Abortion up to the day of birth does grate a little on me. But then, Ancient Rome allowed it for up to three years after birth. So my distaste for the notion is cultural rather than objective. It helps to be aware of stuff like that. Did you know that the Bible even includes instructions for a chemically induced abotion (Numbers 5:11-31) for women suspected of infidelity? Fascinating!
People love throwing around the word “science” as though that can provide some kind of moral guidance. Yes, the cells making up an embrio or zygot are a unique combination of their parents’ genes and therefore can be defined as a unique and individual human who is going to die some time in the next 100 or so years regardless of what laws we pass. Genetic science can show that conception results in a new and unique human set of DNA. It can also show that the majority of fertilised eggs are naturally passed from the body and die, and of those that do manage to attach the the ureteral wall, well over half self abort within a few weeks under natural conditions.
The question really isn’t “Is this life human?”, as it clearly is. The real question is who gets to decide whether this individual human life should continue? Is it the parents or is it the government?
The Gospel of John tells a story not found in the other gospels which describes Jesus washing the feet of the Disciples. He strips off his clothing and puts on a servants towel, he washes the disciples feet despite Peter’s objection and then has them wash each other’s feet (13:3-14). At first glance, the meaning of the story seems pretty clear. Jesus is taking the humble role of a servant and treating the young men to a relaxing foot bath and massage with some kind of vague allusion to servant leadership, right? That is certainly one way of reading it but it doesn’t explain Peter’s reluctance or his later suggestion of washing his whole body rather than just the feet. There is something else going on here which I intend to reveal.
The American big church movement is growing. While churches in the majority are small, the top one percent of churches claims fifteen percent of church memberships, money and full time staff. The Top twenty percent claims sixty to sixty five percent(1). As large churches take a larger and larger share of the market, smaller churches struggle to keep their doors open. In this essay I will explore some factors which allow successful churches to attract new members and retain existing members to grow exponentially in a saturated and declining religious marketplace, and offer some suggestions for church leaders wanting to stimulate growth in their congregations. The main influences to church growth are church friendliness, counter cultural doctrines, service style and marketing.
In a humble, single room hut in the village of Capernaum, a small boy quietly tends to the animals in the lower, hay covered floor that was carved out for the animals, while in the raised family area of the hut a group of young men, guests of his father and disciples of the Rabbi Jesus, argue over which of them will hold the higher position when they’ve overthrown the Roman oppressors. The rabbi returns. His disciples run to him, demanding that he tell them the positions they will hold in his kingdom. The rabbi’s eyes scan the hut quickly as the little boy crouches low behind his goat. The rabbi smiles; he has found his answer. Pushing through the demanding young men, he reaches down and lifts the boy up to the higher level of the hut, placing him in the midst of the men, and tells them that the one of them who is most like the little boy will be the greatest; that those who cannot be like him are not fit for his kingdom. (Matthew 18:1-5, Luke 9:46-48, Mark 10:14-15).
The Synoptic Gospels each contain an account of Jesus declaring that being like a child is a requirement for entry into the kingdom of Heaven. Given that over half the world’s population consider Jesus an authority on the topic of Heaven, and a third say he is God (1), and also given the implications of being left out of the kingdom for failing to be like a child are disastrous by dominant modern interpretations, it would appear that having a correct understanding of this verse would be of critical importance. Unfortunately, those seeking to understand the meaning of this statement have left large bodies of information unused in forming their conclusions, with the result that the dominant understanding of Jesus’ statement may be incomplete. In this essay, I plan to bring together the major sources of information on the reality of what it meant to be a small child within the Roman Empire during the early part of the first century from both primary documents and archaeological evidence, in order to present four alternative readings of the phrase, and their theological applications.
These are as follows:
1) Being like a child means being vulnerable and dependant on others.
2) Being like a child means learning by asking challenging questions.
3) Being like a child means having a low status.
4) Being like a child means existing outside of the Mosaic Law.
Heterosexual Males and Homosexual Females are prone to risky behaviour
Homosexual Males and Heterosexual Females are prone to risk avoidance
Homosexual Males and Heterosexual Females are prone to religious behaviour
Heterosexual Males and Homosexual Females are prone to church avoidance
Rejection of an angry, vengeful God = high risk behaviour
Rejection of an indifferent God = risk neutral
Heterosexual men and homosexual women are more likely to leave the church and reject the Christian God than homosexual men and heterosexual women because of their gender/sexual attraction to risk taking.
1. A meta-analysis of 150 studies in risk taking behaviour shows no correlation between gender and risk taking (Byrnes 1999, p78). So while men may be more prone to certain kinds of risk taking, the overall difference in risk taking is not significant.
2. This study compares only two religions in its American population study. So it is not really a comparison of risk differences but Christian and Jewish doctrinal/social differences. Assuming that denying Allah could also be considered risky behaviour, one would expect similarly high ratio of female Muslims, this is not the case however. Only 38-39% of Muslims in America are female (Robinson 2009, np). Perhaps the issue is more complex than mere risk avoidance.
3.The people sampled were not asked if their believed that God exists. That would seem to be an important question to ask when deciding if their behaviour is risk based.
4. The groups that tended to avoid church also tended not to believe in an afterlife. So where is the risk in not going to church? Playing soccer on the highway is perfectly safe if there is no such thing as cars, trucks and busses.
I propose we need a new theory…
Jamin’s Ultimate Theory of Masculine/Feminine Faith Disparity
1)Genderality is a continuum between purely masculine and purely feminine. Men tend to gather around the telly on one end and women tend to gossip in the kitchen at the other, but there are no guarantees. Sexuality tends to fall somewhere on that continuum too, often nearby one’s genderality but that’s really more of a guideline than a rule.
2)There are a number of masculine and feminine traits which will be expressed in a person depending on where they fit on the spectrum.
3)All conscious beings are also on a developmental moral continuum, somewhere between Egocentric, Ethnocentric and Worldcentric. The gendered traits find expression through whatever developmental stage we happen to be on.
4)There are several masculine traits which, when expressed at certain levels, could easily cause a person to feel that church simply isn’t the right place for them to be. Likewise, there are several feminine traits which, when expressed at certain levels, will cause a feminine person to feel that their church is exactly where they need to be.