Sunday, August 26, 2012

In Defense of Significance

Many people adopt the Atheist view of life because they perceive a folly in belief. Understandably, they reject the burden of a higher power, preferring the freedom Atheism bestows. I am not here to debate this point to others; I merely give my testimony I recently came to realize, and to request a difficult thing from people.

I’ve become increasingly annoyed at non-Christian radio, and I could never put my finger on it. Adding to this angst was that fact that Christian radio is painfully repetitive, and usually very outdated. But I stayed with it, not knowing why. A few weeks ago, I went to a good friend, who inquired on my anger.
Put this on the shelf for a while, I’ll get back to it.

That same friend observed that I tended to be very forgiving to other people, and not forgiving to myself. At the time, I had no response. Time, though, has bestowed its gift on me these last few weeks, and given me closure. I went back to him yesterday, and responded with this. Forgiveness is something you give to others more than yourself. If you forgive yourself, you give yourself the power to absolve yourself of all wrongs – and you think you play God with your wrongs. You delude yourself to thinking you attain the High Road when really you fall short. But I digress, let me get back on topic (I will cover this in more depth later).

The personal reason I do not forgive myself is that, with every fault of mine, I give a wrong image of the Christian. For, as a man of God, if I allow my faults to go unhindered, then I show the world a hated image of a Christian, one they expect. That I cannot allow (though it happens many times). If I have the power to change my ways, and I do not, I have done my God wrong. I’d rather be more of the older son than the prodigal, where self-forgiveness is concerned. Then again, a strong argument could be made that all Christians are the prodigal, and that I put too much pressure on myself. After all, it is in our nature to be sinners. Again, I’d rather be more harsh on myself than too lenient.

My friend then asked, why stay with Christianity? To that, I answered that Christianity gave me purpose and significance. Atheism seemed to me to be completely aimless, the definition of irrelevance. From the beginning, I despised that word. Recently I went to a Eagle Scout Court of Honor. The man being honored was a good friend of mine, but I couldn't find the courage to stay. I left scouting a while ago, long before my trail was finished, though I could not name why. Now I know: It was too significant. I was overwhelmed by it, disillusioned, I doubted and despised it. I didn't give it the time it needed to show it's power on me, and I chose insignificance over its counterpart. This was, is, and will be one of the regrets of my life.

Let's bring the topic of the music off the shelves from four paragraphs ago, and tie it in to the current topics in a clumsy transition. In all three of these cases, I struggle to find significance. In my life, I’ve realized recently, more than Grace, more than Forgiveness, I strive for Significance. My reason for belief is not only Grace, but the thing that keeps me thriving in my faith is the significance of faith. I have been given the charge to tell people about a supernatural power, a supreme, overriding God. The Significance imbued in me by this commission pushes me to awaken in the morning, breathes life into my poetry, inspires my words, and ignites my passions.

As I lost my significance by quitting the Boy Scouts, I face the same problem when observing Atheism. I would lose much of my inspiration, many of my weekly activities, if I were to shed the armor of my faith. I would find myself without aim. And I cannot let that happen. Atheism is my antithesis. It fascinates me, but only as a Chia Pet would. I would want to know more about it, though I would never want to own one. It would sit, idle, wondering aimlessly why it exists, until its green fronds die out. Then, it simply passes on.

Again, this applies to me alone. I am not trying to subvert anyone's beliefs and replace them with my own. But, when one experiences the thrill of learning, for the first time in eighteen years, what drives him or her, it is incredibly difficult to keep that inspiration hidden. For, if one keeps his or her beliefs hidden, then they do not have conviction to share them. I charge you, the reader, to find Significance in your life. When you stay significant, you stay alive.

And that truly is a remarkable endeavor.  

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

In Defense of Bigotry

I feel I must expound upon my previous topic, my view of homosexuality. I will take a step back, and approach the topic of bigotry in general. Bigotry is the belittling and shaming of one idea, lifestyle, or opinion. Whether or not this shaming and belittling is based on fact or not is of no concern to the definition, though in recent years, the word has been skewed to the state where one is assured that there is no backing to said shaming. Thus, bigotry is a word used to describe the worst of oppression. Personally, I feel this word has been used too much in society (much in the same way as the “racist” card would be pulled, though this card is more flexible).

In recent days, anyone who feels their position is just can simply pull out this “bigotry card” and instantly turn the population against their rivals. Examples include homosexual rights, “class warfare”, and racism. In all three cases, in today's day and age, I feel this card is used in many more cases to vilify the opposition than is just. I have not traveled the world much, but my experience has shown me that people of this age are generally open and accepting. My experience has also shown me that there are things so vile to some that they will not approach others engaging in the act. I, upon encountering a Pepsi drinker, usually scream, throw my hands up in the air, and run into the nearest forest, where I recover from my harrowing experience. This would describe about the most violent reaction I have towards any group.

My point is, if you are the minority in any given opinion, then going on a personal vendetta against the paradigm will not win you any awards. There is such a thing as bigotry against bigotry (or, “anti-bigotry”), and it can be just as narrow-minded and nonsensical as the original bigotry. People are entitled to their beliefs, and hating them for it will do you no good. Hate will be answered by further hate, and the vicious cycle escalates. I propose grace. If you have a man who hates you because your sexuality, then be kind. Feeding hate with kindness starves it of its gusto, and effectively kills it. This may take several years, though I have seen firsthand the effect it has, much like the tide (slowly moving sand until there's a completely new shoreline)

On another note, the person on the other side of the debate also is entitled to their opinion. In the land of the free, the culture sets the norms. These norms are becoming more and more amorphous, and eventually, your rights will be given. Wage a war of peace, and it'll come sooner. You must prove to the world that your movement is mature and responsible. Much like a human's maturation, the world will not take the movement seriously unless it proves it can be taken seriously. With this recent event with Chick-fil-a, the homosexual community showed that it cannot accept anyone who differs from their opinion, much like an immature entity. Add to this the fact that the anti-bigotry was much more harsh than the bigotry itself, and the homosexual community came out seeming very immature and selfish.

My opinion is that the homosexual community should be given equality in the eyes of the law, as we are built on equality. The culture, though, should decide what the norms are and what they aren't, and that opinion is based off of millions of differing views, with a very, very wide average. It's very difficult to gauge the average of millions of opinion, though it has been done by pushing the average's change (Martin Luther King Jr., can attest to this). I simply ask that, when you do push, be gentle. The minds of millions cannot easily be swayed, and they all shut against hate.  

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Chick-Fil-A, Homosexuality, and Tolerance

Today I speak on an issue which has endured much more media strain than I thought it would, and the underlying issues surrounding it. Chick-fil-a has always been an eatery grounded in morals of family, faith in God, and darn good food. Recently, though, it has come under fire by the LGBT community for a comment made by it's CEO about his family values. I find all sorts of quotes from him, most of which I question the validity of. Either way, most of them tend to be pretty damning. Which is why I’ll defend him, by speaking to all sides. Find your block of people below:

To All Involved (This means you): As a Christian, I must make it clear what “homosexuality” is defined as, and why it is bad, using the Bible and common (Christian) sense. Romans 1: 26-27 says:

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

So, God doesn't like homosexuality. Why? Well, there's a reason God put a penis on a man, and a vagina on a woman. Making children doesn't happen in the normal course of day-to-day activities; humans don't pollinate. To make it really easy if we couldn't figure out how to work it on our own, He made it extremely pleasurable for a man and woman to engage in this normal intercourse. God enjoys purpose being fulfilled. When people commit to homosexuality, they take the purpose God intended, and reject it. Insert Pride, the original sin.

Now, throughout history, homosexuals were quiet, tending to stay “in the closet”, for fear of public discovery and shunning. In recent years, however, the opposite is true, it seems. They come out of the closet and are rewarded. The shame of the past turns into Pride, as a small minority organizes, adding their voices to shout down anyone still verbal about their clinging to “old ways”.

To Heterosexual Christians: Do everything in your power to avoid hating homosexuals. They are sinning, just as you and I sin. All sins are equal before god, so there isn't much reason to make one worse than another. In much the same way, we cannot endorse homosexuality by allowing our church to recognize and accept their marriages in the eyes of God. When the church recognizes a marriage, it means that it recognizes it before God. See above “rejecting purpose”, and you'll understand the predicament. Much better orators than I can argue this point better.

To Homosexual Christians: I do not hate you. I see you in the way I see a person who has sinned, much like any other person. Sadly, I also cannot agree with your opinion that God has ordained you to be homosexual. With my porn addiction, I sometimes felt that God gave me it as a gift, something to reward me for my service to Him. Sadly, the scriptures are against us both. Porn (or, Adultery), much in the same way as I stated above about homosexuality, is stated directly in the Bible as being against God. As much as I’d love to think porn is God's gift to me, sadly it is rather a phenomenon he has allowed to exist, to allow my Free Will to work.

To Homosexuals in General: I will concede that, physically, I see nothing wrong with homosexuality (though I wouldn't be caught dead engaged in the act personally). I will concede that your marriage in the eyes of American law is something that should be done, and I’d rather you have it. What I will not concede to is your attacking of anyone in opposition to you. Your movement is one of equality, is it not? Your attacking of Chick-fil-a's moral values is just as showing of many things: your immaturity as a group (which I will talk about below), your easily offended nature, and your insistence on pushing your own norm, to the exclusion of all others.

Your immaturity as a group leads to a problem, in that several members of your group have seen the worst of anti-homosexual propaganda (though I have seen none), and thus see every small statement contrary to their beliefs as “hateful” and “intolerant”. I hope you are not too young to understand that intolerance can come from any side of the argument. There is much hate against hate against homosexuality, much more than I see hate against homosexuality. I will allow you to have your own opinions; please let me have mine.

(It's interesting how I now notice a rise of hate against hate against hate against homosexuality. More interesting still, is in that every new rise of hate, the moniker “hate” becomes less of an apt description of the phenomenon, becoming replaced with “observation” and “tolerance”. I wonder is the civil rights movements of the 50's and 60's echoed this.)

Lastly, to Chicago, Philadelphia, and any other city which declared intent to restrict Chick-Fil-A from opening stores in your limits: shame on you. I figured a bunch of politicos would be able to understand that they have about as much say in this as the law allows (which isn't much). Let the cultures decide who sets up shop where. In the same breath as you used to declare your intent against Chick-Fil-A, you declared intent against the first Amendment. Of all the insanities committed in the long struggle of homosexuality, this is what makes me the most furious. In a free country, you have no right to issue declarations such as this. When a city ignores a Ku Klux Klan group inside its limits (which most cities have), but starkly speaks out against a well-known, profitable corporation, based on family values and courtesy (CFA has some of the best staff I’ve had the pleasure of knowing anywhere. Any CFA.), shame and hypocrisy indeed fall on the governing body.

My view is this: Let homosexuals have marriage in the eyes of American Law, for I see no problem with this. As a Christian, I will not stand for Christian homosexuals to be married in the eyes of the Church. Such approval on one specific sin is blasphemous. City governments should know when they're being idiots in the eyes of the Law, and beliefs can be attacked by and from either side of an argument. I would prefer to preach tolerance, as this is the American way. Tolerance of people's disbelief in something, and Tolerance in people's belief of something. For, when Tolerance reigns, logical, theological, and calm political discussion can open, and lead to a decision which the majority of people can agree on and accept. 

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