If you’ve been following my blog (thanks by the way 🙂 ) you’ll know I strongly support LGBTQ+ rights and I thought discussing aspects of that and gender inequality would be a good way to exemplify my opinions here.
To some extent, I’m inclined to believe that the Bible (and other scriptures of other religions I’m much less familiar with) is like poetry; the ambiguity of teachings means we can’t know the intended meanings without asking the authors who are now long deceased. In addition, the teachings can be used to support a wide range of ideas which oppose each other, adding to the confusion. The many denominations of a single religion may further muddy the waters of morality. As if it isn’t perplexing enough, everyone has their own unique views within those denominations – they may be devout, or simply be informed by the fundamentals.
I’ve actually found quite a few quotes that are useful reminders. But since scriptures were written ages ago, it makes sense that some of the teachings are dated and not so agreeable… For example:
Ephesians 5:22-24 (KJV)
“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.”
I think we can safely assume that’s a tad patriarchal.
And according to http://www.plainsimplefaith.com/2013/06/the-bible-doesnt-say-love-the-sinner-hate-the-sinner-the-defense-series/ the Bible teaches people to love sinners while hating their sin. The problem I have with that is what constitutes as a “sin”. I would say there are several homophobic references such as:
Leviticus 20:13 (KJV)
“If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.”
Romans 1:25-27 (NKJV)
“who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of women, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.”
(The quotes from the Bible I used were from the website http://www.biblegateway.com/)
It says on http://www.christianbiblereference.org/faq_homosexuality.htm that the Bible does not specifically say anything about homosexuality and only condemns homosexual acts. However, by condemning any expression of homosexuality they are basically condemning gay people in my opinion. I honestly don’t see what is so scandalous about loving the same sex, it’s a sad state of affairs.
Anyway my mother has always taught how love is so important and Jesus’ main teachings seem to be about love and forgiveness – here are some quotes that I think support equality:
Mark 12:28-31 (NIV)
“Love your neighbour as yourself.”
Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV)
“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Matthew 7:1 (NIV)
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”
Here are two maps which show how deeply religious countries tend to coincide with few or no gay rights (sources: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/politics/and-you-thought-uganda-was-bad-map-shows-where-in-world-it-is-worst-to-be-gay-9152558.html and https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/world/gay-rights/):
However there is a slight plottwist to this post. It’s not all negative, I did say it would also be on happiness!
When I was doing some research for this post I learned that there was a 2013 study which found “patients who are being treated for mental-health issues such as depression or anxiety responded better to treatment if they believed in God” – go to http://www.livescience.com/52197-religion-health-brain.html for more studies. So being religious can be quite a benefit in some cases.
Despite this, there is a much smaller proportion of religious people in some regions than there used to be. I was quite surprised that the 2011 UK census showed 59% of the population was Christian with 25% saying they had no religion (source: http://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/culturalidentity/ethnicity/articles/2011censusanalysisethnicityandreligionofthenonukbornpopulationinenglandandwales/2015-06-18#religion). I thought there would be a lower percentage of Christians.
5 ways to be happy (excluding religion):
- Worry less, don’t overthink – I’m guilty of worrying a lot so I’m still working on it. Being organised and doing your best in all your pursuits you can hopefully counter any reaosn to be worried. And remember that people don’t notice every little thing you notice about yourself if you’re self-conscious like I am
- Just DO something! – I recently stumbled across the deceptively simple advice that is linked to the physics law “Things in motion stay in motion”. If you lie in bed all day feeling sad you’ll feel the same at the end of the day. If you get up and brush your teeth, have a shower you will feel fresher first of all, and may have gained enough momentum so that you’re not stuck in the dumps. Anything productive is a step in the right direction, be it reading a book, tidying the house, brushing the dog, weeding the garden, go on a walk, see your friends/make friends, make one page of revision notes. Today I went into town and saw a man busking, and his voice and guitar playing was beautiful. Keeping busy means you don’t have too much time to mope. A book I started skimming through (How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie) outlines stuff like that
- Exercise regularly, eat healthy – “A sound soul dwells within a sound mind and a sound body.” There is scientific evidence that supports that these lifestyle choices help improve your mood, reduce stress etc. Find something that works for you. It’s win-win
- Give back to the community – even Jesus taught this; Luke 6:38 (NIV) “Give, and it will be given to you.” As http://www.christianbiblereference.org/jneighbr.htm says, “Service to others brings meaning and fulfilment to our lives in a way that wealth, power, possessions and self-centred pursuits can never match”
- Remember that happiness is like life; it’s about the journey not the destination – if you’ve read The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald you’ll know even the wealthiest are dissatisfied about something
Notes: I was just trying to come up with a snappy title, I’m pretty indifferent about whether someone is religious or not. This post is going to be my opinions on religion/atheism and happiness. Feel free to comment your opinions. Featured image and infographics are not mine.
Song: Piano Fire by Sparkhorse (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6Gzly1HGeo) because it never ceases to give me good vibes.
(Also I was actually a vaguely practicing Christian until about seven years ago. I don’t think being religious, atheist or otherwise makes any difference to how good of a person you are, it’s what you do that matters.)