Religious Behavior 10/29/20

Thoughts by Richard Bleil

A friend of mine posted a political cartoon depicting a man claiming to be religiously opposed to eating ice-cream discussing his faith to two women eating ice cream on a park bench. One of the women replied, “then don’t do it.” He responds, “you don’t understand. Because my religion doesn’t allow me to eat ice cream, you can’t do it either.”

The concept of the cartoon is pretty self-explanatory. We see it frequently in our nation as many people seem intent on moving our nation from a democracy to a theocracy, incorporating laws and regulations based on the religious opinions of Christians, and not even the Bible so much as their own preaching which is often interpretive. In one of the more annoying examples, we’ve seen it in Kentucky when the county registrar refused to issue marriage licenses to same-gender couples because it was “against her religion”, despite the fact that it was legal and that she had taken an oath of office to uphold the law, not her religion. Trump and the Republican party decided to back the individual, and has made it clear that they want to repeal the law restricting the rights of homosexual Americans by pushing through Supreme Court nominees that they hope will ignore the pledge to interpret the law rather than be influenced by their own beliefs.

One of the comments on my friend’s post amounted to saying, “Not all Christians are like this.” My friend’s response was, “Want to bet?” I certainly understand my friend’s reply. Unfortunately, there are too many Christians who are too loud about judging other people based on their own morals. While these Christians argue that this is Biblical law (while criticizing laws based on the works of other religions like Shariah law), it is often just interpretation. For example, the Bible defines life as beginning “when God first breathes air into the lungs of the infant”, and yet for abortion arguments they claim the Bible defines life as occurring at the moment of conception. Is abortion moral or not? I don’t know; I don’t see it as my job to judge others based on their morals, and frankly, any Christian who tries to argue right or wrong based on the Bible is ignoring the passage saying that it is for the Lord to judge right from wrong.

But while there are far too many Christians who try to force their beliefs onto others, and are often very vocal in doing so, I’ve known so many Christians that would give you the shirt off of their backs. To me, a true Christian should never have to announce their religious alignment. One of my favorite people was a math professor at the first college where I taught. Late one evening, with plans for him and me to meet two other faculty for supper, he and I were wrapping up some things in our offices when I saw a student of mine visibly upset. It was raining, dark, cold, and she was waiting for him outside of the bank where she worked with no cell phone. I asked him why he was so upset, and it turns out his battery was dead because he had left his lights on.

I assured him we would go and get her but wanted to go down the hall to tell my friend so he could send my apologies on to our friends at the restaurant. Expecting to simply inform him I couldn’t join, he jumped to action. He insisted on coming along. As it was late, we needed to get to the auto-parts store before it closed, so the three of us went to his vehicle and my friend took his battery out. The three of us then went to pick up his wife and went to the auto-parts store so they could check the battery. The battery was old, and my friend and I purchased a replacement battery for him. We took them back and got them on the road.

Later I found out that he is a Christian. He never said so, he never pushed it, he never preached, but he did live it. He just knew the right thing to do was to help him out. Of course, we missed our friends at the restaurant, but that was okay. To me, this is a true Christian, one who just does the right thing, doesn’t judge, doesn’t preach. There are many Christians like this, people I truly respect and adore, and the reason I try to caution people against assuming all Christians use their faith as a badge for judgment, hatred and bigotry. Try to remember that regardless of their faith, the way people choose to behave is their choice and theirs alone, and try to avoid assuming people are always the same based on labels.

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