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Honest Enough

I understand saying we cannot judge, but I feel we should be consistent about it. In the late '90s, my friend Ira said he disagreed with the accounts of opposition to capital punishment on the religious left, in one of the political manuscripts I'd sent him, The Next Distraction. 
 
Ira referred to what he saw as the "I'm OK, You're OK" moral relativism of the liberal and religious left (and I'm thinking he might have been referring to New Age spirituality?) as "airy-fairy," where we can't judge one another, so we won't take a stand against abortion, but we will protest the execution of a murderer, etc. 
 
On USENET, in 1986-88, pro-life student John Morrow at Rutgers University in New Jersey struck me as a liberal Christian, and he successfully debated pro-choice liberals. When a Wiccan said, "Do what thou will shall be the whole of the law," John Morrow replied, "A moral relativist? What if one is homophobic, xenophobic, etc.?" indicating that even on the left, there are moral absolutes. 
 
And there are moral absolutes on the right, too! 
 
Jesus repeatedly upheld the Law (Matthew 5:17-19; Mark 10:17-22; Luke 16:17) as did his apostles (see chapters 10, 15, and 21 of Acts). Even if Paul's gospel displaces Jesus' gospel, with Paul referring to his previous adherence to the Law as "so much garbage," and the Old Testament becomes irrelevant, Christians often ignore the moral instructions Paul gives throughout his epistles. 
 
Instead they cite II Corinthians 12:8-9 where Paul claims the risen Jesus said to him three times, "...my grace is sufficient for thee..." as a license to do as they please. But I've never heard them cite II Corinthians 12:8-9 to justify abortion (nor same-sex relations, either)! 
 
"Choice, choice, choice..."
 
Christians must not resort to intellectual and theological dishonesty!
 
At a pro-life demonstration years ago, when Father Frank Pavone of Priests For Life asked Alveda King, the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King if the pro-life demonstrations were comparable to the civil rights movement, she replied, "Father, this IS the civil rights movement!"
 
If protecting unborn children is a noble cause and calling, a just and religious cause, like the civil rights movement, why should pro-lifers have to resort to lies and deception?
 
The Ten Commandments warn against bearing false witness.
 
Jesus, in his Sermon on the Mount, said: "Let your word 'yes' be yes and your 'no,' no. Anything beyond this is from the evil one."
 
(Isn't Satan known as a deceiver?)
 
Even the apostle Paul, who taught a completely different theology than that of Jesus, condemned dishonesty (Colossians 3:13).
 
The apostle Paul said, "If anyone has confidence in the Law, I am ahead of him."
 
Does that mean Paul places himself ahead of Jesus, who repeatedly upheld the Law (Matthew 5:17-19; Mark 10:17-22; Luke 16:17), as did his apostles (see chapters 10, 15 and 21 of Acts)? 
 
If Christians aren't even following the moral instructions Paul gives throughout his epistles, if they aren't even following Paul, then no one's going to take them seriously, what to speak of putting them ahead of Jesus!
 
Boy, they "believe"!
 
Paul quotes Jesus as having said to him three times, "my grace is sufficient for thee." (II Corinthians 12:8-9) Christians sometimes misinterpret this verse to mean they're free to do as they please—ignoring the rest of the New Testament, and (especially) Jesus' and Paul's other teachings.
 
The apostle Paul taught his followers to bless their persecutors and not curse them (Romans 12:14), to care for their enemies by providing them with food and drink (12:20), and to pay their taxes and obey all earthly governments (13:1-7). He mentioned giving all his belongings to feed the hungry (I Corinthians 13:3), and taught giving to the person in need (Ephesians 4:23). He told his followers it was wrong to take their conflicts before non-Christian courts rather than before the saints. (I Corinthians 6:1)
 
The apostle Paul wrote in I Corinthians Chapter 7:
 
"It is good for a man not to touch a woman, but because of prevailing immoralities, let every man have his own wife and let every woman have her own husband.
 
"The husband must render to his wife the obligations that are due her, and similarly the wife to her husband...
 
"Do not deprive each other, except by mutual agreement for a time to devote yourselves unhindered by prayer; and come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you on account of your lack of self-control."
 
(The apostle Paul's words here suggest regulated or restricted sexual activity, even within marriage!)
 
"I say this by way of concession, not as a regulation. I wish all were as I am (celibate), but each person has his own gift from God, the one in this direction, the other in that.
 
"To the single and the widows, I say that it is good for them to remain as I am (celibate); but if they cannot restrain their passions, let them marry, for it is better to marry than to be consumed by passion.
 
"To the married couples I command -- not really I but the Lord -- that the wife must not leave her husband; and in case she does separate, she must either stay single or make up with her husband. And the husband must not divorce his wife.
 
"...if the unbeliever wants to separate, let there be separation..." 
 
(Jesus forbade divorce, except in the case of unfaithfulness. And here we see Paul forbidding divorce, except in the case of an unbeliever demanding separation!)
 
"Regarding the unmarried I have no divine injunction, but as one who has received mercy from the Lord to be trustworthy, I give my opinion... it is good for a person to remain in his present situation. 
 
"Are you united to a wife? do not seek release. Are you unattached to a woman? Do not seek a wife. But in case you marry, you do not sin; nor does the unmarried woman sin if she marries...
 
"The single person is concerned with the Lord's affairs, how to please the Lord, but the married person is concerned with things of the world, how to please his wife; he has divided interests.
 
"The unmarried woman or the virgin is interested in the Lord's affairs, that she may be dedicated to Him in body and spirit; but the married woman is concerned with things of the world, how she may please her husband."
 
"I mention this for your own good, not to throw a rope around you but to promote proper behavior and undisturbed devotion to the Lord."
 
Paul repeatedly attacked sexual immorality.
 
"This is God's will—your sanctification, that you keep yourselves from sexual immorality, that each of you learn how to take his own wife in purity and honor, not in lustful passion like the gentiles who have no knowledge of God." (I Thessalonians 4:3-5) 
 
Paul told his followers not to associate with sexually immoral people (I Corinthians 5:9-12, 6:15,18). He condemned homosexuality (Romans 1:24-27) and incest (I Corinthians 5:1).
 
"Make no mistake," warned Paul, "no fornicator or idolater, none who are guilty either of adultery or of homosexual perversion, no thieves or grabbers or drunkards or slanderers or swindlers, will possess the kingdom of God." (I Corinthians 6:9-10 [NEB])
 
Paul condemned wickedness, immorality, depravity, greed, murder, quarreling, deceit, malignity, gossip, slander, insolence, pride (Romans 1:29-30), drunkenness, carousing, debauchery, jealousy (Romans 13:13), sensuality, magic arts, animosities, bad temper, selfishness, dissensions, envy (Galatians 5:19-21; greediness (Ephesians 4:19; Colossians 3:5), foul speech, anger, clamor, abusive language, malice (Ephesians 4:29-32), dishonesty (Colossians 3:13), materialism (I Timothy 6:6-11), conceit, avarice, boasting and treachery. (II Timothy 3:2-4)
 
Paul told the gentiles to train themselves for godliness, to practice self-control and lead upright, godly lives (Galatians 5:23; I Timothy 4:7; II Timothy 1:7; Titus 2:11-12). He instructed them to ALWAYS pray constantly. (I Thessalonians 5:17)
 
Paul praised love, joy, peace, kindness, generosity, fidelity and gentleness (Galatians 5:22-23). He told his followers to conduct themselves with humility and gentleness (Ephesians 4:2), to speak to one another in psalms and hymns; to sing heartily and make music to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16)
 
Paul wrote further that women should cover their heads while worshiping, and that long hair on males is dishonorable. (I Corinthians 11:5-14) 
 
According to Paul, Christian women are to dress modestly and prudently, and are not to be adorned with braided hair, gold or pearls or expensive clothes. (I Timothy 2:9)
 
The late Reverend Janet Regina Hyland (1933 - 2007), author of God's Covenant with Animals (it's available through People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA) said Christians citing "three times..." are quoting Paul out of context. Paul was very strict with himself:
 
"But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection; lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway." (I Corinthians 9:27)
 
Regina Hyland said this verse indicates it's possible for one to lose one's salvation (a serious point of contention among born agains!).
 
Christians who focus only on II Corinthians 12:8-9 MUST be quoting Paul out of context, because otherwise it doesn't make any sense: on the one hand, Paul is warning that drunkards, thieves, homosexuals, etc. will not inherit the kingdom of God, and on the other hand he's saying if you call on Jesus three times... you can do whatever you want?! 
 
Boy, not all Christians are pro-life! Couldn't pro-choice Christians cite "three times..." to justify abortion?!
 
The traditional interpretation of II Corinthians 12:8-9 is that Paul had a "thorn" in his side, and asked the risen Jesus about it. The response was simple: "my grace is sufficient for thee." This was a response to a specific problem, not a license to do as one pleases, or why else would Paul himself have given so many other moral instructions throughout his epistles?
 
Reverend Frank Hoffman, a retired pro-life vegan Methodist minister, and owner of the www.all-creatures.org Christian vegan website says he agrees with the traditional interpretation. 
 
If during the height of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Bill Clinton had tried to laugh it off by saying three times, "Adultery, adultery, adultery!" or by chuckling three times or clearing his throat three times, would the right wing have excused him?
 
Instead, Bill Clinton was honest enough to appear before religious leaders and admit, "I have sinned."
 
Usually, Christians are wary of anyone preaching what they think is a "false gospel." Otherwise, why aren't they still following Jim & Tammy Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, Ted Haggard, etc.?
 
We cannot judge. I appreciate not being self-righteous. But does this mean we cannot take a stand against racism and/or abortion? How can we end any social injustice unless there is moral outrage? And how can we distinguish truth from false doctrine without judging, or at the very least, without having a set of scriptures and core beliefs and values?
 
If Christians are sincerely *trying* to follow their Scriptures but slipping up, that's commendable...
 
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I've heard there are expressions in the Catholic Church:
 
"a saint is a sinner who keeps on trying"
 
and
 
"saints aren't born, they're made."
 
If Christians are sincerely *trying* to follow their Scriptures but slipping up, that's commendable...
 
But the "Christians" I encounter revel in fornication and deride anyone not "getting it" as a real loser.
 
I really don’t have an issue with "Christians" viewing porn, fornicating, etc. But why do they have to insist they “believe” ? Why can’t they just admit they’re really *secular*, like everyone else?
 
Again, claiming to believe in Scriptures one isn't even following is like claiming to be a member of a teetotaling society while drinking.

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