Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Jesus Came to Fulfill the Law

St German's glass
Shield of Faith
(Photo credit: crunklygill)
As my longtime readers know, I have been reading the Old Testament (very slowly) for the last year and have been surprised with how terrible much of it seems. I have brought many of these points up in various places, and one of the most common defenses I hear is from Matthew 5:17, that Jesus came to fulfill the law and therefore the Old Testament doesn't apply. Most of the time, it seems that Christians I talk to use this verse as a shield against difficult passages from the Old Testament, they simply want to be able to ignore what is inconvenient. Often I will then get into a conversation about what fulfilling the law really means (I honestly am not sure) and why God would give a law that would only be valid for some people and not for others (certainly seems to contradict objective morality which many Christians assert is very important). But ultimately, these arguments spin out and feel very unproductive.

So in search of another angle of attack, I decided to think about what would happen if we just grant my other objections to the Christians and see what happens. Let's assume for the moment that it is reasonable for God to give different people different sets of laws. Let's further assume that Jesus fulfilling the law means that the law doesn't apply to us anymore. What does this really get them? It certainly allows them to disregard the rules God laid down for us such as kosher laws and the fact that we can't wear mixed fabrics or get tattoos. If you really want to push it, it can even invalidate the rules about it being okay to have slaves. But even taken to this extreme, it doesn't whitewash everything. Anything that God himself does must be explained in other ways. Jesus fulfilling the law doesn't explain why God had to murder all of the firstborn in the tenth plague, why he had to murder nearly everyone in the world in the flood, why he made the loved wife barren and the hated wife pregnant, or why a loving God could do pretty much any of the other horrible things he does in the Old Testament.

Next time this topic comes up about a horrible thing that God himself has done in the old testament, instead of arguing what fulfilling the law means, I will point out that this is completely irrelevant to the topic at hand. It's simply a diversionary tactic, because God isn't laying down a law, he is just being a monster. Jesus fulfilling the law can't apply to something that isn't a law.
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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Why Is Our Society So Hard On Moms?

A newborn child crying.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As my regular readers know, my wife and I had our first child last summer. The experience of raising a baby has been very eye opening in a lot of ways, I thought I was generally prepared, I was largely mistaken. I had prepared myself mentally for the lack of sleep and for the huge amount of time I would need to devote to my son. My expectations weren't even close. It's not like I thought it would be easy, but I wasn't expecting the whole thing to be so relentless, you never get a break to recharge your batteries. I've dealt with lack of sleep a lot (insomnia), I've done some things that have taken over my life for a while (dissertation). But I've always been able to take a Saturday to relax, or take a nap, or whatever. Not so easy to do that now.

My wife has the real career and I work from home and take care of our son, so my insights into raising children are more analogous to what is typically motherhood rather than fatherhood. Raising children is a ton of work, and I have recently been thinking about how motherhood gets very little respect from our society in general. A moment from an old Simpsons episode popped into my head the other day, the kids were supposed go with their parents to work (so Principal Skinner could go on vacation early) and the note sent home specifically said that being a mom isn't work, which is why you don't get paid for it. I know it's just a cheap joke, but it really does seem to be a fairly typical attitude in this country. The men go to work and earn the money. They are the bread winners, they are doing what matters. The women are just at home raising the children and keeping the household together, or whatever. They are probably just spending half the day on their asses watching TV. Maybe it is just because I grew up in a fairly fundamentalist environment, but this wasn't simply a joke, it did seem to be the general attitude I grew up around, and to a lesser extend that I still see.

Another example that came to mind recently is the whole idea of the welfare mom. My dad listened to Rush Limbaugh a lot when I was growing up and I recall hearing these welfare moms completely vilified. "They are just having kid after kid to get their check from the government". Granted, this is a fairly extreme view from an extreme source. And yet, for the idea to land at all in anyone's mind, people already have to believe that raising kids is easy. The whole point is that they are deadbeats, it makes no sense that they are doing something this difficult just to get some money from the government. If my entire motivation was to get a check in the mail, I would never have another kid, it makes no sense. It's way too much work. Seriously, how much money would it take for it to be worth it for that alone?

This post is a bit rambly, I'm mostly just working out some thoughts that have been accumulating in my brain for the last little bit. If I do have a point of some sort it is this, I have a new appreciation for mothers, especially single mothers. I honestly have no idea how they do it. My wife and I are working together and we are both run super ragged.
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