Last night, while I was bathing the kids, there was a knock on the door. A couple of “missionaries” from a local church of a particular evangelical denomination were going door-to-door, trying to plant butts in the pews (and, presumably, cash in their offering plates). We’re quite happy with our church, and Odysseus let them know that, but they shoved their “literature” (website here) into his hand, regardless. It rather irritated me, because it made a lot of assumptions, including one that my husband and myself are going to hell for breaking commandments.
I strongly resent that assumption, especially when based on cherry picking bible verses and interpreting them as badly as the writers of this little eight-page comic pamphlet did.
The Ten Commandments are the base on which Western law rests. It’s a good guideline, and we really need to work harder on keeping them for society’s sake as well as for our own, but they have to be understood before they can be followed. And the writers of the pamphlet did not understand what they were preaching about.
Let’s start with their first “commandment”: their interpretation of the 9th commandment is don’t lie. At all. Ever. What the commandment actually says is “don’t bear false witness against thy neighbor.” In other words, don’t lie about people.
Next, is “don’t steal.” Yeah, that one is clear, and self explanatory, but they say not for any reason, and if you do it once (even as a child), you’re a thief, and will always be a thief. They took a simple commandment and simplified it down so that they could point fingers* at everyone not in their church.
Adultery they took a bit farther than I’d call acceptable—“ever looked at someone with lust? If so, you’ve committed adultery in your heart, which is the same as actually doing it.” Umm…not quite. I lust after my husband all the time (actually, every time I look at him). I look at other aesthetically appealing individuals, and it leads my thoughts back to my husband.
Not to mention, looking at someone with lust falls less under “don’t commit adultery” (Commandment 7), and more under “don’t covet that which belongs to someone else” (commandment 10).
Using God’s name in vain has been, in my opinion, badly interpreted by almost everyone I’ve ever heard talk about it. Yes, using God’s name in cussing isn’t good, and he probably isn’t happy about it, but true blasphemy lies in saying that God would or would not do or think or feel this or that, in support of our own bigoted opinions. You know, the whole “God is on our side, and is against theirs” thing. The worst I’ve ever heard is the Westboro Baptist Church’s assertions that our soldiers are being killed in the Middle East because God hates fags.
I’m not going to argue that He does or doesn’t. Most of the verses dealing with homosexual behavior in the bible are in the sections that are mostly focused on laws setting up health codes. I don’t recall reading much at all about the morality of it. I can’t speak for God, and those who say they can are committing blasphemy worse than those saying “G-D it!” in traffic.
The little pamphlet goes on to assert that we’re all horrible people that are going to hell, without even taking into account that just because we don’t go to their church, we might well have as good a relationship with God (better in some cases, worse in others) as they do. Most of the verses are kind of grabbed from here and there throughout the bible without regards to the context that the verse belongs in. And they condemn everyone not of their church without actually saying that’s what they’re doing. Even better, they forgot a couple of things that Christ said in His ministry: “Love thy neighbor as thyself” and “judge not lest ye be judged”. Granted, they probably thought they were demonstrating that they loved us as their neighbors, but they were judging us for not being members of their church, and assumed that we were automatically bad people that hadn’t accepted Christ into our lives.
The jokers that knocked on our door last night probably had their hearts in the right place, but they have their heads up their asses.