I started writing this with the intent to write about the news that a piece of parchment (inferring that Jesus had a wife) has been verified as being authentic to the time it was allegedly written in. Of course, there are a lot of people in an uproar over this. But then I saw some more articles tied to religion, and I decided that I have something to say about them as well. Without further ado…
Study: “Jesus’ wife” fragment not a fake: Many people are chiming in on this one…quite a few people are saying that it is meant in the context of the Church being the ‘bride of Christ’. I like how meaning within the confines of the Bible is unchangeable in the minds of some believers…once a definition or correlation is made, it is insisted upon that this meaning never changes. Yes, within the boundaries of Christianity, the entirety of the body of believers is referred to as the bride of Christ.
But it is also well-known that at various points through history, parts of the Bible have been changed, omitted, obliterated, and adapted to suit the modus operandi of church leaders. While many Christians believe that God and Jesus are infallible, it would benefit their cause as a whole to admit that the people who run the Church(es), are themselves very, very human. I think the whole Catholic sex-abuse debacle is prime evidence of that. The fact that the earliest Bible scrolls are notably different from the Bible that exists today is also well-known. There are well over 900 versions of the Bible in the English language alone, and each one varies from all the others. But I digress. So this papyrus isn’t fake. Now the debate is whether or not Jesus had a wife. To that, I say, who cares? Does it really affect the purpose and ideas of Christianity if Jesus had a wife? Jesus was (according to the Bible) born of Mary to be on earth with mankind. He was tempted by Satan in the desert, to experience the trials of man. Why the heck wouldn’t he be allowed to marry, like everyone else? And if he did take a wife, why does that matter so much? Does his marital status automatically negate his teachings? So he had a wife, big whoop.
Pope Francis asks ‘forgiveness’ for priests who sexually abused children: First off, I am not a Catholic, but I have to say that I really, *really* like Pope Francis. Before anyone says “Oh, well that is an unforgivable crime”, I need to highlight the fact that he also vowed to impose penalties upon those of the clergy who have committed these crimes. From the CNN article:
“The church is aware of this damage, it is personal, moral damage carried out by men of the church, and we will not take one step backward with regards to how we will deal with this problem, and the sanctions that must be imposed,” Francis continued.
“On the contrary, we have to be even stronger. Because you cannot interfere with children.”
While I agree that child sexual abuse (and child abuse in general), is an unforgivable act, I have to give respect to Pope Francis. He is attempting to steer the Church in the right direction, and he is not brushing it aside or covering it up like his predecessors did. That being said…I have an idea as to how the Catholic Church could help prevent this from happening: Allow the clergy to marry. In early Christianity, the clergy were allowed to have wives and families. While I don’t believe it would completely eradicate it, I think it would greatly decrease the instance. And the punishments for the clergy members who violate their priestly duties should not only be punished by the Church, they should all be punished by law. Every single time. They should be made to stand in front of news cameras and confess to their sins, for all to see, before being hauled off to jail. I think religion in general would take a massive step forward if the body of followers were to understand and concede that while their clergy and leaders are expected to be embodiments of God and Christ on earth, it’s simply a level of perfection that is not attainable. I’m not just talking about the child sex abuse scandal rocking the Catholic Church (because that really is unforgivable, no matter how imperfect of a human you are), which leads into my next article:
Megachurch pastor resigns, citing ‘moral failing’: Bob Coy, the senior pastor at Calvary Chapel in Fort Lauderdale, resigned after he cheated on his wife. From the article:
Pastor Bob Coy, 58, reportedly confessed a “moral failing which disqualifies him from continuing his leadership role at the church” to Calvary leaders on Wednesday. A board meeting was called the next day, when he resigned.
Another man who serves as a pastor yet again proves that members of the clergy are not the perfect embodiments of God that followers tend to believe. He cheated on his wife, and that’s pretty bad. Not the worst someone could do, but it ranks on the list. However, I don’t see why the failings and imperfections of a church’s figurehead can’t be used to teach congregants a lesson, illegal activities aside. Generally, clergy members are expected to be sinless, and even the Bible says that no man on this earth is without sin. Just my thoughts on that. Of course, there are the usual types of comments found on this article as any other article on religion, people bashing a religion, people trying to defend that religion, and of course, like any other such discussion, there’s a lot of flaming going on. This serves to transition into my last article…
Is the Internet killing religion?: The crux of this article is that the internet exposes people to opinions and ideas that they wouldn’t be exposed to otherwise, that because of the internet, more and more young adults begin to associate religion with the conservative politics of the far right. That association (let me tell you, it isn’t always true…I have plenty of Christian friends who support equality) of religion equaling conservative politics goes against the trend towards support for equal rights, a classically “left” ideal. However erroneous this association is, it creates a dilemma in someone who wants to see equal rights for all, yet might lie on the spectrum in other regards. I can assure you, it is quite alright to be a registered Republican who has somewhat conservative ‘political’ ideas, yet swings Democratic in terms of ‘social’ ideas, and still be the religion you choose.
I think that, for me at least, there is another reason why the internet may very well be killing religion. Yes, the internet gives access to new thoughts, ideas, and opinions, but on the flip-side, the internet can expose just how awful humanity can be. Wishes for death, name-calling, bullying, racism, and prejudice of the absolute worst kinds run rampant on any given article. Almost any article will have the comment section inevitably devolve into almost horrific attacks on a person for the slightest of reasons. The internet places the good in humanity on display while simultaneously exposing the depravity of the lowest lows our species can stoop to, and often the bad is more easily accessed than the good. This near-constant barrage of horrible people being, well, horrible, can turn even optimistic hearts towards cynicism. If there is a god, why would he allow all this awfulness, mean-spiritedness, and hatred run rampant in society? I’ve asked that quite a few times myself.
I don’t have many comments on this blog, but yesterday, a comment popped up in my moderation queue that I decided to leave unedited, though the comment itself violates my comment policy.
It is the first comment of that nature that I have ever received, and I am sure it will not be the last. But I have posted a screenshot of it here only to illustrate how readily some people will begin to personally attack another human being. I try as hard as I can to defend my ideas and beliefs without attacking another person. You can support your opinion without telling someone they should have their children taken away. You can stand your ground without telling someone they should kill themselves.
The sad thing about this all is that the people hide behind a computer screen and face no tangible repercussions for their words. The anonymity of the Internet gives carte blanche to say things you wouldn’t say to someone’s face.
Religion tends to be a topic that acts as proverbial gasoline to any smoldering flame war. I have seen comments where someone comments “Oh, how awful…I am praying for them, God bless them”, and is replied to with remarks of “Keep your fairy stories to yourself” “God doesn’t exist, your prayers won’t help them, your religious whack-job”…it goes on and on. I will admit that there are comments where religion is invoked in ways that can be dangerous… “I too had heart problems and high blood pressure, but I stopped taking the medicine, prayed a lot, and God saved me!!! You need to stop taking your medication and just PRAY” and hateful (Westboro Baptist Church, anyone?). Unfortunately, the comments invoking god as a means of judgement, condemnation, and denial are by far more prevalent online, and that can leave a person (like me) thinking, “Well, if God is as hateful, bigoted, and narrow-minded as you are, then I want nothing to do with that kind of God. Thanks, but no thanks”.
For the people who attack someone for making even the slightest, most well-intentioned mention of God, shame on you as well. Reading the word ‘God’ on your computer screen is not shoving religion down your throat anymore than staring at a donut is shoving it in your belly. It’s just there. Oh no, you looked at it.
Faith, religion, and spirituality can offer comfort and hope to those who believe in whatever they believe in. Maybe you don’t need to believe in anything of the sort, and that’s fine too. I have atheist friends as well, and they’re wonderful, smart, funny people. But someone’s faith in something greater than themselves does not affect you, much like the government recognizing same-sex marriages in terms of federal benefits and spousal rights doesn’t affect any given church or religion. Equality applies to everyone, people.
What are your thoughts on any of the articles in this roundup? What are your thoughts on religion/the internet/anything else?