Sep
17

Steve Siebold’s USA TODAY Editorial Rebuttal: Should Ministers Be Doling Out Marriage Advice?

By

I just submitted my 250 word rebuttal to an editorial written about what God wants us to do in our marriages. Two ministers from different churches advising people on God’s wishes. I’d like to know where they’re getting their information. It’s not from the Bible. The good book was even written long before the institution of marriage was created. No, I’m afraid this is the work of man-made religion and has nothing to do with God. Before you start throwing rocks at me I ask that you listen to this post. I’m not slamming God. I’m a person of faith and I believe in God. What I’m challenging in USA Today and in this post is man’s attempt to control the populous by claiming everything they want us to do has been mandated by God. Do we really need the clergy to advise us on marriage? Do we really need them to tell us how to live? I think it’s time we openly challenge man made religion and question if what they’re espousing is truly the will of the Almighty. Can’t wait to hear you’re feedback on this one!   Steve Siebold

Comments

  1. Bert says:

    For Ericb,

    Let’s go back to Steve’s initial claim: That we ought to be on guard to make sure that advice from the clergy is concordant with God’s will.

    Steve also makes a mistake in fact, but that is irrelevant to the main point.

    Eric, it is not so much unthinking people, but intellectually fuzzy thinking which allows people to fall for false philosophies and logic. Of that we agree.

    That is the beauty of the Judeo Christian tradition, it accords with reason. Which if one studies it, becomes more and more solidly footed.

    Steve never provided a link to the original USA Today story, so we can’t compare the prescriptions of marriage the writer’s advocate to scripture, but we do know that God has plenty to say on the subject of marriage.

    One of the greatest gifts given to us was the printing of the Bible. It allowed the masses to read, study and understand the scriptures. We all became theologians at that point. And that is one reason the Christian ‘Church’ began to divide into separate ‘religions’. Each had a different theological view of what was meant, and how best to follow it.

    I’m not sure, but perhaps Steve is just advocating for mental toughness when it comes to Biblical authority. Which is sound advice.

  2. Ericb says:

    Bert & Dave,
    I believe that the argument that religion and atheism have caused harm to society is a misleading argument. There have been many wars started, think the Crusades, in the name of “Christ,” with thousands, if not millions of deaths and untold suffering. There have been several wars and other atrocities perpetrated by dictators who were professed atheists, Mao and Stalin come to mind. If we stayed at this level of thinking, then both Christianity (read all religion) AND atheism are wrong philosophies because they both cause suffering and suppress free will. It stands to reason that both cannot be wrong, so we must conclude that our facts are incorrect.
    Consider the one constant in both instances, and I believe the thrust of Steve’s argument: unthinking people. Religion can no more oppress a person than a car can kill that same person. Religion, like atheism and objectivism, is a philosophy that provides answers to certain metaphysical questions and guidance for living one’s life. It is up to us as rational, thinking individuals to reason our way to understanding which of these philosophies is best suited, or correct, for us to follow.

  3. Bert says:

    Truth – Atheism (Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, etc.) has killed approximately 100 million people in the last 100 years.

    It’s a problem when one does not confront evidence which runs contrary to one’s claim. So I would put it to Dave to explain why we should not look upon Atheism as a very grave danger to our world.

    I find it ironic that Dave continues to deny the positive effect of religion on society, even as he and his Atheists have benefitted from it.

    Western Civilization, rooted in Judeo Christian principles has given us higher learning, medicine and scientific achievements.

    It has also given us a government that has provided a country (The United States) which has given its citizens the highest amount of freedom in the entire world.

    Dave, you attacked believers as ‘non-thinking’. You know that is not true, so why the flamethrowing?>

    And I have to challenge the assertion it is a “basic premise of life to help each other as best we can.”

    The atheist is a proponent of ‘survival of the fittest.’ Atheism rejects what Christianity promotes, which is helping the poor and suffering.

    The atheist says, ‘tough luck’. It’s all random chance you know…

    Dave, I am awake.

    I wish to make it clear that I defend the Judeo Christian worldview, and none other. There are certainly other ‘religions’ in the world, but the only one with a valid Truth claim is the Judeo Christian worldview.

  4. Dave says:

    I’m amused by Bert’s answer to my comment: I stand by the realisation of what religion has done for mankind – the arrogance of those who have such blind faith and “take comfort” in refusing to see what harm religions have done and continue to do is incredible. No-one needs such blind faith to be able to give comfort to one’s fellow man. It is a basic premise of life to help each other as best we can.
    Wake up Bert – religion has permeated society so much is it of no wonder that Bert feels the need to attack the messenger and ignore the message.

  5. Bert says:

    Re: ‘Dave Says’:

    Dave says reliance on religion has created misery and suffering for centuries. Dave must forget the enormous comfort religion has brought to millions. Dave needs to be fair-minded in his comments to be taken as a credible voice.

    Dave says that ‘Atheism is the only reasonable conclusion that any thinking person can come to.’

    Dave shows the increasing arrogance of atheists who proclaim they are right and everyone else is wrong.

    But Dave has the right to free speech. Whoops, except in societies that fully embrace Atheism, where free speech is not a right. Or it is a right insofar as one agrees with the Atheistic regime in charge.

    Even a child must climb upon his Father’s knee to slap his face.

  6. Dave says:

    What a sad lot most people are that they feel that they must take refuge in “religion” or the bible.
    How about applying some of that “critical thinking” and realise that mankinds reliance on religion and “god” has only created misery and suffering for tens of millions for many centuries. Atheism is the only reasonable conclusion that any thinking person can come to.

  7. Bert says:

    Karen,

    Steve has written a good book, with lot’s of valuable information. Yet he does not yet have the critical thinking skills he so ardently advocates.

    Steve commits a what/why fallacy. He reasons that because ‘Ministers are human beings’ the information they pass along is flawed. They are wrong because they are just people.

    You commit the same fallacy with your bit about different interpretations of scripture, etc.

    He dismisses without mention the credentials of these people who are often college-trained theologians and scholars who have invested years of study and training to interpret and understand biblical doctrine.

    That cannot be swept away by the casual thinker as, ‘they’re people.’ Surgeons are just ‘people’. Should we dismiss their medical training or advice?

    Steve preaches ‘Critical Thinking’ skills, but at least in this case fails to employ them. In this case he’s just an emotional, illogical, and ignorant person!

    For example, he made a claim about marriage being rooted in outdated notions 2000 years old, and that they just don’t apply – like the notion of a wife being subservient to her husband.

    Aside from the lack of scholarship on the age of marriage, he takes on the mantle of theologian himself. He interprets scripture, adding his own unique brand of ‘critical thinking’ to it.

    Let’s see how critical that thinking was. Steve is likely referring to Ephesians 5, which enjoins the wife to submit to her husband. What he doesn’t do is provide context for that statement. He leaves out that she is to subject herself to the husband just as the Church is to subject itself to Christ. And that Husbands are enjoined to love their wives just as Christ also loved the Church and sacrificed himself for her. In fact, husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies.

    If you are a Christian, you know that the way Christ loved his people was to sacrifice everything for them. That is not a love of selfishness or self-glorification. It is a supreme and loving act of self-denial and compassion that is done for the benefit of his people, or in this case the wife.

    How any person could look at that kind of love and call it arcane and irrelevant in today’s world is beyond all reasoning power to comprehend.

    Thanks,

    Bert

  8. Everyone who has posted on thread should take Steve’s words and put their osts to the tesi – I am.

    Put their posts to the tests – much better than osts to the tesi – my own distorted reality – so much for discernment and paying attention.

    The best to everyone.

    MIke

  9. “While average performers tend to believe truth and fact are the same, the world class knows there is a difference. Champions use their critical thinking skills to make a clear distinction between truth and fact. Fact is reality. Truth is our perception of reality, and perceptions are subjective.” — Steve

    Everyone who has posted on thread should take Steve’s words and put their osts to the tesi – I am.

    The best of success to you.

    Mike

  10. “The comments from this post are filled with emotion, as I figured they would be. Some are filled with fear. I received an additional 78 emails regarding this post from people terrified to voice their opinion on this topic. 62 of the 78 were people who had moved away from organized religion for one reason or another but were scared to say so in public.

    I don’t blame them, but I have to wonder, is this what God really wants? Does he want people to be petrified to share their opinions and beliefs?
    Wouldn’t you classify that as religious persecution? (or reverse-religious persecution!) Should proponents of organized religion be attacking people who have be turned off by the church?” — Steve

    What all that points to is a lack of mental toughness and objectivity, doesn’t it? I’m sure you see that in every way as you travel, speak, and meet people, Steve.

    The best of success to everyone.

    Mike

  11. Steve says:

    I want to thank everyone for weighing in on this spirited debate. I respect and appreciate everyone’s comments. I want to clarify a couple of my comments. When I stated that marriage wasn’t around when the Bible was written I was referring to modern day marriage and not the concept. These ministers are doling out advice on modern day marriage from a book written 2,000 years ago, and I think even our hard core believers will admit some of the concepts are outdated and archaic. An example would be a wife being subservient to her husband, etc. The world was a different place 2,000 years ago and thankfully we’ve evolved.

    The comments from this post are filled with emotion, as I figured they would be. Some are filled with fear. I received an additional 78 emails regarding this post from people terrified to voice their opinion on this topic. 62 of the 78 were people who had moved away from organized religion for one reason or another but were scared to say so in public. I don’t blame them, but I have to wonder, is this what God really wants? Does he want people to be petrified to share their opinions and beliefs?
    Wouldn’t you classify that as religious persecution? (or reverse-religious persecution!) Should proponents of organized religion be attacking people who have be turned off by the church? Fear may have been an effective recruiting tool in the past, but as society becomes more educated and emotionally sophisticated they will continue to turn away from scare tactic motivation and turn toward a love and abundance approach to spirituality. This is why I believe churches like Unity, Science of Mind and others are gaining popularity. If traditional churches want to win these people back they better wake up and realize a fear based approach won’t work in a highly educated society.

    Ministers are human beings. Nothing more, nothing less; and of course they deserve the right to voice their opinion. We have the right to follow them or not. My role as a writer/speaker isn’t to tell anyone how to live or what to think, but to challenge people to think for themselves. I don’t have any more answers than anyone else; just thoughts, ideas and opinions for your consideration. Let’s continue to agree, disagree and debate!

    Thanks again for your comments!

    Steve Siebold

  12. ray says:

    Steve,

    I have enjoyed many of your thoughts but this one on marriage has lit up the off switch. In an effort to repudiate the Bible and the loving God revealed therein, your supporters have virtually deified you. That is tragic for all involved. Also, you and your supporters reflect about as much knowledge of the Holy Scriptures as a backwoodsman in a third-world country would have of the United States power grid. So I say goodbye to your site and blog (but will still use your book) in that I do not care to participate in the propagation of such biased ignorance.

  13. “We all have a need for certainty, and the absolutist pronouncements of such leaders feeds into that need. Do what they say, believe what they tell you, and you feel comfortable. At peace with God. Critical thinking about religion and spirituality is, well… tough. It often puts you at odds with the mainstream. In some societies that has been dangerous.” — Karen

    Those sentiments, cliches and general common place phrases have little to do with or say about critical thinking.

    Where does and how does objectivity begin?

    The best of mental toughness to everyone.

    Mike

  14. Karen says:

    Bert, I believe there is a big difference between what Steve does and what the religious leaders do, the ones who he criticizes.

    Steve, like many authors, presents his opinions. And it seems clear to me that these are his reasoned opinions. He bases them on a lot of observation, often described, and he offers plenty of advice. But it is advice clearly based on his opinion.

    Religious leaders, the ones he criticizes, have a tendency to present what are really their OPINIONs under the banner of “God hath said that…” The opinions may be an interpretation of religious scripture that may, in fact, be interpreted in diametrically different ways by other leaders. I’ve certainly heard ministers and even laypersons make statements that they claim to originate with God/Holy Spirit, and often these are prophecies that never come to pass or questionable or self-serving directives. Sometimes I think these guys actually believe they are specially gifted to speak for God, even when their “fruit” demonstrates otherwise. Some are just deliberate liars and hypocrites.

    My point is that blindly following these folks is unwise, without serious critical examination of what they are saying, where it comes from, and what the outcome is likely to be. Blind adherence to such leaders has been the source of horrendous human suffering and injustice over the centuries. Wars, genocide, burning of “witches”, slavery, apartheid, terrorism… all have been justified by religious leaders, speaking on behalf of God… and blindly followed by hordes of non-critical thinkers.

    We all have a need for certainty, and the absolutist pronouncements of such leaders feeds into that need. Do what they say, believe what they tell you, and you feel comfortable. At peace with God. Critical thinking about religion and spirituality is, well… tough. It often puts you at odds with the mainstream. In some societies that has been dangerous.

  15. Bert says:

    Steve,

    I read your terrific book “177 Mental..” and liked many of the thoughts. You present yourself as an expert.

    Earlier in the response posts, a guy named Jeff just savaged your ranting with reasoned argument. No need to retread that territory. I hope you take his comments to heart.

    Steve let’s get something straight – even Satan believes in God. So stop piously hiding behind a belief in him. If you trash his messengers and deny his message then you deny him.

    But I don’t get this: Why engage in the very hypocrisy you accuse the ministers of? You claim they have no right to direct your life with their messages, from whatever source. Yet you have taken the same vocation for yourself. You set yourself up as a font of wisdom and make pronouncements about how people can and should live their lives. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!

    The shameful veneer you cover your argument with is, ‘Think for yourselves.’ Surely you must have choked on that statement. That’s exactly what you don’t want your readers to do. You want them to buy your books, read your blog and follow your prescriptions. If they thought for themselves they wouldn’t need you!

    Steve, pluck the log from your eye before you try to remove the cinder from your neighbors.

    We could debate for hours the relative merits of your arguments against religion. Suffice to say you are entitled to your own opinions, not your own facts.

    Otherwise, you are a good writer and have some super thoughts to pass along. And wisdom is good. Stick to what you are good at, writing encouraging and motivational things to help people. Just don’t knock your competition, the management doesn’t appreciate it.

    🙂

  16. John O says:

    Great and courageous post, Steve.

    It is easy for people to pick the things they feel religiously obligated to do and ignore other things because they don’t think for themselves or they haven’t made a commitment to get mentally tough. Picking and choosing the rules you want to follow is so commonplace in the religion I was brought up on (Catholic) that we joke about it. My own sister got pregnant in high school because they told her birth control was against god! I know it sounds silly, but how many adults are walking examples of this hypocrisy?

    Regarding the marriage in the bible: As a scholar on these subjects, I can tell you that yes, there was marriage at the time of Jesus and during most parts of history that intersect with the bible, but it wasn’t at all what we now think of marriage and definitely not something we should try to mimic. It was a political arrangement used to guarantee the right property got to the right heirs, a contract, non-religious, nothing more. For all of you religious women who look for marriage advice in the bible, consider this:

    A jewish man in the time of the bible was the ruler of his home. His wife had certain duties she needed to fulfill based on the contract. One of those was to only have sex with the man and no one else, so any children were guaranteed to be his and the rightful heirs to his property. Any other women in the household were also obligated to have relations with the man any time he wanted and this was totally normal. The deal was that since he was married, if the servants or slaves or other random women working or living there were to get pregnant from these obligatory relations, their children would get nothing, but having them wasn’t a scandal, it was just a normal part of life. In many households, relations with pre-teen boys was also allowed and normal. If a man had a sexual relationship outside the home, his biggest penalty was that he might have to purchase a home for the girlfriend since taking her virginity might have diminished her own ability to marry someone else. If his wife had these kind of relations, she could be put to death. Also, prostitution was normal and accepted and the man could visit prostitutes freely. This is what marriage at the time of the bible was, even for the most devout jews.

    So what have our religious leaders done? 2000 years later, they take the mere mention of marriage in the bible and try to use the way it was presented or subjectively translated, and use that as the framework by which we should live our modern lives and participate in our monogamous marriages we enter into out of love or comfort. Beyond being wrong, it just doesn’t make any sense. I understand that some people get a lot out of the bible, but there is too much of a stress on making it “fit” every situation and in our time honored practice of grotesquely manipulating anything we think will help our argument, we have again twisted most of what the bible says to fit our current agenda, no matter how little sense it makes, just as long as we give the masses an answer so they don’t do something crazy like think of an un-approved one on their own.

  17. Objectivity: understanding it’s the bipedial human nature of our being here that causes us to try and comprehend the incomprehensible while simultaniously putting on socks.

    Mental toughness can mean different things and Steve has his lexicon of meanings being the man who has formulated and made it his life work.

    There’s a supple nature to mental toughness and critical thinking that compliments a more agressively direct and non giving nature to mental toughness.

    One manifestation of this kind of thinking has to do with admitting: everything I believe to be true or false may not be that.

    The best of success to everyone.

    Mike

  18. Karen says:

    Jeff, I didn’t say that you’d hear only about “right wing issues.” What I said, in summary, was that in most churches what you’ll hear about are (1) the “easy issues” and (2) the issues that specifically benefit the church and/or its ministers. The issues benefiting churcn/leaders would of course include stuff like tithing. We also have the anti-birth control &/or large family directives from churches that realize they become stronger if the parishioners increase their numbers by procreating prolifically (regardless of the damage done to the planet and biosphere by overpopulation.)

    The “easy issues” would be those that don’t ruffle the feathers of most parishioners, because they don’t address the specific biblical directives that the parishioners are most frequently violating. It’s easy to preach against homosexuality or abortion, because in a conservative church it’s unlikely many in the pews are committing those infractions on a regular basis. The Bible contains long lists of sins, but many are rarely addressed in sermons. How about preaching against employers who pay their workers as little as possible – a non-living wage with no benefits – so that said employer can live as luxuriously as possible? How about gossiping, cheating the government (taxes, etc.), lack of ethics in business, lying, failure to honor and care for elderly parents, and so on? Lots of those in the pews are guilty of these actions, and you will rarely hear a sermon targeting them.

    Also, I did NOT say that the Bible is not trustworthy. I personally believe it is an inspired text. What is, in fact, untrustworthy, is the way people interpret its words, and how they pick and choose texts to support their own opinions or agendas. The best way to understand the Bible is to read it, over and over, with an open mind. Understand it AS A WHOLE, not just snippets of text. Few churchgoers do that, and some of them who do, are nevertheless influenced or misled by leaders who use a verse or two to prove a point – even when that point is contradicted by a lot of other scripture.

    There are some key big-picture directives in the New Testament. Love God, love your fellow man. Follow the spirit, not the letter, of the law. (That’s all N.T. red-letter stuff, by the way.) These concepts have become critically important as we have moved 2,000 years beyond the time and culture in which Jesus taught.

    Sometimes I think the Bible is as much a spiritual Rorschach test as it is a guide.

    People who have evil in their hearts will often produce biblical interpretation that is really not in the spirit of what Christ taught. (The no-fruit-from-a-bramble principle.) And a lot of religious leaders really are not very spiritual, many are very ambitious, greedy, and some are pretty nasty pieces of work.

    I think that Christians need to be cognizant of this, and be careful to think for themselves. If they have decided that they believe the Bible to be the inspired word of God, than they need to be very critical about the interpretations to which they are being asked to adhere. If you read the Bible very, very carefully, and discard a lot of the prejudices you’ve picked up over the years, you will probably be extremely surprised at what it says, at what it requires of you. And it takes some real mental and intellectual toughness to do that. The Bible is incredibly radical.

  19. ray says:

    TO JEFF: AMEN and AMEN!

  20. I see more general and bias specific opinions on this thread than critical thinking that mental toughness world require. Examine the premis of every assertion, every premis you make, and you will begin to critically think about what you think about.

    Your conclusions are not your friends if you want to develop critical thinking that is an example of mental toughness and objectivity.

    Mike

  21. Jeff says:

    I think Karen is echoing the point that Steve indirectly brought up – that the Bible is a good book but is not entirely trustworthy, allowing us to pick and choose what we believe to be inspired by God and that which is an interpretation that was somewhere along the line distorted to fit someone’s religious, political or social interest. If that is, in fact, what you believe then there is not much sense of a discussion with those who believe the Bible to be the inspired word of God – inspired both in its initial writing and in its preservation through the centuries.

    Karen, you say that in “most churches” you’ll hear only about right wing issues. I wouldn’t know – I don’t attend most churches so I choose not to paint so broad a stroke. I do struggle with religious tenets that are not specifically spelled out in the Bible, so I choose to attend a church that is not affiliated with a religion, but that teaches what I believe are Biblical truths. And if the Bible addresses subjects such as abortion, financial stewardship, prayer, etc., I’m going to listen to the word of God (which includes the calls for social justice that you bring up). But now we are back to our original debate as to whether the Bible is inerrant or fallible. If I believe it to be the inspired word of God I cannot pick and choose the tenets to fit my social agenda.

    Which points me back to Steve’s original comments. He states that we should be free to determine our own moral agenda, “that’s what free will is all about”. But he has not responded to the issue of where the boundaries of right and wrong are established. If not for some objective, authoritative word, are we not free to make up our own rules about virtually every moral concern. That sounds like anarchy to me.

    Finally – Steve, can you please admit to your readers that your statement about marriage not being around when the Bible was written is just plain wrong? I think you have a responsibility in your position as a respected speaker and writer, to get your facts right, or to admit when you have misrepresented the truth. The institution of marriage is rooted in the Bible from beginning to end, and I can send you literally hundreds of passages that support that. If she has read the Bible as she says she has, even Karen would have a tough time arguing that point. Should you choose to stand by your original point, would you please state the evidence for that belief?

    Thank you.

  22. Karen says:

    I’m both amused and saddened by many of these responses. What I get from Steve’s post is not that religious ministers/leaders are wrong to give their opinions, but rather that too often those opinions are presented as being directives from God. And that is the problem he sees. As do I.

    I’ll preface by saying that I’ve read and studied the Bible for many years, and also have read a fairly large amount of commentary on it from many different sources. And at some point, it became clear to me that a large percentage of these directives from God via the “inspired word of Scripture” are just other people’s opinions about what the Bible says. Even the various translations are, to some extent, based on opinion about what the original text (none of which is extant, by the way) said.

    That is the reason for the common (and generally true) observation that whatever course of action you want to recommend, by picking and choosing scripture you can find justification for it in the Bible. Then it’s proclaimed as “orders from on high.”

    Yes, the U.S. is an ostensibly religious nation, compared to many. But are we the “greatest nation on earth”? If you listen to the jingoistic right-wing radio commentators, you may still believe this. If you examine where this country REALLY is, by various measures, you would have a hard time failing to reach the conclusion that despite our verbal assent to the precepts of scripture, we’re just not living it very well. And the most aggressively “religious” amongst us (i.e., the religious/political right) are the worst at this.

    I am a Christian and do try to follow what Jesus taught, as well as the general clues about right vs. wrong that are throughout the Bible. But it really is a narrow gate. I believe that much of the religious world is good at lip service, but is not really following even the most obvious clues. Ministers harp on what is important for them, and not too uncomfortable for their flock, while ignoring very important precepts. This is terribly obvious with regard to financial transactions. Jim Wallis has written insightfully on this.

    An example. If you attend almost any church you will likely, with great regularly, hear about your obligation of tithing, giving a tenth of your income to the church. Right out of the Old Testament. (Disregarding the rather indisputable fact that the O.T. tithe, in that bygone society in which the religious organization and government were pretty much one and the same, was more like a combination of income tax plus offering.)

    But in most churches I’ll have a very long wait to hear the same religious leaders preaching about an employer’s obligations to his workers. To pay a living wage. To not use the presence of illegal aliens as an excuse to hire easily exploitable workers who will never complain. To substantively support measures, legislative or otherwise, that will guarantee the workers, and other underprivileged of society, jobs with a living wage, decent housing, affordable and secure health care, and so on.

    Currently, the U.S. is doing very badly in these areas. We’re far from the “greatest country on earth” and very little of the religious right even acknowledges this, let alone addresses it in sermons. We have near-third world quality of health care for many here, despite huge spending. Pre-natal and newborn health is bad. The gap between the very few ultra-rich and the foundering middle class continues to increase. The underclass grows and is getting desperate, causing crime to increase. We continue to economically exploit as many third world nations as possible, and to go to war and kill tens or hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians (not to mention our own young men in uniform) to protect the interests of the oil companies.

    But go to church, and will you hear about any of these obvious failures to be our brothers’ keepers? Probably not. You’ll hear about gay marriage, abortions, paying your tithe, lack of prayer in school, yada yada.

    To me, the institutionalized Christian church in the U.S. has mostly become effectively irrelevant in terms of acting out the mission of Jesus.

  23. How about framing this question for critical soul searching and mental toughness thinking: What I’m challenging in USA Today and in this post is man’s attempt to control the populous by claiming everything they want us to do has been mandated by Government: my This party and That party; by This Speaker and That Speaker of the People.

    OR:

    No, I’m afraid this is the work of man-made political parties and government and has nothing to do with God.

    BUT one belief of God’s creation is that all of that is a product of God’s creation. How does one critically know This is but That isn’t part of God’s creation. It’s something else?

    Ultimately, we can eliminate all of This and That and end up with a nihilistic annihilation of all structures, all Holders of Truth, and end up with a pagan populated world living like animals without the structures that have made us “civilized” for good and for bad.

    OK – backing up from there – what stays and what goes? What’s left and what are we looking at?

    Today I read about a group of people – with a photo – holding hands praying for funding for some local school program. People tell me they pray for things as if God is there to direct them to either pick this plate of food or that. Then the survivors of a ship wreck thank God for keeping them alive begging the question why God didn’t keep the others alive.

    When Steve or Boni say they believe in God what does that mean? Anyone can say that and many people do. But what does that mean?

    How does critical thinking enter into this conversation and open it up to a dialogue that goes beyond cliche and metaphor?

    Mike

  24. ray says:

    By “minister” I assume that you are referring to Christian leaders but there are religions that have leaders called ministers. Proceeding with the assumption I find a great distinction between ‘religions’ and ‘Christianity’. Even a cursory examination of the religions of the world clearly denote man-made attempts to reach God, who is a perfect being. Christianity-not a ‘religion’-says you who are imperfect cannot reach God. Perfection and imperfection are like oil and water. But GOD, in His infinite love for us made us one with Him in Christ Jesus. So I do not follow a man-made religion but have a God-made “relationship” which is truly a joyous life. But note also, God Himself ‘wed’ the FIRST man and woman He created. We find that in the BIBLE, the FIRST Book of the Bible–Genesis–in the FIRST two chapters of the Bible! So, it’s not ‘new’ Steve … marriage goes back to the beginning!

  25. Jeff says:

    Steve, it seems to me that you are allowing your distaste for organized religion to get in the way of both logic and fact.

    For one thing, your assertion seems to be that the clergy must be silent about all opinions relative to their beliefs. You’ve singled out marriage as the issue in this case, but wouldn’t your argument apply to virtually every other area of life as well? If marriage is a fundamental reality in the Bible (and it is – I’ll get back to that), are not clergymen compelled to talk about it?

    Of course, Steve, I don’t actually believe you would suggest that they should be silent about virtually everything, so it sounds like you are calling for a censorship only over the things you disagree with. I wonder if a clergymen said something like, “You need to die fat or get tough”, would you still claim they should keep their opinions to themselves?

    It seems to me that your beef is not so much with the clergy as it is a defiance of what you think about the Bible. After all, if you believe the Bible is the inspired word of God, written by men under the complete inspiration of God, then you will compelled to share that truth. You are representing the Bible as a decent book, but certainly fallible in its opinions since it was penned by men and not by God.

    This opinion does not surprise me, given that you clearly are not particularly well-versed about the Bible. If you were you would see references to marriage originating with Adam and Eve in the first few pages of the Bible (and I can give you entire sections that are devoted to marriage if you’d like). Sorry, Steve – but the assertion that marriage was not around at the time the Bible was written is just plain wrong.

    Finally (and I thank you for your indulgence), let me play back your closing comments: “Do what you want to do. That’s the beauty of free will and free choice.” So Steve, I can go ahead and rape a 12-year-old, correct? I can kill my dog for no reason whatsoever. I can get married, cheat on my wife, re-marry, cheat on her, and ruin the lives of my children along the way, right? Somewhere, my friend, there must be a subjective truth that we can hold on to. Do we have free will and choice? Of course we do. But I live a better life with absolutes, and I count on the Bible to provide them for me, rather than my own instincts to make up the rules as I go along.

  26. Ted says:

    Steve – you’re way off base on this one. I’ve just lost a ton of respect for you. Europe is going down the toilet because they’ve lost God in their lives.

    We need more God in our lives. America is the greatest country in the world and the most religious.

    People do need to think for themselves with God as their guide. Communists and socialisst have no god in their lives, only big government. You’ve officially JUMPED THE SHARK!

  27. Amen! Thank you Steve for speaking out! I am sick of self righteous “religion”… but I love God. We have to start thinking on our own and quit being brainwashed.

    “Religion” must control us in order to survive. If we take our spiritual lives into our own hands it cuts every religion out of their livelihood and that scares them to death.

    Bravo! Keep up the good work!

  28. I realized a long time ago that everyone had something to tell me about what, how and why I should believe in anything because of this and that belief or document, theory or philosophy AND everyone had an opinion to express.

    Then came those who would inform me on the linguistic and meta, meta language/cipher configurations of symbols which make up all coding systems from which we define reality, draw conclusions, and act upon.

    From the man on the street to the cloaked Guardian of Dogma, from the woman behind the desk to the author, painter, bench sitter came experiences and stories and their versions of Life Rules.

    How do you define your reality? This is a general question for everyone.

    The best of success to you.

    Mike