By no means am I a scholar, or an expert. But I have studied a bible or two in my day. Actual study. Checking several versions of the bible against one another, to determine what I believe to be the meaning behind a particular word or phrase.
I've read it, as one reads a regular book. I have referred to it for specific "answers." I have looked up specific passages that have been recommended to me for one reason or another.
I have read along, as murder has been both justified, and admonished. I have chuckled over strict rules regarding my menses, my sexual behavior, and how to properly kill an animal for both consumption and worship.
I have discovered rules and regulations that vary from absolutely asinine, to good, old-fashioned consideration and courtesy. I have discovered both abounding contradictions, and gentle requests to love one another.
What I have not found, not in all my 30ish years, is an answer to this;
How does a rational person of religious conviction, get around the most basic requests to love, respect, and keep one another? How does a rational person "of faith" get around being asked to "love thy neighbor"?
If I engage in homosexual behavior.
If I swear, and smoke, and take the name of your Lord in vain.
If I know and support people who have had abortions, and value their right to do so.
If I admit openly that I don't believe in hell.
If I refuse to force my children to believe, or not to believe in God.
If I prefer to burn candles and "send good thoughts" versus turning to prayer.
If I love, support, and encourage the gay, lesbian and transgender men and women in my life to freely love who they love, without shame.
Do these things allow a person a free pass to hate me, to judge me, to shut me out of their "unconditional" love? Are they free to deny me basic rights and compassions, because my way of living is in contrast with theirs?
By no means, am I an expert at, well, anything, as it turns out. And certainly, I don't even come close to qualifying as an expert on religious belief and practice. But what I know is this...
If there is a god, or some divine being responsible for putting all of us here, that deity doesn't offer applause or the promise of heavenly reward, because a person berates, abuses, or judges others.
If nothing else, one needs only to take a look at the company kept by Jesus himself. One needs only to look at those for whom he took a stand. If he wanted you to persecute and judge one another, why didn't he let the angry mob stone the adulteress to death?
I know there are four trillion more things I would like to add to this, but I'll save it for another time. Or perhaps, save it for the "bitch" blog.
Your input is greatly appreciated.