‘Let him that is among you without sin, cast the first stone’ – John 8:7 GNV.
Jesus said this to the religious leaders of the time when they wanted to stone a woman to death as punishment for adultery. He called upon them to recognize that her ‘sin’ was no greater than any of theirs. The quote has become more and more relevant over the centuries as religious groups continue to peddle hate speech supposedly backed by scripture.
In America, the bible was used as a defense for the enslavement of black people with church-goers quoting Ephesians 6:5, “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling” or Titus 2:9, “Tell slaves to be submissive to their masters and to give satisfaction in every respect.” There’s a clear history of scripture manipulation to allow for persecution based on incorrect interpretations. Ephesians 6:5 was written with the relatively pleasant conditions of Ephesian servants at the time in mind, and had no intention to instill terror into slaves but rather respect. Apostle Paul wrote the verse to encourage them to love Christ despite their situation. The experiences of African slaves in America did not at all reflect Paul’s views as he advocated for the freedom of slaves. So using his words as a defense for it simply reflect a decontextualization of the bible and its promotion of love.
This decontextualization of the bible takes away from the very essence of Christianity: to love one another as you love yourself. That is the very issue I wish to address. No mainstream religion – whether it be Islam, Christianity, Hinduism or Sikhism – seeks to promote hate. Hate is the poor choice of the religious believer. Hate is able to prosper when people cower behind their religion to mask their bigotry and exclaim ‘Freedom of Speech!’ when challenged. Hate leads to oppression of LGBT+ people, people of color, and, quite frankly, anyone with different views to a believer. Hate cannot be tolerated under the guise of it simply being about religious values.
I labelled Christianity as confused because of the unnecessary focus on how others choose to live their lives rather than the promotion of love that the Bible itself preaches. This is not to say that Christianity is a bad religion; I myself identify as a follower. But the repetitive debates on lifestyle choices have begun to overshadow what it’s really all about. Christians spend time discussing how horribly they’d react to having a gay son instead of recognizing that Christ would’ve shown compassion to any oppressed minority. Christians agonize over pro-life arguments but neglect refugees fleeing war zones. The focus of Christianity needs to be shifted away from shaming others and towards introspection.
‘Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice and acknowledge the log that is in your own eye?’ Matthew 7:3 AMP.
There are many things that may be considered wrong by Christianity or any other religion but that is not an excuse for oppression. If you do consider yourself a believer then it is imperative that you realize you have no right to impose your beliefs on others or negatively label people different to you. Especially when you consider the fact that you are no more perfect than they are. When we focus more on how we can better ourselves as human beings, regardless of other people’s preferences, we create an environment wherein everyone can happily co-exist. That is what’s key to not only being a Christian but simply being a good person.
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