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Posts Tagged ‘acceptance’

By Mike Edwards

Religion and science share a common sin these days – claiming they certainly know the “truth.” We have an inborn sense of good and evil. Who doesn’t know rape, sexual abuse of children, murder is immoral? Most criminals don’t defend their actions; instead, they deny committing such crimes. The truth though is we don’t know the best response for the greater good on issues such as responding to a pandemic, taxes, climate change, immigration, etc. Benefits and risks exist for most issues. Religion and science are playing God (Superior) in the lives of others by claiming they know the truth and we are too stupid to decide for ourselves!

Christians must stop hiding behind supposed biblical truth 

Religious folks hide behind their interpretation of a Book as government health officials hide behind their interpretation of science. Opposing views are said to be heretical or anti-science. But even if you believe the Bible is inspired by God, the Bible requires interpretation. We don’t all agree if the Bible opposes women priests or preachers or condemns gays. See here. Scholars don’t agree that a literal Hell is a reality in the Bible. The truth is leaders must stop being so damn certain despite what anxiety or challenges that may cause themselves or others!

Certainty may help to avoid fear but is an illusion 

Certainty rather than uncertainty comforts individuals psychologically. One may believe the narrative being proclaimed because unknowing can create confusion or anxiety. Disagreeing with the popular science narrative can lead to being ostracized. Disagreeing with church leadership about God’s character can lead to isolation. It doesn’t matter if those who proclaim certainty have good intentions or believe their ideas are best for society. They may be wrong! When universal agreement doesn’t exist, it should be obvious that one must be allowed to form their own opinions since uncertainty exists.

What are the consequences of avoiding uncertainty?

When only one side is presented, control and power grow intentionally or unintentionally; control and power are intoxicating and a part of human nature.  These internal forces flourish when others are not allowed to discuss or debate alternative opinions in the public arena. It should be intuitive denying diverse opinions is unloving and controlling. Most don’t except such behaviors in their personal relationships. A refusal to openly discuss or defend one’s views suggests an unhealthy dependency on “certainty.”  It isn’t science if there isn’t debate. The same goes for religious truths.  The beauty of a free democracy is that no one person or those in control get to play God.

Our Path forward

Leaders must be empowered and held accountable to be open-minded than certain. I left the institutional church due to the sin of certainty. We can try to engage with those who insist on certainty when it doesn’t exist, but in time one may need to move on. We can stop labeling those who disagree with our biblical interpretations as heretics. We can stop calling those who disagree with our views of science as conspiracists.

Imagine how different as a people we would be if religious and political folks were open to discussions for the common goal of pursing the greater good! You want to be supported to make your own decisions freely when there is uncertainty? Respect the rights of others to do the same. A voting democratic society surely is more humane and less dangerous than an authoritarian government style.

What Do Religion And Science Have In Common Unfortunately?

Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

Let’s just say this right off, Jesus was not a Christian. Also, Jesus was not white, nor American, nor a Republican. 

Here in the United States, when we think of Jesus we usually think of Christianity. Actually, Christianity is just another religion that men started based on Jesus. Jesus did not come to start a religion, yet in our modern era, Christianity is thought of as a religion more than it is a lifestyle of following Jesus. 

Jesus does not belong to any particular religion, nationality or political party. He loves and accepts people no matter what they believe, where they live, who they love, who they vote for or what they look like. He came to show the love of God to the human race which includes all people in every part of the world.

If we describe being Christian as a follower of the example of Jesus, then there is nothing wrong with using this word to describe our fellowship with Him. If we use the word Christian to describe belonging to a particular church, following a particular doctrine or set of rules or belonging to a particular political party, then we have totally missed what being a Christ-follower is all about. I would rather not have anything to do with the word Christian used in this sense. 

Jesus is the Son of God, and He loves all people. Jesus came to show us what God may really be like, a God of love and acceptance. A God that loves the entire world. God does not see Muslims, Jews, Christians or any religion. God loves people, all people, every nationality, every political party, every race, every man, woman and everyone who is LGBTQ. God sees people who need and want love and acceptance. The only way people are going to come to true fellowship with God is through Jesus…not Christianity. 

It is time we stop looking to organized religion as our way of becoming acceptable and pleasing to God. We need to look to the example of Jesus and allow the Spirit to live through us to love all those we meet each day. Stop demanding that people come to follow your doctrine, your rules, your beliefs and accept people as they are. Show the love of Christ to them and let the Spirit do the work of God in them as God sees fit. 

We are never going to completely agree with each other on doctrine and religion. Only through Christ and the love He gives will we be able to love and accept others. Let us be known by the true meaning of the word Christian, being someone who is doing the works of Jesus and following the example of Jesus by loving God and loving one another. 

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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By Mike Edwards

There are so many views of what God is really like. Many picture God as this angry, judgmental God whose character demands that God is deeply offended when we sin (I hate that “sin” word). See here. The only way God can supposedly like us is to look through their Jesus-colored lens. Others picture God as graceful and loving, ready to forgive on a dime. Where do we get such views?

The Bible doesn’t always help

Both views mentioned are often claimed according to the Bible. The Bible can’t be an end-all. The Bible as literature has to be interpreted and many don’t agree on how God is portrayed in the same passage – even moral issues regarding gays, women, destiny of people of other religions, etc. To claim the “Bible says” is frankly a little naïve.  Besides, even if we agreed on interpretation, we can’t prove God controlled the thoughts and writing of the writers of the Bible, thus having a perfect view of what God was like. But I’m grateful the recorded history of God with the Israelites gets me talking about God. 

Claiming certainty doesn’t help

Many believe the Bible is only how we can know or best know God. This can lead to being dogmatic about one’s views of God. The Bible says God condemns gays. I don’t believe it does but I will except your “maybe” it does. See here.  It is better to be uncertain than wrong about God. One can’t be certain about an inaudible, invisible God. Allow open discussions what a loving God is mostly to be like.   

Why not trust our moral intuitions?

Let’s assume a God exist and created us human beings. Any God worth believing in must be a perfect, loving God. Wouldn’t such a God create us to be perfect, loving humans? Even the Bible implies such an idea: “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Parent is perfect” (Mt. 5:48). This passage also agrees with our intuitions – we must have some clue of what true love is. We may not always know what perfect love entails but at least we know the question we ought to ask ourselves – am I loving others perfectly? Or am I loving others like I want to be loved? God’s character surely isn’t contrary to our deepest moral intuitions.

How Can We Get Our View Of God So Wrong Or Right?

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

Here we are at the end of another year. It can be a time of sadness in some cases, but usually it is a time of excitement and anticipation for a new beginning.

The past happenings of the year are either remembered as sad occurrences or as happy memories. Either way I think they help shape us into the person we are becoming.

Each new year seems to give us a sense of renewed purpose and goals of doing better, whatever that may mean to each of us. For some it is going to the gym, others want to read more or volunteer more. Many want to get closer to God while others want to distance themselves further from religious ways.

We are all different. We all have different ideas on life yet we are so similar in many ways. We all want to be loved and accepted. We all want to be happy and successful in life. We want to have a purpose and fulfill a meaning that is suited for us. My belief is we accept one another the way we are. We are not all going to agree or condone some of the actions of others, but we can still respect and treat each other kindly. We can be friends and still be as different as night and day.

No matter how hard we try, none of us have it all figured out. None of us have it all together and none of us have the right to force others to live, act or believe a certain way just because we think we are right. We are responsible for ourselves, and those of us who are Christians are to let the love of God flow out to all people no matter if they agree with us or not. We are only asked to love God and love one another.

As this is the last post of the year, I wanted to take a minute and thank each of you who take the time to read our articles. There are many different views and thoughts on life among our readers and I know not all agree with what we say…and that is OK. We do not try to force our views on others. We write about how we feel and how we see things at this period of time. Each of us has our own views and opinions and we should be able to share those views and still be accepting of others.

We also want to make sure that no matter who you are, what you believe, no matter what religion, race, sex, gender or nationality, we consider you friends and are glad you take the time to read our articles.

So, until next year, we here at Done with Religion hope each of you have a good holiday season. We are hopeful you will continue to visit our site and find encouragement, acceptance and friendship throughout the new year.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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By Mike Edwards

Many Christians assume the Bible teaches we must forgive without any expectations. The Bible can also be used to claim repentance is required. God does not forgive the rebellious (Josh. 24:19); “… if they repent forgive them” (Lk. 17:3). The Bible wasn’t meant to be a rules book to advise what every individual should do in their circumstances. “Turn the other cheek” is not meant for a domestic victim. One is free to forgive without expectations, but you have come to the right blog if a victim and you think certain expectations are important before forgiving a person.

Doesn’t God expect genuine forgiveness before getting into Heaven?

Many defend that the Bible claims you must always forgive no matter the circumstances. But those who defend easy forgiveness would not agree God forgives without acknowledging any wrongdoing. They would suggest you can’t enter Heaven without seeking forgiveness from God. The assumption is God expects and can discern if you are being genuine in repenting. Maybe even God has certain conditions or expectations if seeking forgiveness. Aren’t we supposed to imitate God?

I am suspicious of those that “just want to move on” 

A bully or abuser who doesn’t acknowledge their behaviors and just wants to move on is suspect. I have hurt others to know how I should go about asking for forgiveness. It isn’t about my feelings but the victim’s feelings. I don’t know why some guilty folks focus on their expectations and not their victim’s. The guilty obviously know they have done something wrong if asking for forgiveness. Those refusing to wrestle with expectations communicated by victims don’t acknowledge the seriousness of their actions. The innocent decides next steps and if a future relationship is possible.

Wrongdoing must be recognized 

If one is not held accountable for their wrongdoing, might they just do it again? Quick or easy forgiveness can allow a husband’s abusive behavior to continue. When a sexual abuser doesn’t openly acknowledge their actions, will they continue to abuse others? The guilty need to stop with excuses or blaming others. Those with the same upbringing or circumstances don’t always mistreat others. The guilty must take responsibility and accept steps a victim wants taken next. 

Restitution isn’t always possible 

Bad memories can’t be erased; positive memories robbed by the guilty can’t be restored. This is why certain relationships cannot always continue.  Those that have hurt others are not in a position to insist on a future relationship. When restitution is possible, discussions are necessary unless the guilty aren’t really sorry. 

To forgive or not!

In my mind forgiveness isn’t really a discussion until the guilty acknowledge they need forgiveness. But for some forgiving despite lack of remorse can control bitterness. For others to forgive despite lack of remorse can cause feelings of further victimization and bitterness. We must stop guilting victims, according to the Bible, to forgive their violator no matter what. Those hurt must seek the mind of God what actions in relationship difficulties lead to your best interest in the long run in a world full of disappointments. You may discover God is emphatic!

Should We Forgive Others Without Expectations?

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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by Michael Donahoe

Have you noticed how many people seem to only include their preferred group? They only include people who think like them, have similar interests and likes. If you think differently or have different views and opinions, people feel you should stay in your own group with like-minded people, but leave the other group alone.

We seem to find this attitude in every walk of life, but within organized religion or institutional church it seems even worse. We all should be accepting of people in general in our daily lives. Yet, we see this so often within Christianity with the wide variety of denominations and interpretations of the Bible.

When it comes to including people who we see as completely different from us, African-American, Native-American, White, LGBTQ, Atheist, Muslim, Jew and so on, we tend to want to keep each group separate. We think as believers in God we need to separate ourselves and not associate with those who see things differently. Why is it the word inclusion seems to make so many Christian people cringe?

Really, behind all the labels we put on people we are all basically the same, so why not associate and get to know people who we feel are different from us? We can learn from one another, get to know one another and find that we really are not all that different.

We see Jesus do this all the time when reading the gospels in the Bible. He did not differentiate people based on their religion, belief, lifestyle, sexuality or nationality. He did not separate himself from those who thought, believed and lived differently. He loved and accepted all people and showed them the love of God.

Obviously loving and accepting people does not mean total agreement, nor are we going to always get along in life and live happily ever after. Yet I believe it does mean treating others the same, with respect, kindness, acceptance and with the love of God through the power of the Spirit within.

Inclusion is not a bad word. It is not a bad or unholy way to live. Inclusion is about ALL of us. Inclusion is about living full lives – about learning to live together. It makes the world our classroom for a full life. Inclusion treasures diversity and builds community. It is about our abilities – our gifts and how to share them. Inclusion is the way of God and the way of showing the love of God to all we meet.

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Michael Donahoe was added as a writer as his views fit perfectly with those of Done with Religion. He also writes on Substack at https://myopinionblog.substack.com/

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by Michael Donahoe

Why is it many of us who call ourselves Christians spend more time defending our beliefs rather than enjoying time spent with others? Often, we do it not only to non-believers, but even to our brothers and sisters in Christ.

We know how Jesus lived; he loved others, accepted those who the religious crowd did not like, he was kind, loving, forgiving and caring to all he came in contact. It seems the only people who he had a problem with were religious self-righteous leaders. Yet, we see many of those who claim to follow Jesus go out and argue with those who interpret the Bible differently, or who do not believe the same or live the same.

It seems to me rather than fight and argue over doctrine, interpretation and belief we would do better to love, accept and show compassion. After all, Jesus said to love God and love one another. He never said judge and condemn others or avoid those who think differently.

This certainly does not mean we have to agree with everyone, but we do not have to fight and defend our way of thinking. Many of us think we have it all figured out and our way of faith is the only way. We think we have to persuade others to come to our way of thinking or they are doomed to hell.

I am not sure any of us have it all figured out, in fact I know none of us do. We all have room to question, learn and change. I know my wife and I are doing more questioning than we ever did, and we are finding new truths as we walk in the Spirit daily.

When it comes down to it, I feel we should be open to accept others no matter what their way of thinking. People want to be loved and accepted, they want to be happy and get along with others. When we get all religious and defend our point of view, it does more harm and drives people apart more than anything.

As followers of Jesus, we should be seeking strength to accept and love everyone. No matter what they believe, what their faith or doctrine is, no matter their religion, nationality, sexual preference or color, we want to see them as Jesus sees them. This type of love comes from the Spirit of God who is within us.

Naturally, people will not always agree, but we want to look past those areas of disagreement and find the commonalities we have and share the love of God together. This does not happen by condemning and bashing people nor by trying to prove we are right and they are wrong.

Love does not mean seeing eye-to-eye, it does not mean we agree or even like some of the things people do, but it does mean we look past the differences and love them as Christ loves them. Let’s look past the labels and see people who have feelings, who want love and friendship, people we can get to know, learn from, share thoughts and ideas with, and accept as fellow human beings who are created in the image of God.

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Michael Donahoe was added as a writer as his views fit perfectly with those of Done with Religion. He also writes on Substack at https://myopinionblog.substack.com/

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by Jim Gordon

Romans 12:18 – If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. That almost sounds like an impossibility in our world today. To be at peace with all men, including believers and non-believers, those who accept God and those who do not accept that there is a God. Live at peace with those who believe in a similar way we do and those who believe in a variety of different ways than us.

With all the different thoughts and ideas, the different denominations, interpretations and beliefs, all the different religions, how could it be possible to be at peace with everyone?

The dictionary says of peace: freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions; harmony in personal relations.

I think this is what God is saying, that we are to live in harmony with our fellow human beings, not allowing any oppressive thoughts or emotions to take control of our feelings towards others. In other words, we live in love. Just because someone does not interpret the Bible the same way we do, or go to the same church we do, or does not go to church at all, we should realize that as believers we are all wanting to please God and do what we feel led to do out of love. We should respect the fact that God is working in different ways in people. Just because people see things differently does not mean it is not of God.

In regard to non-believers, we should not be condemning them or forcing our beliefs on them. We need to let them see the love of God, yet they do not need someone beating them down or twisting their arms to get them to believe like us. We are to love them as they are and allow them the freedom to make their own choices in spiritual matters.

If we believers could just understand that we are responsible for ourselves in the way we live for God. We are not responsible to force our beliefs on others. We are to allow God to work in our lives and follow God on the path the Spirit has for us. Our responsibility is to love God and love everyone we come in contact with, accept them for who they are and let the Holy Spirit work in all our lives. Living in this manner would accomplished much more in showing the love of Christ to those we have contact with each day.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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And Everyone Else is Wrong

by Jim Gordon

If you are around a lot of people or are on social media very often, you will see many people are ready to argue in order to prove their way of thinking, especially in regard to spiritual matters.

Some atheists complain about Christians believing in a fairy in the sky, some people get mad over the transgender debate, gays are treated like second-class citizens and some of them are hateful toward Christians. Many Christians fight with other Christians over doctrine and some can be very judgmental and condemning of atheists and the LGBT community. It seems each group is trying to prove why they are right and the other group is wrong and many times they do it in ways that are not so nice.

Why do so many people spend so much time arguing and defending personal views when we cannot prove any of it? Seriously, none of us can prove beyond a doubt our thoughts and views on spiritual things or life after death. We cannot prove God exists and we cannot prove he does not exist. There are so many varying doctrines, interpretations of the bible and denominations among Christianity that it is not surprising we do not know who is right or wrong?

If we really think about it no matter what your religion, what your faith or belief, what your lifestyle, if you are atheist, Christian, gay, agnostic, transgender, if you have a scientific view or creationist view none of us can prove our way of thought in regard to spiritual matters. It is our personal view and it is good to have those views, but we should not be trying to prove our way and push it onto others expecting them to see things our way.

Each group is passionate about the way they see things and there is nothing wrong with that. The problem is expecting everyone to agree and go along with our way of thinking.

We are not all going to agree on things, yet we should be able to be accepting of others. Being accepting does not mean we always agree with one another or approve of everything people do, but we should be able to be kind and show respect to everyone even in our differences. Being judgmental, condemning, or poking fun at one another is certainly not being loving and kind.

It all boils down to no matter what route we take in life, what we think about life after death, what we think about God or spiritual life, none of us can prove our way of thinking, at least not until death. Once we die, if there is life after death and I believe there is, we will know for sure at that point. Until that time, we can only follow our way of thinking or believing and we should be respectful of others and the way they think.

Those of us who are followers of Jesus should especially be loving and kind because Christ told us to love God and love one another. He did not say we should only love those who believe like us. He did not say to be judgmental, condemning or to exclude anyone.

When reading about Jesus in the gospels we see a person who loved people and was accepting of everyone. He did not condemn nor judge and I believe he was God in human form showing us that God loves us all.

I believe God provides grace for everyone, but he gives us all freedom to choose what to believe and whether to accept it or not. I believe we should offer the same option to our fellow human beings no matter what label is put on them.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

Over the past few months, I have watched with displeasure the discussions and comments on social media. The interaction among people seems to be taking a turn that is more divisive, argumentative and sometimes hateful. Social media has become the common way of communication these days and it is very easy to be unkind and bolder than usual. We express our thoughts and feelings in a much meaner way than we would if we were face to face.

I think most people find that sitting in front of a computer screen gives a sense of boldness and openness to express themselves in ways that are not always a good thing. There is something about not being in the presence of someone or seeing their face that emboldens us and allows our mean side to come out.

To me it is the same feeling you can get when you get behind the wheel of a car. All of a sudden, we seem to be in attack mode. We blow our horn at others, yell and curse and flip people off, yet if we walked by them on the street we would smile and say hello.

There is something about face-to-face communication that usually changes the way we talk to and treat others. Face to face communication seems to take away the meanness we usually find with social media communication. Looking someone in the face, being in their presence seems to soften the way we talk and respond.

Why is it that we cannot see the human person behind the computer screen? Why is it we feel the meanness, this emboldened power to treat others with contempt? Remember Jesus said to love not only those who love you but to love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you.

There is nothing wrong with social media and communicating through it. Just keep in mind that there is another human being on the other end, and even though we are not in their physical presence, the things we say and the way we react have an impact on them. Let us make it a point to have a positive, encouraging impact when we communicate with others.

The way of Christ is the way of love. Whether it be online or in person we are to love our neighbors. In our world today living in love is becoming rare. Yet by doing so in the power of the Spirit, it will be noticed and it will make a difference in the lives of those who are hurting and so desperately seeking love and acceptance.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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