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    Ethics & Debate Center - Thread: How often does Christianity make people worse?

    1. #11
      ImaginaryDay2's Avatar
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      Holding on for dear life to an ideology doesn't belong solely to a church with the most conservative (or 'Pharisaical', if you like) bent. I had a nice (?) conversation the last few days with a couple of complementarian women, one a minister in the Anglican church. As long as I agreed point-for-point that women in our culture have less of an advantage over men (which, in theory, I do), all was fine. Until the subject of the RCC and birth control came up - one of the most oppressive and diabolical methods to keep women in line ever invented (sarcasm intended). NO AMOUNT of personal experience, relating examples from my own family of strong, independent women (University professors, military, etc.) who are Catholic, could sway any conversation away from the fact that the RCC is oppressive. When it got to the point of discussing the imprisonment of women in El Salvador for having a miscarriage (A Catholic thing...), I stepped away. So, yes, opinions get ugly. Christians get ugly. I can get pretty ugly when left to my own devices.
      So what are we going to do about it?
      I can't stop the world from turning around, or the pull of the moon on the tide...
      But I don't believe that we're in this alone, I believe we're along for the ride..
      - Dream Theater

    2. #12
      hedrick is offline Apprentice Member
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      Quote Originally Posted by ImaginaryDay2 View Post
      So what are we going to do about it?
      Don't give in and do the same thing. The only way to deal with the problem is with real Christianity.

    3. #13
      Stravinsk is offline Composer and Artist on Flat Earth
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      Quote Originally Posted by hedrick View Post
      Christianity should make people more loving, more forgiving, more humble. But all too often it seems to make people worse, more like Pharisees that Christ.

      Illinois Bishop Decrees No Communion, Funeral Rites For Same-Sex Spouses

      Whatever kind of sinners gays may be (and personally I don't consider it sin), surely we should commend them to the mercy of God who loves them.
      I'm not sure what my take is on the priests specific actions but what I do know is that the issue of homosexual marriages is a super divisive one. Before I left the USA, many years ago now, I was a member of a fairly large church - and the order came down from higher up that the church, along with others of the same "fold" had to now accept and teach that homosexuality was normal, God given/approved, etc. I'm not sure if performing gay marriages and the like was included but it wouldn't surprise me if it were.

      The whole issue caused a huge church split. The main pastor got "defrocked". He was reinstated by the congregation. The church had to take a stand - stand on biblical law and principle, with the threat of losing some membership or becoming less attractive to current culture as a whole - or give in and become even less relevant to it's base. They chose to take a stand.

      Homosexuality and homosexual marriage is simply not compatible with Christianity without some serious snipping of Scripture - both old and new testaments, law, gospel and even epistles.

      If you cannot realize this, based on Genesis, the Law, What Christ said about Marriage and what Saul/Paul said about it(I include him because he is dear to most Christians, although I myself am not a fan, and don't feel he's needed here) - then seriously - get your intellectual integrity checked. Because it is in serious need of repair. All of these agree - marriage is between a man and a woman, period.

      Again, do I agree with the actions of the priest? Honestly - I don't know. Here's what I do know - a LOT of us are sick and tired of being falsely labeled and attacked simply for not going with "the times". Christianity has been a lot more tolerant to homosexuality and homosexuals than say - Islam (and I am no fan of Islam by any stretch) - but the tolerance has led to situations like I described with churches and congregations.

      I do not attend church. I used to. If I were to ever return to a Christian church - that is one of the basic conditions I would have with it - I do not want to hear or have promoted any teaching that says homosexuality (or adultery for that matter) is "ok", "normal", "God approved" "not sinful" etc. This isn't because I'm not a sinner with my own sins. However - I don't wish to go to a church that declares them "God approved". The church is supposed to be a hospital for the sick to recover - not a morgue for the dead to congregate.

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    5. #14
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      Quote Originally Posted by ImaginaryDay2 View Post
      Holding on for dear life to an ideology doesn't belong solely to a church with the most conservative (or 'Pharisaical', if you like) bent. I had a nice (?) conversation the last few days with a couple of complementarian women, one a minister in the Anglican church. As long as I agreed point-for-point that women in our culture have less of an advantage over men (which, in theory, I do), all was fine. Until the subject of the RCC and birth control came up - one of the most oppressive and diabolical methods to keep women in line ever invented (sarcasm intended). NO AMOUNT of personal experience, relating examples from my own family of strong, independent women (University professors, military, etc.) who are Catholic, could sway any conversation away from the fact that the RCC is oppressive. When it got to the point of discussing the imprisonment of women in El Salvador for having a miscarriage (A Catholic thing...), I stepped away. So, yes, opinions get ugly. Christians get ugly. I can get pretty ugly when left to my own devices.
      So what are we going to do about it?
      Pray. Not a whole lot you can do by way of argument as you discovered and not anything you can do by way of generosity or by violent oppression in fact violent oppression would just prove that whatever religion motivated the desire to violently oppress was as corrupted and wicked as the religion you wanted to correct for its wickedness. In the end good example and prayer are all the "weapons" we have or want in this world.
      Pope Gregory I was well known for his alms to the poor, and he gave quite generously of the riches donated to the Church by the wealthy people of Rome. Everything from money to land was given to the poor in some fashion. He made clear to his subordinates that their duty was to relieve the distress faced by the poor.

      He ordered his clergy to go out into the streets to find and care for the poor in person.

    6. #15
      Lämmchen's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by hedrick View Post
      There are people who have besetting sins that will probably be with them for their whole lives. There are people who don't recognize something as sin. Generally we don't turn sinners away from communion because we're aware that that wouldn't leave anyone there. We certainly don't refuse to hold a funeral for them, because at that point they are subject to God's judgement, not ours.

      But there's another issue. Generally people who get excluded from communion (and not just by Catholics) are those who have committed what I'd call sins against purity, normally sexual. It was the Pharisees who considered purity the key thing that God wanted, and whose claim to fame was a code to maintain purity. Jesus spoke a lot about judgement. But none of his examples of judgement involved that kind of offense. The top two causes were failing to bear any fruit, and rejecting Jesus or his Gospel. He condemned the Pharisees for turning people who couldn't obey their code away from God.
      Your response didn't address what I was getting at.

      Let's say the man was a thief...an unrepentant thief. He was told it's a sin but he didn't care. If he were to keep on living, he'd still steal and no one could talk him out of it. He felt he could live his life as he wanted.

      Would your same issues with the priest and church apply to that man who was living in unrepentant sin?
      "Christianity does not require more work but more trust." Pr. Jonathan Fisk
      "Bearing fruit does not make you a branch. A branch is a branch because it grows from the vine." Pr. Jonathan Fisk
      "A Christian's life is not defined by what the Christian does. It is defined by Christ and what He has done for us." Pr. Rolf David Preus

    7. #16
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      I don't think CHRISTIANITY makes people worse, I think sin does.

      As a broad generalization, I think Christianity tends to have a positive impact on people. It's hard to give what we don't have, but Christian have mega doses of unconditional love, forgiveness, grace and mercy - all good things they are now able to give and share. And I think Christians have a model of love, service, care and sacrifice. And I think Christians have a view of loving morality and the strength to move forward in such. IMO, this often does impact and change people: I can witness this a bit in my own life.

      Now, does that FORCE Christians to be "better" than their pagan neighbors? NOT NECESSARILY. Indeed, since all we can witness is what is said and done (not the heart behind it), it can appear (and may well be the reality) that Christians are often no better than non-Christians. Theologically, this is not hard to embrace. Our justification is in view of JESUS, not us. And Sanctification is a life-long process that is synergistic, a reality that we have TWO natures - the old Adam continuing.

      Collectively, socially, I think it should be said that politicans are at times outstanding at abusing religion, using it as a tool for their own political ambitions. This has been true in Christianity as well as in other religions. Religion is a powerful force in people's lives and power-seeking people have learned to "tap" that.


      FUNDAMENTALISM is a force in many things - including religion. Fundamentalism is a radical form of belief (whether political, religious, cultural or otherwise) and in this radical form, it becomes irrational and passionate and often takes on an ugly, "anti" element. Consider the nationalism/Ayrianism of Nazi Germany. We find this in Christianity, too.



      - Josiah
      We are justified by works - just not our own.

    8. #17
      hedrick is offline Apprentice Member
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      Quote Originally Posted by Lämmchen View Post
      Your response didn't address what I was getting at.

      Let's say the man was a thief...an unrepentant thief. He was told it's a sin but he didn't care. If he were to keep on living, he'd still steal and no one could talk him out of it. He felt he could live his life as he wanted.

      Would your same issues with the priest and church apply to that man who was living in unrepentant sin?
      Yes. We can't judge what's going on in someone else's life. Does he simply reject God? Does he repeatedly give into temptation, while confessing his weakness? We don't know. I think honest self-examination will show that we are all guilty of ongoing sin.

      That's not to say that we should ignore Christians who are doing things that hurt other people. But communion and funerals seem like the worst place to do it. Jesus made no attempt to exclude Judas, and it's hard to imagine that any of our members are doing anything worse than that.

      But the fact that there are serious disagreements about the propriety of gay marriage is not irrelevant. Most US Catholics, and many Catholic theologians, don't think it's wrong. We shouldn't use access to communion to enforce our own views on disputed theology. Christians still haven't figured out how to deal gracefully with disagreement. That's more of scandal than any of the issues involved.
      Last edited by hedrick; 06-25-2017 at 10:42 AM.

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    10. #18
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      Probably off-topic but relevant to what I was reading this morning anyway

      My thoughts went immediately to Lot and the cities of Sodom and Gemorrah. His outcome was one of the saddest on record in Genesis due mainly to his drifting further and further away from the direction God was leading. Abraham's only connection to that place was in the rescue of the citizens that the power of humans cast against it, then in the confidence God placed in him when confiding that He was about to destroy the cities. Bracketed between that there is the account of Melchizedec.

      This morning's readings from ~ Genesis in the Light of the New Testament ~ F. W. Grant
      The king of Sodom had said to Abram "Give me the persons and take the goods to thyself" If Christ cannot accept the kingdoms of the world from the hands of satan but from the Father only no more can His followers accept enrichment at the hands of a world which has rejected Christ for satan. And that bread and wine which we recieve from our true Melchizedec, the memorial of those sufferings by which alone we are enriched, for those who have tasted it, implies the refusal of a portion here.

    11. #19
      hedrick is offline Apprentice Member
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      Quote Originally Posted by Stravinsk View Post
      I'm not sure what my take is on the priests specific actions but what I do know is that the issue of homosexual marriages is a super divisive one. Before I left the USA, many years ago now, I was a member of a fairly large church - and the order came down from higher up that the church, along with others of the same "fold" had to now accept and teach that homosexuality was normal, God given/approved, etc. I'm not sure if performing gay marriages and the like was included but it wouldn't surprise me if it were.
      I'm sorry that this was your experience. I think tolerance needs to go in both directions. My own church (PCUSA) has congregations and whole presbyteries that disagree with accepting gays.

      During the last great debate (on the role of women) we refused to ordain a pastor who said he wouldn't participate in ordination of a woman. As far as I know (and I think I would) we've avoided doing the same thing in the case the gay issue. Of course people still have to treat gay church officers from other congregations as colleagues, which some might not be willing to do.
      Last edited by hedrick; 06-25-2017 at 11:10 AM.

    12. #20
      ImaginaryDay2's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by hedrick View Post
      I'm sorry that this was your experience. I think tolerance needs to go in both directions. My own church (PCUSA) has congregations and whole presbyteries that disagree with accepting gays.

      During the last great debate (on the role of women) we refused to ordain a pastor who said he wouldn't participate in ordination of a woman. As far as I know (and I think I would) we've avoided doing the same thing in the case the gay issue. Of course people still have to treat gay church officers from other congregations as colleagues, which some might not be willing to do.
      The PCUSA has not avoided the issue at all. The ordination standard was changed in 2011. It may be true of your particular assembly, but not of the PCUSA as a whole. The Pastor of my parent's church took the stand that ordination of homosexual clergy was against the laws of God set out in the Bible. I'm sure that many were upset by his stand on the "gay issue", but many were quite relieved by it.
      I can't stop the world from turning around, or the pull of the moon on the tide...
      But I don't believe that we're in this alone, I believe we're along for the ride..
      - Dream Theater

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