Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Few Thoughts on War

“Do not kill.” - Exodus 20:13

“Then Jesus said to him, “Put the sword back into its place. All those who use the sword will die by the sword.” - Matthew 26:52

It is very ironic to me that I am a pacifist that lives in the United States of America. The USA is by far the most aggressive and violent nation in the world, no nation can even come close to comparing to the absolute supremacy of the US when it comes to being a nation of war. No other nation has as many active military bases, only one other nation has a comparable amount of nuclear missiles. Thus living in and being a citizen of this nation is very ironic seeing as everything the US government truly stands for is completely the opposite of what I, as a Christian am expected to stand for.

Let me say this now: The US government does not, nor ever has stood for life, liberty and the pursuit of property or happiness, at least not for all people. Just ask the Native Americans (I suppose the government was pursuing property there), the slaves (from Africa and the child sex slaves still being trafficked through US ports), women, the LGBT community, Hispanic-Americans who have to respond to “Show me your papers”, the list goes on.

One of the primary problems of modern American Christianity is simply that it is more American than it is Christian. I have met many “American Christians” in my life but I have met very few “Christians who are American”. Christianity today in the USA has opened itself up and allowed itself to become infected with the “holy spirit of US patriotism”, this patriotism promotes the worship of the flag, it has its own “holy days” (the 4th of July, President’s day), it has its own idols (the bald eagle, the Washington memorial), it has its own praise and worship music (“America the Beautiful”, “The Star Spangled Banner”, “Proud to be an American”). This patriotism is so close to religion that is even has places of worship where people can go on pilgrimages such as Plymoth Rock, Mount Rushmore, and Gettysburg to name a few. Christians in America typically do not realize that they are putting their nation on equal footing with their deity, if they did they would quickly “repent”, but most do not and continue in the practices of celebrating the marriage of Jesus and Lady Liberty (not Uncle Sam though...). The problem with this is that the US has as much of a say in within the American Church, if not more, than Church leaders do. The government can convince the US Church that God did not really mean “Do not kill” what was meant was “Do not kill - unless the US government says it’s okay.” Other matters get twisted as well like in historical approaches to women’s rights, slavery, just refer to the list above.

This problem really has an easy solution for those that know this is an issue, they must stop placing their country in a position that should only be reserved for God and they should do their best to help others cease from this practice as well. For those that do not really see this as an issue I suppose they do not really care to change things, and that is dangerous because then they are in a position where they are proselytizing a religion that really is not a religion it is simply just patriotism with the words and names of Christianity utilized. I think that could also be one of the reasons more and more young “Christians” are becoming atheists, most of them were never really Christians, they were just Americans talking about this beautiful blond-haired blue-eyed man called Jesus.

Back to war. The Biblical evidence is there, Jesus, the Jewish one, was not in favor of any form of violent retaliation (Matthew 5:39; Matthew 26:52; Luke 6:27-28) The question I have now is: If Jesus Christ is the Author and Perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), then why is His command to to put down the sword not enough for Christians?

Feel free to respond I love input.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Boys vs. Girls?

            God is not a man, God does not prefer men. Yet God calls "Himself" Father; this is an issue I struggled with in Sunday school. "God isn't a boy or a girl, HE is just God." Well if God is not a man why do we call "Him", "He"? Yes the Bible says that God is the "Father", Jesus is His "Son", that He is the "King"; but we also know that the prophets were writing in the context of their own society, our's has progressed. Why then do we in the 21st century still need to make God a man?
             John Piper recently has come under fire, and rightly so, for saying:

"Now, from all of that I conclude that God has given Christianity a masculine feel. And being God, a God of love, He has done that for our maximum flourishing both male and female."

"He does not intend for women to languish or be frustrated or in any way suffer or fall short of full and lasting joy in this masculine Christianity. From which I infer that the fullest flourishing of women and men takes place in churches and families that have this masculine feel."

"When I say masculine Christianity or masculine ministry or Christianity with a masculine feel, here's what I mean: Theology and church and mission are marked by an overarching godly male leadership in the spirit of Christ with an ethos of tender-hearted strength, contrite courage, risk-taking decisiveness, and readiness to sacrifice for the sake of leading and protecting and providing for the community. All of which is possible only through the death and resurrection of Jesus."
            John Piper and I rarely agree, but I found these statements rather disturbing mostly because of how absolutely gender exclusive Piper's Christianity is. I honestly have to categorize this as a new form of Christianity because it is obviously not the Church Jesus founded. Jesus was inclusive and protective of women (Luke 7:36-50; John 8:1-11; John 4:1-42). John Piper forgets that if he is simply going off of what the Bible says in the Old Testament where he locates his primarily "masculine" God, that he, a gentile, would not welcome to be a leader in the Church. In fact, even in the New Testament the all-male leadership of the Church at Jerusalem determined that gentiles could be saved, but no where does the New Testament state that male Gentiles can be leaders in the Church, they must first become Jews. John Piper, and others in his camp, are aggressively using the Holy Word of God as a weapon to harm women in the Church, subdue them, and rob them of the spiritual freedoms that Jesus Christ made for them. The double standards exhibited in this weak theology is not only sexist, it is dangerous for the women within the churches where this theology is taught. It essentially states: "God made Christianity for men, but don't fret women, you can still be our sidekicks." It forces the women that are within the churches to almost grow to loathe their own womanhood and desire to be men in order to be full participants in this "Masculine Christianity".
             I am a man, and I am glad that I am a man because that is how God made me. But my mother is a woman, and I am so glad that she is a woman, and that my grand-mother is a woman, and my aunt, and my female cousins, and Mary the mother of Jesus. I am glad that Ruth, and Esther, and Mary Magdalene, and Mother Theresa were also women. And I am glad that they are women, because they each brought something to my faith that men could not bring their femininity. I am so glad that God does not have a sex or gender, because then people might start foolishly thinking that he/she/it picks favorites in the "boys vs. girls" arguments that go on on the playgrounds of life. God in the wisdom that only is contained only in an infinite being created both men and women and said both were good. Unlike the U.S. government God in supreme demonstration of wisdom also did not make men and women "separate but equal" God made the two become one, so that they can together be a minor reflection of the splendor of their Creator's glory, and most importantly their Creator's love.