Anyway, I found a few interesting things to link to. First, coming from Amanda at Mouse Words, this article in the Washington Post from William Raspberry. He quotes C.S. Lewis talking about the difference between civil marriage and religious marriage, in the context of divorce:
"The Christian conception of marriage is one: the other is the quite different question -- how far Christians, if they are voters or Members of Parliament, ought to try to force their views of marriage on the rest of the community by embodying them in the divorce laws.This gets at a huge pet peeve of mine - the way people constantly mix religious marriage and civil marriage. They are two separate things. My parents are not Christians, yet their marriage is perfectly valid. I've known many people who were married by judges with no mention of God at all - their marriages are also perfectly valid.
A great many people seem to think that if you are a Christian yourself you should try to make divorce difficult for every one. I do not think that. At least I know I should be very angry if the Mohammedans tried to prevent the rest of us from drinking wine. . . .
There ought to be two distinct kinds of marriage: one governed by the State with rules enforced on all citizens, the other governed by the Church with rules enforced by her on her own members."
If "marriage" is a sacrament, then the state really has no business being involved in it at all.
Next, still on the topic of religion, OneMan has a rant about the religious right's focus on personal morality while ignoring some of the more important issues going on:
Often times the greatest force working against Christianity is Christians. Imagine what the perception of the world would be of America and American Christians if the church worked really hard on a single issue for 5 years. Lets say it's AIDS in Africa. The Church could spend billions caring for and help those affected by the disease, tell those they are helping about Christ but not making belief in Christ a requirement for help. That would be the best way to show the world that our God is truly an awesome God. A God of love.And then later:
But no, we focus on someone showing a boob on TV. That's trivial folks.Whilst I don't share OneMan's politics nor his religion, I can't really argue with him about this one.
This has sparked another thought here...how do you "judge" a religion? That sentence right there sounds rather strange to me and is probably offensive to the deeply religious, but I think it is a valid concept - for those of us who perhaps are not believers, how do you evaluate whether a given religion is a "good" thing?
In my mind, you do so by looking at its fruits. What comes from the religion? How does it improve the lot of humanity? How does it improve the lives of its believers? OneMan's rant goes right to the heart of it - show the wonder of your religion by making a difference in the world.
I realize this isn't entirely fair - people aren't perfect and religion will not make them perfect, so it is perhaps unfair to judge a religion entirely on the basis of its followers. The bumper sticker "Christians aren't perfect - just forgiven" comes to mind.
Of course, I've always hated those bumper stickers. I am not asking for perfection -- I do, however, hold Christians to the exact same standard as everyone else. My non-Christian friends aren't perfect either, and they don't behave in the same atrocious manner as certain "Christians" I've encountered in my life.
I should note that I'm mostly griping about people out there in the "conservative Christian" or "religious right" camp here - not specifically OneMan or other more moderate folks.
Anyway, this is turning into a bit of a ramble, so I should probably stop here. Definitely a topic to come back to when I have more brainpower available.