Forgive me while I rant just a little. Having grown up in a Christian (Baptist) family, I have a lot of Christian friends. Some of us debate on occasion but it’s always with respect. Okay, usually with respect. Well, mostly anyway. But a lifelong friend of our family (I’m not naming names), who is also a Baptist preacher recently posted the following on FB:
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT A BELIEVER AND A NON-BELIEVER GOING INTO BUSINESS TOGETHER?
*IT’S LIKE HOBBY LOBBY PARTNERING WITH DW’S PORN SHOP
*IT’S LIKE TRINITY BROADCAST NETWORK ALIGNING WITH HBO
*IT’S LIKE CHICK-FIL-A DOING BUSINESS WITH TOOTSIE’S ORCHID LOUNGE
*IT’S LIKE A CHURCH HAVING A HOUSE OF ILL REPUTE IN THE FOYER
2 CORINTHIANS 6:14-18
I assume this is rooted in 2nd Corinthians which refers to all unbelievers as “wicked.” I took polite exception to his post (since I’m not wicked), and was promptly surrounded by Christians (including my friend). When I asked if they view me as the ho-house in the church foyer, one guy (also a good friend) replied, “Alan, personally I didn’t consider you to be either — but if you’re determined to see yourself in that perspective then I suppose there’s nothing I can do about it.”
This of course completely dodges the question I asked, but I’m accustomed to that when discussing spiritual or moral matters with believers.
So getting to the point – these are friends. They’re people I care about. We joke around and have a lot of fun together. And I realize the post was aimed at non-believers in general, not at me personally. But how am I to take this? Am I right to be offended? I consider myself to be thick-skinned and I don’t think it would bother me had this been a stranger. But these people know me quite well. They know I’m not “wicked.” But I find myself fuming over this while telling myself I shouldn’t be. I tell myself not to take it personally. But how can I not? The post has all the ingredients of bigotry: It singles out a single group of people (of which I am a part) and then paints us with a broad brush as being wicked, unworthy, unclean, etc.
I occasionally see rants online against people in my industry. Some guy in his Camry cuts close in front of a truck and then whines how all truck drivers are tailgating assholes. I chalk this up to ignorance and ignore it. But this isn’t the same. I pride myself in being a reasonable guy. I take nothing on faith. If I am to believe something, I need to see evidence that it’s true. Given the obvious lack of evidence for any deity of any religion, I feel safe in not believing in any of them. Does this make me wicked? Am I the guy cornholing little boys behind the church altar? Am I the guy lying to Ugandans about condom use? Am I the baker turning away customers just because of who they love? Am I the guy lying to people, telling them they’ll burn forever if they don’t believe what I believe? Nope, that ain’t me. That’s “those other people.”
And if I singled out all Christians as perverts and liars (they’re not), I’d quickly be in a similar situation to what Custer found himself in at the Little Bighorn (metaphorically speaking of course). Then I would be the bigot. Then I would be the one painting with the broad brush. And they’d be right.
So how is it different when a Christian does it? Sadly, Christians by and large seem to think they have a mandate from their god to judge the rest of us. Some claim otherwise, saying the Bible says not to judge. But this is outside of the intended context.
“Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.”
Is it okay to judge? Actually it is depending upon how you do it. We can discern good from bad based upon our own judgement. Nothing wrong with that. But it’s quite reasonable to be expected to use a bit of common sense when making such a discernment. “Because the Bible says so” is not indicative of common sense. It’s blind faith, which is not a reliable path to truth. Hypothetically you can believe anything based solely on
Anyway, to all my Christian friends I will say this: People are people. Some good, some bad and everywhere in between. And yes, you can often discern good from bad by what someone believes. If I believe it’s okay to kill an unborn child as a matter of convenience, that alone would say a lot about my character (or the lack thereof). But you’re also making that judgement based on your own beliefs. What if your beliefs are in fact wrong (no, this isn’t Pascal’s Wager)?
I’m no biblical scholar, but from what I’ve seen most biblical laws are rooted in morality. But whose morality? God’s? To me, there is only one objective morality. Any moral code must be rooted in the well-being of others to be valid. Anything else leads to selfishness and cruelty. That said, how is calling me “wicked” just because my beliefs differ from yours conducive to anyone’s well-being? Do my beliefs make me the whorehouse in the church foyer? What about the preacher in Oklahoma who really was running a whorehouse? Logically, wouldn’t he be a better candidate? I mean – he wasn’t operating in the church foyer but he was the preacher. I report. You decide.
Bottom Line: Before you call a whole group of people “wicked” perhaps you should examine the criteria you’re using. If your Bible tells you that something is evil, don’t just blindly accept it. Ask yourself why or how it’s evil. Think for yourself, rather than letting some ancient book do it for you.