In The God Delusion and The Root of All Evil, Richard Dawkins argued that organized religion, and especially the current brand of American Christianism and evangelical fundamentalism, are tantamount to psychological and emotion child abuse:
Innocent children are being saddled with demonstrable falsehoods … It’s time to question the abuse of childhood innocence with superstitious ideas of hellfire and damnation. … The God of the Old Testament has got to be the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous, and proud of it, petty, vindictive, unjust, unforgiving…
Who better to confirm Professor Dawkins’ arguments and example them well beyond the Old Testament and childhood than Jonathan Falwell, son and (apparent) successor to his late father. Jerry Falwell’s life-long message was “The Bible is the inerrant word of the living God. It is absolutely infallible, without error in all matters pertaining to faith and practice…”
In his July 27, 2007 edition of Falwell Confidential, the “insider weekly newsletter to The Moral Majority Coalition and The Liberty Alliance,” Jonathan Falwell discussed kissing:
I was fascinated this week to hear of the results of a survey conducted by ChristiaNet.com, in which visitors to the site were asked if kissing is acceptable for couples who are dating.It is a legitimate question that any young Christian should ask himself/herself when involved in a relationship. But the question triggered within me the renewed realization of how dissimilar the Christian worldview often is from the secular view.
Although he never said so directly, Mr. Falwell clearly thought pre-marital kissing was inappropriate for “Christians.” After the perfunctory condemnation of “our sin-sick culture,” Mr. Falwell refocused:
So let’s return to the question: Should Christians kiss while dating?
Out of 271 poll respondents, 134 said that kissing is acceptable while dating, while 71 said it was not acceptable and 66 were unsure.
Many of those who said that kissing is acceptable added that it should disciplined and the couple should discuss guidelines early on in the relationship and make a commitment to not cross those boundaries.
Those are wise words.
But I would add that young Christian couples should understand that their commitments of purity are virtually insignificant if they are made absent of total dependence on Jesus Christ to be the authority of that commitment.
Known and very popular cialis coupon which gives all the chance to receive a discount for a preparation which has to be available and exactly cialis coupons has been found in the distant room of this big house about which wood-grouses in the houses tell.
“Total dependence on Jesus Christ.” Since Yeshua has been dead for more than 2000 years, Mr. Falwell obviously meant the iconic “Jesus Christ” conjured by dogmatists to propagate their theo-political social agenda.
“Boundaries” are indeed important, but what and who define those boundaries are equally significant. For Mr. Falwell, what and who should be I Peter 1:17.
In the King James version of the Bible – the text preferred by evangelicals and fundamentalists – the passage reads, “And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay [here] in fear.” In the World English Bible, “If you call on him as Father, who without respect of persons judges according to each man’s work, pass the time of your living as strangers here in reverent fear.” And in the most scholarly rendering of the Bible (The New Revised Standard Version), “If you invoke as Father the one who judges all people impartially according to their deeds, live in reverent fear during the time of your exile.”
Note the common admonition: live your life “in fear.” That’s the very essence of Professor Dawkins’ “child abuse” arguments, and a way of life no responsible psychiatrist or psychologist would recommend. Perhaps that’s why Mr. Falwell chose to cite the “Amplified Bible,” the copyrighted concoction of the Lockman Foundation and Zondervan Publishing. According to its web site, “The Lockman Foundation is a nonprofit, interdenominational ministry dedicated to the translation, publication, and distribution of the New American Standard Bible, Amplified Bible, La Biblia de las Américas, Nueva Biblia de los Hispanos, and other Biblical resources.” Their “Doctrinal Statement” defines fundamentalism:“We believe that the entire Bible is the inspired and inerrant word of God; the only infallible rule of faith and practice.… We believe in the literal, bodily, physical, and Premillenial [sic] return of Jesus Christ.… We believe that all men are sinners and in an eternally lost condition apart from the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
According to its web site, Zondervan’s “mission” is to “be the leader in Christian communications meeting the needs of people with resources that glorify Jesus Christ and promote biblical principles.” Their “textbook” Teaching the Bible as Literature reads like a Sunday School primer. Zondervan’s “commitments” include creating “excellent resources consistent with biblical principles in a timely and profitable manner.” Apparently “biblical principles” keep changing “in a timely and profitable manner.”
In the “amplified” Bible, I Peter 1:17 reads, “And if you call upon Him as [your] Father Who judges each one according to what he does, [then] you should conduct yourselves with true reverence throughout the time of your temporary residence on earth, whether long or short.” The Lockman-Zondervan biblical rewriters and editors deleted the word “fear,” which appears in all other versions of the Bible, including the New American Standard Bible, the rights to which are owned by none other than the Lockman Foundation.
The Greek word Peter used was phobos (although since it is in the genitive case, it’s phobou). It means “fear” or “dread” (see 1 Peter 3:14). It can also mean “reverent fear.” In either case, “fear” is the operative emotion evoked. The word preceding phobou is diagete, which is generally translated as “live.” Peter’s message seems clear: live your life “in fear of God.”
But as Jonathan Falwell said, “let’s return to the question: Should Christians kiss while dating?”
Clearly Mr. Falwell believes unmarried teens and other people should feel guilty about kissing for fear it would offend “God.” It seem more than a bit ludicrous that Divinity would be offended by kissing. Prudish, anti-human religious zealots may be, and those suffering from philemaphobia or philophobia may be, but surely not Divinity.
But the “God” of the Bible does not seem like true Divinity. Consider his first two commandments: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me … for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them…”
Would true Divinity be jealous?
Would true Divinity punish innocent children for something their great-great-grandparents had done?
Would true Divinity issue “commandments” and ordain “sins” punishable by eternal damnation?
Or are those the characteristics and tactics of maniacal humans hell-bent on controlling every aspect of other people’s lives? And how better to do that than create a “God” in their own image and use it to inspire fear? How much more Machiavellian can you get?
Professor Dawkins also warned about other manipulative tactics. Aside from the wolf in sheep’s clothing “amplified” Bible, there’s “wholesome family entertainment”: a Jesus theme park where children as young as two-years-old can witness “snarling Roman soldiers whip and drag [Jesus]… at a pageant bloody and cruel. It is the grand finale at the Holy Land Experience.” No doubt many of those “God-fearing” parent who took their young children to witness the sadomasochistic spectacle at Holy Land Experience also joined Christianist campaigns against violence in the media and public displays of affection – like kissing.
There is nothing reverent or holy about a wrathful, vengeful, fear-mongering “God” or an institutionalized “religion” based on a father-god demanding the bloody sacrifice of his son-god to atone for human actions the father-god – being “all-knowing” – knew would happen. And there is certainly nothing healthy about those who use man-made gods and convoluted dogma to dictate how others should live and believe.
Remember the brouhaha over Rajan Zed, a Hindu chaplain, offering a serene invocation to open a session of the United States Senate? Well, the self-righteous are still pontificating: “Rep. Bill Sali (R-Idaho) warned that ‘the protective hand of God’ could be lifted. … Sali warned that Ellison’s presence [Muslim Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota)], like the Hindu prayer, would displease both America’s founders and God.”
Remember the pope’s recent statement that all non-Catholic churches are inherently false or, at best, defective because they don’t accept papal authority. Members of those non-church churches are, according to the pope, in danger of losing their soul. Dr. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, fired back by claiming “evangelicals should be concerned that Catholics are in spiritual danger for their submission to” the papacy.
A Falwellian warning to teens and single adults not to kiss because that expression of affection would offend “God.” Christianists and their pocketed politicians claiming to know what the Founding Fathers would think now and using fear to incite bigotry and hate. Religious leaders fighting over man-made dogma. It’s all just a lot of “monkey business.”
(My apologies to our simian cousins. No offense intended…)
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