Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Blasphemy! (Part I)

I'm just going to jump right into this next post here. It has to do with religion and what I think of it. It's been brewing for some time, and after recent comment events with a certain fundamentalist Christian, I think now is as good a time as any to post it. Since it's sort of long I've broken it up into two parts. Tomorrow I will post Part II.

Having been raised as a Christian, I now personally find it lacking and have found it as such for many, many years.

What I find most troubling and offensive about Christianity is the concept of God the "Father" and Jesus his "Son"- human relationship concepts that present the Supreme Being in gendered form- the male one. Of course. (I should note that Christianity is not alone presenting God as male, and in fact, I take issue with any religion that does so.) That these/this "Being," this All-Powerful, All-Knowing, Super-Duper, Great and Powerful Supreme Being who created everything in the history of ever is male and that "fact" is taken for granted as unquestionable just because some men said so in a book written (and interpreted) during times when it was a given that women were to be subservient to men does a great disservice to the humanity and dignity of half of the world's population.

So, yeah. To put it more simply, I think the idea that God is some sort of male being is a quaint man-made idea. Due to its inherent sexism it can only be explained as a concept created by men who did not appreciate the full humanity of women. And now? It is an idea that is perpetuated by those who continue to think, simply, that men are superior to women. All contrived explanations for a man-made male God (as well as the fact that women cannot be ordained in most religions) I attribute to sexism. Pure and simple.

But what to me is even sadder than a bunch of men desperately trying to maintain male privilege, is that the male God is accepted by women who silence that doubt in the back of their minds because someone once told them that it was "un-Christian" to raise such questions.

I don't think God has a gender. I think some men have merely given "him" one. Namely, theirs. In addition, a just God, a God worthy of devotion, would not prohibit women from ordination. That is what men do, not God.

Secondly, what now passes as Christianity in the US often repulses me. While many Christians in the US embody the compassion, tolerance, and love of Christ, some of the most vocal Christians embody anything but those characteristics. And, too self-righteous in their vocal moralizing and religious posturing they don't even realize how hypocritical they are. For, I don't think that attending religious services, "accepting Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior," and believing certain "moral truths" just because someone points to the Bible and selectively interprets tells you what those moral truths are make one morally better than another person. See, just as men have created God as a male in their own image, they have created a God that coincidentally has all of their very human faults of tribalism, sexism, intolerance, and bigotry.

Such a God is ultimately not worthy of my devotion, because to worship such a God is to worship the human beings who created "him" as they have created "him" in their own image. Not to mention the fact that a bigoted, sexist, USA-preferring, intolerant God is certainly not worthy of world-wide devotion, adoration, or love.

I seek transcendence not idolatry. So, to anyone seeking to save my soul, I say this: First show me a god worthy of devotion- a god that does not embody the worst traits of humanity.

On a more individual basis, many of the Christians I knew growing up were the most hypocritical people I knew. That is, they held other people to different moral standards than they held themselves. While the "upstanding" Christian married men judged my mother for being divorced, they secretly tried to have affairs with her. And, more publicly, some of the ones who so vocally denounce homosexuality as being an abomination, are closet gays having secret gay sex.

But perhaps, most relevantly, those are not the only reasons I am turned off from Christianity as an organized, formal religion. Without going into too much detail, I ultimately cannot accept the Christian premise that Jesus, although he may have been a great human being, is or was any sort of supernatural being. And that belief, by definition, sort of excludes me from calling myself a Christian, eh?

While it's much easier to slap a label on your religious beliefs and have that label, consequently, decide every great moral issue of the day for you, I think reality is more nuanced than the black and white answers that some religions gives people. Or rather, reality is more nuanced than the answers religious leaders give. There is a distinction.

I don't think my feelings here are unique, either. Many people today, I suspect are turned off from organized religion. Despite popular demonization of atheists, agnostics, and humanists, we are not morally lazy or seeking to live a wild and crazy immoral life. We are simply fed up with religious violence. We see right through religious intolerance and hypocrisy. We don't believe that all humans are "inherently evil." We find the fundamentalism that breeds neverending wars to be distasteful. We acknowledge that while religious groups can do some great work in the world, more often it seems that the bad stuff outweighs the good.

And, what else?

Tomorrow, I will continue with what I live "by and for."

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