What’s Left?

Today, Wednesday the 6th of February, is Ash Wednesday and thus, the beginning of Lent, if I remember my Sunday school lessons correctly. 

I’ve actually thought about it some, believe it or not.  I realized the other day that I’ve not actually managed to spend any time on here talking about religion, even though it, strangely enough, is an important part of my life.  It was an important part of my life as a child and as a teenager, but not so much during college; then again, I suppose that’s normal. 

Then again, what’s normal?  That’s a conversation for another day, methinks.

I was raised Baptist, but not in the Southern Baptist tradition.  I know, everyone’s always saying to me, “what, there’s another form of Baptist???”  Well, YEAH, there is.  There are at least a couple of other versions, if not more. 

Southern Baptists are the loud ones that come after you, coercing you into agreeing with them.  That and they’re crazy.  They’re the ones who are prejudiced against so many different groups that if I wrote about all of them, I’d be here for the rest of the day (and since I’m doing this between classes, that would be Bad).  However, particularly the two big groups that I have issue with regarding the SBC (the Southern Baptists), are women and homosexuals.  The SBC are far right wingers.  They preach a message that is more akin to saying that “God loves everyone except . . . ” and we’ll tell you just who each of those groups are.  Oh boy (sarcasm). 

The group that the religious folks that I know prescribe to are the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.  Being a pretty solid liberal myself, some of the statements and positions put out by the CBF are still a bit annoying, but at least they aren’t actively annoying.  The CBF is moderately based, primarily, even though there are those on the conservative side who claim that the CBF is actually made up of fire breathing dragons, just like the rest of the liberals in the world, but that simply isn’t true. 

For instance, their issued statement on the subject of homosexuals is better than the SBC’s, but it’s still lacking from my view.  I like most of it, but the fact is that they still consider it against the Bible, but they aren’t going to tell you that you’re damned if you’re a homosexual, or that you’re not allowed in the church unless you go through some kind of re-education training on what your sexual orientation “should” be. 

Of course, one of their more important statements is that they “prefer collaboration over conflict,” and I consider that pretty vital, since it’s a pretty definite fact that the SBC doesn’t believe the same.  I always remember the girl who told me that I was going to hell for believing in the rights of homosexuals.  That was nice (more sarcasm).

What does CBF believe about women in ministry?
Affirmation of women in ministry was one of the founding principles of the Fellowship. In the founding document of the Fellowship, the New Testament is acknowledged as providing two views of the role of women – a literal approach of submission to men or an inclusive approach. The document cites Galatians 3:27-28, “As many of you as are baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus (NRSV).”

The founding document continues to read:

   We take Galatians as a clue to the way the Church should be ordered. We interpret the reference to women the same way we interpret the reference to slaves. If we have submissive roles for women, we must also have a place for slaves in the Church.   
   In Galatians Paul follows the spirit of Jesus who courageously challenged the conventional wisdom of his day. It was a wisdom with rigid boundaries between men and women in religion and public life. Jesus deliberately broke those barriers. He called women to follow him; he treated women as equally capable of dealing with sacred issues. Our model for the role of women in matters of faith is the Lord Jesus.

In addition to a number of partner churches with women pastors, the Fellowship’s emphasis on equality in leadership is seen by the intentional diversity of in its highest elected office – moderator. Nominations alternate between male and female, clergy and laity.

The bold was added by me. 

In addition, here’s the best part:

Why does CBF exist? 
CBF is a renewal movement among Baptist Christians. CBF exists because of the belief in historic Baptist principles of soul freedom, Bible freedom, church freedom and religious freedom. Soul freedom is the belief in priesthood of the believer and the affirmation that every person has the freedom and responsibility to relate directly to God without the imposition of creed or control of clergy or government.

So if you don’t entirely agree with them (like me), then that’s okay, because they allow for freedom of dissent.  Woah, I know.  Exciting.  Basically the CBF takes it back to “God loves everyone, NOT everyone except . . .”  You can read their entire FAQ here. 

The statements of position found on the SBC site are not nearly as virulent as the words that come out of most evangelicals, but if you read closely, you’ll see that things are not quite right.

On Sexuality:

We affirm God’s plan for marriage and sexual intimacy – one man, and one woman, for life. Homosexuality is not a “valid alternative lifestyle.” The Bible condemns it as sin. It is not, however, unforgivable sin. The same redemption available to all sinners is available to homosexuals. They, too, may become new creations in Christ.

Yeah, you’re okay as long as you let us fix you.  Uh huh.  Yeah.

On Women:

Women participate equally with men in the priesthood of all believers. Their role is crucial, their wisdom, grace and commitment exemplary. Women are an integral part of our Southern Baptist boards, faculties, mission teams, writer pools, and professional staffs. We affirm and celebrate their Great Commission impact. While Scripture teaches that a woman’s role is not identical to that of men in every respect, and that pastoral leadership is assigned to men, it also teaches that women are equal in value to men.

What this means of course, is that while women will get to do most of the same things as men, they won’t get paid or praised as much.  What?  That’s what it means! 

As for me, I believe that God loves everyone, and that as humans, we are not qualified to pass judgment on the souls of other people.  Thou Shalt Not Judge.  Hello?  That’s one of the ten commandments.  It’s sort of a big deal.  That’s sort of like saying, “Don’t discriminate against others.  Treat others equally.”  Ohhh.  You mean people do that???  *spoken in dumb blond voice* (no offense meant).  Course, if you’re John Best, treating everyone equally would mean that you’d treat everyone like shit, not just your kid and people on the spectrum, along with homosexuals and any others you happen to disagree with. 

There was a not too distant time where I would not have brought any of this up; partially because I was pissed off at Christians/religious folk in general, and partially because I was rather lost (mostly as a result of the first issue).  But it’s okay, because I got back to the basics, and because I figured out what was important to me wasn’t always the same as other people’s important bits.  My believing doesn’t hurt anyone else.  I don’t bible beat and I don’t go around killing others in the “name of God.” 

The God I believe in teaches respect for other people and forgiveness towards those who have wronged us and others.  I’m still working on that, as most do.  As an aspie, I feel that I give respect to people anyways, but there would be those who say I do not, since at times, I say things that piss others off–but usually accidentally, being an aspie and all.  However, loving another does not equal agreeing with them.  You can disagree and still love and respect them.  I respect your opinion even though I don’t agree with it.  Respect comes from taking the time to try and understand where another is coming from.  I belong to the forums over at Autism Speaks (a group known for its anti-autism, cure centered statements and actions).  I belong because I don’t like to take anyone’s word for anything if I can check something out for myself. 

In my time there, I’ve discovered that a lot of the people on there are just parents who are desperate to find something to do to help their kid(s).  Sure, they’re siding with Autism Speaks, but at times, that’s because they’re simply not aware of other treatments/other options that are available for them to try.  Music therapy, for example, has been shown to do wonders with most people on the spectrum.  Note that I didn’t say “kids on the spectrum.”  That’s the other issue; many of them have not had much or even ANY interaction with aspie or autistic adults.  That’s one of those things that Autism Speaks puts a blind eye to.  My belonging and the belonging of a few other aspies/auties (mostly from Wrong Planet) to that forum has opened the eyes of more than a couple of parents about what there kids can possibly hope to achieve.  There are plenty of folks that I’ve talked to who were at one point in their lives labelled as “low-functioning,” but who are now not.  And even if someone remains low-functioning their entire life, it doesn’t mean that there can’t be treatments that can at least give them a more enjoyable life; not to mention that there are people who are technically low-functioning autistics who can still communicate with the world via alternate means. 

All that to say is that those of us who have visited the Autism Speaks forums have been able to share information from the other side of tracks, so to speak, but the reason that we were able to do so was that we approached the situation like thinking adults who were respectful of those that we met, regardless of their opposing views. 

Another aspect of God that I believe in is that within God there is a little bit of everyone, allowing God to understand everyone and hurt for everyone and laugh with everyone and so on.  God does not hate; that’s not S/Her’s business. 

I also believe that God has many names.  I had a professor who once referred to God as “Mr. Is,” because to describe God (as I have so clumsily attempted) is to limit God in some way. 

All I know is that God says to love, so that’s what I do.  That’s my belief; that’s what’s important.  I also happen to believe in fate in a way, but not in the pre-destination sense exactly.  I think that God gives us opportunities in life, and we are responsible for the choices we make regarding those opportunities/situations.  God provides the paint; we do the painting.  God gives us the instruments; we do the playing and composing.  Everything happens for a reason.  We can learn from everything.  The world works through our connections with other people; and sometimes we have to be in bad situations in order to be allowed to interact with certain other people.  In other words, frequently you have to know what a person is going through before they trust you enough to let you help them. 

Now, as for Lent (which is how I got started on all of this), I’ve tried to come up with something I could give up, since that’s what you’re supposed to do for this period of time, but I’m already pretty well living only on necessities, I think it would be futile to try to give up anything else.  I eat a lot of peanut butter as is.  If I gave that up, then the ten pounds that I have already lost this year (mostly due to lack of diet, as opposed to any diet in particular) would be substantially augmented. 

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~ by lastcrazyhorn on February 6, 2008.

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