Thursday, October 28, 2010

On Christians and Halloween: Jesus with stinky breath is not Heaven

I got roped into going to one of those Judgement Houses once.

Instead of scaring you to death with monsters and killers, the intent of a Judgement House is to scare you into eternal life through showing poor life choices.

Typically held in church family life centers, you start out in a room of teenagers at some sort of social event then proceed to a room where a horrible accident has occurred and some of the teens have died.

Next, you're ushered into a funeral scene with crying friends and relatives, and then you go to Hell. There is fire and moaning, weeping an gnashing of teeth.

These are typically Protestant affairs, so you don't go to Purgatory. Still, your trip to Hell is short-lived and before you know it you're in Heaven.

The one I went to had us all stand in a line and have our fates pronounced by God the Father, portrayed by a man with multiple senior discount cards, but who still looked nothing like the painting on the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Instead, he was clean-shaven with with male-pattern baldness -- and wore glasses.

Glasses? Why would even an anthropomorphized God need glasses?

Well, anyway, it got worse.

I say that even though you'd think that having my name read from The Book of Life would be great. Yet once the Father had put on his glasses to read our names from the Book, Jesus showed up to welcome us to our eternal reward.

At least Jesus looked pretty much like his paintings: Long hair, beard, robe. Of European descent.

He started at one end of the line and welcomed each of us personally. Being a shy person and at the farther end of where he started, I was filled not with the Spirit but with dread -- which only increased in dreadfulness the closer he got.

He got closer and closer, and finally he got to me. I hated to break it to him, but had I already heard his speech when he told it to Jim, who was standing next to me.

He put his hands on my shoulders and looked me straight in the eye. "Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world."

He had bad breath.

I wish when he'd opened that scroll a roll of Certs would've fallen out. (Wait a minute: Perhaps that was the Pergatory!)

Soon enough, though, his simple chronic halitosis was out of my face and on to Dave's. Then we walked through Heaven and out the back door, loaded up onto the church bus and were driven back to our cars.

At least people who go through haunted houses are happy to return to their normal lives. I got to go to Heaven then was told "Goodbye! Come back to see us!"

Should we celebrate Halloween?
Judgment Houses spring from the desire of some Christians to avoid celebrations of Halloween because of their non-Christian roots. Some churches and parents host harvest festivals or have their kids dress up as biblical characters.

I'm for following your own conscience on this -- as long as you don't drive other people away in the process.

For instance, an atheist friend of mine once noticed that his neighbors had put a sign up on their front door declaring that since they were followers of Christ they wouldn't be passing out candy on Oct. 31. This just ticked him off and gave kids a good reason why they shouldn't even consider being Christians.

In my own heart, I've decided to follow Jesus' command to "give to all who ask." So when kids in costumes knock on my door expecting candy I give them some. I don't throw Bible tracts in with the candy and don't tell them, "God bless you!" I just give them candy. I don't wear a costume or decorate my house for the occasion. And I buy only candy that doesn't have skulls, witches or bats on it. I'm making only a subtle statement, and they can't consciously tell that I am, but, combined with prayer, maybe I'll make an impact.

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Friday, October 8, 2010

Second Coming was in 1962?

Bad news: It looks like we missed the Second Coming. From the hairstyles and clothing in this picture I just got in the mail promoting a prophecy seminar, it happened in the early 1960s. (And, no, Don Draper didn't make the cut.) Click picture to enlarge.

Good thing there was no tarrying until today. Back then, all the redeemed cleaned up and donned their Sunday best for the event. Today we'd have met our Savior in T-shirts and flip-flops.

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Friday, October 1, 2010

Christine O'Donnell's problem is that she's inspiring masturbation

I'm not disturbed by Christine O'Donnell's stance on masturbation; I'm disturbed that she inspires masturbation.

For my entire life as a follower of Christ I've heard people say that the biblical proof against that act comes from Genesis 38, where Judah's son Onan refuses to sire a son for his dead brother. He does have sexual relations with his sister-in-law, Tamar, but when it's time to fire, he pulls out and spills his seed on the ground, knowing the child won't be counted as his own in the all-important genealogical records. At that time this was considered a grave sin.

Under our current covenant with God, men are not required to sire offspring for their brothers who die without an heir, so this passage is irrelevant in its literal sense. (It's still relevant in terms of us following God's will for our lives.)

The gist is, Onan didn't masturbate; he actually had sex with a woman. In fact, it was God's will for him to have sex with that woman. There were penalties for early withdrawal.

The only thing Onan's deed has in common with the deed O'Donnell has opposed is that the seed is given no chance to fertilize an egg.

O'Donnell, in a 1990s MTV documentary on abstinent people, argues that it is impossible to pleasure oneself without lusting in one's heart. Jesus equated lusting in one's heart to actually committing adultery -- so that's bad.

But suppose you're married. What if you masturbate while thinking about your spouse? That's not adultery at all. And there isn't a single verse in the Bible that specifically addresses masturbation.

So the problem is masturbation for single people, which O'Donnell is. They, according to Scripture, aren't supposed to have sex with anybody, and therefore not even fantasize about having sex with anybody.

So on that count I'll agree with her.

But Paul notes that all these rules for Christian behavior are for ... Christians only. What people outside the church do is none of our business. So going on Bill Maher's show and MTV is a waste of time and "casting your pearls before swine." (No offense intended if you don't like being compared to hog.)

O'Donnell is running for Senate in Delaware, and hasn't made her opposition to masturbation a campaign issue. Comedians and political opponents have. But if tapes of her Maher and MTV appearances didn't exist, opponents and comedians couldn't drag them out so easily. If she'd said it in a church setting and tapes were found, so what? That's her personal life and she would have been speaking to people who were purporting to hold themselves up to such standards.

One other thing:
And I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes. 1 Timothy 2:9 (New Living Translation, emphasis added)
I know Christine O'Donnell covers herself up. Still, she's pretty hot.

And that might make some single Christians who like her, uh, like her.

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