Wednesday, August 25, 2010

In response to a critic, and a monopoly on Salvation...

Oh, there are just so many things running through my mind right now. Where to start?

First off, let's get something straight right now. Like it or not, you have said that you feel my mother should be executed, regardless of whether you meant it (or even realized it). While true, you did not use those specific words, you most certainly did express this opinion...and have done so numerous times.

You see, I live in a world of "black and white" when it comes to "right and wrong", I do not accept any notion of a grey area. Either it is what it is, or it simply isn't. If action A is tantamount to action B, and action B warrants response C, then committing action A warrants response C.

Numerous times, I have heard you (as well as both of your sons, and even your own mother!) say they are in full support of capital punishment as the natural and justified punishment for the act of murder. Believe it or not, I actually agree with this, albeit only in theory...simply because of the way it's carried out, but that's a different story.

However, where I differ from the four of you would be the notion that a soul can exist within a human body in the absence of the ability of basic cognitive self-awareness. Everyone knows that a human person's life starts out as a fertilized egg, otherwise known as "conception". I hold a seriously different opinion as to what constitutes a "person". A fetus without a mind is, in my not-so-humble opinion, an "incomplete" human being. It has no mind, therefore it has no soul. As such, it is not a person in my eyes.

The act of murder, throughout the course of written history, has consistently been defined as the unjustified killing of a living person (or, "individual"). In fact, until the lobby funded by religious zealots hijacked our state legislature a few years back, an "individual" was defined as a "human person that has been born and has breathed". For more than a hundred years (essentially, since the time of our state's penal code first being written), this was the accepted view...and the people of the State of Texas accepted it not only because it has a longstanding tradition in the English Common Law that our laws are derived from, but also because it is alluded to in the Old Testament of our bibles that much of English Common Law is derived from.

As Christians, you and I both know that there is no sin greater or worse than another before the eyes of God. However, when we blur the lines between the eyes of God and the laws of man, we begin to run into problems. Personally, I feel that abortion is a sin of irresponsibility before God, but does not equate to the crime of murder before the laws of man. You have expressed a drastically different view, when you have expressed the opinion on numerous occasions that a fetus is a "person" and abortion is "murder".

If you express that opinion, as well as the opinion that the death penalty is a just response to a murder, you are by default expressing the opinion that those who have abortions should be put to death for the crime of killing a fetus. It's simple logic. If A = B, and B warrants C, then A also warrants C.

I am, however, not truly offended by your expression of this opinion. What did (and honestly, still does) offend me is the fact that you have acted like you haven't expressed this opinion. It truly feels like you're saying that you don't (or, at least, didn't) feel this way when you said these things. Our family has always prided ourselves in being straight-shooters who tell it like it is, and yet, I personally feel like there's backpedaling when it deals with a discussion amongst a relative when it involves someone close to him. That, honestly, offended me more than the thought of you thinking my mother was worthy of execution...the fact that the rules could be bent if it was someone we knew, because such thinking lends itself to the idea that one person is somehow "more equal" than another.

I do not intend to quit attending a baptist church, as one of the basic tenets of the Baptist church is the "Priesthood of Believers". As Baptists, we are not defined strictly to the dogma of the Southern Baptist Convention, nor are we defined strictly by the opinions and message of our church leadership. We are free to have our own opinions. The church may choose to express their affiliation with the Southern Baptist Convention and, by doing so, adopt their official positions...but the individual is still free to worship God as we see proper. However, this does not mean I won't necessarily stop going to a Baptist church, in the event that the particular church preaches a message my conscience does not agree with. There is a reason I won't set foot inside First Baptist of Angleton, TX unless it's for a wedding, funeral, or a special occasion for my grandmother. The moment I hear a pastor calling my mother a murderer, you can bet dollars to donuts that my happy ass is walking out the door.

Moving right along, let's move on to point #2. The notion that you and Habib Q. Muslim somehow don't worship the same God. As much as I'm sure it pains you to read this, you actually do. The three major monotheistic religions are based upon the agreement between God and Abraham...and all three pray to the same One True God.

In Judaism, you have the beginning. Abraham gave rise to the nation of Israel, via his son Isaac. In Christianity, a Jewish carpenter is worshiped as the son of God. In Islam, the bastard son of Abraham was cast out of his father's home, along with his mother, and this gave rise to the Muslim religion.

In reading the Koran, I have come across three basic points.
A) Jesus was a messenger of God, was the only sinless man to have ever lived (not even Muhammad claims this title!), and ascended straight to heaven.
B) Mary is a revered figure, and actually has an entire book in the Koran devoted to her.
C) The One True God of Abraham is to be worshiped.

So yes, "they" worship the same God as you do, "they" simply have a difference of opinion.

Now, on to point three. I must say, what really pissed me off more than anything I've ever heard you or any other member of my family say (and that's saying a lot, considering that a person's opinions honestly don't really bother me that much and never truly have, and we've had some serious disagreements about very fundamental things) is the notion that maybe, if I'm really lucky, I can have the same salvation you have.

Seriously, do your personal opinions give you a greater insight into God? Do I not get to enter the kingdom of Heaven, because I don't hold the same feelings you do? Will God damn me to hell, because I don't stand in condemnation of certain brown people who wear towels on their heads and pray to Him in a different manner and a different language than you and I do? My God did not teach me to hate, stand in judgment of others, or condemn those who don't pray to Him like I do.

I will, until the day I die, defend your right to make such statements. However, I also reserve my right to express my utmost disapproval of what I feel to be extreme intolerance, toward not only myself, but to so many others. Speaking with the most definite seriousness imaginable, I cannot imagine a greater curse upon another human being, than telling a person that he will not enter Heaven because he does not share your opinions. Our opinions vary, and yet, I do not feel it necessary to question your relationship with God. I hold my own opinions based upon my personal life experiences, and where religion is concerned, my own limited understanding of God. No better, and no worse, than you. I will always love you, but I cannot condone such a curse.

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