In my Beliefs of a Nonbeliever post, I listed my core beliefs as a humanist, making the case that it’s entirely possible to be good without a god. I also made the point that religion has a habit of getting in the way of morality. Being religious doesn’t necessarily prevent someone from being good, of course...but being fundamentally religious does.
clarify, I’m not claiming that all atheists are more moral than all
theists--that would be a silly oversimplification as neither group is
morally homogeneous. It would be equally silly to say that all theists
are more moral than all atheists, and if you know me you know that I
would never, ever
say anything silly. I’m simply making the point that religion has a bad
habit of getting in the way of treating people well. Throughout history
there are countless examples of people killing in the name of religion,
and that still goes on today in many parts of the world. Obviously,
people kill for plenty of non-religious reasons, too, but the fact
remains that religious intolerance is a driving factor of much of the
violence that still exists today. On a less lethal level, there are the
notable issues of the treatment of women in Islam and the treatment of
homosexuals by all major religions.
fact that homosexuality still has so many entrenched opponents in
America today is...peculiar, to say the least. We’ve progressed far
enough to at least claim to
treat women and minorities equally, even if we’re still working on
getting over our biases and stereotypes about them. Yet gay people are
still looked upon with unabashed scorn, usually in the name of religion.
Why--because the Bible says that homosexuality is a sin? The Bible also
says that eating bacon is a sin. I know that I use the bacon example a
lot, but can you blame me? Much like Mr. Pibb + Red Vines,
bacon is crazy delicious, and it always seems like a perfect example of
why the Bible can’t be taken seriously today since its consumption is
so widespread. On the whole, Christianity has outgrown a ton of nonsense
from the Bible, so why hang on to hating homosexuality?
have a hard time seeing what the problem is. I’m not gay myself (rest
easy, past and future girlfriends), but I can’t come up with any good
reason to discriminate against people who are. I’m also not into Justin
Bieber’s music, cucumbers, or the movie Little Women, but that doesn’t give me any reason to mistreat people who enjoy those things. My mom and my sister love the shit out of Little Women, but
I love them anyway. Of course, my mom would never admit to “loving the
shit” out of anything (including her children), but the point still
stands that she enjoys that movie very much, and her preference does not
affect my feelings towards her. Why? Because it doesn’t affect me and
it never has. Whenever she put Little Women
on, I would simply go play NBA Jam on my Super Nintendo Entertainment
System or find something else that was a dramatically better use of my
is really no different. No one is forcing me to be gay. In fact, the
sexual preferences of others has absolutely no effect on me. One of my
college friends posted a link on Facebook a while ago to John Piper’s
take on the whole “marriage equality” thing. For those who are
unfamiliar, Piper is a popular Christian author who lives in Minnesota,
one of the states that will have an amendment proposed in this year’s
election to restrict the definition of marriage to “a union of one man
and one woman.” His main point is that God created marriage, not humans,
so God alone gets to decide what counts as “marriage.” Oy. This seems
to be the same argument being made by Mike Huckabee and Dan Cathy (the
CEO of Chick-Fil-A).
There are many reasons why this argument is preposterously illogical, so let’s start at the top:we aren’t currently adhering to the Bible’s rules for marriage.
Deuteronomy 22:21 states that if a woman marries a man, and she turns
out not to be a virgin, the men of that town can stone her to death.
22:22 states that adulterers should be killed. 22:29 states that if a
man rapes an unmarried woman, he must then marry her (the victim
apparently doesn’t have a say in the matter). 25:5 states that if a
married man dies before he has a son, his widow must have a kid with his
brother. Jacob and David both had multiple wives, and Solomon had 700. Seven-hundred wives.
Seven-zero-zero! If the Bible is supposed to be our guide to marriage,
there should be a hell of a lot more stoning and polygamy...but for some
reason the gentlemen (and I use that term loosely) mentioned above
aren’t making a fuss about the fact that we aren’t stoning fornicators.
already used the bacon example in this post (which still applies), so
I’ll move on to some other points. Beyond all the absurd, random rules
that God laid out in the Bible that are no longer observed by most
people (see my post on the Bible
for a list of ridiculous shit that can be used any time someone uses
the phrase “the Bible says...” as if it’s a legitimate argument), there
are some rather significant practices from biblical times that are
regarded with abhorrence today. For example: slavery. Slavery was
accepted as a natural state of affairs in the Bible, in both the Old and
New Testaments. As it turns out, Americans (and most of the rest of the
world, for that matter) have decided that slavery is bad, so now it’s
illegal. Unless you think dressing up as a Conehead covered in Wite-Out
is a good time, chances are you disapprove of slavery.
slavery abolished because God said it was bad? Most certainly not! We
made it illegal because society recognized that slavery is an
unjustifiably inhumane practice. We eventually even got around to
deciding that black people shouldn’t be treated like shit just because
they’re black--something about all men being created equal or some crazy
ideal like that. Also, in what can only be described as a terribly
misguided attempt at progressive thinking, we now allow women to do
things like vote, hold real jobs, and drive on the same roads as men. In
retrospect, this was clearly a gross error in judgment...but at least
we can rationalize it by pretending that men and women are equal.
Kidding, ladies. Just kidding. Feminists are just so adorable when they get worked up
that sometimes I can’t help myself. If anyone reading this feels the
urge to punch me in the shoulder the next time you see me, I won’t get
mad. I probably deserve it.
the point here is that our advancements in civil rights and the
treatment of people who are not white males have come independently of
religion. If we were still living according to the Bible, we would still
have slaves (“Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and
fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ.” Ephesians 6:5)
and subjugate women (“And man was not made for woman’s benefit, but
woman was made for man.” 1 Corinthians 11:9). So why do people still use
the Bible as an excuse to justify their homophobia?
another problem with saying that we should be using the Bible to
legally define marriage--a little thing in the First Amendment known as
the Establishment Clause: “Congress shall make no law respecting an
establishment of religion.” In effect, this means that allowing the
Christian God to legally define marriage would be unconstitutional, and
marriage is most certainly a legal matter. This is not a theocracy. Not
only are our laws not based on Christianity--it would be unconstitutional to make a law based solely on Christianity.
Lest I give you the impression that I think all Christians are blindly bigoted and incapable of seeing reason, here’s a link to another article
that another friend of mine posted on Facebook that I legitimately
enjoyed. It’s a well written look at the gay marriage issue from a
moderate Christian perspective. The bad news is that lots of Christians
don’t agree with this and use the Bible as an excuse to be bigots. The
good news is that lots of Christians do
agree with this standpoint and use the Bible to make a case for loving
everyone. Luckily, I think the majority of my Christian friends fall
into the latter category. So I’m not saying that all Christians are
bigoted jerks. However, it’s fair to say that Christianity allows some people to be bigoted jerks.
a few verses in the Bible condemning homosexuality, those who are
anti-gay would have no more justification for being homophobic than
racist people have for being racist. It is no longer socially acceptable
to be racist. The only--ONLY--reason
that Mike Huckabee and his army of homophobes are not completely
denounced by the general public is religion. Yes, there are plenty of
Christians who are openly supportive of the LGBT community, but those
same people would be supportive even if they weren’t Christians.
However, the widespread support for Chick-Fil-A has proven that one of
the side effects of religion is justification for outright bigotry.
Normally it’s completely unacceptable to be a bigot, but if God hates
fags (and bags) then it must be OK.
was noted by Andy in the comments of my last post, “everyone who is
good is good without god.” We don’t need a 2,000 year-old book that
advocates stoning to tell us how to be good, so let’s stop using that
2,000 year-old book as an excuse to act like an asshole.