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October 23, 2005

This Almost Makes Me Want to Go To Church

Marissa Lingen, on taking communion:

Sometimes when I take communion, I gloat about the people who have to be Body of Christ with me against their will. James Dobson is a big one that way. This is because I am Not A Good Christian. "We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord," and there ain't nothin' you can do about it, suckahs. Ahem. Sorry. But it was a great theological revelation for me to realize that the Body of Christ has AIDS, has diabetes, has cancer, has everything. The Body of Christ is gay, is bi, is straight, is asexual, is not sure, is sure of something rather more complicated than any of that. Because you can't say, "Oh, well, I'm not bi, my right thumb is bi." Doesn't work that way. So as long as people like James Dobson and the aforementioned worthies of Undefined Cosmic Circumstances keep taking communion, they're part of being transsexual lesbians and unwed mothers and the whole mess of the rest of us who also take communion. Neener neener.

This is a much deeper and more useful observation regarding the Body of Christ than my own, which is that after 2,000 years of transubstantiation, the Body of Christ must be, like, totally huge. This is what I get for sleeping in on Sundays.  

Posted by john at October 23, 2005 12:19 AM

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Comments

mythago | October 23, 2005 01:00 AM

Oh, well, I'm not bi, my right thumb is bi

I so did not need the mental image that went with that.

Other than that, she is spot-on.

doubt | October 23, 2005 02:15 AM

Yes. Let's start a "what part of you is bi?" meme!

Christopher Billett | October 23, 2005 06:07 AM

That is quite a sage summary. Good stuff.

Beats the last comment I had on communion, when the wine came round to me and a friend after quite a few other people, and he looked down into the crumb speckled red goodness and said: "Oh, how cute. They're serving the bread and wine together now."

Mris | October 23, 2005 07:15 AM

I say "neener neener" and I'm the deep one? Wow. Um.

Cassie | October 23, 2005 08:36 AM

How incredibly sad this quote is.

John Scalzi | October 23, 2005 09:10 AM

Cassie:

That's not a thing at all sad about the quote. Leaving aside the snark, it quite correctly notes that Christ's grace extends far beyond who is thought of as the "typical" Christian, and echoes the fact that Jesus consorted with those at the margins of society and offered the Kingdom of Heaven to them. Even within the snark of the quote, you'll note that at no point does it suggest that those uptight about who is with them in the Body of Christ are not worthy of salvation.

Yes, I like the quote because of its snarky goodness, but I think the quote is good because theologically it is right. Christ offered salvation to everyone, not just to some small, uptight tribe of people who flash about their presumed grace like a fetish.

Dean | October 23, 2005 09:18 AM

Cassie: How incredibly sad this quote is.

I think you need to explain that a bit more for those of us (ok, me) who are thick of wit.

As for the post, I Am Not A Christian, but it seems to me that Marissa has expressed something fundamental about Christianity. How would Jesus treat homosexuals? If you read the gospels, it's pretty clear: just like he treated everybody else, which was as if they were his own flesh and blood.

I quite like Marissa's expression of what is a fundamentally beautiful idea.

Julia Jones | October 23, 2005 01:03 PM

"We are all one in the body of Christ." Yep, I'll be thinking of this next time I take communion. :-)

My parish church in the previous place I lived tried to live up to this ideal. There was the occasional leaflet through the letterbox saying that if you wanted your child baptised please come along, unmarried parents welcome and if you wanted to discuss getting married as well that would be great, but there would be no nagging on the subject.

mythago | October 23, 2005 06:46 PM

As Jesus said, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven."

Jesus made it pretty clear that hatin' on others and preening in public about one's own godliness are not on God's happy list.

RooK | October 23, 2005 08:40 PM

Personally, I found the quote hilarious in that delicious kernel-of-truth sort of way. I don't quite grasp how it could be sad, unless you mistake the playfulness for vindictiveness. Because vindictiveness generally is pretty sad.

Soni | October 23, 2005 10:31 PM

My right thumb is not bi. But I seriously suspect my left knee of secretly being a Republican.

Audrey Estock | October 24, 2005 01:05 AM

Really? It's my right big and middle toes seem to be Republican.

Dean | October 24, 2005 08:21 AM

I'm Canadian, but if a part of my body were to harbour Republican sympathies, it would be the part upon which I am sitting.

rick mcginnis | October 24, 2005 08:46 AM

Well, yeah, if you leave aside the snark, and the spite, elide around the lack of charity, squint and try to ignore the excess of boastful pride, and conveniently forget that the writer is committing the great sin of presuming to know the mind of God, then yeah - a very Christian sentiment.

I'm a conservative Catholic who frankly has no time for Dobson, but I know hubris when I see it.

Oh - and Dean? I hope you don't assume that you speak for all Canadians, buddy, or wish to give that impression to all of our neighbours.

Andrew Wade | October 24, 2005 09:24 AM

How incredibly sad this quote is.

Naw. Laughing at the misfortunes of others isn't the nicest or noblest thing to do true, but when the misfortunes are self-inflicted and deserved (not to mention ironic), as in the case of James Dobson, I don't think I would call laughing at them "incredibly sad". He doesn't have to be uptight around modern-day Samaritans.

La Gringa | October 24, 2005 10:38 AM

This reminds me very much of a conversation I had with a friend last year about being Christian. She is gay & Episcopalian; I am gay & was rasied Catholic but recently switched over to the Anglican team, since it appears to be a team I can actually PLAY for. At one point, after much red wine and bad nachos, she leaned over and said "Look, if we were all made in God's image, then a part of God is a big fat homo, just like me."

And yes, I'd like to think that Jesus would have had some fairies on his party list. :-)

Cheers!

mythago | October 24, 2005 11:44 AM

I am now kvelling over the idea of God as a big bad bulldagger.

La Gringa | October 24, 2005 12:48 PM

Um, well, s/he may very well, be, but neither my friend nor I am at all butch so, hopefully God is a little on the Femme-y side too. :-)

Occula | October 24, 2005 07:31 PM

I'm agnostic and have never taken communion, but that tickled me right down to my left-wing pinko pro-gay core. Loved to. I'd say more, but it would be more of the same, and my cat is lying on my right hand just now anyway.

Occula | October 24, 2005 07:32 PM

I think I just said "loved to." I meant "loved it." sheesh.

dave | October 25, 2005 08:30 PM

I've a question: what does it really mean to be a christian?

Because, while it is true that Jesus does love "the sinner" (or whatever lame, religious term you'd like to use), He does not want us to continue to live a lifestyle that says something is OK, when the Bible says it's not OK.

This is not a "God hates fags" speech. If I were to say "God hates fags," I'd also have to say "God hates liars, thieves, murderers, people that cheat on their spouses, etc." Yet, if that were the case, then God would hate me as well.

I'm curious--if I said that a "christian" was a person that knew they were a sinner, yet recieved God'd love for free and were living a life in response to God's love by learning to do what the Bible says--would I be right or wrong?

John Scalzi | October 25, 2005 09:53 PM

"He does not want us to continue to live a lifestyle that says something is OK, when the Bible says it's not OK."

Where in the Bible does it say that -- that Jesus doesn't want us to live a lifestyle that the Bible says is not okay? Oh, that's right: nowhere, because The Bible (its current iteration, anyway) wasn't compiled until centuries after his physical passing; even the Gospels were written decades after he was gone.

As to what the Bible says, there appears to be quite a lot of room for interpretation on the matter, particularly as it regards a certain lifestyle.

To be on the safe side, I'd keep the requirements for being a Christian fairly simple, as Jesus did: To recognize that the way to heaven is through him, and to love one another as one loves one's self.

Andrew Wade | October 26, 2005 10:44 AM

I've a question: what does it really mean to be a christian?

Dunno. Seeing as how I neither belive in the existance of God, not worship him, nor follow Jesus, I ain't one. Now, as to who is in "The Body of Christ", judging from the name I would assume (hypothetically speaking) that Jesus would have a say in that. And I'd presume that he'd continue the habits he had in life. So probably not too many pharasees (not that there's many of those around, but there are quite a few that follow in a similar vein). You probably won't find many of the rich either. Plenty of fishermen and prostitutes and folks from the rougher side of life. Having read the Gospels I think it's fair to say that Jesus frowned on sinning. But he didn't mind hanging with sinners. And putting the hate on sinners, he frowned on that too.

dave | October 26, 2005 07:42 PM

Jesus was a Rabbi. This meant He was thourougly versed in Scripture (to be specific the Torah). And in the Torah it says plainly that homosexuality is wrong (just like lying, cheating, stealing etc...)

Jesus also said "Be holy like your Father in Heaven is holy." (that quote is also found in the Torah). How can we say that if we willingly live in the "sins" mentioned above (because we say they're not wrong), that we are living how Jesus told us to live?

What about in the Gospels when Jesus said to the chick caught in adultry "I don't condemn you--go leave your life of sin"?

Jesus' love does cause a life change. It was Jesus' love that chose not to condemn the adultress and it was the same love that said "stop living in that way".

to call oneself a "christian" is to: accept Jesus' love as a free gift and learn to live in a way that pleases God.

As to the implication that the New Testement is not trustworthy since it was written decades after Jesus died, we need to realize that the Gospels were written by men (with the exception of Luke, who did research to compile his account) who lived with Jesus for years. They knew Jesus personally and how He lived. Jesus changed their lives so drastically that all but one of them died violent deaths for Him. I fail to see why one would discredit their stories about Him just because they didn't put it to paper until decades later.

Just by looking at the New Testement as a book of antiquity, it's the most accurate collection of antiquated writings on the planet. see http://www.tektonics.org/lp/nttextcrit.html

John Scalzi | October 26, 2005 08:51 PM

Dave:

"Jesus was a Rabbi. This meant He was thourougly versed in Scripture (to be specific the Torah). And in the Torah it says plainly that homosexuality is wrong (just like lying, cheating, stealing etc...)"

Also, of course, as people like to point out, the Torah also says plainly that eating shrimp is wrong (indeed, it calls its eating an abomination -- see Leviticus 11:9-12), yet that doesn't stop many people who consider themselves to be good Christians from enjoying a nice shrimp salad whenever they feel like it. Let's not even talk about bacon. Eating shrimp is surely a "lifestyle choice" if there ever was one.

Let us also remember that Jesus brought a new covenant, which is why Christians are not, in fact, Jews. Let also remember that not all Christians scripturally recognize the Old Testament (for example, the Church of the Brethren does not), so quoting Leviticus won't get you very far with people who are unassailably in the bosom of Christ.

"As to the implication that the New Testement is not trustworthy since it was written decades after Jesus died"

No one made such implication in this thread; it was not what was under discussion. What was explicitly stated was that Jesus never had a thing to say about The Bible, in it or anywhere else, because it wasn't compiled or even written when he was alive (except for the portions derived from the Torah, which as noted above have certain issues). Indeed, Jesus couldn't have much to say about much of the New Testament, as much of it (the letters and later books, in particular) takes place after his departure to higher planes.

I would suggest that if we wish to know what Jesus thinks about anything we plumb his actual words, rather than speculate what he would think of a corpus of commentary compiled and written after his death.

"What about in the Gospels when Jesus said to the chick caught in adultery 'I don't condemn you--go leave your life of sin'?"

What about it? You are no doubt aware that in one commonwealth in this Union, and in several countries around the world, gays and lesbians can be legally married, and therefore -- so long as they remain monogamous -- when they have sex they are not guilty of either adultery or fornication. You may also be aware that many of these gays and lesbians choose to be married in Christian churches, by minsters of the faith. Seems like theologically they're in the free and clear, so long as they don't serve shrimp cocktail at the wedding.

Dave, let me save you further effort by letting you know I think it's perfectly possible to be both homosexual and a Christian and that the arguments I've seen counter this I have found both theologically and morally unsound. You are of course free to believe otherwise, but allow me to suggest that the path to Christ and the eternal kingdom does not have you or any other mortal as the traffic cop. Allow me also to suggest to you that when you get to heaven and find a large number of gay folk in the choir invisible, do try to be as welcoming to them as they will no doubt be to you. Thanks.

Andrew Wade | October 26, 2005 09:57 PM

Also, of course, as people like to point out, the Torah also says plainly that eating shrimp is wrong (indeed, it calls its eating an abomination -- see Leviticus 11:9-12), yet that doesn't stop many people who consider themselves to be good Christians from enjoying a nice shrimp salad whenever they feel like it. Let's not even talk about bacon. Eating shrimp is surely a "lifestyle choice" if there ever was one.

On that particular point Christians are probably in the clear; I vaguely recall Jesus saying (in Matthew somewhere) that all animals ('cept humans I would assume) are good to eat. And sacrifices are not necessary anymore either. And though I don't think he says so explicitly, it's probably safe to assume that all those "and he/they shall be put to death" clauses are no longer in effect. But as I recall that's it. We're (presumably) to follow the rest, only with the Gentile branch of the religion winning out early in it's history, Christians don't in fact follow the Mosaic Law. Homosexuality is not exceptional in this regard.

Andrew Wade | October 26, 2005 11:14 PM

Forgot one: eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, etc. is also out. But I don't recall the prohibition against mixing fibers being out. Or say debt forgiveness every seven years. Hey, that sounds like a really good idea.

John Scalzi | October 26, 2005 11:42 PM

Actually you have to be careful with that "eye for an eye" one, since the original for that comes from Hammurabi's Code, not the Old Testament. And when it does show up in the Bible, it's when Jesus is refuting it, in Matthew 5:

"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you."

Andrew Wade | October 27, 2005 07:25 AM

Actually you have to be careful with that "eye for an eye" one, since the original for that comes from Hammurabi's Code, not the Old Testament.

It's in the Old Testament too, I just checked (Lev 24:20). I did get the frequency of debt forgiveness wrong though; it's every fifty years. And your reference (which I've finally gotten around to following) makes my point here better than I could: Christians simply don't follow the Mosaic code. As for dividing Leviticus into ritual and moral law (a common response), I've looked, and there is no such division appearant in the KJV translation. One would be best served by asking a Rabbi, but given the discussion of "To'ebah" in your link, I doubt the answer would be different for the original.

(There is categorization appearant in the English translation, but the categories don't match up to the purported ritual/moral distinction. There are abominations (To'ebah), there are confusions (of categories), and there is everything else. There is also some organization with regards to subject matter, so that the laws regarding sin offerings (for instance) are mostly in one place. But the laws Christians follow are still somewhat mixed in with those they don't.)

Andrew Wade | October 27, 2005 09:10 AM

... and there is everything else.

Gah, there's also the conditions for being clean/unclean. I forgot about that category. Guess it's time for me to read the thing again.

Anonymous | October 27, 2005 09:38 AM

I seriously suspect my left knee of secretly being a Republican.

(from 'Iolanthe')
Strephon: My torso is a Tory, but my legs are a pair of confounded Radicals, and I very much fear that, when the division was called, they would carry me into the wrong lobby.

From a character who was a fairy - but only down to the waist. Ahem.

abdalla | December 7, 2005 04:58 AM

i would like to join this forum

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