I’m an X, so I believe Y

It’s fascinating to me how the phrase “I’m a Christian, so I believe <Y>” is almost completely non-predictive to what <Y> is. Pro-life or pro-choice? Pro- or anti- same-sex marriage? Spank your children or not? For or against the death penalty? Welfare supporter or “welfare queen” detractor? Will the Rapture happen in our lifetimes or not, or is it impossible to know? Is divorce OK or not? Evolution: “real” or not? War: “turn the other cheek” or “eye for an eye”? Ghosts? Global warming? Universal healthcare? Or to go back in time a little: pro-slavery or anti? Or even further: does the Earth go around the Sun, or vice versa, or neither?

To put it another way: in the phrase “I’m a Christian, so I believe <Y>”, there are a greater number of non-trivial beliefs than can be substituted for <Y> (including contradictory ones) than those that are universally considered unacceptable by all who speak the phrase.

It’s especially fascinating when the sentence is followed by the supposed final word on the matter: a biblical quote. If you can equally support both sides of the argument in the same collection of books, while at the same time claim the other side is taking their quotes (from the same book) “out of context”, or confusing literal statements with metaphor, or using a mistranslation of the “true meaning of the text”, or applying other factors to decide which parts still apply and which no longer do… it should give you pause as to the usefulness of the text, and a little humility over proclaiming that one happens to have been born into the only small subsection of the population that got the interpretation just right.

Why if I didn’t know better I’d think that people just generally believe what they already believe (read: what they were taught by their parents, largely determined by where in the world they were born) and then just pick and choose the parts of religion that fit. It helps that they use a book written over centuries by people who had wildly different and inconsistent beliefs, therefore can justify practically any position you take.

But that’s just my belief, and we all know the Devil can quote scripture for his own purposes (Luke 4:9-11).

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