in god (aside from just not happening to that is):

    God is infinitely loving, and omnipotent. Evil exists (we could of course debate what evil is, but let's assume a shared concept for now). God could get rid of the evil if he wanted to (omnipotent), yet he doesn't. Therefore God wants evil things to happen to us. That can't be because it will ultimately good for us in the end, because God could just cause that to happen automatically (more omnipotence). Hence God cannot be infinitely loving (unless he is, but we can't understand it, in which case why should I think we can understand anything else about him). If God is either not omnipotent, or not infintely loving, then he's just like me only more powerful. And if that's true I shouldn't worship him any more than I worship a president or a wrestler.

    I recently learned that the argument I put forward above is known in some circles as the riddle of Epicurus. Interesting.

    By Blogger Paul, at 12:50 PM  

  • Paul, I really think you should read some C. S. Lewis :-)

    On homosexuality and fornication - thanks for challenging me to look at that more closely. I have not done sufficient research to know whether the terms “fornication” and “sexual immorality” refer only to heterosexual unions or to any sort of sex outside of marriage. Since the terms used against homosexuality in the Bible are actually stronger than those against fornication, the former definition is probably the correct one. In that case, Jesus’ statement about marriage is His statement about homosexuality. (By omission) If He had included homo... by saying, “God made them male and female, and for this reason a man or a woman shall leave his/her mother and father and become one flesh with either another man or another woman,” then I think you could say that Jesus included homosexuality in God’s purposes for men and women. But He didn’t.

    Jesus also said, in Matthew 5 (:17-19), “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law; until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least commandments, and so teaches others, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” I think from that passage one can conclude that He had no new teaching regarding the sinfulness of homosexuality from what had already been given.

    I’d also like to say that I don’t consider myself to be “arguing” Biblical texts, even though it could be viewed that way... my purpose is explanation.

    I don’t understand how a view can hold authority only if it’s believed. Are you saying that if you, knowing way more than I do about IT, were to tell me something from your knowledge, but I chose not to believe it, then your instruction would hold no authority for me? I can’t imagine that to be true.

    I’ll get to the Epicurian stuff later, I’ve got to go eat ;-)

    Oh, but first a question. Why is it “interesting” that you find yourself aligning with that particular philosphy?

    By Blogger Bonnie, at 11:06 PM  

  • I'll answer a couple of the easy questions straight away, then wait on your next comment for the rest...

    Re: authority. There are two aspects to this. If I tell you that you should type ipconfig in a dos box to find your ip address, I'm speaking with authority; you can try it and see that I'm right. If I tell you that vi is better than emacs (an old Linux argument, you don't really need to understand it) I'm not really speaking with authority - I may be speaking from experience, but that doesn't make me right, because as far as I can see there is no right answer.

    Similarly, if you say that Paul said this, or Matthew said that, well I assume you're speaking with authority and I can go and check it (I do, and you are). But if you say that Paul *meant* this or Matthew *implies* that, well you're not speaking with authority, because you can't know what Paul meant or Matthew wanted to imply. And going back to my earlier point, if we're really talking about your omnipotent God's viewpoint, how could Paul, Matthew, you or I claim for a second to hold even a shadow of that kind of knowledge? Or more correctly, if your God wanted us to we could (because he's omnipotent!), but how would we *know*? And that is reflected in a simple statement you made: "I’d also like to say that I don’t consider myself to be “arguing” Biblical texts, even though it could be viewed that way... my purpose is explanation." - you know the mind of God? You know even a billionth of the mind of God?

    The other quick answer: I meant that it was interesting that my idea matched up with the Epicurus quote in the most trivial sense; I came up with the idea I laid out on my own, and sure enough it seems somebody had already thought it through and put it better millenia ago. No hidden meaning :)

    By Blogger Paul, at 10:23 AM  

  • Aargh, I think my reply got eaten! I'll try to summarize it:

    I'm thinking of authority as factual knowledge - if I tell you to click File...Print to print a document, then I'm speaking with authority. If I tell you that Macs are better than PCs I'm not speaking with authority, I'm speaking from experience - you can't verify what I'm saying, so how could anyone state I'm speaking with authority? Similarly, if you tell me that Matthew said something you're speaking with authority (and I can go and check it); if you say Matthew *meant* this particular thing, or that Christians should do a particular thing, you're not speaking with authority because you don't *know* any more than me, you just have stronger beliefs about these things.

    As the the Epicurus thing - it was only interesting in the way that some idea one has wrestled with for a while turns out to be millenia older, and better phrased at that. No hidden agenda!

    As I said in my lost comment, I'll hold off on the rest until later. :)

    By Blogger Paul, at 2:05 PM  

  • OK, I guess my comment didn't vanish then. >blush<

    By Blogger Paul, at 4:23 PM  

  • Sorry about the trouble with the comments, Paul.

    I’ll respond to the latter comment first, then get to the former.

    you know the mind of God? You know even a billionth of the mind of God?

    Sure. I know what’s been revealed, which is plenty, as I’ve said before. And it’s nothing He hasn’t or won’t reveal to any other person on the planet who can read the Bible and receive what it has to say.

    Haven’t we been through this before??

    Yes, there are some matters of interpretation that can get complicated. But there is plenty in the Bible that’s clear enough that my 8-year-old can understand it just fine. And as to my “explanation” comment; the issue there is not interpretation. I wasn’t saying what Paul or Matthew “meant” or “implied.” I was saying, here’s what they said. I realize that someone who hasn't done the study that I have may have a hard time connecting some of the dots. So I'm trying to help with that.

    I'm illustrating for you what I believe and where I got the belief from, so you or anyone else can read it for yourself. In other words, I’d say what I’m doing is analogous to your first example(s) regarding how to use a computer, rather than to your subjective or individual-experience-type example(s).

    I wasn’t suspicious of your Epicurus statement, BTW, my question was face value. And you answered it :-) Which actually illustrates a very interesting thing: there truly is “nothing new under the sun.” I’ve noticed and thought about this quite a bit. Since the heart of man is the same as it ever was (to quote the Talking Heads :-) ), pretty much every condition of the heart exists as it always has. Various examples of these go through different incarnations over time, but the underlying conditions are the same. Maybe I’ll post on that sometime, if I can get my thoughts together :-)

    By Blogger Bonnie, at 9:47 PM  

  • One of the things that I find troubling about religion; I don't claim to truly know the mind of my mother or father, let alone the mind of something that doesn't even have a mind in a sense that I can comprehend.

    I think you *are* interpreting. One of your quotes mentions 'one flesh' That's a euphemism, so you're interpreting it to mean something. A lot of the time the euphemism is pretty clear (though even that's somewhat questionable, as none of these people spoke the language you're quoting), but a lot of the time it's not. As one example, the 'cast the first stone' quote we hear. I think a reasonable interpretation is that you shouldn't sin, but nobody who has also sinned (which is, apparently, all of us) should do anything about it. Now you might claim differently, and I respect that, but we're both just interpreting.

    By Blogger Paul, at 8:09 AM  

  • One of the things that I find troubling about religion; I don't claim to truly know the mind of my mother or father, let alone the mind of something that doesn't even have a mind in a sense that I can comprehend.Paul, if your mother or father share something of their minds with you, whatever they share is something you can know. And I'm sure your wife wouldn't be too happy if you told her you couldn't know the part of her mind she wanted you to understand ;-)

    You certainly don't have to know all of someone or something in order to comprehend them/it in part.

    As far as interpretation goes, you are right that interpretation is necessary for apprehension of information. But it doesn't follow from that that there is no absolute, knowable truth, which is what I think you are inferring.

    Consider what can be known about a crime scene: it's most likely that the person who finds the most information will have the best chance of interpreting, or discerning, what really happened (the truth of what happened), is it not? Likewise, since I no doubt have greater knowledge of the Bible than you, plus the understanding gained from my relationship with God, it's more likely that my interpretation of the "cast the first stone" passage is correct, wouldn't you agree? BUT this is not some exclusive thing; God has revealed Himself sufficiently in the Bible and will reveal Himself personally to anyone who wishes Him to.

    What I'm saying here, Paul, is that if you don't "know," perhaps the reason lies not with what's been given to you, but in your wish to not know...

    By Blogger Bonnie, at 11:52 PM  

  • I was discussing this with my wife last night. First I should agree that her mind is knowable to me if she wishes it to be, though she isn't a being whose very nature is so far beyond what I could imagine as to make understanding impossible (in my opinion, of course).

    What struck me as we talked, and what it can be easy to lose sight of in web-page discussions, is that I don't have any problem with your belief in anything you want. I don't think there are substantial grounds for your beliefs, but then they aren't my beliefs so it's unlikely that I would. And some of the things that your beliefs tell you are objectionable to me, though generally not as objectionable as the way people exploit them.

    But what I also realized, thinking back on discussions here and at newcovenant, is that I don't seem to have seen the one word upon which all of this rests - faith. You trust that what you experience is the love of God, and not the lie of something else. You trust that this love is directed as you think it is, and not a test. You trust that the bible means what you think it does. You trust above all that the bible isn't just a book, and the feeling you have isn't just a feeling.

    All of that is fine. But all of that is faith, and as far as I know it can't be proven.

    By Blogger Paul, at 7:18 AM  

  • Paul, would you believe me if I told you that I considered using the word "faith," but didn't, because I wanted to use words I hoped you could relate to? (no pun intended!)

    You're right, though, it does come down to faith. As does any philosophy, I might add.

    I'll leave you with one more reference: Hebrews 11:1-3.

    By Blogger Bonnie, at 11:53 PM  

  • Oops -- make that the entire 11th chapter of Hebrews :-)

    Paul, I do want to say "thank you" for your discussion. Thank you for the manner of respect in which you've participated :-) And thanks for reading my blog!

    By Blogger Bonnie, at 1:38 PM  

  • I agree that what I've said doesn't rule out one ultimate truth. I suspect such a thing doesn't exist, but on a more practical level I don't think we can get there. Correction: we might end up there, but how would we know? That's a question whether it's religion or not; how do you know that what you're doing is any closer to 'the truth' (or your god's will) than what I'm doing, or what you were doing 5 years ago?

    That problem for me carries over into my problem with your sense of faith. As I said before, I'm entirely content for you to believe anything you want (I may not *like* it, but that's a separate issue). The difference is that I recognize that my opinion on any moral issue is just that - an opinion - and while I think it is a good one (otherwise I wouldn't hold it), and I will seek to convince others of its wisdom, it's not anything that I have grounds to force on you.

    In contrast it seems that evengelical Christians feel that what they believe is morally correct (though how they *know* this rather than just *believing* it isn't explained) and so should be imposed on others, whether there is a majority in favor of it or not. Now that's fine *if* what they believe really *is* correct, but as I said above, how would they know?

    To summarize the rambling - I think standards on issues such as homosexuality should be set by the majority. But more than that, I think they should be based on reason and discussion, not on what somebody has told you to believe.

    By Blogger Paul, at 5:43 PM  

  • Paul, just saw your last comment. Don’t know if you’re still reading, but I'll respond:

    That's a question whether it's religion or not; how do you know that what you're doing is any closer to 'the truth' (or your god's will) than what I'm doing, or what you were doing 5 years ago?Answering from my own experience: when I made the decision to let go of the way I’d been approaching life and seek after God (who I wasn’t sure really existed), I had a sense that I had “come home.” After that it was an ongoing process of learning, healing, and growth. I’ve relied on God for big and little things, in obedience, and found Him to be true to His promises. I’m not sure how to describe it, but I have a sense of the trueness and completeness of a relationship with Him, compared to the way I felt before. Everything fits in the right places; the whole thing works. So much has changed for the better in my mind and heart and life, bearing out what Scriptures say, that for me this is incontrovertible proof.

    There’s a distinction to be made between being “closer to truth” in understanding, and in practice. The truth is, we are forgiven, period. We must receive this forgiveness, though. So, as far as salvation, it’s a matter of where the heart is, not of a myriad of beliefs on how to live, or even the way one has lived up to any point. In practice, as one grows in knowing God, one learns more how to please God and receive His blessings, and to understand things.

    That problem for me carries over into my problem with your sense of faith. As I said before, I'm entirely content for you to believe anything you want (I may not *like* it, but that's a separate issue). The difference is that I recognize that my opinion on any moral issue is just that - an opinion - and while I think it is a good one (otherwise I wouldn't hold it), and I will seek to convince others of its wisdom, it's not anything that I have grounds to force on you.

    In contrast it seems that evengelical Christians feel that what they believe is morally correct (though how they *know* this rather than just *believing* it isn't explained) and so should be imposed on others, whether there is a majority in favor of it or not. Now that's fine *if* what they believe really *is* correct, but as I said above, how would they know?
    Paul, I don’t believe that any Christian or anyone else has grounds to force their beliefs on anyone. No Christian who is acting in love will try to “impose” their beliefs on anyone else. That’s my belief and my opinion :-) They may try to persuade, but persuasion does not violate personal boundaries. My view is that everyone is responsible for their own choices, and their free will to make their own choices must be respected. Believing that something is best for someone and aiming to show them this is not the same as violating their boundary of personal choice.

    For me, it’s not about “liking” someone’s beliefs or not. It’s about what’s going on with a person that leads to their beliefs. It’s about what’s good for a person, or not good for them (myself included), or for others they’re involved with. Relationship, with God and with others, is very important.

    As far as Christian “opinion” goes, the idea is that such opinion is not necessarily “natural,” or opinion that one would have without God’s influence realized through trust and experience. The Scriptures are the authoritative source of this information (for the Protestant, anyway). Yes, people will and do disagree about interpretation, but I don’t think that’s the fault of the Scriptures.

    I think standards on issues such as homosexuality should be set by the majority. But more than that, I think they should be based on reason and discussion, not on what somebody has told you to believe.

    When you say “somebody,” are you referring to a person, or to God?

    Everyone’s ideas and opinions are influenced from the outside. We all decide what we’re going to believe. Some things are “trained” into us during our upbringing, but there is still moral choice involved in the myriads of decisions we make on a daily basis. Some choices are made out of obedience to something, some are made out of rebellion. There is always some sort of authority involved, regardless of where it comes from or what we assign it to. So, in relationship with God, it’s more about these kinds of choices, made from attitude of the heart, than about believing “what somebody told you.” For me, reason and discussion are very much a part of figuring things out. As is prayer. Again, it's relationship.

    By Blogger Bonnie, at 11:09 PM  

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