Thursday, August 5, 2010

An Open Letter to the Religious

First, let me start off by saying that I know this blog isn't about religion. It's about being a parent, a human being, living life, and not taking yourself too seriously. But lately, I have become highly annoyed by people who, left and right, are continuously quoting scripture every chance they get. Most of the time, they are doing this in situations where it is highly inappropriate. So let me say, if you’re religious but not one who loves to quote scripture all the time, feel free to ignore this. If you aren’t a scripture-quoter but you know someone who is, feel free to share this with them.

Now then, for those of you who are scripture-quoters, I’m going to say this: for the love of all that you consider holy, knock off with the scripture quoting. There is, hands-down, little that is more annoying than someone who loves to quote scripture for everything of social/cultural significance that they happen to disagree with. This is some of the worst self-aggrandizement there is, quoting scripture to everyone. Let me explain to you why there is no point.

1. Those you are quoting scripture to? Probably don’t actually give a flying Fig Newton what the scripture says that you are quoting to them. Your scripture quoting will serve no purpose other than to annoy the person you are quoting to. You will not get your point across and will, in fact, manage to further alienate that person.

2. For almost every scripture you want to quote that prohibits a certain behavior, there is a 99% probability that there is another scripture that refutes it. We could go ‘round and ‘round, quoting all kinds of scripture to each other to make our points but in the end, will either side be swayed? Almost certainly not. It’s a waste of time and energy and again, will result in nothing but frustration.

3. Out of curiosity, are you familiar with the social norms and mores of the Middle East thousands of years ago? Are you aware of the significance and implications of Biblical verses in regards to those ancient norms and mores? If not, what makes you certain that they have any pertinence at all to the norms and mores of now? I mean, I think you’ve already come to the conclusion that stoning your neighbor for infractions is probably not in anyone’s best interest. Why is that? Why choose to adhere to certain parts of the Bible but not others? Is it because stoning your neighbor is not socially acceptable today? Then why would other parts be acceptable? If you are going to be strict to adhering to the parts of the Bible you agree with, you should be strict to adhering to the parts of the Bible you don’t agree with. If you get to pick and choose which parts of the Bible you are going to adhere to, why can’t someone else do the same thing?

4. Are you one of those people who believes God never changes? If so, explain why God is wrathful, vengeful, and often seems to be very angry in the Old Testament but is a kind and loving God in the New Testament. If God never changes, why did He allow Jesus to toss out most of the rules of the Old Testament? If God tosses out Old Testament rules, what makes you think that God isn’t tossing out the rules of the New Testament? If God changed enough to make much of the Old Testament moot, why not the New Testament? You believe that He speaks through prophets, pastors, priests, bishops, etc. That is how you know that he isn’t tossing out the rules of the New Testament, because you hear it from the pulpit every Sunday. But every religion have a different slant on things. And if every religion has a different slant on things, what's to say any of it is what God wants you to follow? Every religion thinks they are the right one so either they are all right or they are all wrong.

5. When was the last time humans received new scripture from God? Okay, if you are a Mormon, you believe that the Book of Mormon is new scripture but even that has events that take place more than a thousand years ago. Mormons also have other scripture so perhaps they have the most up-to-date scripture. Let’s say, though, that you aren’t Mormon and that you don't believe the Mormons have new scripture. If mankind has not received any new scripture lately, what’s to say that the New Testament isn’t wildly outdated in its philosophies?

6. Let me take this one step further and say, there are many variations on the Bible. There are many translations. Each translation says something slightly different than other translations. If God is sending His holy spirit to influence these translations, why are they different? Shouldn’t they all be the same? If they vary, what does that tell us? It tells us that man is the one translating the Bible. Man is fallible. And yes, man is, in fact, putting his own spin on the Bible, to make it better suit his ideals, without any concern for what the scripture actually means. At that point, what makes the Bible so valuable to you for quoting? Your Bible and my Bible might say different things. Whose is right? Doesn’t that make scripture quoting futile at that point?

If you believe in the Bible, there are only 10 Commandments in the Old Testament. Most of your scripture quoting does not fall within these 10 Commandments. If you are a follower of Christ, He says the two greatest commandments are to love God with all your might and the second is similar: love your neighbor as yourself. And then there’s the Golden Rule. The idea of ethical reciprocity has been around since the days of ancient Babylon. It essentially states that you treat others as you would like to be treated and do not treat others in ways that you would not like to be treated. It is essentially the best argument for human rights out there. And it makes my whole point for me.

I understand you are who you are. I understand that my communication to you is likely to have no impact on what you say or what you do because you feel justified. If you actually read my entire post, please understand, your opinions are yours. There are likely many people out there whose opinions are similar to yours. But in those situations where you quote scripture to try to justify inequities, which I think is the kindest word I can use, you are having no impact on anyone who disagrees with you. You are most likely alienating those you are attempting to reach. Let bygones be bygones. You are not seeking retribution to hurts, you are only attempting to justify your beliefs and actions. And in the end, you should just use scripture to guide your own life rather than trying to guide someone else’s.


Robbin said...

Well said.

Sharky Jess said...

Couldn't agree more, Diana! So well said.

Mel said...

Some people use scripture to hide their own fears, ignorance and unwillingness to understand why. Thanks for posting this. :)

VixenlyVenimous said...

Love this!

J said...

Sing it, Sister!

Connie said...

Love it!

And the majority of the time, scripture is taken out of context so it can be used to make the point they want to make. The history of the scripture isn't taken into whom it was written, the culture of those people, the way thins were done at those times, etc.

Robbin said...

OBTW - if I happen to quote scripture around you, I promise that I look for obscure texts and don't take the easy way out.

Post a Comment