Jesus without baggage: Tim Chastain’s journey from fundamentalism

Although this blog can sometimes give the wrong impression, not everyone who leaves fundamentalism becomes an atheist. Tim Chastain is one blogger who has hung on to faith with an appealing combination of good sense and an admiration for the person of Jesus. This is his story.

When I ‘got saved’ in a fundamentalist church at seven years old, I embraced all the church’s fundamentalist baggage. I am now 61 and fundamentalism is far behind me; it has been quite a journey!

Let me say that my journey from fundamentalism is somewhat different from Jonny’s. First, mine was an older fundamentalism of the 1950s, and ‘60s. I fed on the writings of John R. Rice and the Sword of the Lord and I even corresponded with him. I listened to Carl McIntire and Oliver Greene on the radio and attended an Oliver Greene revival in my town.

Secondly, my leaving fundamentalism did not result in atheism, though I am comfortable with atheists. However, it did lead to a spiritual crisis in which I lived for over a year (1994) with deep despair, depression, and grieving for the loss of God. The crisis began after I abandoned creationism and then realized that Paul was mistaken about the historicity of Adam. Paul was not inerrant!

Starting March 28, I have three posts scheduled for my blog that describe this crisis in my life, but readers of Leaving Fundamentalism can see and comment on them now at: and

The reason I did not become an atheist is because when I read about Jesus from the memories of his earliest followers, I found him to be intensely compelling even though I did not consider those memories to be the inerrant word of God. So all my religious beliefs are now based on Jesus and not the inerrancy or authority of the Bible. This makes a HUGE difference in perspective!

There is a third difference. Home schooling and private fundamentalist schools were uncommon when I was a child, so I attended public school in the USA. In third grade I began to feel different from others. Nobody treated me badly, but as time went on I realized it was because of my fundamentalist beliefs. I couldn’t do things that normal kids did. Twice, my classes went to a swimming park on the last day of school, and I could not participate. Later, I couldn’t participate in the joint dancing class, and I couldn’t wear the required shorts for gym or shower with other boys. I couldn’t participate in some important after-school activities because mid-week church services were more important.

Even in elementary school, I made it clear that I followed my religious beliefs. I carried my Bible with me to school and read it whenever I finished tests early. Both my fifth and sixth grade teachers called me their Bible student. Once, for the daily Bible reading, I read a passage to prove that the world was square instead of round.

I liked my school friends, and I was sorry they were going to hell—except for Jerry. Jerry was also a fundamentalist—but of another denomination. As fundamentalists do, we argued about the one thing we disagreed on. Actually, it was a proxy battle; through us, his father and my mother exchanged scriptures defending opposite sides of a doctrinal issue. From that time, I continued to defend fundamentalist views to my other classmates and I challenged other kids, including seniors, whenever they used vulgar words. Instead of calling me ‘Tim’, some addressed me as ‘Watch Your Language.’

My focus was following the truth. Even though, at first, this meant defending fundamentalist ‘truth’, it turned out to be a good thing. In my search for truth, during my senior year I questioned whether attending movies was a sin and I eventually abandoned legalism completely. Gradually, I examined other beliefs until I came to a number of conclusions contrary to fundamentalism.

  • Does Satan exist? Answer: No
  • Is there an eternal burning hell? Answer: No
  • Is the Genesis creation account historical? Answer: No
  • Is the Bible inerrant? Answer: No
  • Is God angry and violent? Answer: No
  • Is homosexuality a ‘sin’? Answer: No

I left fundamentalism long ago, but I am still enamored with the Jesus I see in the memories of his early followers. However, because I believe the baggage often associated with the message of Jesus is extremely destructive, I blog on that subject at Jesus without Baggage.

If you have had the courage to abandon your religious baggage, I applaud you!

Jonny again: So what do you guys think? Where has leaving fundamentalism taken you, and what other possible views did you consider?

Related post:

About jonnyscaramanga

I grew up as a Christian fundamentalist in the UK. Now I am writing a book and blog about what that's like, and what fundamentalists believe.

Posted on March 18, 2013, in Christianity, Fundamentalism. Bookmark the permalink. 40 Comments.

  1. Just another man made religion, no resemblance to true Christianity.
    Man will keep reinventing The Word of God, obviously to his eternal peril, why is it so difficult for man to just believe what the Bible says?

    • Thanks for commenting Debbie. It’s difficult to discuss your ideas without knowing more clearly what you think. It would be helpful if you could say what a true Christian is (and how to tell a “false Christian”).

      From what you write, I’m guessing that you consider an inerrant Bible to be an important part of your faith?

      Edit:And another thought, you mentioned “man made” religion, so I infer that, for you, true Christianity is “God made”. All the books in the Bible were written down by people though, and the books were chosen by people later, so in that sense at least the Bible is “man made”. So my question is why it is that God would have spoken to people in the particular way which qualifies as “Scripture” for the period of the writing of the Bible (which, from the evidence I’ve seen, began at least 77,000 years into humanity’s existence, and then abruptly stopped about 800 years later), and then stopped doing so since then?

      • ashley haworth-roberts

        “Why is it so difficult for man to just believe what the Bible says?”

        Because large parts of it are contradicted by scientific knowledge, perhaps?

    • Hi Debbie, thanks for your comment. However I also have questions about what you mean. First, what is “true Christianity”? The tradition you happen to be in?

      Trying to understand the Bible does not mean reinventing the Word of God. You say it is “obviously to his eternal peril.” How is this obvious? Do you mean an eternal burning hell? A close reading of the Bible does not support that view.

      You ask why it is so difficult to just believe what the Bible says. The fact is, the Bible is a complex writing and every reader brings to it their own interpretive perspective. This perspective can come either from our assumtions, or what we have been taught by those around us (which we often call plain, self-evident, or obvious), or from grappling and interacting with the text with all the insight, reason, and care that we can muster.

      I applaud all who attempt to take the Bible seriouly in some way, but the belief structures we all build on our approaches to the Bible are quite varied, and it is only in humility that we can say we think we understand it.

  2. Debbie, Not all of us have shut down our critical thinking skills. It is Jesus we worship, not the bible. We have made the book into an idol, instead of a guide to lead us to Christ

    • Dave, I like how you point out that we do not worship the Bible. Many believers today are indeed participants in bibliolatry–worship of the Bible.

  3. You can’t have Jesus and the world… pick one or the other.

    • I’m sorry ACE was so horrific for you. The bitterness seems to bleed through much of your writing. Jesus is always knocking at your door. He loves you.

      • Do I sound bitter to you? That’s interesting. I wonder what my other readers think. I can see how you might assume I’m bitter. I spend a lot of time criticising an organisation I was last involved with 14 years ago. A lot of people who do that are motivated by bitterness.

        I don’t feel bitter though. I have an excellent life now. Any disadvantages I may have suffered have, I think, started to balance out because people are fascinated to talk to me about my experiences now. I think it’s very important to talk about the dangers of ACE and fundamentalism, but I wouldn’t say I’m bitter.

      • Jonny, I have never met you and I know you only through your writing, but I must say that it did not occur to me that you are bitter. What I do see is a very focused effort to demonstrate the dangers of ACE education and other aspects of fundamentalism. Assertaive warnings in dangerous situations do not indicate bitterness, though perhaps some could perhaps understand them that way.

    • And which Jesus might that be, Candace? The political revolutionary as described by S.G.F. Brandon (1967), as a magician by Morton Smith (1978), as a Galilean charismatic by Geza Vermes (1981. 1984), a Galilean Rabbi by Bruce Chilton (1984), as Hillelite or proto-Pharisee by Harvey Falk (1985), as an Essene by Harvey Falk (1985), and as an eschatological prophet by E.P. Sanders (1985)? Of course, Candace, I suspect you think you know which one is the right one to pick, correct? Any of these might do, I guess, as long as you pick to live fully in this world, am I right? I presume we should spend our lives preparing for the hypothetical next one believing in whatever Jesus best suits our preference.

      To quote biblical scholar Crossan, “But that stunning diversity (about the real Jesus) is an academic embarrassment. It is impossible to avoid the suspicion that historical Jesus research is a very safe place to do theology and call it history, to do autobiography and call it biography.” [quote from John Dominic Crossan, The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Peasant, xxviii, in Hector Avalos, The End of Biblical Studies, 198]

      • Hi tildeb! Looks like you’ve done a lot of research. I’m impressed by the quick turnaround of your response to my comment. I haven’t heard of any of the mentioned authors. I was referring to the Jesus of the Bible.

      • Yes, so was I. The biblical scholarship is quite split on which Jesus is which, leading some to argue with compelling evidence that what we assume is one historical figure was in fact several. And this comports well with the discrepancies anyone can find in the Gospels.

    • Hi Candice, you clairfy later that you mean Jesus of the Bible. I believe in Jesus of the Bible. He is the most important thing there is to me, yet you seem to say that I cannot choose both Jesus and the world. I am not sure what you mean by the world. My best guess (I am very open for clarification) is that you mean my beliefs, as shared in the article, are of the world. In what way is this so?

      I believe in the Jesus of the Bible, that he came to resolve our alienation from the Father, that he died and was resurrected, and that he offers us eternal life. How is this at odds with choosing Jesus?

      • Hi Tim! By “the world” I was referencing John 15:19 “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”

        Jesus’ words in this passage refer to the world as unbelievers. In other parts of the Gospels, Jesus refers to believers as “the light of the world”, “the salt of the earth”, “lampstands”, etc. His point is that we are to glorify God by being a reflection of Christ to the world, yet remaining untarnished by sin. I hope that helps.

      • Tim, I can’t help but ask: Do you believe in heaven? From what you say, there is no hell, but Jesus taught more about hell than he did about heaven.

      • Candace, I believe that we will be resurrected and will live in some sort of perfected environment. I understand this perhaps to be a place silmilar to, or the same as, where we live today. Some people might call this heaven.

        You are correct that Jesus talks much of hell, particularly if you read some translations such as the KJV. However, a close reading will show that Jesus did not teach punishment in an eternal, burning place of torment. Instead, he uses Old Testament imagery of death and destruction, familiar to others at the time, to make a point. I explore this further at, if you wish to read it.

  4. ACE homeschooling curriculum is a horrifically poor facsimile of an education, one that must be overcome if the homeschooled are to go on to higher education. People don’t choose this for the sake of their children’s best educational interests but for other – usually religious – selfish reasons.

    • Far may it be from me to come to ACE’s defence, tildeb, but I’m not sure it’s fair to say the parents’ reasons are selfish. Consider: You have a child, who you love more than anything in the world. You are convinced that the only truly joyful and good life comes from your religion. You also believe that if your child departs from this religion, they will be assured of eternal torment. In this situation, surely doing everything you can to ensure your child’s salvation is the loving thing to do, and worth any necessary sacrifices.

      I’m not saying those are good reasons, but I think it’s an accurate depiction of the thinking of most parents who choose ACE, and it’s helpful to see their point of view.

      • I’m not sure it’s fair to say the parents’ reasons are selfish.

        Yeah, this claim by me is certainly fair game for criticism based on exactly the point you raise; is it really selfish if the earnest intention is to help and aid?

        Well, any time one trusts one’s faith-based belief – whatever it may be – to be sufficient grounds for imposing the associated values of that belief on the innocent, on one’s children for example, then one has crossed the border into acting on selfishness – regardless of how earnest and caring one might assume the action to be. The same is true for all kinds of charity behaviours that only look selfless; the motivation remains the same: to impose one’s faith-based beliefs and attached values on others. This is the rot at the core of many religions, the assumption that faith-based belief is good because it is based on faith rather than compelling evidence from reality and reasons subject to validation by reality. In other words, does ACE produce a greater educational benefit than public education? And the answer is a resound No.

        In fact, ACE ‘graduates’ face significant impediments and curricular holes that must be overcome to be able to compete in academic advancement. And nowhere is this more obvious than in biology where admission to colleges and universities know perfectly well that ACE curriculum is lacking in providing even a fundamental understanding of the pillars of the science. Withholding and grossly misrepresenting such fundamental scientific knowledge from children in the name of ‘protecting’ them is reprehensibly selfish when the same ‘earnest’ folk rely on exactly this knowledge to receive efficacious medicine and treatments for life-threatening illnesses these kids may suffer. This hypocrisy-in-action should reveal the merit of the claim that ACE is in the child’s best interests; it’s not. It’s in the best interests of those who are unable to comport reality with their faith-based beliefs, who now visit upon the next generation without their informed consent an education not for their academic benefit but for the comfort level of those who impose it on others. And that’s incredibly selfish as well as disrespectful of the job to parent well and produce healthy, happy, well adjusted, responsible, caring, and educated citizens.

      • Jonny, I appreciate your kind and humane response regarding mis-guided parents and ACE. It shows understanding and compassion while pointing out that their choices are flawed.

  5. Jonny, thanks for your response! Is ACE the main proponent of your change in beliefs? (I understand you have a strong voice for evolution, as well. Just like to understand where people are coming from.)

    • Actually, ACE had nothing to do with the change in my beliefs. I left ACE in 1999 but continued going to church for about another year after that. I stopped going to church but I remained very serious about my faith for about another three years, and then spent several years questioning it.

      I suppose, looking back, a big driver for me was unanswered prayer. Not just mine, but everyone’s. There were lots of reasons; I couldn’t explain how I stopped believing in a reply to a blog comment.

      • Thanks for sharing. I understand that’s something that can’t be unpacked in a simple blog comment. I’m glad God’s truth doesn’t waver on what I want to believe or what suits my desires. God bless you!

      • The big driver for many leaving faith-based belief behind is the problem of suffering (commonly referred to as the <a href=""problem of evil). Because life that we find throughout Nature is based on a prey/predator system, it is well nigh impossible to align an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent benevolent creator that is moral (without then raising the Euthyphro dilemma) in the presence of such suffering. In all cases, the problem of suffering is fatal to the logical cohesion for the existence of a loving, compassionate, caring god who could have created but did not something different (such a ‘god switch’ in the nervous system of animals to turn off pain caused by predation or starvation).

  6. Thanks for sharing this, Tim. It’s a helpful reminder that there are many different faith trajectories, and it’s not a simple fundie -> ex-fundie -> atheist progression. Not that I ever thought it was…

    • But it sure is a pleasure to welcome ex-fundamentalists into the fresh air of atheism. The next step is to get these earnest folk who have taken that difficult road, by deciding to respect what’s true over and above what others believe is true, to become advocates against religious privilege in the public domain. Many outstanding atheists, highly respected, well known, and very articulate are ex-fundamentalists and their contribution has been immense. They know the real cost of religious belief, and it’s not benign.

      • tiledb:

        Your comment at 11:11 nails it for me. Not only does Yahweh fall short, the character of Jesus does not seem quite as exemplary as his defenders make out. Dualism/Gnosticism is the only theology that, as a theology, successfully answers issues like the Question of Evil. of course, Orthodoxy made very, very certain, through crusades and murder, to effectively stamp out these alternative theologies.

        If Yahweh exists, he is truly an evil being.

      • Hi again! I hope you are well. tildeb, this response is to your previous statement where I THINK (correct me if I’m wrong) you’re implying that suffering and a loving, compassionate god don’t fit together. God IS loving and compassionate, but that doesn’t make up the entirety of his being. He’s also holy and just. That is why, because we are made in his image, we desire love, goodness and justice. We all know that irregardless of how loving someone is, love can’t be forced onto a person. This is why God gives us to the choice to choose or reject him. Our ancestors rejected him, and we remain sinners by nature and by choice. Sin/suffering happens because we live in a fallen world that is opposed to God.

        The fact that most people disagree with our faultiness under God ultimately affirms what the Bible says about human nature. It’s not “natural” for us to believe we are bad. Most people think they can get to heaven based off of their “good works”. In the midst of this confusion arises the question, “How can a good god send people to hell?” A more accurate phrasing would be, “How can a good god allow evil people into his holy and perfect presence?” But we don’t ask that because we don’t see ourselves as evil.

        That is why I love Jesus. He died for us while we mocked and betrayed him. As much as the world hates Jesus, he loves them more. He lived the (perfect) life I couldn’t live to die the (sinless) death I couldn’t die. His blood forgives our sins and washes us white as snow. When God looks at those who trust Jesus, he doesn’t see a sinner but he sees his Son, who stands in front of us and intercedes for us.

      • Hi Candace. Thank you for that very clear and concise explanation of the substitutionary atonement.

        For me, this raises even more questions.

        God gives us to the choice to choose or reject him.

        What about people who just don’t believe in God? I’m not talking about people in remote parts of the world who have never heard of Him here. I’m talking about people like some of the commenters on my blog, who have heard the Gospel but simply have no sense that God is real. In some cases, they would even accept Jesus as Saviour is they thought He was real (you’d have to be pretty crazy not to, if what you say is true), but they just can’t believe.

        If people have no idea that God exists, how can they reject Him?

        Our ancestors rejected him, and we remain sinners by nature and by choice.

        That means that we are being punished for something we didn’t do, but something our ancestors did. Is this fair?

        A more accurate phrasing would be, “How can a good god allow evil people into his holy and perfect presence?”

        A good question. Perhaps through forgiveness? How does a good mother allow naughty children into her presence? Why not just forgive us?

        He lived the (perfect) life I couldn’t live to die the (sinless) death I couldn’t die.

        Let’s say I committed a murder, and you volunteered to go to prison for me (or even the chair, if you live in a state where that happens). I would say that we now have two injustices: I, the murderer, am walking free, and you, an innocent person, have endured undeserved suffering. How does this tie in with God being perfectly just?

      • Hi Candace and thank you for your comment. I’ve been having router troubles so I’m tardy in my response.

        It is often presumed that criticism of scripture and interpretations must be based on some level of ignorance, that if people just knew the ‘truth’ they would join up and celebrate living by its directions.

        Well, the truth is that I – like many people – have come to our conclusions about the value of various scriptures <ibecause we have studied it. A long-running joke about seminarians is that you may enter a believer but few emerge! Scripture – like the bible – subjected to biblical scholarship tends to reveal how and why it is a work of men, a work produced as much by the times in which each book was written as by the characters and experiences of the various writers. Through different transcriptions and monkish additions and removals, as well as some really bad translations, we have today’s bible, full to the brim with factual errors and contrary accounts, historical confusions and geographical ignorance. It is a compendium of selected works aimed to support a central catholic theology that puts the cart before the horse and tries to explain why a latter-day Jesus (created from so many conflicting stories) must be interpreted to be the atonement for an ancient and former Babylonian myth now called ‘Genesis’. You may find this work inspiring but I do not… especially when I have had to compare and contrast various scriptures from other cultures and their competing and conflicting truth claims to what informs them. The conclusion I have reached is that these scriptures held to be the immutable word of god causes ongoing and unnecessary mischief used to excuse real harm to real people in real life. And what really astounds me is the number of women supporters who think their subjugation to men is only right and proper and honours a god. If I were a god, I would think gender equality would a higher moral value than all the misogyny inherent in the bible and attributed to the wishes, intentions, purposes, and meaning of a divine perfect being.

        But, hey, when my moral standard seems to be of a higher quality (how about a commandment to be nice, to treat children gently, to be compassionate towards others, etc.) and my communicative skills seem to be of a greater ability to express moral and ethical standards clearly (owning other people is against my wishes) than some biblical god, then the biblical god is way too small for me to think that it is the ‘truth’.

  7. I’ll just be very quick here, and note that I couldn’t read the links, not yet anyway.

    I first rejected the idea of God because I couldn’t assimilate some of the Bible stories with my teachers’ instruction that the god we were supposed to believe in was a good god. For example the stories of the ethnic cleansing of Jericho and, worst of all, the lauding of Abraham for being willing to kill his only son. There were one or two exceptions, to be sure. The parable of the Good Samaritan, for instance, is a story that we can all learn from, whatever the source.

    So, by the age of eight, I didn’t believe in God, but accepted – still following a conceived authority to some extent – that Jesus was a great moral teacher, albeit a bit misguided about who his father was.

    Gradually it dawned on me that it was the message itself, not the messenger, that produced the moral authority. Indeed, if we view authority in the sense of knowledge rather than power, this is true for everything that we can know about. It is the truth of something itself that has authority and if we feel that the provider of such truths is himself an authority it is only in the sense that what he says is true. So if we think that the parable of the Good Samaritan conveys sound moral truths it is because of the correspondence to our understanding of the meaning and application of morality, not because of who told the story. In a similar fashion, if it is morally wrong to discriminate against those of other cultures, including religions, then it is also morally wrong to discriminate against those, say, of other sexual orientation.

    In this sense the “moderates”, if Tim Chastain doesn’t object to such a label, have made just as big a mistake as the fundamentalists in attributing their own moral model to the authority of a person. It sometimes seems that the difference between the fundamentalists and the moderates is that the fundamentalists adapt their morality to the Bible whereas the moderates adapt the Bible to their morality. This is an oversimplification, of course – for instance, where would Ratzinger fit in that analysis? My own belief is that, contrary to the idea that man is becoming more self-centred and things are inexorably getting worse, we are actually becoming, slowly, more moral as a social species. Very often, as in the Anglican church, the Christians are getting dragged along against their will initially, and it seems that more often than not, the religious are the obstacle to moral progress, rather than its progenitors.

    Because of the failure to recognise that the nature of truth doesn’t depend on anyone’s consciousness, in a sense the moderates are just as bad as the fundamentalists as obstacles to true understanding.

    • Hi Tom, I am sorry the links did not work for you. I checked them just now and they seem to work. If you still cannot access the links, the articles will post live on my blog beginning March 28.

      Your point on the angry, violent god depicted in the Old Testament is well taken. If I thought these were accurate descriptions, I would not want to accept that god! However, I believe these stories merely show what the writers of that time thought of god. I explain further in if you are interested.

      I do not object to being labeled a moderate and I like your approach to the issue of morality. Jesus did have a message of strong morality, and it is true that the impact of his morality is in the message, itself, and not in his authority. Jesus is a good moral teacher, but that is no more reason to follow Jesus for that than any other moral teacher.

      The difference is what Jesus is beyond his moral teaching. I believe that he died and was resurrected and offers us eternal life. This is the reason I follow Jesus. This is also what seperates me from atheism. However, just because I follow Jesus does not mean I follow all the baggage of traditional perspectives.

      Thaks for your comment!

  8. Jonny, I’m sorry for the delay; it was a busy weekend. In fact, I should be sleeping right now. Oh well. 🙂

    The choice to choose or reject…
    The Bible says creation itself is a testimony to the Creator. Many see that answer as simple and ignorant. I’d argue that it’s more ignorant to believe that the preciseness in which the universe is wired to support life on Earth has no design. (I’ve read your comment policy and hope I’m not violating it! Forgive me.) God’s Word also says that God has written his law on man’s heart. It seems like people misbehave to an extent that is societally acceptable. Perhaps this is because God’s law is on their hearts, but they modify it to suite their desires. If someone is truly interested, they can do the historical research on the person of Jesus, why he was murdered, how his tomb was found empty, the credibility of the NT writings, etc.

    Us being punished for our ancestors rejecting God…
    We are inherently sinful. When a woman addicted to cocaine gives birth, her child is “punished” with inheriting that addiction. Children quite frequently suffer from inherent causes. Sin is the reason we have sickness, disease, death, etc.

    Allowing evil people into his holy presence…
    Yes! You are exactly right – through forgiveness (Jesus). Your reasoning of a good mother allowing naughty children into her presence isn’t parallel to Jesus and people, because you’re presupposing the mother is “good”. They’re both sinners under God as well as mortal humans. Because Jesus humbled himself to be God and man means he was the only one qualified to atone for the world’s sin. Side note, the fact that a young child is already inclined to disobey is an illustration of our inherent sin.

    Jesus said, “No one takes my life from me, but I willingly give it.” He knew he didn’t deserve to die, but chose to for 1- his glory and 2- his love for humanity. We were created to be in fellowship with him. He would have paid any price (and did) to reconcile us to himself. Again, your example of a man stepping in for a man is not quite parallel to Jesus and people, because a mere man could not pay for the sin of the world. God had to kill his Son to fully relinquish his wrath.

    I love to talk about this stuff, but want to avoid arguing for arguing’s sake. My intention is not to win (or lose, for that matter) a debate, but to show people the love of Christ. I’m intrigued at the interest you have in Jesus, given that you reject what he says is his word. I’d feel pretty low if someone wanted to be my friend yet didn’t believe what I said. And if there’s no hell, why did Jesus die?

  9. This is for tildeb, but to be completely honest, I’m confused as where to post it.

    To excuse real harm to real people in real life…
    I’m having trouble understanding what you mean. Could you re-word?
    Women (and men) have difficulty understanding and accepting Biblical submission. It is meant to be a reflection of Christ’s submission to the Father. They are both equal, but have different roles. Such is the design for man and woman. Sin diminishes and disfigures this idea. Jesus was the foremost advocate for women’s rights. He cherished women, and his treatment of them would have been seen as scandalous in his days. (Not in a perverted or inappropriate way, but in a way that sees them as equal to men.)
    Your moral standards…
    Are kindness, treating children gently and compassion inconsistencies to God’s character? Could you show me some specific Scriptures?

    • What I wrote is that these scriptures held to be the immutable word of god causes ongoing and unnecessary mischief used to excuse real harm to real people in real life. I then used the example of the second class status for women.

      You seem confused over how this might possibly be harmful by excusing all its religious reasoning – like in the power structure and practices of the Roman Catholic Church, and a recently voted down motion by the Anglican synod to ‘allow’ women equality status, to treat all women as second class to men unable to perform the miracle of the mass or rise to the occasion of infallibility like a man can. Why? Because of relating gonads to be of negative causal effect to the value of the person’s character and abilities. This is not a compelling reason but an exercise in blatant gender bias. Although you excuse all this current, as well as historical misogyny, by claiming Jesus treated women radically well (all things considered), did he really? Did he set an example and speak out for women’s equality?

      No. He did not. Where are the female disciples? Do you not recall him calling a woman a dog (Matthew 15:22-28)? With a single brush of accepting Christ first, man second, women third, you accept this gender-based subservient role on the authority of such scripture. And you have no independent reasons of quality and merit to do so.

      This belief – when extended into the public domain – causes real harm to real people in real life and stands in conflict with the secular value of equality rights. You intentionally undermine a positive social value – equality – in the name of your religious belief – misogyny. Although by using the secular value of religious freedom, you are quite welcome to treat yourself this way, but the real harm to real people comes from many such believers extending this gender-based discrimination into the world as if it’s a superior moral stance because it is based on misogynistic scripture!

      Thanks, but no thanks.

      That’s one of the reasons why establishing equality law has taken so many centuries: the active interference by so many religious followers in positions of public office who battle even to this day the secular value of individual autonomy and equality rights in law by justifying legal discrimination on biblical (and koranic) scripture. Just because you find no problem submitting your status to this misogynistic model in no way justifies offering support to those in positions of public office who would have all of us submit to this scriptural authority… not because its ethical and moral standards promoted have independent merit but because they don’t; they require divine authority to justify them, whereas secular values stand on their own merit to promote positive social values (like religious freedom for the individual).

      This need you have for submission to scriptural authority causes harm to the social good, causes harm to respecting individual autonomy, causes harm by promoting discrimination in law and misogynistic practices at home, causes harm to implementing public policies that have merit on the authority of compelling reasons. The submission to scriptural authority causes non stop, never-ending mischief to the very rights and freedoms and autonomy of many of those who support it! In other words, you undermine yourself and your character and your legal rights by supporting the notion of submission to scripture that respects none of these.

      • Hi tildeb, I had a thoughtful response written out, and it got deleted upon having to reboot Safari. Here goes my second attempt…

        Unfortunately, the miracle of the mass and infallibility of a man are unbiblical doctrines of the Roman Catholic church. All men (and women) are sinners under God and equally in need of his grace. Communion is a symbolic remembrance of the breaking of Jesus’ body.

        As far as the second-class status of women and misogyny, there is no no room for either of those concepts in complementarianism. I don’t think anyone would try to argue that men and women are altogether the same. We are obviously different. Think of a sexual relationship: A man’s physical makeup and a woman’s physical makeup are different, yet those differences are what allow them to literally come together as one. They have equal value in the sexual relationship, but perform different functions. This is just a physical illustration, but it speaks to the different roles men and women play. Yes, Jesus did appoint male apostles. Does that mean he didn’t equally love and value women? As Christ leads, serves and lays down his life (on the cross) for the church, a man leads, serves and lays down his life for his wife. There is no room for subservience. I’m not sure why people think different roles mean different value.

        Yes, you are right – in Matthew 15, Jesus called a Canaanite woman a dog. His point was not to insult her, but to test her heart motive. Was she just interested in celebrity Jesus or was she a committed follower? We see that she asks him twice for help, showing her commitment. If you look at Luke 18, he does the same thing to a man. A blind beggar, in fact. The beggar cries out to Jesus, and Jesus ignores him the first time. He responds to the beggar after his second cry. Jesus isn’t afraid to offend people in order to test their motives. The result is that he healed the blind man’s sight and the Canaanite woman’s daughter. In both situations, he accredits their faith.

        I absolutely do not believe that Jesus and Christianity are hateful toward women. I don’t think Scriptures infer that. I’d be happy to answer any other questions or points you make to try to argue that Scripture and Jesus do practice misogyny, but don’t want to argue for the sake of arguing. Thank you for continuing a civilized dialogue with me.

      • As far as the second-class status of women and misogyny, there is no no room for either of those concepts in complementarianism.

        Of course you’re right. In no way does gender (rather than merit and/or the quality of one’s character) determine one’s role in this complimentary arrangement of equals. I understand that there’s simply no room for this male dominance aspect of the misogynistic idea in your religious belief… except where it is actually put into practice and exercised to determine positions of authority and instruction, which just by coincidence favours the male. Then it’s the authority of scripture establishing a complimentary second class positioning for those equipped with no male genitalia and not one of actual gender discrimination. My mistake, I’m sure. Other than that perfectly justifiable ordinance based wholly and solely on privileging the authority of one gender over another in religious matters, I’m sure you’re quite right that there’s no room for this common practice inherent to complimentarianism to be any kind of evidence for upholding second class status of women in your religious belief.

  10. Reading through the comments I can’t help but wonder if it might be for the best if we all just stop debating with deluded people. I’m beginning to think it just encourages and energizes them. (They are discussing their ‘lover’ after all.) Whereas we just end up drained from the encounter.
    Perhaps we need to stop stooping to their level and just, you know, deal with sane people…

  1. Pingback: My Guest Post at Leaving Fundamentalism | Jesus Without Baggage

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: