My recent post on Gay Pride Day festivities generated a little heat at Bring It On. “Sandy” said she found the event “revolting” and cited her belief in the Bible as justification. I’m not surprised at comments like hers. In fact, they’re depressingly predictable and Sandy’s followed a rather predictable path. However, they did get me thinking about religious arguments and how they play out.
I don’t think anyone can seriously deny the Bible, Koran, Torah, and most other religious books are great works of literature. They are full of stories designed not only to entertain, but also teach, and that’s what makes them so amazingly successful. I also don’t think that anyone can seriously deny that most of the events they chronicle have at least some grounding in fact, even if they’ve been coated in a heavy metaphorical layer. Like the Constitution, they are infinitely malleable and subject to almost any interpretation. That is both their beauty and weakness.
Proof of this ability to interpret diversely is shown by the believers themselves. They have endless arguments, and sometimes wars, over who’s interpretation is right or wrong and all seem to believe God is directly behind whatever interpretation they espouse. Fundamentalist Christians have the same slavish allegiance to their principles as fundamentalist Muslims. Each claims ironclad proof the other is an infidel and there’s not much objective evidence to prove the point either way. Meanwhile, they kill each other and drag the rest of us along for the ride.
While the religious are certainly free to say what they want, it seems to me there’s always a fatal flaw in their arguments – they almost never include clear logic. I can’t count the number of times that the more zealously religious accuse their enemies of something that is wholly in their own head. For example, Sandy seems to think that gays are out to “inherit the kingdom of God”. That statement seems to suggest there is a gay plot to take over Sandy’s religious beliefs when I doubt any gay person wants to be part of her religious circle anyway.
Christian zealots often claim to “love the sinner, but hate the sin” while in the next breath saying the most vile things about the sinner. Verbally, and sometimes physically, assaulting someone you love seems a odd to me. How can someone “love” the sinner if their position is that the sinner is the scourge of the Earth?
Religious discussions often alight on the idea of the zealous being offended by the sinners. I could lay an equal claim to be offended by their words, but I would never demand they not be allowed to say them. In fact, this is a principle I learned during my own religous education – “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.
It seems a shame to me that belief systems created with a general sense of goodwill have become so perverted. It’s a shame that those like Sandy have become so close-minded and hateful. And the biggest shame of all is that their own perversions are the biggest threat to their beliefs. The great religious books are full of cautionary tales about the consequences of acting this way. It’s just a pity the zealous don’t read them a little more often. Perhaps if they did, we’d live in a world where the principles of all religions could carry the day and make it a better, more wholesome place for all of us.