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Corruption in Religion

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Corruption in Religion

Post by Axle » Fri Aug 18, 2017 6:12 pm

mbh39nc wrote:
Fri Aug 18, 2017 4:48 pm
Hi everyone! Welcome to Gay Forums.

As an openly-gay man, lifelong Christian, and seminary graduate (M.Div.), I wanted to make myself available for any questions and comments you may have about how our identity affects our spirituality/ faith/ religiousness.

In concert with the rules of this forum, please feel free to post your questions and comments here. I'd be more than happy to discuss them with you, as I'm sure others will, too.

Take care,
Mark
I thought it would be better to create a separate thread over responding to the original one. I didn't want to hijack your topic but I am curious what your thoughts on this, my original post was this:

Well I tend to ask tough questions.

First I do believe in God. I think the existence of a supreme being of some description must be so because...take a look around. No matter how much science can explain existence and the laws of physics there's always the question of the beginning.

I look at it like this. I don't think God plays an everyday role in life and things. What will be will be on it's own. In other words we're just as much in control of our lives as we're not. I don't think God makes things in our lives happen just as he didn't put an asteroid on the path to Earth. If God want us to do anything it is to make the right choice, whatever that may be. Perhaps there's an error to my logic on that.

My question or problem is the sheer confusion and corruption and the lies that I see coming out of religion. Now, I don't want to turn the thread into religion vs science or that all the churches are after money. What I do see though is many churches, including ones just down the road from where I live clearly are more interested in making money than practicing the religion. The reason why I say that is this. In the town just a few miles from me has a small hospital, clearly underfunded, can't offer much other than to send patients to another hospital if there's something seriously wrong with someone. Next door is a huge church, clearly newer, worth millions. I have to say it is a piece of art, but I look at the church and the hospital and wonder why things are the way things are. Just isn't right that the money that goes into religion seems to benefit only those who are in the business of religion. Not saying churches don't donate money, time and manpower for good causes because that's not true and not every church is equal either.

The question is that with me knowing this is probably a common issue with organized religions how I can I really trust a church, how can I trust that the what they preach hasn't been tainted with to serve another purpose?

I hope I didn't strike a nerve with my post and maybe it is just me being cynical.

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Re: Corruption in Religion

Post by mbh39nc » Wed Aug 23, 2017 5:17 pm

Hey Axle,

Thanks for your message, and for asking the proverbial "tough questions"! Rest assured, you didn't hit any nerves (of mine, at least).

(I also appreciate your insights/ ideas on the concept of God. As I'm sure you know, you've hit on perhaps the greatest question of our existence. :-)

You're absolutely right, the church has done a pretty awful job of representing God in the world. Confusion and corruption are all too-common. While I think the vast majority of local churches (most of which you'd never hear about) earnestly try to fulfill their role of being faithful witnesses to the Gospel, the exceptions tend to stand out in stark contrast (like the church you mentioned). While I can't speak knowledgeably about that particular church's community involvement or missions budget, there does seem to be a disconnect between its apparent wealth in the midst of such need.

I wish there were an easy answer to your question! Trusting that a church is authentic to its message and consistent in its ministry is something that comes from being involved in one. In general, though, I'd suggest looking for the signs: What is the central message/ identity of the church? What do sermons tend to focus on, and is that focus, in your opinion, authentic to the Gospel? Does the pastor practice what s/he teaches? Do they seem to lead a life that reflects their avocation? What about the members---are they actively involved in their community? (Does that particular church you mentioned give money to the hospital next door? Do members volunteer there?) A LOT can be learned about a church from its weekly bulletin and or website. Also, take a look at their budget, and ask questions. In many denominations (Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans, etc.), the members of a church have to approve and vote on their church's budget, which means that information should be public and readily available. (If it's not, danger zone!)

For better or worse, the church is made up of people, people who are inherently imperfect and broken. Thus finding the "perfect" one is a tall order. The question is, once you identify a particular church's deficiencies (call them "growing edges"), can you live with them? Again, it's a process, one that takes time and some degree of commitment. I've attended many churches over the years; some gel better than others, some are more involved in their communities than others. Each is different.

Finally, trust your gut! If you feel something is plainly wrong, go with your instinct. Find out what it is, decide if you can deal with it, and if not, move on.

I hope this helped answer your question. Church is not for the faint of heart!
MH

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Re: Corruption in Religion

Post by Axle » Wed Aug 23, 2017 8:46 pm

mbh39nc wrote:
Wed Aug 23, 2017 5:17 pm
Hey Axle,

Thanks for your message, and for asking the proverbial "tough questions"! Rest assured, you didn't hit any nerves (of mine, at least).

(I also appreciate your insights/ ideas on the concept of God. As I'm sure you know, you've hit on perhaps the greatest question of our existence. :-)
The best conclusion I have, using logic and trying to wrap my head around the complexity of the world, life and the universe, there has to be a creator of some sort. Whether that creator be something like a God or something we simply can't comprehend, like say having a 6th sense that isn't sight, smell, taste, feeling, or hearing... Kind of hard to imagine something that we can't sense, say like being able to sense radio waves for instance. All I can say is whatever caused the big bang tells me there was something in existence beforehand and something had to cause it. There's really little question of the big bang you can see the red shift all over in distant stars and galaxies (provided you can get your hands on a telescope powerful enough).
You're absolutely right, the church has done a pretty awful job of representing God in the world. Confusion and corruption are all too-common. While I think the vast majority of local churches (most of which you'd never hear about) earnestly try to fulfill their role of being faithful witnesses to the Gospel, the exceptions tend to stand out in stark contrast (like the church you mentioned). While I can't speak knowledgeably about that particular church's community involvement or missions budget, there does seem to be a disconnect between its apparent wealth in the midst of such need.
I do agree that there are churches in this area, or all over rather, that do a lot of good in the community, that's great. I do agree that there are exceptions, especially when you have a huge church that is nicer than anything else in the town, but people don't question that or think it is a problem...except assholes like myself.
I wish there were an easy answer to your question! Trusting that a church is authentic to its message and consistent in its ministry is something that comes from being involved in one. In general, though, I'd suggest looking for the signs: What is the central message/ identity of the church? What do sermons tend to focus on, and is that focus, in your opinion, authentic to the Gospel? Does the pastor practice what s/he teaches? Do they seem to lead a life that reflects their avocation? What about the members---are they actively involved in their community? (Does that particular church you mentioned give money to the hospital next door? Do members volunteer there?) A LOT can be learned about a church from its weekly bulletin and or website. Also, take a look at their budget, and ask questions. In many denominations (Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans, etc.), the members of a church have to approve and vote on their church's budget, which means that information should be public and readily available. (If it's not, danger zone!)

For better or worse, the church is made up of people, people who are inherently imperfect and broken. Thus finding the "perfect" one is a tall order. The question is, once you identify a particular church's deficiencies (call them "growing edges"), can you live with them? Again, it's a process, one that takes time and some degree of commitment. I've attended many churches over the years; some gel better than others, some are more involved in their communities than others. Each is different.

Finally, trust your gut! If you feel something is plainly wrong, go with your instinct. Find out what it is, decide if you can deal with it, and if not, move on.

I hope this helped answer your question. Church is not for the faint of heart!
MH
I think what further muddies up the water is "what is authentic" and what does it mean to be faithful to the gospel? Perhaps it is just my lack of understanding The Bible or Christianity in general. The way it has been presented to me is that the Bible has been translated and left to interpretation. So there are a lot of ways to interpret something in the bible. I can think of several, one being the whole gay thing. Personally, I think when it comes to logic why would a creator of the universe give a crap who I have sex with? Morals, good and bad, they are in a lot of ways a social construct, but I think there are many reason why, for example, killing someone is a bad thing and it goes deeper than right and wrong.

There's other things besides a corrupt church, or religious organization, there's a lot of not so great history surrounding religions in general, like the crusades for instance. Those are separate issues, but you get the idea.

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Re: Corruption in Religion

Post by eastofeden » Wed Aug 30, 2017 2:54 pm

youre-whats-in-going-to-hell-hell-whats-in-people-12938246.png
youre-whats-in-going-to-hell-hell-whats-in-people-12938246.png (164.79 KiB) Viewed 260 times
This sums up my view on any organized religion....the people who lead them are often the absolute WORST advertisement for their respective religions with the unabashed hatred...judgments...finger pointing,...fear mongering...and so many are obvious con men...and how many of the followers use "God" to back up some kind of personal opinion..never understanding that it is a BELIEF and NOT "the truth" ...it is only "the truth" when an individual BELIEVES it is the truth..

...and people like Pat Robertson...UGH...I wouldn't want to spend five minutes with him...but an eternity? Are you kidding? If people like him wind up in "heaven"...give me a ticket to the other place....

To be fair..I find the more liberal members of any religion to be far closer to my idea of "what God wants"....the conservative religious people tend to do the my way or the highway routine...and if you don't think like I do you are going to hell....neither one of those options are the least bit appealing to me

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Re: Corruption in Religion

Post by Axle » Wed Aug 30, 2017 3:11 pm

eastofeden wrote:
Wed Aug 30, 2017 2:54 pm
youre-whats-in-going-to-hell-hell-whats-in-people-12938246.png

This sums up my view on any organized religion....the people who lead them are often the absolute WORST advertisement for their respective religions with the unabashed hatred...judgments...finger pointing,...fear mongering...and so many are obvious con men...and how many of the followers use "God" to back up some kind of personal opinion..never understanding that it is a BELIEF and NOT "the truth" ...it is only "the truth" when an individual BELIEVES it is the truth..

...and people like Pat Robertson...UGH...I wouldn't want to spend five minutes with him...but an eternity? Are you kidding? If people like him wind up in "heaven"...give me a ticket to the other place....

To be fair..I find the more liberal members of any religion to be far closer to my idea of "what God wants"....the conservative religious people tend to do the my way or the highway routine...and if you don't think like I do you are going to hell....neither one of those options are the least bit appealing to me
I'll have to do more research on the subject of hell but if I remember correctly hell was something that didn't really exist and was made up by the church. I do believe there is a lot of evidence to support that the church, especially inn the middle ages that things were done to collect taxes and maintain control. Today, well seems they have less control and a lot of people use religion to hide behind hate, like the Nashville Statement (been all over Twitter today). On another subject, I don't know how people deal with twitter, I can feel my blood pressure rise just reading about all the atrocities.

Anyway, when someone asks me if I believe in God, I say yes, but it has less to do with religion as it does science, although I do tend to focus a lot on the big bang...and the subject of time is also quite interesting too. While I think we're also very limited in our senses, I think there's a lot we can tell through our experience of simply being...

But wait, we're talking about corruption. The single biggest abuse I see in religion, next to monetary, is political influence, as I just mentioned the Nashville Statement which basically goes outright against us, the LGBTQ community, there's a lot of that, a lot of people using their religion, not just Christians, to hide behind hate and bigotry.

Many countries being gay is punishable by death and even if it isn't can still get you killed and these are countries that aren't Christian at all, so while there's a lot of stuff floating around (don't get me wrong it needs to be condemned) but many Christians do try to live by what we would call a true Christian. I mean if you're Christian and you're refusing to sell baked goods to a gay couple, you're more of a hypocrite than a Christian if you ask me.

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Re: Corruption in Religion

Post by eastofeden » Wed Aug 30, 2017 4:05 pm

It is weird to me when they quote Leviticus....which they do ALOT...yet when you quote Leviticus back to them and it is talking about THEM...all of a sudden it is the "Old Testament"...which they y=use freely when it suits them but protest when it doesn't....

They also say the Book is THE TRUTH but can't answer a straight question why they are quoiting Leviticus as "truth" yet ignore the rest of that "truth"....cognitive dissonance if you ask me....

...and this whole "love the sinner and hate the sin"...since everyone is a sinner according to them...why do they only tell gay people this? I know why...if their neighbor told them something they did and that was their answer..they might get slapped for being so condescending...

I also believe in God BUT I don't go along with any organized religion..and the God I know would never suggest stoning anyone for anything.

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Re: Corruption in Religion

Post by eastofeden » Wed Aug 30, 2017 4:10 pm

OK...my idea of heaven..I will C&P a post I made a couple weeks ago I think....

This is my BELIEF....and I think it is true but don't expect anyone else should....

I see the Earth Plane as one of seven planes of existence..the third one. I believe that in order to evolve to the next plane we go through many lifetimes and in the process we are newborns/young/mature and old souls...sometimes transcendental souls are needed to help with roadblocks...

I also believe that in order to evolve we MUST have free will.....

I also believe that God and the Devil are spirits and both reside in everyone....and Mother Nature and the Planet itself and every living thing from rocks to plants to animals have spirit and life force and we constantly have to negotiate a path forward..and each new path has special challenges and rewards...

I believe in balance..some people call it karma...but with balance....it isn't good or bad..it is just is what it is....

The enemy of paradise inside and outside of ourselves is IMAGE. Images can be very dangerous....and the seed of most everything wrong with our planet....and we all help create and sustain them and they will eventually capture us as they have in the past. Images of truth..of beauty...of knowledge....pretty much everything. We are all part of a group thought plane of existence..until the end when we either evolve or don't.

For instance...who is to say the person who is born without limbs isn't the most beautiful soul alive?...and the one we all bow to as the most beautiful image isn't the ugliest soul alive? Perhaps the one born without limbs is here to teach the value of seeing things with your soul instead of with your conditioned eyes....

...and I do mean perhaps...

I could go on for pages...but in the end...it is just what I believe and I am not really a fan of trying to make anyone else believe what I do. The free will thing though.....it is my bottom line.....my foundation....

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Re: Corruption in Religion

Post by eastofeden » Wed Aug 30, 2017 4:17 pm

LOL...I was trying to react to your post axle but accidentally reacted to mine :lol:

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Re: Corruption in Religion

Post by Axle » Wed Aug 30, 2017 4:28 pm

eastofeden wrote:
Wed Aug 30, 2017 4:05 pm
It is weird to me when they quote Leviticus....which they do ALOT...yet when you quote Leviticus back to them and it is talking about THEM...all of a sudden it is the "Old Testament"...which they y=use freely when it suits them but protest when it doesn't....

They also say the Book is THE TRUTH but can't answer a straight question why they are quoiting Leviticus as "truth" yet ignore the rest of that "truth"....cognitive dissonance if you ask me....

...and this whole "love the sinner and hate the sin"...since everyone is a sinner according to them...why do they only tell gay people this? I know why...if their neighbor told them something they did and that was their answer..they might get slapped for being so condescending...

I also believe in God BUT I don't go along with any organized religion..and the God I know would never suggest stoning anyone for anything.
The problem always comes back to people. The "they" you refer to are just hacks, it wouldn't matter if it was religion or Chevy vs. Ford...or whatever for that matter...

The old testament is, from what I understand, null and void. I've never read stuff from the Old Testament but from what I remember there is a lot more mentioning about God killing off people and just bad stuff a lot more often than in the New Testament. I think people take the bible far too literally and it is part of the problem and people fail to realize that the translations and all the changing of things throughout history really have tainted what the original text was. However, though like you, I see it in a similar way I would see something like a casino or a car dealership.

The only thing I can think as to why they keep on gay people with their bible quotes, it's just hiding behind their feelings and ignorance, it makes them feel empowered when there is a piece of text that says what we are is bad, they can flip the book open, point at it and say "see! I'm right!" People have a thing about being right, I guilty of it myself, not so much to prove something wrong but I tend to come off at times as a know it all and find myself arguing with someone just to prove my point to someone. The problem is with the person, almost all the time. I think people scoff at the whole "people learn to hate" memes, but it is true. Racism is handed down like a heirloom.

(I see the need for mutli-quote :lmao: )

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Re: Corruption in Religion

Post by Axle » Wed Aug 30, 2017 4:40 pm

eastofeden wrote:
Wed Aug 30, 2017 4:10 pm
OK...my idea of heaven..I will C&P a post I made a couple weeks ago I think....

This is my BELIEF....and I think it is true but don't expect anyone else should....

I see the Earth Plane as one of seven planes of existence..the third one. I believe that in order to evolve to the next plane we go through many lifetimes and in the process we are newborns/young/mature and old souls...sometimes transcendental souls are needed to help with roadblocks...
I am curious, perhaps you could elaborate on the 7 planes of existence? I don't know if I head heard of any of that before or not. My sister and my mom went through a period where they were into Wicca which eh, it's ok, just not my cup of tea. Too much work and casting spells, just seemed a bit silly to me.
I also believe that in order to evolve we MUST have free will.....

I also believe that God and the Devil are spirits and both reside in everyone....and Mother Nature and the Planet itself and every living thing from rocks to plants to animals have spirit and life force and we constantly have to negotiate a path forward..and each new path has special challenges and rewards...

I believe in balance..some people call it karma...but with balance....it isn't good or bad..it is just is what it is....

The enemy of paradise inside and outside of ourselves is IMAGE. Images can be very dangerous....and the seed of most everything wrong with our planet....and we all help create and sustain them and they will eventually capture us as they have in the past. Images of truth..of beauty...of knowledge....pretty much everything. We are all part of a group thought plane of existence..until the end when we either evolve or don't.

For instance...who is to say the person who is born without limbs isn't the most beautiful soul alive?...and the one we all bow to as the most beautiful image isn't the ugliest soul alive? Perhaps the one born without limbs is here to teach the value of seeing things with your soul instead of with your conditioned eyes....

...and I do mean perhaps...

I could go on for pages...but in the end...it is just what I believe and I am not really a fan of trying to make anyone else believe what I do. The free will thing though.....it is my bottom line.....my foundation....
Free will seems to be on trial, there's been some studies that suggest that when we're faced with a choice our brains have already chosen before we're aware of making the choice. If that were the case one could say we're just fancy clockwork, or machines rather. Otherwise, I agree, I think when it comes to God, I think God would stand clear and allow us to make mistakes, to be successful or not. I don't think prayers accomplish anything, whether it is helping you score well on a test or that you'll win the lottery. I think it is kind of like wishful thinking, or to hope for good things. At least if you ask me anyway, I know folks who are religious would strongly disagree and that's fine. I just haven't see or had anything happen that couldn't be explained, everything is usually by chance or by explanation.

Karma, well yes and no, but I don't know that there is a balance in things just as I don't think if someone does bad deeds is going to have bad karma, plenty of people get away with bad things and have good things happen to them. I think "bad karma" is often bad people getting caught up with their bad deeds, I mean if you're a drug dealer dealing drugs to kids, chances are you'll end up getting caught and bad things will happen.

Image, are you referring to say image of one's self or images in general. I think both can be dangerous in one way or another. I mean take a look at social media, people are far too concerned about selfies and how they look in public... For me being gay I really don't care about fashion or taking selifes.

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