Monday, September 21, 2009


I want to do the right things for the right reasons. It's not enough for me to just do the right thing, it's gotta have the right reasons. I want to give the homeless man money because I love him, not because I feel guilty or ashamed of having wealth when he does not. Does feeling bad about my money and his lack and the disparity between the two count as love?

It gets worse. I don't want to not do wrong things for the wrong reasons. I don't want to not have sex because I am afraid of getting the girl pregnant, but I want to not have sex because I love God, want to obey his commands, and love this hypothetical woman enough to wait 'til we're married. Does being afraid of the consequences count as love?

The Bible says we're supposed to fear God, most famously when the Psalms tell us that the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. Everyone today is hasty to point out that it does not mean the sort of cowering fear that we think of, but instead a healthy awe and respect. On the other hand, I would be afraid to meet a tiger in the wild, because that thing can tear your face off, and God can do much the same.

Jesus says that all the Law can be summed up in "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." and "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." I've often been taught and taken this to mean, probably after a lot of theological inferences, that we should obey God because we love him. If you love him as your God, you will do what he says. He knows best, and you love him and his ways and his attributes, so you want to do what is best according to his instruction. Okay, so far, so good, I think. But what if I am obeying him because I am afraid he will bite my face off? Is that love?

Jesus tells us that being angry at someone is the same as murder, and lusting after someone is the same as adultery. So not having angry thoughts is a good thing. But he doesn't say we have to not have angry thoughts because we love God; he does make sure we're aware that insulting people could land us in hell. Does it matter why you do something?

Monday, September 07, 2009

Homosexuality, Gay Marriage, Christianity, etc

A friend of mine recently asked me for my thoughts on "homosexuality, gay marriage, etc". This is what I wrote in reply.

No matter where one stands on the factuality of the first few chapters of the Book of Genesis in the Bible, and I am pretty sure dinosaurs and people were never around at the same time, the intention and meaning of the story is fascinating. God makes the first man out of dirt, and the first man is lonely, and needs a "helper-partner" (I've been told that the Hebrew is "ezer-konegdo" and that's what it means, but I don't speak Ancient Hebrew myself), and so God goes and makes his wife, thus completing the species. Now things get messed up a little bit later on when they start disobeying God, but that's besides the point for this discussion. My point is that I'm pretty sure one of the first things that the Bible talks about (after it makes some statements about which kinds of creatures have dominion over which parts of the planet) is that men and women are meant to be equal partners in marriage, and that's the intention for us, as humans. Lots of other things in the Scriptures agree with this, and so we have homosexuality as sin.

I have no idea why men fall in love with men and want to marry them, and likewise with women, but apparently they do it. They then raise the objection that they did not choose to be the way they are, etc, and I see no better choice but to believe them. But there are two thoughts I have about that: First off, it's not genetic, as far as I know. Second off, there are lots of things that people didn't consciously choose that aren't genetic. Furthermore, they say that because they didn't choose it, they can't change it. I, frankly, have no idea if this is true or not, but I do know that there are things about people which they didn't choose but can change, and there are things which they can't change. So that's about all I've got on that one; it is not a settled matter in the least.

Concerning "Gay Marriage", that hot political debate of our day:
First, it's going to happen. Second, I don't really care, with one exception. This is not "A Christian Nation", as if such a thing could even exist, and the majority of people in America are okay with it, so it ought to happen. That's how Democracy, or whatever our system of government is, works. The one exception is the administering of marriage or whatever you want to call it. If there comes a day when churches are not allowed to refuse performing a marriage ceremony for a homosexual couple, on the grounds that such a thing is discrimination, then we've obviously got a problem. I mean, honestly, I am not sure the government should be involved in deciding who can and can't get married at all in the first place, but that's not a very likely situation.

The other thing I've got on my mind is the way that Christians treat homosexuals. Far, far too often, we do a really horrible job of loving them, which is lousy, because Jesus tells us to love everybody. Now, if homosexuality is a sin (is it just the gay sex? is it the attraction? this gets complicated and I'm not sure anyone has the answers), then God wants to save people from that too. How the heck God does that, I don't know. How we (and by we I mean Christians) are supposed to tell people that without their thinking we hate them, I don't know if people have figured it out. But it's a big problem, you know?
A guy who makes music and is also a Christian (but don't tell him he makes Christian music; he gets angry) named Derek Webb, whose music I really like, came out with a song recently called What Matters More, and it's been on my mind a lot recently. You'll find the video below.

Friday, September 04, 2009

One of the many problems of things

In my closet, on the top shelf, there is a trebuchet. It is made of wood, metal, twine and denim, and it can fling a tennis ball at least a meter, maybe even two, if memory serves me right. My father and I built it, though I think my mother cut the denim sling, for my 11th grade Physics class. It is not miniscule, and it takes up quite a lot of shelf space in my closet. It would probably be helpful to not have it taking up so much closet space, so I could put other things there. But on the other hand, I don't want to throw it away. It's not very useful; I never need to throw tennis balls with anything other than my arm. It's not very good looking; it's just a bunch of quickly cut wood attached to each other in a very sturdy fashion. It's not very impressive; any one could build it if they wanted to, although most of classmates chose simpler designs that lacked hook-release slings and swinging counterweights. But on the other hand, I don't want to throw it away.

This is not the only object of its sort which I have, of course. Somewhere in the garage is a cardboard farm, and a cardboard Verrazano Narrows Bridge, and a wood and felt Yurt. In one of my drawers you can find two wooden racing cars, one designed distinctly to resemble a Space Shuttle. There's a t-shirt covered in the signatures of Bulgarians, and a deer print cast in plaster-of-paris, and a stack of comics I drew during the 3rd, 4th and 5th grades. They're not doing anything. They will never do anything. But on the other hand, I don't want throw them away.

This wouldn't be much of an issue, except that I have more things now, things which need to be somewhere other than the middle of my floor. I can not put them on the top shelf of my closet, because there is a trebuchet and a stack of notebooks full of drawings taking up most of the space. I am not going to throw away my pots, pans, silverware and plates, because someday I hope to have a kitchen in which to use these things. But on the other hand, I don't want to throw the trebuchet away.