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Archive for July, 2020

by Jim Gordon

We talked about discrimination in the form of racism in my last article. This article talks about another form of discrimination, the unfair treatment of women. It is hard to believe that only a few years ago women could not vote or hold certain jobs.

As we look back over history, we see women have always struggled. They were looked upon as property back in biblical days and had no say in anything. Even today in some middle eastern countries women are treated as property rather than a human being.

Speaking of biblical times, it seems to me at least Jesus treated women on an equal basis with men. We often read that he spoke with women, respected and cared for women and had many friends that were women. That was unheard of in those times. We read of many women who supported Jesus and were part of his ministry. Yet today it is still common for women to be rejected for ministry such as being pastors or church leaders.

So often, especially in religious circles, women are treated as second class citizens and as unequal’s with men. They are supposed to wear certain kinds of clothes, they are supposed to stay in the home or only work certain kind of jobs. Fortunately, things have been changing but there is a long way to go yet.

I remember growing up and getting my first job. I was amazed when I learned that I got paid a certain amount for my job yet later on found out that a woman doing the same job got less pay. I could not figure out why that was the case.

As I mentioned in my previous article, working as a firefighter I saw more fairness and equal treatment than I did in my first job. The position of firefighter received a certain pay and it was the same if the position was filled by a man, a woman, someone who was black or white, gay or straight. And as firefighters we gave the same equal service to all human beings no matter who they were.

I hear complaints about women’s lib, equal rights and feminism from time to time and it makes me mad. Why do so many of us men think women are not as equal as us? I believe women are just as smart, strong, capable and able to do anything that anyone else can. I believe what a person does in life depends on their qualities, training, capabilities and desires and not on whether they are male or female.

I believe all human beings have the same ability to accomplish the desires God put within them. Men and women have differences in that it takes both to create a new life, yet other than that we are all basically the same and are deserving of equal treatment.

In Galatians 3:28 it is mentioned in part that there is neither male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. This is not to take away the importance of men or women but to say we are all human beings, equally important and loved by God.

I pray that we come to fully accept and appreciate women as equal human beings just as I pray we come to fully accept brown and black human beings as equals. It is time discrimination and unfair treatment of others comes to an end. It is time we are all accepted as human beings who are loved and accepted by God and by one another.

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By Mike Edwards

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

Is God all in for me? Does God feel the same about me that I do about God? All I know is when my parents, partner, or friends believe in me, respect me, hope or trust in me – I am more inspired. It has been said that God created us to remind God how great they are, or we can go to Hell! Sorry, doesn’t sound like a God I can get close to. Why would an all-powerful God give us uncontrolled freedom unless seeking a mutual relationship?

How dare you compare God’s love to human love!

Even the Bible suggests God’s love is the same as perfect human love: “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Parent is perfect” (Mt. 5:48); be imitators of God (Eph. 5:1); be merciful like God (Lk. 6:36). How can we be merciful if clueless what mercy is or God is mysterious? The best way to understand God’s love is to compare to perfect human love. God must love like perfect humans. Bible folks say we are made in the image of God. God is made in our perfect image!

It is only intuitive that God’s love means what we mean when saying we love others on a deep level. Even those who accuse God of being mysterious agree. When one’s interpretation of Scriptures suggest God appears evil from a human perspective, they are assuming God and human love are the same by accusing God of being mysterious.

God is love but what does that mean?

God’s love surely is the same as supreme parents – other-directed not self-consumed. Love gets excited when we do well and make a difference in the lives of others. Love anticipates, hopes for my success, believes in me. God is pulling for me, even when failing, because I do the same for my children. We doubt God but God still loves. God may worry but still hopes.  We are dependent on our children for intimate relationships. God is dependent on us. God puts trust in us by giving us freedom. A parent who claims to love but doesn’t believe or pull for us doesn’t love us at all. A God who claims to love but doesn’t believe in, hope for us, doesn’t love us at all.

God can’t know the future and love!

Freedom in relationships is necessary for true love. If the future is predetermined or knowable, I can’t act otherwise. God can’t love and know the future. God must have faith too just as our parents did when having us. Even the Bible agrees God doesn’t know the future because the future is open. God regrets (I Sam. 15:10-11); God relents (Jonah 3:10); God is surprised (Is. 5); God changes their mind (Jer. 18:8-10). God either puts their hopes and trust in us as do loving uncontrolling parents, or God is uncaring.

We matter to God!

It pumps me to no end when my parents or partner feels genuine respect for me! They committed to me not knowing how the relationship would turn out. God too! If you claim to love someone, you trust them, you hope they succeed, you have faith in them. Even some who don’t believe Jesus was really divine and human, they believe Jesus may have been the most perfect person in the world like God. Jesus had trust, hope, and faith in others. So does God! God is the kind of spiritual Parent I have longed for in my journey to love others like I want to be loved.  How do you want to be loved by your parents? That is how God loves you!

Resource and must read: Wm. Curtis Holtzen, The God Who Trust: A Relational Theology Of Divine Faith, Hope, and Love

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by Jim Gordon

Recently, my fellow blogger Mike Edwards made a statement that I think is so true. He said it is not enough to say I am not a racist. It is easy to say I am not a racist, but saying and doing sometimes are two different things. I have never thought of myself as a racist. I felt I always believed all people were equal and loved by God.

Yet there were times I would find myself thinking about different situations and then realize I am coming from a racist perspective. When I catch myself doing that I get upset with myself and realize I am wrong.

I believe God created us all equally, but we all are not equal in regard to our opportunities or the way we were raised. I certainly do not believe any particular group is dumb or second class citizens, but due to some of our upbringing and the areas we lived or the financial situation we were in, some do not have the opportunity or chances that others have.

What I feel is needed more now than ever is not just a listening ear but a speaking mouth. I think a lot of people over the years listened….for a while, but never put any action into what they heard or what they felt should be done.

It is not enough to just say I am not a racist. It is time for action, for listening, learning, speaking out and standing up for equality for all.

I think the black community wants us white people to listen, to take a stand, to speak out and to promote and demand change. I like this quote by the late John Lewis: “We need someone who will stand up and speak up and speak out for the people who need help, for people who are being discriminated against. And it doesn’t matter whether they are black or white, Latino, Asian or Native American, whether they are straight or gay, Muslim, Christian, or Jews”.

I always enjoyed my job with the fire department and felt it was more like all jobs should be, equally fair to all people. It was not perfect, but at least everyone was tested with the same test, everyone was given the same pay, everyone was given the same tests for advancement. Women were paid the same as men, blacks were paid the same as whites and each were respected in the community. All citizens were treated the same and offered the same help when in a time of trouble.

I can only imagine how a young black man would feel being pulled over by the police. Or how a mom and dad of a black child would worry about their child when they go out. I cannot explain why things we have been hearing happen. It does not make sense to me. I know several police officers and they are not even close to being like some of the police we have heard about recently. It is sad and terrible that there are some bad people in every walk of life which unfortunately includes the police.

All I know is that everyone, black or white, male or female, gay or straight, christian, muslim, atheist etc. should be treated respectfully and given the same rights as anyone else. Each should have the same opportunities to enjoy life, love their families, pay their bills and be treated kindly no matter who they are.

I do not know all the answers but I do hope this time will be the time things start to change for the good. Maybe this time people will listen and stand up to take action and make this country a better place for all people.

It is time to stop just listening, time to stop just saying I am not a racist and begin to do what is necessary to make the changes that will make a difference. I certainly pray that is the case.

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By Mike Edwards

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

You will disagree; it’s how you disagree and move toward a solution!

Solving personal and national differences are similar:

  • Accept that disagreeing is normal. Begin conversations by looking for areas you agree
  • Respond not react to differences. Seek to understand before being understood
  • Stop demonizing by moralizing. Stop claiming your views are morally superior
  • Handle differences with physical and emotional civility
  • Take action. Bad apples must be held accountable

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By Mike Edwards

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

It’s a fair question. The majority of people born into this world didn’t possess a copy of the Bible or even heard of Jesus. I doubt a Creator would only communicate through such means. Besides, it can’t be proven God controlled the words and thoughts of the writers to always portray God accurately. It is plausible a universal instinct to treat others like we want to be treated is a personal external force communicating through our moral intuitions. Such intuitions aren’t of the devil! 

Many people of faith only condemn gays because they think the Bible does.   

Many growing up in church only condemn gays out of devotion to the God of the Bible. Many are unaware biblical scholars who respect the Bible believe Scriptures don’t condemn gay monogamous relationships. See here. The truth is literature, even if could be proven ever word written, edited, or translated is inspired by God, requires interpretation. We mustn’t claim our interpretations are infallible when being wrong has tremendous consequences.

How can we know what God thinks?

Ancient Books are subject to mistranslating and misinterpreting.  We cannot avoid using moral sense, possibly endowed by a Creator, when it comes to ethical matters. We seem to always know the question we ought to ask ourselves – am I loving others perfectly. It is only intuitive to think perfect human and godly love are the same. Good thing there is no magic book to tell us what God is like! We would just use it as a club to beat people into submission. We can civilly discuss how to best love others using common moral sense than insisting on a supposed correct interpretation.

It just isn’t natural!

Why would anyone choose a lifestyle subject to bigotry and hostility? Do straights wake up one day and decide to be attracted to the opposite sex? Gays neither of the same sex. Science isn’t conclusive why we have desires for the same or opposite sex, but if you think there is a .0001% possibility that science proves sexual orientation isn’t a choice, would why we judge rather than love? It’s a myth that sexual choices are always the result of some trauma or rebellion in our lives.

A loving God can’t be a psychological abuser. 

We know the psychological harm done when one must hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility. So, shouldn’t we be guided by love – how should I treat others if I had the same non-choices? The harm isn’t in being gay; the harm is in condemning others for being gay. Mental health problems aren’t because one is gay but because one is force to hide their true identify or face rejection and condemnation. Hating homosexual sex is only loving if homosexual sex is sinful. Hating alcoholic behavior is loving because alcohol abuse really is harmful.

God can’t be a family destroyer.

It is impossible to feel loved and accepted when someone says “I love you but I hate your sin.” Most parents’ hearts break when they think their devotion to God requires them to give their child some version of “love the sinner, hate the sin” speech. Our moral intuitions tell most that God is not bias against females, people of color, or gays. A parent need not reject a gay child according to the Bible. The Bible is silent on monogamous same sex relationships, while supporting relationships that show love and concern for one another. See Please Don’t Reject A Gay Child In God’s Name

Yes, marriage too! 

Procreation isn’t a criterion for marriage. We don’t deny infertile couples the right to marry. It is argued the world could not have populated in the beginning! We are no longer in that situation and the world will continue to populate because not all couples are gay. We have unwanted children who need loving couples. Is adoption by a same sex or different sex couple not a better situation than groups homes or orphanages? Many gay couples are far better parents than many opposite sex parents. Don’t worry! Loving couples don’t try to scare a child straight or gay.

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by Jordan Hathcock

To be a Christian is to live dangerously, honestly, freely – to step in the name of love as if you may land on nothing, yet to keep on stepping because the something that sustains you no empire can give you and no empire can take away.—Dr. Cornel West

How are we (I.e., American “Christians”) supposed to *act* in our current climate where the pandemic reigns, systemic racism runs rapid and the economic state is at its worse sense the Great Depression. 2020 has been a mix of 1918, 1930s, and 1960s all wrapped up in one “apocalyptic” year and it seems to be no end in sight. The unveiling of the principalities and powers (corrupt institutions) are now in the forefront for all citizens to witness. The term “viewer discretion advise” has never been more relevant.

We are hearing from both world views (conservative and liberal) advice and warnings in what the “right” strategy is when it comes to the current world crises. The polarization has come to a boiling point and you better take cover! Masks vs. no masks, black lives matter vs. all lives matter, all coming to a dualistic head, about to explode. The American political landscape has been experiencing a tug of war (no pun attended) regarding ideals which in-turn is hindering an actual plan of action. Thus, we have the never-ending cycle of us vs. them that only brings violent unrest.

This is not a denial of the actual current damaged systemic realities (white supremacy, racism, pandemic health crisis, police brutality, etc.) that this country is experiencing. I understand that some are living in denial of these issues (and it is not getting us anywhere). Alas, what I am trying to manifest is Christ-participants response to all of this? It cannot only be a conservative view of just letting the old ways be preserved no matter how many lives are harmed and oppressed along the way. It also cannot be a regulated liberal view, espousing a non-stop shame culture in where people are ostracized and scapegoated, no matter what the price. Is this American binary platform, in which we have two sides to choose from, all there is? The issues with our two-party system, plurality voting rules, winner take all voting, gerrymandering, (to name a few) is not helping when it comes to a more just (love in action) social system.

When leave social restorative justice (it cannot be an eye for eye kind of justice here, peeps) in the hands of the elite, what we get is an Empire. If we are living in the 21st century United States, we are living in an Empire (bold statement I know but stay with me). There are a few interpretations of Empire (hey, is post modernity baby haha), but I find this one fitting when it comes to defining Empire with our current state in Murica:

Conglomerates of power that are aimed at controlling all aspects of our lives, from macropolitics to our innermost desires.― Joerg Rieger, Christ and Empire

What does Empire involve? All types of “power over” institutions from education, to government and religion. When our systems become an economy of exchange where the mighty dollar reigns, the result is imprisonment. From a Christ-participant perspective, what we have seen since the fourth century is Civil Religion: the Christendom of Empire, reigning down with an oligarchy thumb. Since that time, the supposedly Jesus Community has been entangled with the State. This might be the deadliest mixture when it comes to corrupt power. Christians have become the Roman occupiers―plundering and destroying all that gets in their way―instead of Jesus followers being eaten by lions and burned at the stake. When we became more about geo-political dominance and less about serving “the least of these”, the distinction between the Jesus-Way and Empire are unrecognizable. Palestinian Christian, author, and Lutheran pastor Mitri Raheb puts it this way:

Empires create their own theologies to justify their occupation. [Just as the early American empires chose to overlook its mistreatment of the Native tribes who already lived here and then justified a slave holder form of Christianity in much of the Americas. —RR] Such oppression generates a number of important questions among the occupied: “Where are you, God?” and “Why doesn’t God interfere to rescue [God’s] people?” When, under various regimes, diverse identities emerge in different parts of Palestine, the question arises, “Who is my neighbor?” And finally, “How can liberation be achieved?” is a constant question.

I think this is what we have in our current state of affairs. Are we (I.e., White American Christians) as claimed participants in the Jesus way, going to see ourselves as the Roman occupiers? Are we finally go to repent (change our way of thinking) and really set out to be a people who wash feet, serve the poor, and set the captives free? That is it, really. Breaking free to liberate others. This is what privilege is all about. We cannot let the ways of Empire cloud our minds with this “America first” attitude. Its movements that change things, not rusted-out institutions. It is power under not power over that brings about resurrection (Jesus on the cross, anyone?).  So, regardless if you see masks as not needed, or black lives as a neo-Marxist communist organization, what do you do for the least of these? For your enemies?

I think it’s time that we truly see that “our citizenship is in heaven- Philippians 3:20 “ which includes “every nation, tribe, people and language-Revelation 7:9”. It’s time to let go of our egos and be humbled. We need to listen and educate ourselves through and by the voices of the marginalized in order to bring about the liberation and healing that sets all of God’s creation free…

Only the oppressed can receive liberating visions in wretched places. Only those thinking emerges in the context of the struggle against injustice can see God’s freedom breaking into unfree conditions and thus granting power to the powerless to fight here and now for the freedom they know to be theirs in Jesus’ cross and resurrection.― James H. Cone, God of the Oppressed

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by Jim Gordon

In our world today there seems to be a lot of talk in the Christian world of standing up for our beliefs and doctrines. It seems we feel this is the best way to show our devotion to God and be a witness for Him. I am not so sure this is the best way. As Christians we are getting to be known more for what we are against and being unloving rather than showing the love of God to others.

Many of us go to a church building on Sunday and sing and smile and listen to a sermon and think we have fulfilled our duties for the week. All day we are feeling good and close to God and think everything is good.

Then Monday hits and we go grudgingly off to work with a frown on our face and feeling down. We should be ready to show the love of God to those we are around but often due to being in a bad mood we snap at fellow employees and try to make them feel as bad as we do.

It seems we often forget that Christianity is not a religion or a one day a week event. As followers of Christ we are to let Christ live through us in the strength of the Holy Spirit. We are to let his love flow out of us to touch those we come in contact with throughout the day.

Rather than trying to prove our faith by pointing out what we think are the mistakes and shortcomings of others, rather than condemning them and making them feel like outsiders we should be allowing the love of Christ to touch them. We should be accepting and treat all people like we want to be treated without any ulterior motives.

While Jesus lived on earth he constantly spent time with those the religious crowd would not even think of being around. He spent time doing things that the religious leaders thought were wrong and against their religious laws. They could not even accept him as the messiah because he was so different from them and what they thought was a godly way to live.

Jesus accepted people for who they were, just the way they were and did not show condemnation toward them. As followers of Christ we are to do the same. It is not our job to be the judge of others. We are not to be pointing out what we do not like or disagree with and treating people like second class citizens. The Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin where conviction is needed. We do not need to do the job of the Holy Spirit, we are here to be Jesus to all people, loving, accepting and treating everyone with respect no matter who they are or what they believe.

Rather than fighting, arguing and trying to prove our way of thinking, we should follow the leading of the Spirit for ourselves. Let each person make the decision that is right for them based on their walk with God. Live your life in love and under the guidance of the Spirit, letting your life be a witness to the love of God.

We are called to love God, live for Him and let Him work in us. We are also called to love one another, which means we pass on the unconditional love of God to all we meet along the way.

In our world today with all the discrimination and unloving ways of the world and even of religion and the church, we are to allow the Holy Spirit to love others through us. Let them know they are accepted and cared for and that they are loved beyond measure by God. Love is the way of God because God is love. Stop the unloving and condemning attitudes and let those you come in contact with each day know they are loved and accepted just for being themselves.

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By Mike Edwards

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

It’s a fair question. The majority of people born into this world didn’t possess a copy of the Bible or even heard of Jesus. I doubt a Creator would only communicate through such means. Besides, it can’t be proven God controlled the words and thoughts of the writers to always portray God accurately. It is plausible a universal instinct to treat others like we want to be treated is a personal external force communicating through our moral intuitions. Such intuitions aren’t of the devil!

Many people of faith only believe in gender bias roles because they think the Bible does.  

Many growing up in church suggest hierarchical relationships between the sexes out of devotion to the God of the Bible. Many are unaware biblical scholars who respect the Bible believe Scriptures endorse equalitarian roles between the sexes. See here. The truth is literature, even if proven every word written, edited, or translated is inspired by God, requires interpretation. We mustn’t say interpretations are infallible when being wrong has huge consequences.

How can we know what God thinks?

Ancient Books are subject to mistranslating and misinterpreting. We cannot avoid using moral sense in ethical matters. We seem to always know we ought to ask ourselves – am I loving others perfectly. Good thing there is no magic book to tell us what God is like! We would just use it as a club to beat people into believing. I am not sure why any fair-minded person would think women can’t fulfill the same roles as men unless believing a Book about God teaches otherwise. Most agree not allowing equal roles because of skin color is immoral. We can civilly discuss how to best love others using common moral sense than insisting on a supposed correct interpretation.

Intuitively, would God encourage role differences at work but not at home or worship? 

Few justify openly only allowing men in leadership roles in business. We call them misogynists or bigots! Is God really prejudice who the preacher or priest is? Not allowing women the same leadership roles as men implies God doesn’t trust women to handle the Truth! I would suggest denying women equal roles, because of the gender born, is emotional abuse if they are gifted to lead. A good God surely doesn’t advocate favoritism based on the race or gender you are born. The most qualified or gifted should surely lead the company. Why not the church?

What are the consequences of women unequally submissive in marriage?

Best friends, in marriage or other dyad relationships, don’t require a leader. Men often assume loving leadership means making final decisions in impasses. I have never had a marriage issue in 38 years that cannot be solve creatively without one partner making all such decisions. Men in authority over women can encourage dominance on the man’s part and dependence on the woman’s part, which can be conducive for domestic abuse and the other atrocities women face at the hands of men. Men, including myself, given an inch are tempted to take a mile!

What does the biggest clobber passage in the Bible say?

The apostle Paul could have in a different culture encouraged men, then women, to not teach for the sake of peace (I Tim. 2:12-15). Paul in the same breath advises women to avoid certain hairstyles or jewelry (I Tim: 2:9), but churches don’t make the same prohibitions as women teaching. Paul likely used the first couple as an example of what to avoid – Eve prevailing upon Adam to go against God’s ways. But, if such a sin keeps women from preaching for eternity, maybe men shouldn’t preach either. Keep in mind Paul says elsewhere Adam was responsible for what happened in the garden (Rom. 5: 12).

Hierarchical relationships between the genders are a haven for abuse by men.

In many countries a Book is used to suggest God condones women not having the same rights as men to vote, drive, or dress how they want. WHAT! One person wrote to the editor of a newspaper in the US: “…it’s been bothering me since 9/11. What’s the difference between the strain of Islam that proscribes gender roles and its counterpart in Christianity that does the same thing, albeit with a different set of prohibitions? In any religion justification of the different treatment of women from men is usually because of a Holy Book that speaks for God. Let’s use common moral sense to stop emotional and physical abuse of women!

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