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s/o Joanne's Christian thread: Is morality more important to you than dogma?


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Kindness, compassion, and truth became more important to me than dogma.

If one considers those combined to be morality (and to me it came pretty darned close), then YES!

 

While I was a Christian, I struggled a lot with dogma that told me gays were sick, non-Christians were ****ed, and that the Bible (and all of the wicked things God demanded) was perfect. (The Bible can't even agree on which day Jesus was crucified). I eventually gave in to my better nature. "Why am I struggling with these cruel beliefs, when the book that they are based on is demonstrably flawed?"

 

I wanted the beliefs, I did! I wanted Jesus, and I wanted God, I wanted to be saved and have the Holy Spirit living in me. And I was ok for a very long time struggling with the cognative dissonance. But eventually reason and truth won out and I found that I could live without the deities and their dogma after all!

 

T.

 

Um, really, "****ed" is censored! But it's in the Bible!

Edited by freethinkermama
Wow! "****ed" is censored? But it's a Bible word!
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Do you mean ethical? Some people think being Gay is immoral. Or that being a Democrat is.

 

Being ethical and decent is important to me. (But good works don't get you into heaven, of course. The non-christian fornicator who brings food and water to starving children goes to hell as quickly as any wife-beater and child-killer).

 

Bikini-wearing, glances at the oppostite sex with certain harmless thoughts, masturbation, or gay marraige are not moral issues to me.

 

Is it moral or ethical to have children hold signs that say 'God Hates Fags', What about beating kids as part of Christian doctrine a la Pearls? (Although this forum almost universally rejects those folks).

Edited by LibraryLover
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Hmm...I think the problem with valuing morality over dogma is that so often our belief of what morality is changes. It changes over time as society changes. And (assuming you are asking this from a religious point of view) wouldn't God's word be final over what is moral or not? We can feel we are doing the right thing, only to find out we didn't. I think it is important to base our feelings and decisions on truth. We were just having this discussion in the car on the way home from church the other day. Just because we feel something doesn't make it true. Feelings are valid but can also be based on our perceptions rather than reality.

 

The greatest of all the commands is to love God and our neighbor. How can we love God if we don't know Him? I believe we know Him though His Word, not through our feelings. Loving our neighbor is also important. Morality encompasses how we treat our neighbor. But I think in order to rightfully and fully love our neighbor we need to have our relationship right with God first and to do that we need to know Him.

 

I also think our actions flow from our beliefs. If I don't believe I should love my neighbor, I probably wouldn't. Neighbors are fairly annoying and cause trouble. :)

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Yes, morality is more important to me although I am a Christ follower & church attendee. With so many different ways to interpret the Bible and all the religions created around the it, I believe if we just stick to the Golden Rule we'd all be fine.

 

Even religions not based upon the Bible point to us being moral human beings. The dogma and its legalism is what has twisted something so simple as Love thy neighbor as thyself.

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Kindness, compassion, and truth became more important to me than dogma.

If one considers those combined to be morality (and to me it came pretty darned close), then YES!

I consider truth and doctrine (with, as I understand it, dogma equaling the most important, core-to-the-religion doctrines - the ones that really count) to be equivalent notions. If you don't believe 'x' dogma to be true, then why in the world would you profess it, hold to it, or otherwise let it positively inform your thoughts, words, or deeds? :confused:

 

Anyway, your dogma - what you believe to be true - influences your morality - your view of proper behavior (and vice versa); you can't just randomly separate them. A belief that kindness and compassion toward others is more important than maintaining purity of belief is in fact effectively a dogma of its own, if only in your personal belief system (versus one promulgated by an organized religion).

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And (assuming you are asking this from a religious point of view) wouldn't God's word be final over what is moral or not? We can feel we are doing the right thing, only to find out we didn't. I think it is important to base our feelings and decisions on truth. Just because we feel something doesn't make it true. Feelings are valid but can also be based on our perceptions rather than reality.

 

The greatest of all the commands is to love God and our neighbor. How can we love God if we don't know Him? I believe we know Him though His Word, not through our feelings. Loving our neighbor is also important. Morality encompasses how we treat our neighbor. But I think in order to rightfully and fully love our neighbor we need to have our relationship right with God first and to do that we need to know Him.

 

 

:iagree:

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(assuming you are asking this from a religious point of view) wouldn't God's word be final over what is moral or not? We can feel we are doing the right thing, only to find out we didn't. I think it is important to base our feelings and decisions on truth. We were just having this discussion in the car on the way home from church the other day. Just because we feel something doesn't make it true. Feelings are valid but can also be based on our perceptions rather than reality.

 

The greatest of all the commands is to love God and our neighbor. How can we love God if we don't know Him? I believe we know Him though His Word, not through our feelings. Loving our neighbor is also important. Morality encompasses how we treat our neighbor. But I think in order to rightfully and fully love our neighbor we need to have our relationship right with God first and to do that we need to know Him.

 

 

 

 

:iagree:

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Who says they have to be mutually exclusive? Why must one be more important than the other? Couldn't they be two sides of the same coin?

 

From a Christian's perspective I would say that Jesus addressed this issue. He was The Way, The Truth and The Life... Check out John 14:1-12: this passage seems to address this issue.

 

ETA: I'm defining dogma with the dictionary definition of "a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true" and not with the negative connotations applied to the word in everyday usage.

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I'd like a definition of "dogma". Theology? List of Rules? What?

 

If dogma such as the Nicene Creed or what ever, then I don't necessarily see a separating of the two. Yes, a person can have ethics and morality without it, but if a person believes in such a dogma then they should also have ethics and morality. Those that claim to have dogma, but find that they do not have ethics or morality, then one has to question their supposed following of the dogma vs "using" dogma for other reasons (to be heard, to grab position and authority, to abuse others). Therefore, those people are not valuing either. If a dogma is unethical and immoral and one values you, then obviously they have one, but not the other, because they do not value the other as per their dogma.

Edited by mommaduck
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The dogma gets in the way of morality .

 

Elizabeth, would you be willing to elaborate on this?

 

Mommaduck, I would define dogma as a set of beliefs that a religion teaches. I don't know if that definition is correct, though.

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I'd like a definition of "dogma". Theology? List of Rules? What?

 

I'm defining dogma with the dictionary definition of "a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true" and not with the negative connotations applied to the word in everyday usage.

 

I've been using this definition, but allowing for the "authority" to consist of the particular person who believes a given dogma - i.e. everyone believes *something* to be incontrovertibly true (if only "be kind" or "racism is bad"), but they might not be looking to an outside authority for their dogmas, but instead are their own authority.

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Do you mean ethical? Some people think being Gay is immoral. Or that being a Democrat is.

 

I was going to say morality is more important, but it does depend one what one considers moral and immoral. But couldn't the same argument be used with the word 'ethical'. And who gets the final word on what is moral?

 

I guess treating each human being with dignity and as they are part of God and in God is far more important than dogma.

 

The dogma gets in the way of morality .

 

Yes! :iagree:

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I don't see the two as separable at all. Morality is doctrine.

 

From Matthew 25:

 

31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy[c] angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

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Elizabeth, would you be willing to elaborate on this?

 

Mommaduck, I would define dogma as a set of beliefs that a religion teaches. I don't know if that definition is correct, though.

 

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dogma I am using the last part of the definition given here. In a nutshell, dogma is man made, a gloss if you will over the parables and law given by scripture.

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Morality.

 

In a lot of ways I'd be considered a Cafeteria Catholic. I'm okay with that because I often think Jesus would be a Cafeteria Catholic too.

 

:001_smile: I'm glad you can make that work for you. I haven't been able to. It's like it's all or nothing. For me, it's more like 'the church teaches this and that's the way it is, all or nothing, the Magesterium is to be obeyed whether you agree or not'. My dh is definitely a cafeteria Catholic and he's at peace with it. My mind just doesn't work that way, and I've been in torment for years until I finally just stopped trying. Maybe some of it is the way we're wired, our personalities.

 

Don't really expect any answers, just musing out loud.

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Do you mean ethical? Some people think being Gay is immoral. Or that being a Democrat is.

 

Being ethical and decent is important to me. (But good works don't get you into heaven, of course. The non-christian fornicator who brings food and water to starving children goes to hell as quickly as any wife-beater and child-killer).

 

Bikini-wearing, glances at the oppostite sex with certain harmless thoughts, masturbation, or gay marraige are not moral issues to me.

 

Is it moral or ethical to have children hold signs that say 'God Hates Fags', What about beating kids as part of Christian doctrine a la Pearls? (Although this forum almost universally rejects those folks).

 

Why the need to throw fornicator in there? What if it's just a non-christian that brings food and water to starving children? Don't they go to hell too, simply because they're not christian? Their good works are useless too right?

 

Now if it's a christian fornicator who brings food and water to starving children, they get saved not because of their good works but because they accept Jesus right?

 

I just want to be sure I'm getting this whole dogma and morality thing straight.

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http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dogma I am using the last part of the definition given here. In a nutshell, dogma is man made, a gloss if you will over the parables and law given by scripture.

 

But what isn't man made? The Bible was written by man, fallible man at that; unless you believe that none of man's ego made it's way into the Bible and it was somehow protected from the humans that wrote it.

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Who says they have to be mutually exclusive? Why must one be more important than the other? Couldn't they be two sides of the same coin?

 

From a Christian's perspective I would say that Jesus addressed this issue. He was The Way, The Truth and The Life... Check out John 14:1-12: this passage seems to address this issue.

 

ETA: I'm defining dogma with the dictionary definition of "a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true" and not with the negative connotations applied to the word in everyday usage.

 

I agree.

 

I'll take dogma (doctrine, Truth) any day of the week over my personal attempts at morality. Why? Because it is my belief in the doctrines (or dogma) of grace that state Christ died for me, saved me, redeemed me, loved me even while knowing I was unable to attain moral perfection.

 

Morality can be defined a million different ways. Do no harm. Follow the golden rule. Follow 50 rules I decided should apply to everyone. Absolute Truth never changes.

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Why the need to throw fornicator in there? What if it's just a non-christian that brings food and water to starving children? Don't they go to hell too, simply because they're not christian? Their good works are useless too right?

 

Now if it's a christian fornicator who brings food and water to starving children, they get saved not because of their good works but because they accept Jesus right?

 

I just want to be sure I'm getting this whole dogma and morality thing straight.

I'd say that God saves them, versus them being saved b/c they accept Jesus, but, yes, good works have nothing to do with it. Christians do good works because we are called to love our neighbors, not to achieve greater spiritual standing or make God happy with us or whatnot.

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The wife-beating child-killing Christian goes to heaven. Even the non-fornicating non-Christian goes to hell.

 

Why the need to throw fornicator in there? What if it's just a non-christian that brings food and water to starving children? Don't they go to hell too, simply because they're not christian? Their good works are useless too right?

 

Now if it's a christian fornicator who brings food and water to starving children, they get saved not because of their good works but because they accept Jesus right?

 

I just want to be sure I'm getting this whole dogma and morality thing straight.

Edited by LibraryLover
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I'll take dogma (doctrine, Truth) any day of the week over my personal attempts at morality. Why? Because it is my belief in the doctrines (or dogma) of grace that state Christ died for me, saved me, redeemed me, loved me even while knowing I was unable to attain moral perfection.

 

I disagree here. Intellectual belief in the absolute truth of the Gospel no more saves than do our attempts at morality (even the devil believes). There is *nothing* we must believe under our own power that is a prerequisite for salvation. Correct belief is just as much a work as correct behavior (and just as impossible absent God's grace) - and neither one saves us. *God* saves us, creates faith in us - correct beliefs and correct moral behavior are *both* fruits of faith - neither are the cause of it.

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Why the need to throw fornicator in there? What if it's just a non-christian that brings food and water to starving children? Don't they go to hell too, simply because they're not christian? Their good works are useless too right?

 

Now if it's a christian fornicator who brings food and water to starving children, they get saved not because of their good works but because they accept Jesus right?

 

I just want to be sure I'm getting this whole dogma and morality thing straight.

 

ALL men are sinners. It doesn't matter if you bring water to a starving child every day of your life. You have committed sin. You have not attained moral perfection. No human ever has. No human ever will. We choose to do wrong. God is just. He must punish sin.

 

The only difference between a Christian and a non-Christian is that one has recognized the need for a savior and one has not (Yes, this is a work of Christ 100%). Christ died on the cross and rose again so that those who confess with their mouth and believe in their heart will be saved. When God sees the Christian, instead of seeing their sin, he sees Christ's righteousness. The unbeliever is unprotected and stands in judgment for their sin. While both Christian and nonchristian are sinners, the Christian trusts in the one person who took their punishment for them.

 

The apostle Paul asks the question, "Well, then, should we just keep on sinning?" To which he replies with a resounding no. Of course we should all strive for moral living. The Christian just recognizes that they can never accomplish it and so they are eternally grateful for the one who stood in their place.

Edited by Daisy
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I disagree here. Intellectual belief in the absolute truth of the Gospel no more saves than do our attempts at morality (even the devil believes). There is *nothing* we must believe under our own power that is a prerequisite for salvation. Correct belief is just as much a work as correct behavior (and just as impossible absent God's grace) - and neither one saves us. *God* saves us, creates faith in us - correct beliefs and correct moral behavior are *both* fruits of faith - neither are the cause of it.

 

I completely agree with this. Thank you for correcting my choice of wording. I suppose what I was trying to say was that without the doctrine, without that Truth of Christ's atoning work, all my morality in the world won't make a difference.

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But what isn't man made? The Bible was written by man, fallible man at that; unless you believe that none of man's ego made it's way into the Bible and it was somehow protected from the humans that wrote it.

 

In "my" thread, I posted the following regarding this topic.

 

For example, I can't evaluate on the basis of scripture in the way I know you'd suggest I do. From the article I posted earlier:

 

Quote:

The trouble is, the Christian scriptures themselves, describing the nature of that earliest form of the faith, are already products of the development of a "Church," of a set of dogmas and practices that developed in the decades after Jesus walked the earth.

 

 

While I believe that the Holy Bible is *inspired* by God, I don't believe it has ended up in front of us without significant human, cultural, historical and political influence. I don't believe "God's Word" is literally God's word. Using the Bible as it's written and presented today would apply a standard I am not confident in.

 

To me, it's a bit like the telephone game for kids. What happened (or what was said) originally moves through kid's mouths, heard by selective ears, shaped by the child's expectations and experience, and emerges bearing slight or sometimes no relationship to the original.

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Hmm...I think the problem with valuing morality over dogma is that so often our belief of what morality is changes. It changes over time as society changes. And (assuming you are asking this from a religious point of view) wouldn't God's word be final over what is moral or not? We can feel we are doing the right thing, only to find out we didn't. I think it is important to base our feelings and decisions on truth. We were just having this discussion in the car on the way home from church the other day. Just because we feel something doesn't make it true. Feelings are valid but can also be based on our perceptions rather than reality.

 

 

"God's word", and morality, once said that if a man wanted a woman, he just had to rape her and buy her from her father. "God's word", and morality, explained how to sell your daughter into slavery. "God's word" said a righteous man was one who would send his daughters into a mob to be gang-raped, and later impregnate them himself. God once commanded men to go into cities and kill every man, woman, child, and animal in them. Nowadays we call someone who commands such a thing a war criminal. Unless he's God, when we must call this thing good, because God is good. God commanded that people who had pre-marital sex be put to death, disobedient sons too.

 

I, for one, am glad morality has changed from those days.

 

I think most of us mere humans can agree on better moral standards than those the Bible god had. I'm also sure there are people on this board who think those rules were just fine and were divine and perfect, although they wouldn't support them today.

 

T.

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Yes. One doesn't need dogma to know what's right and wrong. Churches make us think we need them/their rulebook because we are unable to discern for ourselves, but even little children have a sense of morality that is not necessarily taught. If someone hits them and they don't like it, they don't hit. If someone takes their toy and they don't like it, they don't take things from others. Some would say that's just following The Golden Rule, but I believe that grew out of instances like the above. Chicken and the egg and all that. ;)

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I completely agree with this. Thank you for correcting my choice of wording. I suppose what I was trying to say was that without the doctrine, without that Truth of Christ's atoning work, all my morality in the world won't make a difference.

I agree that the objective truth of Christ's atoning work is foundational to everything about my life and my beliefs.

 

I think, though, that in this thread a lot of people are differentiating between Absolute Truth and dogma, what men *believe* to be Absolute Truth. So the question isn't so much whether Absolute Truth matters, but whether one's morality or one's dogma is more likely to reflect Absolute Truth. I think that the people asserting that morality is more important than dogma are saying that it's more important to "walk the talk", to live out the big things, than to ensure that you have properly sorted out the correct beliefs on all the little things. (And that sometimes obsessing over correct beliefs can actually impede living out those beliefs.)

 

I believe that both are equally important - and both are equally impossible without God.

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What about the Good Samaritan?

I like the EO view. We know what is required of US, but we don't presume whether or not someone else is or isn't going to heaven/hell. And I don't buy the "I accepted/said the sinner's prayer" bit anymore either...that's fire insurance and it's not worth the paper it's written on.

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I think we need definitions for both terms in order to begin to answer the question.

 

What is the definition of morality? Is it what society deems "moral" at any given time in history? Is it what each person decides for himself? And, what is the fundamental basis for morality?

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In "my" thread, I posted the following regarding this topic.

 

For example, I can't evaluate on the basis of scripture in the way I know you'd suggest I do. From the article I posted earlier:

 

 

 

 

While I believe that the Holy Bible is *inspired* by God, I don't believe it has ended up in front of us without significant human, cultural, historical and political influence. I don't believe "God's Word" is literally God's word. Using the Bible as it's written and presented today would apply a standard I am not confident in.

 

To me, it's a bit like the telephone game for kids. What happened (or what was said) originally moves through kid's mouths, heard by selective ears, shaped by the child's expectations and experience, and emerges bearing slight or sometimes no relationship to the original.

 

I agree with the above, except for the fact that I believe many books are inspired by God. Of course, my understanding of God is not the traditional, Biblical, theistic, Christian God either. My question simply is: then, where do we go to find an unanthropomorphic god? If that makes any sense. Where do we find god's morality/rules - morality that hasn't been tainted by humans.

 

I'm not asking to be argumentative in anyway. This is something I've been struggling with for years. I'm finding a place where I'm comfortable, but just wondering about what others believe.

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Morality.

 

In my experience, morality is more constant than belief in dogma (although I have at times tried to ignore what I felt to be moral because it conflicted with the dogma I was trying to believe). My dogmatic beliefs have changed significantly; my morality very little.

 

Morality crosses religious and denominational lines. Focusing on morality makes it easier to form respectful and enriching relationships with others.

 

Moral behavior makes the world a better place. Dogma often doesn't.

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I agree with the above, except for the fact that I believe many books are inspired by God. Of course, my understanding of God is not the traditional, Biblical, theistic, Christian God either. My question simply is: then, where do we go to find an unanthropomorphic god? If that makes any sense. Where do we find god's morality/rules - morality that hasn't been tainted by humans.

 

I'm not asking to be argumentative in anyway. This is something I've been struggling with for years. I'm finding a place where I'm comfortable, but just wondering about what others believe.

 

I'm not sure that it's possible to find a message from God/god(s) that isn't tainted by humanity. Even if a person builds up a moral code strictly from observing nature, those observations are inevitably filtered through human eyes and a human brain. Even if you receive a direct message from God/god(s), beamed straight into your brain, your perceptions and thoughts will, again, "taint" the message - unless you believe that God/god(s) can overcome the inevitable human interference and preserve the essential purity of the message. And that brings you full circle back to where things stand today.

 

I just don't see a way around God/god(s) giving a message *to* humans (or one that can be found by humans) without necessarily involving a human "taint". Either God/god(s) *can* overcome that taint (and thus it's a matter of finding the right message or the right method of interpreting - the default assumption for most religions) or they can't (and thus it doesn't exist).

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I agree with the above, except for the fact that I believe many books are inspired by God. Of course, my understanding of God is not the traditional, Biblical, theistic, Christian God either. My question simply is: then, where do we go to find an unanthropomorphic god? If that makes any sense. Where do we find god's morality/rules - morality that hasn't been tainted by humans.

 

I'm not asking to be argumentative in anyway. This is something I've been struggling with for years. I'm finding a place where I'm comfortable, but just wondering about what others believe.

 

I actually agree there have been many books inspired by God. I do (still) believe the Christian Bible was inspired uniquely as a history, metaphoric, and other genre encapsulation of God's directions for Christians.

 

I don't elevate God's role/inspiration in any other book to the level I do the Christian Bible.

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"God's word", and morality, once said that if a man wanted a woman, he just had to rape her and buy her from her father. "God's word", and morality, explained how to sell your daughter into slavery. "God's word" said a righteous man was one who would send his daughters into a mob to be gang-raped, and later impregnate them himself. God once commanded men to go into cities and kill every man, woman, child, and animal in them. Nowadays we call someone who commands such a thing a war criminal. Unless he's God, when we must call this thing good, because God is good. God commanded that people who had pre-marital sex be put to death, disobedient sons too.

 

I, for one, am glad morality has changed from those days.

 

I think most of us mere humans can agree on better moral standards than those the Bible god had. I'm also sure there are people on this board who think those rules were just fine and were divine and perfect, although they wouldn't support them today.

 

T.

 

As far as God being a war criminal, there is a good article here. Not really sure rape was ever condoned.

 

As far as humans having better moral standards, I'm sure there are slaves in the Sudan and people in prison in China who would disagree. Those people are simply doing what they believe is right in their own eyes as well. What is considered moral and good is constantly in a state of flux.

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I do not believe this. I am a Catholic Christian.

 

 

In fact, no Catholic I know believes this. But are Catholics really Christian? ;) Some Christians think Catholics are going to hell because they have not 'accepted' Christ in a certain dogmatic way, plus they 'worship' Mary. Which is agaist the first commandment and all.

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Dogma is created by humans. Its ultimate purpose is generally to control large groups of people. After all, how many of the world's largest religions tell us something along the lines of, "Your actions mean nothing, your heart will lie to you, and unless you do what we tell you, you're doomed"? Organized religion and its dogma has always been about control.

 

Morality is something that grows within you based on your experiences and what your humanity tells you is right or wrong.

 

If you can find a system of belief that aligns with what you already believe, that's wonderful. It would likely be a better world if the dogma we've created could always mesh with what morality tells us is right or wrong. And yes, while some people have a skewed sense of morality for whatever reason, if we all trusted to our moral compasses instead of just listening to what holy books or religious leaders tells us is right or wrong, the world as a whole would be much, much better off.

 

I vote for morality.

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wouldn't God's word be final over what is moral or not?
1) Which god? Even if we just stick with Yahweh and the trinity we could be here for a week discussing "which version of god?"

2) How do you know what his words were when they were written by humans and translated multiple times?

3) By definition, interpretation is part of extracting meaning from any text. It is unavoidable.

 

Yes, morality is more important to me although I am a Christ follower & church attendee. With so many different ways to interpret the Bible and all the religions created around the it, I believe if we just stick to the Golden Rule we'd all be fine.

 

Even religions not based upon the Bible point to us being moral human beings. The dogma and its legalism is what has twisted something so simple as Love thy neighbor as thyself.

Very well said!

 

The wife-beating child-killing Christian goes to heaven. Even the non-fornicating non-Christian goes to hell.
I do not believe this. I am a Catholic Christian.Rhetorical question, no need to answer, just food for thought: Do you believe in hell and that anyone will be there? If a church says that hell exists and anyone--anyone--will go there, then such a church has stood in judgment over their fellow humans.

 

As someone here said elsewhere recently, "If you could be content to live in heaven knowing there were people in hell, you don't deserve to be in heaven in the first place."

 

Not that I believe in either heaven or hell. I do not, though I did for years.

Edited by Geek
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