I should really take my own advice and stop watching or reading the news (but then I wouldn’t get the business news, the weather or sports in one easy chunk of time). I’m tired of the holier-than-thou attitude of evangelical Christians and the entirely too extensive media coverage they’re getting. It also saddens me that moderate Christians aren’t speaking out more loudly. Not that I’m going to change anyone’s mind but perhaps it’s time I answered for myself.
Dear Evangelical Christian:
You claim pagans are devil worshipers, that we in no way can be good people and we should either “see the errors of our ways” and come over to your side or perhaps be exterminated from this Earth. First, how can we worship a being we don’t believe exists? That sort of negates being devil worshipers, hm?
Secondly, I don’t want to be on any side that doesn’t allow me to live my life as I see fit, assuming I do no harm to anyone else by it. I let my neighbors do the same. “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” (Mark 7:12 and others.) In other words, leave me alone and I’ll leave you alone. However, do anything that messes with me and mine and I’ll mess with you right back.
How do I live my life? Let’s compare what I do with your ten commandments. These are taken from my preacher-man great-great-grandfather’s King James Version Bible. (Which, by the way, I’ve read cover-to-cover as well as the Revised Standard Version. Can you say the same?) I’ll take them in reverse order:
10. neither shalt thou covet thy neighbour’s house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or his ass, or any thing that is thy neighbour’s.
I covet nothing of my neighbors’. Quite frankly, I like my stuff better than theirs.
9. Neither shalt thou desire thy neighbour’s wife
We know this wasn’t directed at the females of the time, right? But just in case you wanted to know, I don’t desire anyone but my husband. (See #6.)
8. Neither shalt thou bear false witness against thy neighbour.
I don’t do this – it would be wrong. However, the same can’t be said for my “Christian” neighbors against me or my kind. One of them told another witches kill cats. I couldn’t even laugh at such an absurd statement when it was repeated to me and I was asked if I was raising my cats in preparation for some sort of sacrifice. We love our pets! And unlike some of your patriarchs, I don’t sacrifice animals.
7. Neither shalt thou steal.
Don’t do this, either. Couldn’t live with myself.
6. Neither shalt thou commit adultery.
I love my husband dearly. I may find other men attractive but that doesn’t mean I want to go to bed with them! So nope, not on my agenda. Not even lust in my heart.
5. Thou shalt not kill.
The closest I come to killing is applying horizontal compression to an unwanted bug in the house or harvesting a plant. I always apologize in advance. Or having one of my cats put to sleep when it’s time rather than allowing him/her to live in extreme pain that cannot be treated. (I consider this an act of kindness.) As for Christians, how ’bout the Inquisition; Salem, MA; any white man takeover of Native American lands; or take your pick of any war. Are you a conscientious objector? You should be if you take these things seriously – there’s no modifier that says “unless the other person isn’t like you”.
4. Honour thy father and thy mother, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
Your god didn’t have to tell me to honor my mother and father. They deserve it. Wait. Allow me to modify. I honor my mother and my stepfather. My biological father abandoned us when I was 2 years old. Not an honorable thing to do. Or what if one of my parents was a killer, rapist, wife-beater or child molester? No such person deserves any honor, regardless of biology.
3. Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee. Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou. And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day.
I’ll admit to not keeping this one. My sabbaths differ from yours and they don’t come on a weekly basis. But I’ve got a question for you: do you keep this commandment in its entirety? One neighbor gets up real early Sunday morning to cook before church so her contribution to the potluck lunch is fresh. Another is out working in his garden on Sunday after church for probably eight months of the year. Every dairy farmer I know milks their cows on Sunday – the cows would be uncomfortable otherwise. Do they get points for keeping part of it?
2. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
I try really hard not to swear – it’s not polite. Sometimes, though, I slip but 99 times of 100 what comes out isn’t taking your god’s name in vain. It’s something else. I’ll bet a lot of you are guilty of the same thing. I’ve heard cussing more than once from church-goers so it mustn’t be quite that important.
And the biggie:
1. I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. Thou shalt have none other gods before me. Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.
It’s rather difficult to have any other gods before yours when I don’t worship any at all. Why would I hate your god, anyways? Hate is such a strong word. I’m ambivalent at best.
So, taking stock. I think I’m 7.9 out of 10. That’s a passing grade in any school and seems to be good enough for those Christians I call friends. Maybe you ought to change your scoring system.
P.S. I’ve heard you’re trying to turn this nation into a strictly-Christian state. Which flavor of Christianity were you thinking of? You should let the other types of Christians know so they can make plans to change their liturgy. You also need to decide which of the current 90 English-language translations of the Bible will be the one to read. They do vary, you know.