Honestly, this story just speaks for itself.
Take that, Westboro Baptists. Turns out anyone can ridiculously use their First Amendment rights. Me thinketh the game changeth.
Honestly, this story just speaks for itself.
Take that, Westboro Baptists. Turns out anyone can ridiculously use their First Amendment rights. Me thinketh the game changeth.
I don’t quite know how to say what’s on my mind right now. And yet, I realize that I’d better figure out a way, because. . . well. . . this will be a pretty shitty post if I don’t. Since most of my shitty posts are shitty on accident, I’ll try to fill my boots and do this right.
I’ve mentioned before the big blogsplosion that resulted from Jared Wilson’s post where he quotes Douglas Wilson complementarian words. Today I read an article written by Chaplain Mike of Internet Monk that details how the two men have responded to the criticism they received. You can read the article here, but that’s not the main thrust of my post today. No, this one is a little more personal than that. See, when I was reading Douglas Wilson’s response on Blog and Mablog (great name, btw) I came across this passage, which is referring to the people who have criticized him:
“They deny the authority of Scripture, they accept as dialogue partners advocates of every abomination that Leviticus contains, they attack those who are seeking to be faithful servants of Christ, they call the holy wars of YHWH genocide, and so on, down the street and around the corner. Other than that, they are good Christians.”
It was then that I realized that, without even knowing me, Douglas Wilson is talking about me. He’s not telling the truth about me (well, he’s not telling the whole truth about me – there are some truths in that statement that I am proud to uphold) but he’s stating an opinion about me, and he doesn’t know me from Adam.
Douglas Wilson thinks I’m a heretic.
I’m not proud of this label, because there’s nothing but negative connation to the word “heretic.” Then again, I was a nerd before being a nerd was cool, and I found in my nerd-dom the redemption that comes from the acceptance of a label. Sometimes you can turn that label around – just look at how we view nerds now, compared to how we viewed them in the ‘90’s when I was in high school.
It’s not like I’m trying to be heretical. I’ve been doing the whole “Christian” thing for less than a year, but I like to think that I’ve jumped into it feet first. I’m reading the Bible, I’m reading Bible commentary, I’m reading books by respected theologians (and some not-so-respected theologians), I’m talking to God, I’m asking for prayer, I’ve been dunked in the water and felt myself come out reborn, I’ve had meals and beers with pastors where I plied them with questions the entire time, I’ve tried to help people come to Jesus, I’ve tried to help people who need help getting food or shelter, I’ve tried to get my 11-year-old daughter interested in Jesus again, I’ve taught my boys to pray every night, I’m praying for the world, I’m asking God with all sincerity for him to establish His kingdom on earth. I’m doing lots of stuff, and so far as I am capable of judging my own intentions, I would say that I’m doing all of this stuff sincerely and with the holiest intent that I possess.
And yet. . .
I’m one of Douglas Wilson’s “them”. I’m not blaming him – I’m agreeing with him. I’ll even break down that little blurb from his blog to support his opinion of me. I’ll show where I disagree with what he’s saying about me and where I agree with what he’s saying about me, just to be fair.
They deny the authority of Scripture
No, that’s crazy. The authority of scripture derives from God. I’m not denying God at all. I’m not sure what authority you’re referring to, aside from God. I didn’t know the Scripture was part of the Trinity, actually.
They accept as dialogue partners advocates of every abomination that Leviticus contains
I don’t know that I accept as dialogue partners advocates of every abomination that Leviticus contains. That book has a lot of abominations. But come on – seriously? Leviticus? Here’s the problem with that – educated, intelligent people read the Bible, too. And some of them have noticed that Leviticus also condemns rare steaks, ear piercings, tattoos, cheeseburgers, and poly-cotton blends. Why do people like Wilson keep ignoring this? Leviticus is the world’s worst argument against anything. Please stop expecting us to pay attention to it. Please. Please.
They attack those who are seeking to be faithful servants of Christ
That’s silly. We love people trying to be faithful servants of Christ. We attack the attacks.
They call the holy wars of YHWH genocide
Well, yes. But then again, I don’t believe those wars were of YHWH’s actual will. I don’t believe that God has ever, ever, ever asked a single person, in all of human history, to go someplace and murder children. I don’t believe that God has ever, ever, ever dictated that an entire culture’s unmarried women were to be divided up amongst the tribes of Israel as the spoils of war (the married women were just killed). The conflicts that you call “holy wars” are genocide, and they’re wrong. I’m sorry, but the early Israelites showed a brutal nature that was characteristic of the time and place in which they lived, and they don’t get to slap “scripture” on the retelling of it and pretend that God told them to do it.
Also, funny note – if someone were to commit genocide today with the understanding that God told them to do it, I don’t know a single living Christian who wouldn’t say, “I’m sorry dude, but the person you heard talking to you in your head was not God.” Why do we hold the ancient Israelites to a different standard? They sinned. Jesus redeemed them. We don’t have to pretend they were doing something good. They weren’t.
Other than that, they are good Christians
I don’t know if Doug Wilson is being sarcastic when he throws me this bone, but I’ll take it. Thank you, man. I’m trying to be a good Christian. I’m not trying to stir up a hornet’s nest (for the twelve people reading this blog), but the ways in which I disagree with the scripture seem so damn Godly that I have a hard time ignoring them because someone slapped “Bible” on the cover of the book.
Like the disciples going to Jesus after he told the crowd the parable of the sower, I often find that I’m confused by what I read in the Bible. Like them, I go to Jesus. Like them, I trust in my personal relationship with God to help give my heart insight, perspective, and wisdom. That means that maybe someday Jesus will help me to “see the light”, and I’ll no longer be a heretic.
But for now I have serious concerns. If I’m a heretic – and it seems very clear to me that I am – is there a place for me? Are heretics welcome in the Body of Christ? Are they like homosexuals – I have a place as a heretic as long as I resist the urge to commit heresy?
Can I preach, if I’m a heretic?
I wish I had a more graceful way to end this post, but as I said in the beginning, I’m having a hard time putting my feelings to words. That’s alright – like all things that bother me, I’ll take these feelings to God. Please, dear reader, allow me to present this morass of emotion to you the same way I present it to God – as a big bowl of ugly confusion, without a clear answer within easy reach, given with all humility because, let’s face it, we often give God the worst gifts.
Especially us heretics.
I’ve mentioned Rachel Held Evans before. She’s got a blog I read on a pretty regular basis, and as I’ve mentioned before (this is important, now) she kinda looks like Claire Danes in My So Called Life. Not that that’s important. Except I said it was. Crap. I’m lying again.
Anyway, I was reading her blog today, and what I read made me bubble with impotent fury. My insides are percolating like a coffeemaker, only instead of making coffee, it makes raw rage. A “Mr. Rage”, if you will.
I’m angry because I read this article (written by Rachel Held Evans) about another article (written by Jared Wilson on behalf of the Gospel Coalition) that mentions a book that supports some crazy backwards views on the role of men and women. . . in sex. Per the Bible. As if my brain wasn’t already confused by the Russian doll of re-blogs that I’m presenting my readers with, I have to wonder – are people paid to talk about how God wants men and women to bone?
Want to share my rage – or confusion? Read the article.
Here is a great quote from the blog about the blog about the book written by Douglas Wilson (the book is Fidelity: What it Means to be a One Woman Man):
“When we quarrel with the way the world is, we find that the world has ways of getting back at us. In other words, however we try, the sexual act cannot be made into an egalitarian pleasuring party. A man penetrates, conquers, colonizes, plants. A woman receives, surrenders, accepts. This is of course offensive to all egalitarians, and so our culture has rebelled against the concept of authority and submission in marriage. This means that we have sought to suppress the concepts of authority and submission as they relate to the marriage bed.”
I read that, and my first thought was, “Man. . .this guy and his wife are doing it wrong!” I mean, I’m not going to provide any details of my sex life on this blog, but I really feel the need to make a point. So instead of coming anywhere near dropping an unwelcomed info-bomb on What the Faith, let me, instead, ask this question to the fellas who read this blog.
Hey fellas – if you and your woman are involved in ‘the act’, and you can characterize her response to you as ‘receiving’, ‘surrendering’ or ‘accepting’, do you interpret that response as proof that you’re. . .you know. . . decent at the actual carrying-out of said act?
You can feel free to accept that question as rhetorical – but heck, if you answer in the comments, bonus!
Also, I’ve read Song of Songs. It’s basically the Kama Sutra of the Bible, and there is nothing complementarian about it. As RHE points out in her article:
Wilson conveniently leaves out the fact that the Shulamite girl in Song of Songs initiates much of the action in the romance. She is the first to speak in the poem, declaring, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth” (1:1). She actively seeks out the handsome shepherd in his fields, saying “Why should I be like a veiled woman beside the flocks of your friends?” (v. 7). When the two are separated, she goes out into the streets, looking for him, and at one point is accosted by the city guards. When she finds him, she brings him into a private room. There, she says, “I held him and would not him go” (3:4). It is she who initiates a sexual encounter in a vineyard in the countryside, and it is she who offers her lover a frank invitation to drink her wine and to enter her “garden” to taste its choice fruits. Her lover confesses “you have ravished my heart, my sister, my bride.” And so the lengthiest and most detailed description of sex found in scripture is characterized by mutuality and shared pleasure, not conquering and colonization, authority and subordination. It is precisely what Wilson refers to as an “egalitarian pleasure party.”
I know I’ve been over this before, but I really don’t think that God has that much to say about how two consenting adults in a loving, monogamous relationship combine their private parts. I think that once people are a) consenting, b) loving and c) monogamous, I think that God is pretty much laissez-faire about their junk. If people who fit into those three categories want to engage in the business in a vat of Jell-O, I can’t imagine God is going to condemn that. He might look away from that, but then again, I would.
But Rachel (and several of her commenters) make a very, very good point about the language used in Jared Wilson’s blog (and by extension, in Douglas Wilson’s book). This is where the (slightly amused) confusion I’m feeling turns into anger.
His characterization of sex as an act of conquering and colonization is disturbing, and his notion that women are little more than the passive recipients of this colonization, who simply “accept” penetration, is as ignorant as it is degrading. What is perhaps most disconcerting is the fact that even after multiple women expressed their concerns in the comment section, both Jared Wilson and Doug Wilson repeatedly dismissed these concerns with exasperation and condescension, ridiculing the commenters’ lack of “reading comprehension.”
Wow. This actually happened. I read the comments. I don’t want to repost any of them (mostly because I would have to repost a long chain of comments, which is a bit distracting for people who don’t want to read them, and also a hard thing to do and still maintain a short blog post) but you can read them right here. The worst part is that two authors gave offense, and neither one of them said, “You know what? I can see how that could be really offensive. I’m sorry, it’s not what I meant.” They both took a stance that anyone who wasn’t an idiot would read those words as they were meant to be read, and be totally moved by how kind, caring, loving, and completely rad Jared Wilson and Douglas Wilson are.
They certainly wouldn’t see them as misogynistic assholes, would they?
Anyway, here I am, sitting at work, steaming out of my ears, and then it occurs to me – Jared Wilson’s article started as a commentary about 50 Shades of Grey. A book that started out as a Twilight fan fiction. It almost made me laugh out loud.
Look at what fan fiction hath wrought!
I feel like I should ask a question, so here it is – is anyone else bothered by this? Or am I completely losing my cool over nothing?
I have a few things I would like to say to the community that is Christianity, and these things are about science.
Ready? Here we go!
Point # 1 – We, as Christians, do not have to be afraid of science.
Despite how I (strongly) suspect some people feel on the subject, science is not “the study of making Christians look stupid and prove that God is no more real than the Tooth Fairy.” Not to say some scientists don’t feel that way – I’ve met a few who do – but there is nothing inherently wrong with the scientific method, even when adopted by people of faith. Take, for example, evolutionary creationists.
Evolutionary creationists (like the fine folks at the BioLogos Foundation) are people who believe that the evidence supporting the theory of evolution is irrefutable – but that doesn’t mean, in any way, that God did not create the universe, the world, and all of us. They just believe that God used natural selection and mutation as vehicles for the creation of all the living organisms we see today. To quote directly from their website:
The BioLogos view holds that both Scripture and modern science reveal God’s truth, and that these truths are not in competition with one another. While there are varying views within the BioLogos community of how to reconcile the truths of science and Scripture on particular issues (for example with regards to a historical Adam1), we believe that the Bible is the divinely inspired and authoritative Word of God. BioLogos accepts the modern scientific consensus on the age of the earth and common ancestry, including the common ancestry of humans.
Why should these people accept the evidence for evolution? Because, as I said before, it’s fucking overwhelming. And I’m not saying we should adopt Intelligent Design, either. Intelligent Design is, when you get right down to it, an idea put forth by shady quasi-scientists who want to find verifiable proof of God in the laboratory. The “scientists” who are proponents of I.D. and their works are not subjected to peer reviews, and their theories can’t be published by independent scientific journals because they aren’t falsifiable, predictive, or parsimonious. Intelligent design, in other words, isn’t science. And that’s okay. Science is science. It is very good at doing what it does. We don’t need to create theories like Intelligent Design – we can just read a book on evolutionary biology. It’s cool.
This isn’t to say that scientists don’t have faith in God. Some do – check out that link to the BioLogos foundation if you want to see how very easy it is to reconcile faith in Jesus with the overwhelming evidence supporting evolution – and it works just fine if you’re not afraid to try it. The way I see it, the universe is a wonderfully complex creation, made by the capable hands of an infinitely wise God. The thing basically runs itself! Looking at it from this perspective, if God needed to directly intervene in various stages of evolution (as Intelligent Design proponents believe) that would infer that God was not infallible – that God has, at some point, looked at creation, said, “Oh, shit” under his breath, and then stepped in to make a change to the way an organism was evolving. Wouldn’t an omniscient God create a system and let itself play out, knowing that the end result would reflect His plan?
I think that many people feel that science is a threat to faith – that the more one learns about the world, the less one believes in God. This is a mindset that we must, as a culture, overcome and discard if we intend to continue to be relevant to the wider world.
Point # 2 – The Bible is not a book about science, and anyone who uses it as one is missing the whole damn point.
Man, I don’t even have to write this section. Author Jon Henry already wrote it for me in his recent article for Internet Monk. Before going any further in reading my blog post, take a moment to read Jon’s (far superior) article. It’s so incredible that you’ll thank me for, like, five years for making you read it.
Did you read it?
. . . . .
How awesome was that?!?!
I think the opening lines of this piece really sum it up.
Bible believers must defend the truth that the moon emanates its own light.
Contrary to the revelation of the Bible, modern science wants people to believe that the moon does not have the ability to generate light. Instead,they want us to believe that the moon merely reflects the light of the sun.
Not only is it ridiculous to believe that a rock could reflect the light of a sun millions of miles away, but it’s also unbiblical!
Now, this is satire, but as one commenter mentioned, it’s satire that has the potential to backfire on the author – the article is so well-written that it very well could make its way around the internet as a legitimate argument, forwarded by people who don’t “get it”. If this happens, it’s inevitably going to be quoted by the secular community as one more example of how Christians cannot accept scientific evidence that runs contrary to the “truths” of our world as presented in the Bible.
They won’t be surprised. We do this all the time.
Point #3 – Science is awesome, because God is awesome.
Check this out.
See that? God did that. Science took the picture. If it weren’t for the Hubble telescope, we would never see that image of what astronomers call the “Mystic Mountain.” You can search the Bible, front to back – even the ones with the pictures in them – and you’ll never see the scripture express the incomprehensible beauty of God’s work as well as that picture does it.
The universe and everything in it are surprisingly cool. I could list a bunch of awesome science facts, but you can do the same – just Google “awesome science facts”. Even if you completely ignored the spiritual world (which, as a faith blogger, I recommend against) there is more jaw-dropping stuff to be seen, felt, visited, or experienced on our own little planet than we’ll ever be able to quantify. But we try to quantify it, to understand it – and when people do that more than a little, we call those people “scientists”. They aren’t out to hurt us, they just want to understand God’s world a little better. . . even if they don’t know that God made it. And considering how awesome the world is, who wouldn’t want to understand it a little better?
Final Note – God is not “in the gaps”.
Wikipedia (great source, I know) defines the term “God of the gaps” as, “a type of theological perspective in which gaps in scientific knowledge are taken to be evidence or proof of God’s existence.” In other words, when we don’t understand how something happens, we attribute it to God. In early human history, our gaps in knowledge were very large, so we attributed quite a bit to God (or the gods) that we now understand on a scientific level. Nobody thinks that lightning comes from Thor, or that the sun is a fiery golden chariot racing across the sky. We also know – come on guys, let’s face it together – that the earth is billions of years old, as opposed to thousands.
And that’s okay. God is still God. I believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, but I don’t believe that the Bible is supposed to be a document that tells us how the physical universe works. It’s okay for us to not understand every single event that can happen in our universe. It’s even okay for us to guess that those events that we don’t understand come from God – because, in a philosophical sense, all things happen because of God. What is not okay is for us to deny ourselves the opportunity to learn more about all things that happen in God’s universe from a scientific perspective. Nor is it okay to deny overwhelming evidence about the physical world just because contradicts a book that is not, in any way, a book about science. You wouldn’t open a copy of Popular Science to find out what the meaning of life is, would you?
In conclusion, let’s all chill out, alright? God loves you no matter how many years ago the earth was created. It’s possible that you, the person reading this post, are both a) descended from monkeys, and b) personally cherished by the intelligence that made the universe. In fact, I believe that both things are true. And let’s not forget that God loves scientists, too, and has blessed them so profoundly that they get to give us normal folks a glimpse into the awe-inspiring totality of His creation, whether they know it or not. We shouldn’t hate them for that – we should thank them for sharing it with us.
So as it turns out, I have not written that post I promised in my last update. This presents a pretty strong argument that I am, in fact, a liar. But in my heart of hearts, it’s not so much that I lied. . . it’s more like I had an idea that I would write the post, and then just ran out of juice.
Why did I run out of juice, you didn’t ask? Oh, I don’t know for sure. I just did. It seems that my tank runneth on empty, spiritually speaking.
It could be because of these three things.
Part of it is that I have an internship with my church starting next fall, and so far I have no idea what I’ll actually do for the church as a result of said internship. I’ve been trying to figure this out for weeks. It’s not that I don’t think I have a skill set that could be used for the church’s benefit – it’s just that my skill set happens to be “writing” and “public speaking”, and wouldn’t you know it, but we already have someone at church who has the exact same skill set. We call him the “pastor”. In fact, we have two. So the supply/demand situation for “what I do” is not in a great spot right now.
(I also do accents and impressions, but I can’t for the life of me figure out how to use that to the benefit of Jesus. Except perhaps to say, “Let us say the Lord’s Prayer, but I will do so as if I were Sean Connery.”)
So unless one of you readers can give me ideas about how I can use my snark for the Spirit, this conflict will continue to remain unresolved for the time being.
Another source of my generally “bleh” spiritual situation right now is the exhaustion that seems to have followed my frequent anger at stuff I don’t like. The Christian community in general seems to have adopted some theology that I don’t agree with – stuff that runs contrary to the ideas recently put forward by N.T. Wright, Greg Boyd, and other heroes of mine. Then I get on kicks where, for reasons I cannot comprehend, I decide to correct people all the time. And it’s exhausting! I only have a few “fire starter” topics (like the absence of warfare worldview in classical theology, or homosexuality in the church, or cultural warfare) and believe me, it only takes a few to completely wring me dry.
Perhaps the last source of my spiritual exhaustion is my struggle with food addiction. When I first attacked my unhealthy eating habits (by fasting for a day, praying, and asking for support from friends, family, and blog readers) I had a really good week of just kicking ass. For instance, on the Saturday that Brandi and I went to help my pastor, Ryan, clean up his yard after the big flood, I forgot to eat lunch. Forgot. To eat lunch. I’ve never done that in my life – generally, even if I’m not hungry, I’m counting the minutes until my next meal. And it wasn’t hard work. It was as if I’d always had a voice in my head, and that voice had finally been miraculously silenced. Of course, stuff like this requires constant vigilance, and prayer. And I just didn’t keep up on that stuff. I’d try to make an excuse, but how predictable is that? Vigilance takes energy, and I’m pooped. That’s all there is to it.
Here are some awesome things in my life right now!
1) Last weekend, Brandi and I drove to “the cities” to visit friends and celebrate a belated 30th birthday for the wife. We had good food, great beer, and awesome conversation with people who made us feel welcomed and special. It was just what the doctored ordered, and you guys (you know who you are) rock the block.
2) After months of near-constant cajoling, my children finally convinced me to hook up the Xbox 360 that has been packed away for the last six months. I blew the dust off of my copy of Batman: ArkhamCity, and I let myself be the Caped Crusader for a few hours. And there is something that is just blissfully uncomplicated about pretending to be Batman. The ethics of being Batman are relatively simple. There are bad guys. Batman beats them up. Once defeated, bad guys are tied up or unconscious. Nobody gets killed. Riddles are solved, pellet bombs are thrown, batarangs are batarang’d, and I don’t have to think long, deep thoughts about anything.
3) Laughter helps recharge the batteries, and I’ve recently discovered the genius that is John Mulaney. If you have a minute, YouTube “John Mulaney New In Town” and watch any video that comes up. This guy is the real deal.
So, in conclusion, while this blog post was supposed to be a big, meaningful post linking the work I did cleaning up Ryan’s yard to the broader idea of this world being beautiful yet broken, I have, instead, written about nothing in particular and included a picture of Batman. I’m sure I’ll be back writing about faithy-type-things very soon. Until then, remember the wise words written in Ecclesiastes 3:1, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”
And right now, it’s Batman season.