Love Thy Neighbor?


I was reading a book review, and the reviewer said that people who read the book were “being lead away from God by listening to this guy…Love thy neighbor”

I have heard this term being used many times to justify or defend a position. I am ok with that, but in most cases it is being used wrong.

Here is where it comes from.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and most important commandment. The second is like it: ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments.” (Mat 22:36-40)

I understand the difficulty with the word love in English but it shouldn’t be that hard. We are looking at agape or agapao again. Same word to describe how God loved us in John 3:16 and how men love the darkness in John 3:19. This is not a butterfly in the tummy feeling. No ooey gooey love here.

Loving your neighbor does not mean to condone or support their actions. At the same time, you can not be loving to those around you by speaking hate towards them either. It becomes a fine line that is easy to mistake. If I speak against a lifestyle, then it is often taken as hate speech when that is not what is intended. I do not hate someone when I tell them that I think what they are doing is wrong. No one accuses a parent of hating their child when they say that stealing or lying is wrong. No one accuses a friend of hate speech when they tell their friend that what they are doing is wrong. It is not hate speech to correct someone.

It is hate speech to be chanting that someone is going to hell. It is hate speech to tell people that they are evil. The church has had too many instances of taking loving correction into a hate filled movement. This has go to stop and Christians are more obligated to correct Christians who partake of hate speech that to correct unbelievers of what they see as sinful actions.

Maybe this is why the church is becoming so silent among issues facing society today. They have seen the correction being demonstrated as hate and are afraid to be associated with that. When you speak out against something and then are called a bigot, Nazi or that you are spewing hate then I can see why the reaction is to stop and become silent. This is what the enemy wants though. He is counting on Christians being afraid to be confronted and face resistance when expressing their beliefs.

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10 Comments

Filed under Bible, Christianity, Religion

10 responses to “Love Thy Neighbor?

  1. I take issue with how you describe you behavioural corrections. You write If I speak against a lifestyle, then it is often taken as hate speech when that is not what is intended. I do not hate someone when I tell them that I think what they are doing is wrong.

    But is this what you actually doing? You believe so, but your belief does not make it so.

    What you are doing in my opinion is telling people that who they are is wrong by insisting that actions taken to reflect this ‘being’ is wrong. Take homosexuality as an example. You claim this lifestyle is not one worthy of honour and respect because living it involves actions you find conflicts with your interpretation of scripture. You would have homosexuals never participating in homosexual behaviour at all, thus denying them the same right you enjoy without censure of acting out YOUR lifestyle which you believe respects brings honour to god’s intentions for you. You do not grant that same respect and honour to others who – like you – act on their sexual inclinations.

    What you fail to see is just how biased and one-sided is your opinion of the righteousness of your own and the unrighteousness of others based entirely and solely on your religious beliefs. There is not a single piece of evidence that homosexual behaviour is wrong or harmful in and of itself. It only becomes wrong when held up against the beliefs you have chosen to hold as true. Your beliefs, however much you fail to recognize the fact, do not determine what’s true in fact and by pretending and./or assuming they do, you use your chosen beliefs them as a bludgeon against the same lifestyle you enjoy by claiming they are wrong. Because homosexuality is not a social choice about lifestyles but a sexual inclination in the same way that your sexual inclinations are not a social choice about lifestyle but a sexual inclination, your insistence to classify the exercise of only a selected lifestyle – again, only on the basis of your belief it is so – makes your opinion bigoted. To then promote that bigotry can arguably be an expression of hate speech because you wish to deny others the same rights you hold.

  2. I don’t recall ever saying that a person who is gay is not worthy of respect or honor. In fact, I think that is what I was writing about.

    You keep saying that I am bigoted because I don’t accept homosexuality with open arms, but in order for that to be true, I would have to display intolerance which I haven’t. I do not speak against the people nor do I say that they should have less rights or respect than anyone else. Tolerance does not mean acceptance. In order to be tolerant I do not have to condone a lifestyle nor shut up if I disagree with it.

    You clearly show intolerance towards anyone or anything that disagrees with you. I can understand how hearing that something you believe in is wrong or false, but you clearily don’t mind doing the same to others. So in actuality, you are more of a bigot than I am. I still love you though.

  3. You don’t love me at all, Xander, unless your definition of the term is so broad as to be meaningless in fact.

    I am saying that it is bigoted to condemn actions based solely on your beliefs unsupported by evidence when it condemns as wrong the right for someone to express what someone is.

    You PRESUME your beliefs are true, and then use those beliefs to justify your condemnation. In addition, you also create fictitious agendas to pretend you advocate against an organization that wishes to promote a homosexual ‘lifestyle’. But what are you actually advocating against if there is no agenda in practice, no organization promoting a homosexual lifestyle (whatever that is)? You are advocating against real people to express the same kind of love and devotion to another that you are free to express. You are advocating that we socially reject this same behaviour you are free to express without censure based only on your unsubstantiated religious beliefs. That is not tolerance, Xander. It may not be overt bigotry carried out against specific homosexual individuals but it is covert intolerance based on a sexual inclination of millions of people whose expression of this love and devotion you have determined to be wrong. This arrogant presumption of yours is colossal yet not based in fact, on what’s actually true. In fact, the expression of your presumption advocates against what someone IS if they dare to express it while pretending to accept the person’s right to be such as long as he or she does not express it. That grants a privilege to you that you are unwilling to grant to another. Quelle surprise (not). That makes your beliefs intolerant and their expression bigotry in action.

    I hereby grant you the right to change (open) your mind and become tolerant. That does not mean that I love you.

  4. But you speak out against religion so how is that any different? You have no proof one way or another as to if it is real, but you blast it and call it a false set of beliefs. You presume to know the truth. I know homosexuality seems real to you, but there is no genetic proof that it is not a learned behavior. You presume to know that people who identify as gay are born that way based upon how you feel. I do not hate those who identify with being gay, but you are not happy unless I refuse to speak what I hold to be true. If there is an agenda, that is it. The desire not only to live your life the way you want to live it but to also stop anyone from speaking against it.

    While I promote civil unions for all people equally, you dismiss that since I openly disagree with a group of people. I openly say that person’s right to partner with whom ever they want should not be of a higher value that someone’s religious rights. You disagree with that. You want people to stay quiet and not be allowed to speak against what you hold to be true. That is intolerance and bigotry. You wish to deny people rights because they do not agree with your stance.

    The only thing that I ask is that those who identify as Christian, submit themselves to God and let Him be their guide. If it deviates from what is written, I will openly and honestly look to see if I misunderstand. That is only right. If I find that the understanding is correct, then I must stick with what it says.

    • I criticize any and all faith-based beliefs because they are are either unknowable or unverifiable and those who rely on them to support a causal connection are wrong. This disrespects what’s true and what’s knowable.

      In comparison to the evidence that homosexual behaviour is predictably common within a population as revealed by a percentage stable over time, faith-based belief that it is morally deviant has nothing to go on. You claim the behaviour is wrong but have nothing to back that up… other than your belief it is so because some Iron age book tells you it is. You have no evidence.

      In contrast, I can draw a straight line to show how religious belief in particular adversely affects public policies, public education, public governance, public law, and public civility. I can show how religious beliefs cause a great deal of harm and puts the critical intellect to sleep. I can show how the higher the percentage of religiosity in national populations correlate to higher rates of negative social behaviours. In other words, I have good reasons that inform my opinions about faith-based beliefs. In comparison with your faith-based belief that homosexual behaviour is worng, you don’t. That doesn’t make my opinions true; it informs them based on what is knowable and true in fact. If you can provide better reasons than what informs my opinions, then I will change them because I respect what is true over and above my allegiance to my belief about what is true. That makes me intellectually honest.

      I have never accused you of hate but have pointed out how what you call ‘wrong’ makes what you say hateful. You can change that by better understanding why what you simply believe is true is in fact not true. You can then change your belief accordingly… if you, too, are intellectually honest and offer your allegiance to respect what is true.

      I don’t think you are willing to be so. Prove me wrong.

  5. Xander

    Help me out here. What happens when we die?

  6. Xander

    I understand your point of view and can understand why you see what you do when looking at the social effects of religion. I agree that many misuse religion for their own purposes and out of ignorance for the religion in which they practice, so people more often than not do the damage and not the religion itself.

    I will grant you that more religiosity equates to more negative social behaviors, but does religion cause this or does it show that when more social behaviors are tolerated what we consider to be negative is decreased? Thailand is a haven for child prostitution and it is not religious, but that is not considered a good thing. Look at the rate of murder in Mexico due to drugs. How does less religion cause this problem to correct itself? Sex slave trafficking is prevalent in Europe where the people are more socially tolerant and less religious. How is this a good thing?

    Why does AIDS effect more gay men than straight men? I can understand in the U.S. there is a shrinking stigma associated with being gay, but what about in countries where gay marriage is legal? AIDS occurs predominately between men who have sex with men but also through drug use, unprotected sex, and depending on the country blood transfusions. Why is underage pregnancy on the rise? Religion is slipping away in participants and political influence, so what is the reasoning behind this? Herpes affects 1 in 4 of sexually active people. Why is there such a high rate of cancer in women who have had abortions? How is religiosity to blame for these?

    Intellectual honesty goes both ways. I agree that religion has been misused to create social barriers that should not exist. Peoples rights have been taken away all in the desire to create a heaven on earth. I do not hold that religion should force people to live a certain way. The manner in which a person lives their life is up to them and should not be based upon compulsion to a religion. The desire to not offend someone is not always good reason not to believe or act a certain way though.

    • There is much to comment about here but I will hold mine to addressing just two of them.

      If you ask a muslim what is the punishment for apostasy, you will get all kinds of nebulous answers like how love and respect for people is mandated in the koran, that it’s a religion of peace, that to kill one is to kill the whole world, and so on. You will get people telling you that like in anything, many people mean that some will be bad, and so forth. When you continue to push and push and push, every single muslim will finally admit that the correct punishment for apostasy is death, and that this is god’s will and pronouncement.

      My question to you is, if you are willing to grant your own beliefs legitimacy based on revealed truth through faith, how can you successfully argue that another person’s equally legitimate beliefs revealed through faith are unacceptable?

      You see the problem; blaming people is not the answer to constraining the expressions of faith you find unacceptable. Very good people do very bad things in the name of their faith… not because they are broken or warped or misuse their religious beliefs or don;t know any better but because they honestly think their expressions honour their god, endorses their god’s wishes, meets their god’s demands, faithfully follows their god’s intentions, willingly submits to their god’s law. That’s the fact. That’s why more than a third of all British muslims born and raised in a secular liberal democracy who are affluent and university educated think that the legitimate penalty for apostasy is death. You see, Xander, it’s not that these people fail to understand their own religion; it’s that they understand it all too well.

      If you wish to constrain the expression of religious belief that you find unacceptable in the real world, you’re going to have to be willing to curtail your own for exactly the same reasons. This is what I mean about intellectually honesty: faith alone is insufficient to justify the expression of a faith-based belief. What you need are good reasons… informed by some means to differentiate the good from the poor. This cannot be faith.

      Oh, one other thing: AIDS/HIV is an indifferent virus. It cares not one whit how it transfers between hosts. It’s job is to replicate. If anything, I would think those who are creationists might have a hard time figuring out why babies born with AIDS have made some choice in the matter between good and evil. A benevolent and powerful god would not allow the innocent to suffer so and still be morally good. Therefore, there is no such god.

  7. And if it ever becomes illegal to stop someone from killing another, then I will break the law and still try and stop them. My faith says there is one truth and I must follow it. Society is sometimes in agreement but not always. When it isn’t, I will do what I feel is right and deal with the consequences knowing I was true to my faith.

    The Muslim who tries to kill someone who denies islam still has to face the law of the land. Their religious right is trying to deny the other person of their right to life. It is a nice try for a comparison, but I am not denying your right to life, but you are wanting to deny my right to religious freedom. See how your actions mirror Islam more than mine.

    But men who have sex with men make the choice and can not ask why me. They knew going in that they were at risk to contract this deadly disease and they rejected the precaution that is urged to enjoy their sexual rights. No one is talking about why do children suffer at the hands of irresponsible people. We are talking about the rights of gay men to choose and live their life however they want. Besides, Christianity is about suffering and God’s desire to see people through their suffering. And I don’t believe in a moral god as my God doesn’t change to match society’s beliefs as to what is right and wrong that day.

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