December 3, 2017

Sunday School 12/3/17

Regular readers of  the Sunday School series will notice the post logo is missing from the top right corner; that's by design this week. Today we're talking about a more traditional Sunday School topic - religion.

If you've read the blog for a while, you know that I'm not a religious person, and that I struggle equally with politicians interjecting their faith into our lives (here's one example) and with religious people interject themselves into politics. And while I'm not religious, I hold pastors and other faith leaders to a higher standard than I do regular folks - so I'm always disheartened when I hear hatred and denigration coming from them, like this pastor who called for the killing of gays, or this one who considers peers who disagree with him to be 'bogus' ministers.

I'm never closer to religion than when I'm following discussions on a friend's social media page. He speaks openly about his faith, and the challenges that faith poses, in a particularly honest and astute way when talking about politics. He knows my feelings about religion but doesn't hold them against me; rather, I'm humbled by the patience shown to me, the welcome afforded me, when we talk.

I want to share a recent conversation on my friend's page, which was initially about sexual harassment  (including indiscretions by the president) but gradually expanded to cover other topics, including the GOP tax plan and how rich and poor are treated these days.One of the participants in the discussion is a pastor who liberally cites biblical references on the thread.

At one point in the discussion about the president's misbehavior, the pastor offered the thoughts below. I edited out much of the repetition and the biblical references to focus on his own words, but I didn't change the intent, which should be familiar:
The golden rule of equity is, to do to others as we would they should do to us... This is grounded upon that great commandment, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. As we must bear the same affection to our neighbor that we would have borne to ourselves... We must put other people upon the level with ourselves, and reckon we are as much obliged to them as they to us...
Keep that discussion of the Golden Rule in mind; you'll need it later.

Nestled in one of the pastor's lengthy responses (over 700 words) on the tax plan were multiple denigrating references to 'snowflakes.' As in Godless snowflakes, lying crazy snowflakes, welfare cheating snowflakes, and so on. I was taken aback by the tone, especially given who made the comments, and given it was the same one who posted the ones above.

I asked about his name-calling, as it seemed out of place in the middle of the biblical references. His answer?
Picked it up off the Internet, I thought it to be lighter and more cool than an immature irresponsible irreverent insolvent indigent! Got a better word? (Emphasis added.)
Not the response I was expecting, so I clarified my question.
Was more generally questioning the need to label and insult in the middle of all the scripture. As to your less cool choices (noted above in your comment) how are you judging the maturity, reverence, solvency of those who disagree with your opinion - or perhaps *why* do you judge them, might be the better question. 
Because, as I noted, I hold religious leaders to a higher standard - and even though his comments are personal ones, he is always on-the-job, right? To embed his insults in the middle of scripture seemed just wrong to me.

In a 900+ word response, which included at least 22 separate biblical citations, he embedded these personal explanations to justify name-calling generally, and specifically shaming the less fortunate, the ones about whom we typically say "there, but for the grace of God, go I' (emphasis added, again).
God, who has appointed every man's property by his providence, forbids by his law the invading of that appointment, either by downright theft You shalt not steal, or by fraudulent dealing "You shall not cheat, or deal falsely." Whatever we have in the world, we must see to it that it be honestly come by, for we cannot be truly right, nor long rich, with that which is not. 
Because people who are on welfare, or who are not fans of losing tax deductions they rely on to survive financially, or who don't like the disparity between rich and poor in today's America are all  frauds and cheats?
As a Christian pastor there is a responsibility to reveal to transgressors that grace, and redemption for those who turn from darkness to light and evil to God
Because calling someone names, accusing them of cheating, theft, and fraud is revealing the path to redemption? And an obligatory revelation at that?
When any person through words or action shows contempt to law, ethics, lawful authorities and the morality and righteousness of God, it is the duty and the Christian responsibility of anyone in compliance to speak out against it! To warn of the wrong and to encourage the good and to avail the grace of God is our responsibility.
This was in reference to the snowflake/liars/cheater/liberals, but is the exact opposite of what he said about those who questioned the president - in the same post. What's good for the goose, not so much good for the gander, eh?

There was more, but you get the drift.

Had he at any point, when using his own words, offered anything remotely like the helping hand the referenced verses suggested, I wouldn't have questioned a thing.  Had he not wielded bible verses like an ax on anyone who disagreed with his positions, I wouldn't have said a thing.  I didn't even care that his opinions are vastly different than mine on just about the entire discussion - that's why we have discussions.

But justifying his words by wrapping them them in a biblical cloak, and not seeing that they not only don't support but directly conflict with the scripture he cited?  I call foul.

As I said, I'm not religious, but this meme, passed to me by my Lutheran husband, sums up what I understand to be the role of a pastor:


See you around campus.

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