In response to your comments and questions regarding my view of sexuality, all that I can say is that the Christian God is not the God of this world in the direct sense- that is, He is also 'different'. His Spirit is not directly manifested or reflected by the spirit one sees in nature, and being born of Him does not involve simply living according to the natural impulses which are in our bodies. As Paul said,"The flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary to one another" (Gal. 5:17). If you are ever interested in finding out about Christ's true position on the subject of sexuality, I would recommend that you do what I did- read the New Testament (in a reasonably accurate translation). It's not confusing, at least not to me.
Another point that I would like to discuss is the idea that we must purify ourselves and deny worldly desires and so forth in order to get to heaven. I believe that God is such an overwhelmingly powerful being that he encompasses the entire human perspective and more. He is not confined to those emotions that seem good to us, but he is an infinite mixture of everything, what we label good and what we label bad, he is all of these things. Just as we need the opposite of something to recognize it, such as, we need night to recognize day, we need to close our eyes to recognize sight, we need hate to recognize love, and so on, God, too, encompasses all opposites. How weak would God be if he only knew "goodness"? Goodness and badness are labels that arise from our limited perception of the big picture; to God, I believe, they are all one, and are neither good nor bad. So in this sense, sexuality should not be denied, but explored as one of the learning tools that God gave us to experiment with. It, like so many other aspects of this world, can be used for good or evil, and we can learn from it in that way.
In response to what you said about love, here is what I have to say: First, I believe that, in this world, if we love others in the manner that Christ prescribed there really isn't any guarantee that they are going to love us in return and we will be able to feel good about ourselves because of that. In fact, even though Christ loved others he was hated by most of them in return. The same is going to hold true for those who follow his example. So, the hope of receiving the reward of reciprocal love or a good feeling about ourselves isn't really an incentive. Second, we must certainly love ourselves or we can't love others either, but I believe that what we must love in ourselves is that which is of God (i.e. His Spirit) and this is quite different from the sort of natural love that people have for themselves.
As far as your views about the nature of God are concerned, I am quite definitely of a different opinion than you are. I don't believe that God is a mixture of everything- both good and bad. As the apostle John said,"God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all" (1Jn 1:5)- 'light' and 'darkness' being synonyms for good and bad (evil). We certainly do need the opposite of something to be able to recognize it. I believe that is how we can come to 'see' God while we are in this world, by recognizing the evil that is present in it and realizing that God is the opposite of that, and that He must be separate and distinct from the world and its nature. That is why we are here and the purpose that this world is meant to serve. Although God has the knowledge of good and evil and the difference between them, He doesn't practice evil. Likewise, if we are spiritually born of Him then we too will have the same knowledge, but we won't practice evil either. I'm sorry to say that when I was younger I too played around with the idea that good and evil, right and wrong, etc., don't really exist- that all is 'one'- but now I realize that is not true. To believe that is to believe, for example, that the atrocities committed by the Nazis were neither good nor evil, right nor wrong, and that exterminating millions of people is no different from giving food to a starving man.
1) Granted your views on the literal accuracy of the Bible, and on evolution (BTW, a very good argument, in my opinion, could be made for evolution as the means of God's creation), I find your viewpoint on sexuality somewhat peculiar. Do you think that all Christians ought to aspire to celibacy? Why hold such a fundamentalist viewpoint on this one issue (which surely is of less theological significance than, say, Evolution/Creation)?
2) Do you see absolute pacifism as a political doctrine, as well? Ought Christians never go to war, even in such extreme circumstances as WWII? Secondly, if I might ask a personal question- why Christianity? As I'm sure your aware, I myself am agnostic. Nonetheless, I've gathered from your writing that we share a number of common beliefs- particularly about the possibility of liberal interpretations of the Bible (in my mind, a necessary condition if one's faith is to be self-consistent) and the compatibility of faith and modern science. I am curious, though, what convinced or convinces you of the crucial element- the faith in God and, furthermore, the acceptance of Christ as the Son of God.
1) As far as my views on sexuality are concerned, I think that I should first mention that I myself don't consider them to be 'fundamentalist'. I don't know of any professing Christians of that type who are of the same mind as I am on this subject. For them, there is such a thing as 'good sex' (sex within marriage for the purpose of procreation)- which to me implies that carnal passion really can be a manifestation of the love of God under certain circumstances. I don't believe that.
I do believe that all Christians ought to aspire to celibacy. Christ himself seems to have been celibate, and being a Christian means to aspire to be like Christ. If there is indeed an element of spiritual darkness underlying sexuality, then it is right to desire to overcome it. As John said,"God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all" (1Jn 1:5) and the same must be true of those who are born of Him. I know that some people (I don't know if that includes you) object to this view on the grounds that if everybody felt that way then the race would perish, or the world would come to an end, etc. I don't believe that a Christian should feel that it is his spiritual duty to perpetuate the race or keep the world going. I know that ultimately the world is going to perish anyway, and I don't think that there is going to be a shortage of human flesh on the face of the earth as the result of a failure to contribute on the part of a small group of spiritual nonconformists.
I do not consider this issue to be of minor theological significance in relation to others. It seems to me to be very important, and I am not alone in thinking this. The nineteenth century philosopher/theologian Soren Kierkegaard, for example, felt that "the sexual is the center of human egoism". I believe that there is some validity to that judgment.
2) My views are apolitical. Going to war is something which people who belong to such natural human alliances as 'nations' do. I don't believe that Christians should really see themselves as belonging to such alliances, or that they should be willing participants in their conflicts- under any circumstances.
As far as your last question- why Christianity?- is concerned, I'm afraid that I can't give you a good, 'rational' explanation for that. It is a rather subjective matter. All that I can say is that it's something that a person has to be spiritually quickened to, and that is the work of God. As Christ said,"everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me" (Jn 6:45).
I don't believe that Paul was infallible. I know that he was not perfect (he acknowledged that himself) and that he was, like all disciples of Christ, a person who was in the process of growing and being purified spiritually. There are a number of things which he said and did that I find questionable. Nevertheless, I find it hard to believe that God would have allowed him to acquire the status that he did in the early church, or have allowed his writings to be preserved and established as authoritative, if he wasn't a fairly reliable doctrinal witness- or at least closer to the mark than others. If I am going to believe in the Christian God, I have to believe that events on earth, particularly something as important as that, transpire in accordance with His will. Moreover, much of what Paul wrote simply speaks to me. That is, in my judgment, it rings true.
I strongly disagree with your contention (and I know that you are not alone in this among professing Christians) that we don't have to DO anything in order to be saved, or that we don't need to attain spiritual perfection in this world. What people do or do not do (i.e. their 'works' or 'fruits') is a product of the spirit that they have- and that is what really determines whether a person is saved or not. Christ certainly expected his followers to DO what he commanded (Mt 7:24-27, etc.) and to strive after spiritual perfection (Mt 5:48, etc.), and indicated that those who don't would not be saved, even though they might think that they are and call him 'Lord' (Mt 7:21). I'm sure that you wouldn't accuse Christ of 'legalism' because of that. Quite honestly, I have to say that I think that those who hold to the position that you seem to are deceived.
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