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People should learn: Live and let live

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By Rick Howell

I’m not about to get into a weeks-long back and forth about the Bible, Scripture, “fulfilling the law,” and other such religious stuff.
    I write about politics and government. My own religious beliefs are my personal business and I don’t see political activity as a religious crusade, as the “Christian conservatives” do.
    Having said that, it’s flat out humorous to predict what people will do and then sit back and watch them do exactly that. When I wrote that we should move on from the emotive topics of abortion and gay marriage, and deal with the more pressing issues of the day, I noted that some would respond by “quoting the Bible.”
    Since then, the quotations have flowed into this paper like manna from heaven. These efforts have been led, of course, by John Barnhart, who, perhaps, I should start referring to as “Pastor” Barnhart.
He quotes the Bible a lot; I sometimes think he’s a religion columnist, anyway. But when he does, he always takes on the air of A Supreme Authority, and maybe he is one.
    I’m tempted to wonder how such a Leading Biblical Authority wound up as a newspaperman and not a minister, and maybe he’ll tell that story one day. But Barnhart often forgets that his version of Christianity is not one shared by every other Christian.
    Actually, I wrote that line once before, referring to the many different Protestant denominations and how they obviously disagree with each other, and Barnhart responded that there was “only one version” of Christianity.
    I knew right away what he meant: The “only one version” was his version. And it’s precisely that attitude – I’m right and the rest of you are wrong – that has indeed created as many versions of Christianity in this country as there are flavors of ice cream. And they all have one thing in common: They all quote the Bible.
    In fact, some denominations have embraced gays in the ministry and have sanctioned gay marriage. Many others have yet to go that far, but are beginning to realize that modern life cannot be guided by the ancient texts of the Old Testament.
    I’ve enjoyed all this talk about Jesus saying he came to “fulfill the law,” which those writers take to believe that he endorsed Old Testament references to homosexuality.
    But they are merely cherry-picking what they choose to emphasize. What about all the weird dietary laws in the Old Testament? Did Jesus come to “fulfill” that, too? If so, fundamentalist Christians can’t eat certain kinds of seafood or use certain kinds of linen. Funny, but we never hear about that.
    Right now, we have a “Christian conservative” governor embroiled in a money scandal. Where’s the outrage about that from conservative Christians? I’d love to read some letters about the love of money being the root of all evil. But there don’t seem to be any.
    Also, I asked a question I knew wouldn’t be answered: If a man and woman marry in Bedford, Va., how is their union affected at all by two men doing the same thing in San Francisco? How?
    Facts are stubborn things, and the fact remains: Jesus spoke about helping the poor, turning the other cheek, loving your neighbor, and he never condemned gays or cried over “the plight of the unborn.” And if he was fulfilling the law, well, he sure angered a lot of “law experts” in those days, because that’s what got him crucified.
    Live and let live. It may not be in the Bible, but it’s good advice. We are to live our own lives without judging each other.
    Actually, that is in the Bible, isn’t it?

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Rick Howell, a Bedford native, can be reached by e-mail at RickDem117@gmail.com