Thursday, December 15, 2011

Why I'm A Liberal Christian

The Bishop of Borg, Norway.  Yep, she's a woman.  Deal with it.
Sometimes I get the feeling that many Filipinos have a hard time accepting that someone can be a Christian and a liberal at the same time.  It's funny because, once you get outside of Southeast Asia (and Africa), you'll find that many Christians are in fact quite liberal.  This is especially true where I'm from, where liberal Christians FAR outnumber the conservative ones.

It may stem from simple misunderstandings.  Some may believe that if a person is very liberal, he is either an atheist or not a "true" Christian.  These certainly aren't true.

Being a liberal Christian doesn't mean "anything goes,"  and it doesn't mean we don't believe that Jesus is the Son of God.  Liberal Christians have morals, values, standards, and faith in Christ, too.  But what sets us apart from conservative Christians is that we liberals use our brains in order to think and reason, rather than simply surrender our minds to our religious leaders.

God gave his Word to all of us (each and every human) in order that we could study it for ourselves with his guidance.  He didn't give it only to geriatric conservative men in robes, for them to bark at the rest of us about what they think it means.  The Bible is God's Word, yes, but that doesn't mean it's to be read literally, as an encyclopedia.

I'm a liberal Christian because I believe that God made each and every person equal:  white and black, poor and rich, men and women, straight and gay.  I believe that women are just as good as men and can do anything men can do -- including be priests, pastors, and bishops.

I'm a liberal Christian because Jesus said to treat others the way we want to be treated, not to impose our beliefs on others legislatively.  We do reap what we sow.  If you pass laws curtailing the rights of others today, I guarantee you it will come back to haunt you - or your children - in the future.

I'm a liberal Christian because I have a brain and I use it.  When God has given me a mind with an ability to reason, but I do not use it, it is an insult to God.  Otherwise God would have made us as robots.  When I see a mountain of data through which modern science has shed light on a particular subject, yet I choose to ignore it or call it a lie, I would be insulting the intelligence that God endowed me with as a human being.  It would also be a direct insult to God himself, because such discoveries uncover truths that ultimately came from God in the first place.

God uses science to teach us; to remove blinders; to benefit mankind.  A liberal Christian recognizes this fact and celebrates it, whereas a conservative Christian irrationally flees from science because it rattles their age-old traditions founded on fear and superstition.

I'm a liberal Christian because I'm disgusted by conservative Christians hijacking the Bible and twisting the context of its verses in order to persecute others who do not think and act exactly like them.

I'm a liberal Christian because, as a man of science, I know beyond a doubt that our gay, lesbian, and transgender brothers and sisters are natural, normal, beautiful, and valuable children of God.  They have just as much right to fall in love and take the vows of marriage as anyone else.  Conservative Christians have three verses that they incorrectly use to condemn LGBTs to a life of bullying, shame, and discrimination, but we liberal Christians have hard facts from modern science, which God has enabled us to discover.

I'm a liberal Christian because I'm tired of hearing self-righteous conservative Christians saying idiotic things like "We love the sinner but hate the sin."  If that were true they'd look and act like Jesus, but they don't.  They look and act like Pharisees.  So who's right:  Jesus or modern Christians?  It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure it out. 

As Einstein said and Christ demonstrated, "You cannot simultaneously say that you love someone and use your power against them."

I'm a liberal Christian because a woman's body is her own, and no church or government should have the right to tell a woman what she can and cannot do with her own body.  I'm proudly pro-condoms, pro-birth control pills, pro-family planning, pro-choice, and pro-comprehensive sex education.

I'm a liberal Christian because I hate the double-standard of conservative Christians towards science.  For example, if scientists state that overwhelming evidence has been collected in support of a link between certain foods and certain types of cancers, conservative Christians say "Praise Jesus, thank you for this knowledge; this is from God to help us!"  If those same scientists state that overwhelming evidence has been collected in support of an innate, hormonal cause of homosexuality, conservative Christians say "This is deception from the devil; science can't be trusted, this is an anti-Christ agenda!"

Stopping gay marriage is more important than stopping this?
They pick and choose their science the way they pick and choose the Bible verses they decide to literally interpret and enforce upon others.  "Adultery, having a mistress, ignoring the starving?...shhhhh, never mind those.  But if two men or two women are in love... outlaw it!"

What's even worse is the standpoint of Roman Catholic leaders.  They admit that homosexuality is natural and innate, but then turn around and claim that gay and lesbian relationships are a sin.  In other words, you can be gay... as long as you spend your entire life alone.

Celibacy is fine if someone chooses it, but forced celibacy for people who have no choice over the way they were born is hideous and schizophrenic.  It's like a city government constructing a huge water park for everyone to enjoy, and then on the day they open the doors the city council passes an ordinance to ban swimming.

In short, I'm a liberal Christian because I'm conservative Christians should no longer be allowed to hijack Christianity and give it an incredibly bad name.  They've taken an amazingly loving and inclusive Jesus and wrapped him up in the filth of their own bias and prejudices.  That pisses me off.

Not all Christians are bigots; not all of us are homophobic; not all of us are knowledgephobic; not all of us are anti-abortion; not all of us are anti-feminism; not all of us are anti-marriage equality; not all of us are afraid of anything different; not all of us are obsessed with being the morality police; not all of us want to re-unite the church and the state; not all of us surrender our brains in exchange for ancient dogma.  I for one like having a brain, and I enjoy using it.

We are liberal Christians, progressive Christians, or just plain Christians as I like to call us.  The conservative ones are the whackos -- they're the ones who have deviated from the heart of Christianity -- but unfortunately they're still the majority in the Philippines...and they love to shout loudly.  But don't worry, we liberals like to shout too.  Just wait, we're multiplying, and we're only going to get louder.

We liberal Christians can be found in every denomination around the world; yes, including among the Catholics out there.  Some denominations are more well-known for being full of liberal believers, such as the Lutheran Church*, of which I am a member.  We have priests who are married, priests who are women, and priests who are openly gay, and we even allow same-sex couples to tie the knot at the alter.

We have a tendency to look upon the heart of the couple, not upon their genitalia.  I know that frightens many narrow-minded people who are obsessed with others' private sex lives and body parts, but we liberals believe the heart trumps the genitals.  It was God, after all, who said that He looks upon the heart and is no respecter of a person's outer shell.  The heart  (the spirit) is what God sees.

God does not look at the things man looks at.  
Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.
                                                                                                          - 1 Samuel 16:7

*Not all Lutherans are liberal, but most of us are. One of the few places where the Lutheran Church is conservative is, surprise-surprise, the Lutheran Church in the Philippines.  The LCP was founded by missionaries from the Lutheran Missouri Synod of America back in the 1940s, and unfortunately that Synod is conservative.  I wish we Lutherans in Scandinavia would have sent missionaries to the Philippines, because we would have founded a very liberal, progressive, and inclusive Philippine Lutheran Church!  Damn!  So never mind the Lutheran Church of the Philippines; they do NOT represent the views of the majority of Lutherans.  The majority of us are proudly liberal.  That's why I won't attend a Lutheran Church when I'm in the Philippines.  They're too damn narrow-minded!


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