Last night, I saw someone engage with a fellow atheist on Twitter, and for some reason, I felt the need to jump in. Oh, I remember–they had said, “Suppose God is real, just a hypothetical.” My digital acquaintance replied, “Which god?”; I felt, though, that this was an irrelevant question. The hypothetical made me itchy. I sent a reply of my own:
And that got the ball rolling on a conversation that made me moan, groan, and wish I didn’t feel the need to interfere with such things.
First, he asked me what I would consider “evidence” of God’s existence. I said, the same evidence that lets us know anything else exists. The majority of people must have the capacity to experience the evidence; it can’t be something that can be explained away naturally (it can’t be a regular guy with no Godlike powers pretending to be God, it can’t be pointing to a perfectly natural phenomenon and saying “The sky is blue–because God!”, it has to be measurable, concrete evidence). I tried to cover the bases as well as I could, because really? Anybody who has to ask you what kind of evidence you need is someone who is looking for a loophole. Pro tip: IT IS ALWAYS THE KIND OF EVIDENCE THAT IS EVIDENCE. I need the same kind of evidence to convince me that God exists as I do to convince me that the couch I’m sitting on exists, or trees exist, or my car exists, or India exists, or anything exists.
That having been said, he makes his opening volley: “Have you ever heard of Anthony [sic] Flew?” Immediately, I am suspicious. Because I have not heard of this person, for one thing. So I go to look him up, browse Wikipedia and some of the source sites, and laugh.
“Are you mentioning him because he was an atheist who changed his mind?”‘
I guessed this first because I have seen a number of theists argue this as though they’ve just put one over on us. With Dawkins’ recent admission that he doesn’t “know” that there’s no god, I’ve actually seen it a lot lately. Another tip: one atheist shifting or revealing a hidden or new opinion about the origins of life means . . . nothing. It means nothing at all regarding the existence of god if Richard Dawkins explains that he doesn’t know for absolute certain if god exists or not. Pointing at these occurrences and saying “ha-HA! One of your own tribe changed his/her mind, so I must be correct!” is like me pointing at all of the people who grew up Christian and became atheist and saying the same. This argument is unconvincing because it’s based on nothing but someone’s opinion and not on actual evidence. Please stop using this stupid non-argument.
I was wrong, though–that wasn’t the reason. Dude shot back: “no that he found scientific data that there must be a creator”
I laughed. I can’t help it. I laughed so much. Not to be unkind, just at the absurdity of it. You’re asking me to swallow a lot of things when you say this:
- You’re asking me to believe that someone found actual, undeniable scientific proof that God exists and it hasn’t been cross-verified by every scientist forever and put on the cover of every magazine, newspaper, news site, copy of the Left Behind series, and episode of the 700 club.
- You’re asking me to believe that someone found actual, undeniable scientific proof that God exists and certain theists that frequently battle us on Twitter haven’t been rubbing our noses in it and screaming “IN YOUR FACE!”
- More often than not (and this was the case here), you’re asking me to believe that a non-scientist found actual, undeniable scientific proof that God exists, and that scientists didn’t find it.
- You’re asking me to believe that such proof even could exist.
I explained to the gentleman that Flew was not a scientist, so his theories about the complexity of DNA were about as helpful as a painter’s theories about neurosurgery. My new friend said, no, Flew was a scientist. I said, no, he studied philosophy, Japanese, and humanities, and was in the Royal Air Force; he did not have a degree in biology, nor could I find any information in various bios that stated that he did any kind of work at all in the field of biology–or any other scientific field, for that matter. I said, this is a classic “god of the gaps” argument and the logic is clearly flawed. My new friend went away rather suddenly.
I was sort of baffled that a person could throw out a name and a backstory as an “argument” and not bother doing a shred of research. It took me about 5 minutes of looking at various things Flew said and did in his life to break what he said about god and the “complexities of DNA” down into the garbage that it is. I’m baffled, but I know that religious belief–faith–is by its own nature irrational, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Still.
No, I’m not having a bi-polar episode. Quite the opposite; life in the brain of triple-G is pretty good right now. So why am I all full of angst when things are arguably going better than they have in the past five years? Oh, I dunno. Maybe everything else?
I am sick, sick, sick of a lot of things right now.
I’m sick of politics. I’m angry at politicians. Every. Single. Fucking. Time. I see a politician on television, read a statement from a politician, read an article about a politician, read proposed policy changes, read about programs being cut so that our tax money can go to things that we, as a nation, don’t want or fundamentally agree with, every time I read about lies, misdirection, propaganda, and false ideas being shoved on the undereducated citizens of our country (who would have better education, but that money is going to subsidize such supposed “free enterprises” as health insurance, big oil, and the food industry, who then turn around and take our public money to slash costs and reduce quality to earn a larger profit from us–we who underwrite these damn companies in the first place), I want to vomit.
Every time I read about a politician who wants to make cuts to programs that help the poor to scratch the backs of those who pay for their campaigns, I want to cry. Every time I read about a politician who talks about of both sides of his or her mouth, who says one thing and then does quite another, I want to scream. Every time I read about a politician who wants to wield ultimate control over something that affects them in no way whatsoever–such as straight Congressmen decrying gay marriage, or male Congressmen threatening to gut services that provide necessary help to women–I feel violent. I feel hopeless when I see our rights being taken away, not in the name of security but in the name of the Washington bigwigs getting to do whatever the hell they want. And they do all of this while singing the refrain of small government providing more freedom for the people.
I’m sick of corporations. I’m sick of large entities making their profits off the back of underpaid working-class persons and still looking for every way to make another dime at the cost of screwing customers, employees, and local townspeople. I’m sick of the cycle that has been set up to force us into buying shabbily-made products from foreign sweatshops while our skilled laborers look for menial jobs that can’t support their families. I’m sick of working-class people having to eat crappy food because fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and whole ingredients are out of their price ranges. My husband and I were spending four hundred dollars a month on groceries. We weren’t shopping at Whole Foods. We were buying fruits and vegetables. We weren’t even buying enough meat for seven days a week. That’s almost as much as our rent! And of course, the rising costs of health care might, just might have something to do with the fact that we eat like total shit–not to mention the capitalistic vultures trying to wring every last dime out of their clients. Human decency can’t stand up to the Almighty Profit. Scores of former employees of Big Business report later that they are forced to do the most distasteful acts in the name of duty; people working for HMOs report that they are directed to deny people treatment in every incidence, people in banking report that they are required to push through mortgages and loans that they know will put people into dire financial straits. And they do it. The ones who do it well, who revel in it, go straight to the top and live like kings, while the rest of us scrape by.
I’m sick of the media. I’m sick of them feeding us misinformation, misleading information, outright lies, and brain candy–all designed to keep us glued to the tube, the internet, to keep us reading and keep us entertained while real things that really affect us are happening every moment of the day. We have no idea what’s happening in politics. We have no idea what’s happening around the world–hell, we barely know what’s happening in our backyards. We do know who won the last American Idol, what stars wore which designers at the last red carpet event, and that President Obama is a secret fahrrn Muslim who is probably going to suicide bomb the White House right after he turns America into a Communist nation and literally crucifies all of the GOP on Capitol Hill. The media does nothing but to keep us ignorant, using smoke and mirrors like the grandest illusionist to divert our attention while the real stuff is going down.
(Not that there’s anything wrong with watching Idol–it’s acceptable entertainment, but they cover it like it’s news at the expense of our very lives.)
And I’m tired of religion. Yeah, I’m going to say it–I’m tired of Christianity, especially. I would be totally fine, completely happy if people would keep their religion to themselves–you know, just like the Bible says to do. I would be so thrilled if Christians–the majority religion in our country, gone from oppressed to oppressors–actually lived like Jesus. Not only do a lot of Christians not live like Jesus, but we get religion jammed down our throats in ways that make me want to explode. Every single time I see any Christian complaining that there’s a “war” on Christianity, I laugh bitterly. Yeah, that’s a war all right–it’s like when the Palestinians go to war against the Israelis by casting stones at their machine guns. Over seventy percent of America is Christian; Christians are in no danger of being oppressed by the minority here. But that does not mean that Christians get to force the rest of us to follow their religion. I hate the way that people try to equate religion and science, as though they are equally valid but opposite points of view. Newsflash: science either works or it does not; the scientific method independently corroborates its findings as being true regardless of what any religion has to say about it. Science is based on what we see, and what we can observe and measure, it’s not down to some egghead’s opinion about why something happens. Methodically cutting science away from our school curricula, and watering it down with faith-based pseudoscience when possible, makes ignorant citizens who don’t understand how science works and who don’t know enough not to believe it when some sincere-sounding, father-like religious authority tells flat-out lies about how the scientific method works and misleads people by using the word “theory” in the wrong connotation. Every time I see an attempt to change laws, policies, the media, education, and everything else to fit the Christian message to the exclusion of all other points of view, I feel like moving to Norway. That’s totally un-American–if we’re not going to act like Americans, what’s the point of being here?
In fact, that makes me angrier than just about everything. Have we all forgotten what it is to be an American? Have we forgotten how to stand together as a nation? Have we forgotten the spirit of the principles that our forefathers lay down when they formed our country? It seems so. Our forefathers envisioned a nation built on freedom, fairness, and opportunity for everyone. What are our inalienable rights? “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Americans were rugged, full of ingenuity, always ready to lend a hand to a neighbor, ready and able to seize any opportunity that came along. Now, what is it to be American? Whoever yells the loudest is the authority; greed has usurped humanity; the only people who can grab opportunity have to risk losing everything in an uncertain economy or are already so comfortable that it’s no risk at all. And we complain about our lot in life. We complain about having to pitch in so that someone less fortunate than ourselves can have a better life. We spend all of our extra money on cheap, foreign-made electronic crap that we don’t need, and being able to have just one more disposable toy is more important to us than making sure a working mother has health care for her children. Or that a young person can have a small business loan and create the next new thing. Or that a newlywed husband can get a good job and support his family. The American Dream has dissolved into the American Nightmare, and it’s not the fault of the politicians, it’s not the fault of big business-ultimately it’s our fault, yours and mine, because we lay over and went to sleep and let this all happen.
A young woman that I talk to responded to my blog about internet activism, telling me that if I had any ideas about how to take the next step from petitions to real action, to please tell her. My answer is that I have no idea. I don’t know what to do now. I don’t think any of us knows what to do–the pressure in the kettle is going to keep rising and rising until it comes to a full boil and steam shoots out; they’ll try to block the steam, to plug it up any way possible, and it will explode all over all of us, creating nothing but a mess and nasty burns. We’ll pick up the sodden pieces; instead of trying to fix the kettle, we’ll go out and buy a new one. And the pressure will start building again.
I don’t know what to do. If you know what to do, tell me. For the love of America, tell me.
This is a subject I have been turning over in my mind for a very long time now. Conservative candidates seem to hold up Jesus and Christian ideals as their path to morality far more than liberal candidates; this is not to say that liberals will not invoke the name of God, such as President Obama ending his speeches with “God Bless America,” but the campaign platforms of liberal candidates don’t seem to try to reach out to Christian Americans as overtly as many conservative campaigns do. In my personal life, I know a lot of Christians and a lot of non-theists (and a few in-betweeners); while not all of the Christians I know are conservative, nearly all of the conservatives I know are not just Christian but Very Christian. (And, although this is not really relevant, I find it interesting that most non-theists I know are politically liberal.) This trend makes me uneasy, because as time progresses, I’m increasingly unable to see how one is able to reconcile political conservatism to the basic tenets of Christianity.
Let’s take the whole notion of taxation, social programs–money in general. Conservatives are against big government, against taxation (in my opinion, dangerously against taxation, as a government does need some money to operate), largely against social programs unless it helps them gain a demographic (see Republicans as “champions” of Medicare even as they are condemning gov’mint-run health care). Their bottom line? People should retain the majority of the money that they earn, and shouldn’t have to give it over to the government. This often translates to their supporters as, “You shouldn’t have to pay for someone else’s heath care,” or “It’s not right for those lazy people to be on welfare when you’re out there working hard for your money.” Hard-earned money is a concept that comes up again and again when Republicans talk about taxation and social programs; this is no accident. The very phrase makes one tense up, gives one the urge to protect what one has. You worked hard for it, you deserve it, nobody else deserves to have money that you put your sweat into. Definitely nobody deserves to take that money and give it to someone else who doesn’t work as hard.
But what would Jesus say?
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard
1 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.
3 “About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4 He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ 5 So they went.
“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. 6About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’
7 “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.
“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’
8 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’
9 “The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius.10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner.12 ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’
13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’
16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
Paying the Imperial Tax to Caesar
15 Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?”
18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them,“Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”
21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.
Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.”
Quite a list of passages, no? Let’s break it down a bit.
I think the first is self-explanatory–you cannot serve both God and money. Which means that if you’re voting Republican because you’re fretting away about paying more taxes, your focus is probably not where it needs to be, if you are a Christian. Historically–and this is really something you can’t disprove–times of high taxation have been extremely prosperous times, such as during the 50′s and during the Clinton era. Worries that raising taxes may cause financial strife for your family are quite unfounded based on historic data–but, as a Christian, you also have to know that God will provide for you in times of strife, so your worries are doubly unfounded. With those excuses stripped away, I think what lies at the bottom is normal human greed and probably a bit of fear. We all have it–even us liberals, believe it or not. We don’t like parting with our money, but we also see a greater good that we can do by giving up a little more of our bounty to help others. I don’t personally feel that greed and fear would be valid excuses if one had to come before God and answer for why they voted someone into office who cut medical services to the poor or education for children because the voter didn’t want to pay taxes that they could afford to pay with no personal detriment. Christians are supposed to trust God to take care of them, so the fear might be considered an insult.
In the next passage, Jesus is offering relief for those who toil and are burdened. This is a far cry from what I hear from the conservative camp, which basically boils down to “Well, why don’t you go out and get a job? Why don’t you get a better job? Why don’t you pay for your own damn health care?” In other words, do it yourself and quit pestering me to help you. This attitude is decidedly anti-Jesus. Jesus took on the burden of all of mankind to ease their suffering, and we can’t take on a little bit of a tax burden to help our poor and our suffering? Come on, now.
The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard is one of my favorite passages. The landowner freely gives the same wage to those who were hired late in the day to those who toiled all day; the workers who had worked long and hard hours complained of unfairness, and were quickly taken to task by the landowner. While this is clearly a parable for God being generous to all of those who come into His kingdom, whether they were devout for decades or only recently saved, there are other good messages in here, as well. Such as, be generous and avoid feelings of entitlement in order to be more Godlike–which is basically the opposite of the Republican platform, which calls for fiscal conservation (read: stinginess) and the retaining of all of one’s hard-earned money to the detriment of others (read: entitlement).
And, of course, the famous line–”Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s.” Indeed, Jesus gives the impression that the truly Godly haven’t much to do at all with money, as money belongs to this earthly realm and not to God’s realm. Throughout the New Testament, Jesus doesn’t have much to do with money except when absolutely necessary–two significant times that Jesus interacts with money, money is not cast in a favorable light. When Jesus knocks over the tables in the temple, it is to condemn the practice of profiteering in God’s house. When Judas betrays Jesus, he does so for 30 silver pieces–because he is greedy. Jesus doesn’t think greed is good. In fact, it says in I Timothy, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
What Jesus did do during his time on Earth was to spend his time healing the sick, telling people to love one another and be good to their fellow man, teaching people to be humble and generous. I think Jesus would be thoroughly disappointed to know that many of his followers were reluctant, if not adamantly against, to use their prosperity to ensure a better quality of life for all people.
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
The Rich and the Kingdom of God
16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”
18 “Which ones?” he inquired.
Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”
20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”
21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
I think this says a lot about not just the need but the obligation of those who would call themselves followers of Christ to take care of the impoverished and not worry about their earthly wealth, which directly conflicts with the Republican attitude of pulling oneself up by one’s bootstraps and taking care of yourself on your own, no matter how disadvantaged. The last passage, especially, is telling–Jesus does not just mean someone who is wealthy beyond a certain marker of wealth; it’s not that he’s saying you can’t get into heaven if you have a certain amount of money, but rather, it’s how you view money that would be the problem. Those who are wealthy tend to retain a large portion their wealth, rather than giving it freely to those who are in need. You can be living comfortably and not be the modern definition of “rich” and still fall under this criterion. Jesus makes his stance on wealth very clear: don’t keep it for yourself, give. When you vote people into office that you know are going to reduce help for those in need to give tax cuts, it’s the same as stepping over a homeless person on the street or turning away a hungry person at your door.
Speaking of a better quality of life for all people, I think Jesus would also be displeased that conservatives take it upon themselves to morally police people using the secular, government law.
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you
1 Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.
2 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. 7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.
9 “Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts— 10 no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. 11 Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. 12As you enter the home, give it your greeting. 13 If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. 14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. 15 Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.”
24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’
28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.
“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”
The Parable of the Weeds Explained
36 Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”
37 He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
40 “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.
13 He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14 Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”
We have established already that Jesus made clear distinctions between what is Caesar’s (what is earthly) and what is God’s. Secular government is Caesar’s the same as the government-printed money. Jesus admonishes again and again that his followers should not take it upon themselves to weed God’s garden; this job is reserved for God and His angels, and rightly so–who, after all, can profess to know the mind of God? What you consider a weed, he might consider a beautiful flower. In any case, using religion to pass secular law is not the place of a follower of Christ–such as in the case of gay marriage. Jesus made it clear that using any kind of force to stop sinners is against the will of God; his disciples are instructed to go and perform miracles, and if they are not received, to leave them for reaping. I don’t believe these instructions have changed just because Christians are no longer a persecuted minority; in fact, I don’t believe Jesus would be happy with the formerly persecuted turning around and persecuting others.
There’s also the question of who will enforce God’s law if God’s law is made into secular law. Is our justice system worthy to uphold God’s law in God’s stead? From what Jesus said, I don’t think God would think so. Jesus is clear on the point that God and God alone will be responsible for judgment; allowing human judges to enforce God’s law directly violates His wishes on the subject. Not to mention, it violates the free will of the people, which goes against what God wanted when He originally created human beings. If God had wanted to make Adam and Eve blindly obedient, he would have done so, and original sin would never have happened. He gave him a choice, and he did this for a reason. Who are we as mere humans to take away the choice that God granted humans?
Of course, one could argue that this could extend to anything God said–murder, for example, or stealing. This is a case when secular law coincides perfectly with religious law, though. It makes good human sense, not just religious sense, for murder and theft to be illegal. (See my post on atheist morality for more details on that topic.) Even if humans all over suddenly stopped believing in God, most of us would still agree that murder and theft, along with many other practical laws, should still apply to maintain a civilized society, which would be to our benefit as civilization has allowed for great advances that could never have been achieved otherwise. In other cases, though, where religion is the clear driver for the law and not secular reasoning, that law should stay off the books. Voting for people who promise to interject religious morality into our secular law would be the same as if one directly violated Jesus’s orders not to sit in judgment.
Conservative candidates have proven time and again that they aren’t even the moral pillars that they claim to be, anyway. How many times has one gotten caught with his hand in the cookie jar–or down some rent-a-boy’s pants? How, then, can a political party full of people who are just as flawed and sinful as any other human beings profess to be more righteous and moral than the other guys? The idea is absurd, and the conservative candidates who claim to be morally superior are committing the sin of pride. Those who follow them because they claim to have the ability to enforce morality are following them down the wrong path.
So, if you’re a Christian, you might want to re-think the whole “fiscally and morally conservative” shtick that the Republicans have been angling. Jesus says that it’s okay to pay taxes, it’s okay to help the poor–even if they don’t work as hard as you do–and that it’s not only okay but mandatory that you don’t interfere with God’s plan to pass His own judgment on sinners. Once you have an open mind about it, really go through and do some research on the conservative political ideas–such as the “fact” that lower taxes means more jobs and more prosperity, for example. I think you may find that Jesus would be very unhappy with some of these blokes who invoke his name to get into positions of power. (And didn’t Jesus say that if you’re going to do good work in his name that you should do it privately and not crow about it or do the ultimate name-drop? That makes everything they do suspect right there.)
Think I’m full of it? Tell me in the comments below–respectfully and logically, please (see comment policy for details).