Saturday, May 05, 2012

The Shellfish Challenge

Photo by Wayan Vota
The net is all a dither with the latest rants by Dan Savage and Pastor Sean Harris. I wrote about Dan Savage last week. Although many Christians didn't like his tone or what he said, I have yet to hear an argument refuting his assertions. Let's face it, the writers of the Bible felt no need to have listed in the 10 commandments "Thou shalt not own another human being!" Paul did not tell Christians to free their slaves... just treat them nicely. Clearly, most of the writers of the bible had no problem with slavery - yet there were Christians taking offense at the bible being referred to as a "pro-slavery document".  To me, these offended parties were having an emotional reaction that had no objective reason.

Now there is Pastor Harris of a NC megachurch church who, amongst other things, said "Dads, the second you see your son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist. Man up. Give him a good punch." So gay kids don't need to merely fear rejection from Christian parents, they are now being threatened with beatings as well. To be fair though, Pastor Harris could be thought of as a religious progressive. After all, the bible (infallible, God's revealed truth, without error) has told us that the child should be put to death. Pastor Harris is being darn near liberal by comparison.

So why are Christians not putting homosexuals to death? Because Dan Savage was right; Christians ignore bible passages ALL THE TIME.  Christians have a bit of a sliding scale when it comes to biblical obedience. Death would be a little drastic for modern society, so we move the scale down to serious societal oppression. When it comes to adultery (also deserving of death a few verses up), we slide the scale even further down. In fact many items (eating shellfish, wearing mixed fabrics, no work on the Sabbath) get moved off the sliding scale all together.

Many Christians want to distance themselves from a Pastor like Harris, but in their practical attitudes and rhetoric, there is little difference. Harris may be a hardcore blatant oppressor, but many Christians are softcore - carefully censoring their words, but maintaining a similar attitude in their hearts. Then they wonder in befuddlement why Christianity is becoming more marginalized and youth are leaving churches in droves.

Which brings me to my Shellfish Challenge. Many new ideas and approaches need to be "tried on for size" before they can be accepted. So, my Christian friends, I challenge you for one year to let go of the homosexual issue. Give it the same attention, worry, concern, and time that you give to the biblical avoidance of shellfish... nothing. No conversations, no sermons, no readings, no political efforts, no wisecracks. In short, you put into the issue the same thought and effort Jesus did... nothing.

Take the challenge for 1 year... then weigh what effect it had on your soul and your relationships. 

and.... if you still feel the need to be against something - shellfish is an open field. Remember "God Hates Lobster!" :)


Recovering Agnostic said...

I like it. From experience, though (and this is something I used to believe myself), they'd argue that the passages on homosexuality are supported in the NT, something which can't be said about shellfish. They'd probably also say that there's an important distinction between temporary practical issues (shellfish, like pork, may be an unwise diet for nomadic desert-dwelling tribes) and eternal moral commands.

Sure, there's a certain amount of squirming involved, but it's not an unreasonable conclusion given certain axioms. The bigger problem is to get people to drop their presuppositions and justify their beliefs from first principles.

Andrew said...

Yeah... but one could grab any of the various that cross both testaments, and we still ignore them. Adultery is an offense in both, but we don't kill anybody for it. Shellfish is just more funny because it is absurd.

You're right though, and it is one of the reasons I want religious people to start owning up to their own stances and quit hiding behind scripture... no one is holding to a belief solely because of the bible... they hold opinions that they like and then find biblical texts to support it.

Don said...

I hope you get some takers on this this one Andrew....

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