…is a bit of nonsense that I hear every so often, much like this new piece of nonsense I heard from a friend recently: the Old Testament (and presumably the rest of the Bible) is written FOR us contemporary people but not TO us contemporary people, so thus a Christian (etc.) can pick and choose out of the Bible (etc.) which was written FOR us (gay people bad) but not really for us, and thus not TO us (wearing clothes of different fabrics).
Sure, a big part of this is semantics, and the fact that these believers feel they’re saying something profoundly understandable, so I will take a stab at what they’re trying to mean, and I will break whatever that is right on down, because it’s nonsense.
So lemme hitcha with how my friend got to sputtering nonsense. Wait, actually, I don’t remember how we got there, but we did get to talking about non-heterosexuality and how this friend shared a post about being a Christian and ‘not believing in homosexuality’ and ‘not believing in gay marriage’, which is a shoddy and sneaky way of saying that this friend was against it (why go through these linguistic loops? Just say you’re against it and that I’m going to hell). This friend had another friend on speaker phone (who I assume was an atheist or agnostic, at least), and speaker phone friend says that Jesus said nothing about gay people>Friend says it is in the Old Testament>I say, “You always purport you’re following the New Testament”>Friend: “And I follow the Old Testament, too… Well, some of it…”>Phone friend and I, “So which rules of the Old Testament do you pick?”
And then this friend interrupts our barrage and says, “Wait wait wait, my Youth Instructor said something really good last week, that, that the Bible was written FOR us but not TO us.”>Phone friend who really needs to be my friend: “That sounds like something you make up to cherry pick the Bible”>Me: “That is something you say to cherry-pick the Bible, and it doesn’t make sense!”
And this isn’t even the worst of it!!!!
And it doesn’t get better with repetitions, lemme tell you. So here’s an example of “FOR not TO” that yet another website (offered here by grace ambassadors) gave:
“Surely we can agree that when God told Noah to build an ark, he was speaking to Noah and not to anyone in the 21st century. Once realizing the proper context, we can understand the limits of its application. While we may learn the spiritual truths about Noah’s righteous obedience as an example, or his faithful diligence despite being persecuted, we would be wrong to go and build an ark because “since God said it, I’m supposed to obey it”.
And another, which is supposedly harder to interpret:
“For example, concerning our zealous missionary efforts, do we go to Gentile nations to preach the gospel? Jesus told the disciples in Matthew 10:5 to “Go not into the way of the Gentiles”, but in Acts 22:21 the same Jesus tells Paul to go to the Gentiles”
And these are the veins these “FOR not TO” structures take. If you’re not completely bamboozled by all things god, goddite, and godlike, you might be thinking, “Well, no shit this wasn’t written to us”. But let’s go a little further than that; it’s grotesquely obvious that this wasn’t written to us or anyone but the disciples, Paul, and Noah. God told Noah, Jesus told his disciples and Paul- who would even think they were speaking to anyone but them? If a professor tells one student to go pick up an assignment from her mailbox, does any of the other students think they should also go and do the same thing? Of course not. WHY IS THIS A CONVERSATION?
And what made it worse was that this friend was using this axiom to defend her following the parts of the Bible that condemn homosexuality. The verses that condemn homosexuality are in line with other condemnations that a majority of Christians ignore- and for no good reason.
On one of these sites, they even listed one of the commandments as written “FOR not TO”. I’m looking at all these commandments and I don’t see any of them as inapplicable to modern times- unless you don’t want to follow it, of course.
Like I thought in the very beginning, this seems to either be saying absolutely nothing that you shouldn’t have already figured out yourself, or it’s something to say when you don’t want to follow some directions, but would follow other directions in the Bible.
This is all under the wonderful umbrella that nontheists call Sophisticated Theology, where people throw some fancy words together and think they make sense. It’s trademarked (unofficially, but to me, officially) by Jerry Coyne of Evolutionary and Why Evolution is True fame. And it’s things like this that makes me dizzy with annoyance at certain words from religionistas.
And so to get to the latter part of my title. I did an awesome exercise with some people who had a table set up at my school. I had to choose pictures that were ‘answers’ to questions that the persons at the table asked me. Example questions were, “Pick a picture that shows how you feel today”, “Choose a picture about how you feel about the future”, and the pictures had numbers, so I felt I was doing a personality test and at the end she would add them all up and I would see if the numbers became my personality like a really nice Horoscope.
UNFORTUNATELY, this was not a psyche exam, for the questions segued into “Choose a picture that represents how you feel about religion”, “about Christianity”, “about god”, and I could tell from this person’s tone of voice how they felt about such things. Then it was their turn, although I don’t think this person even answered the preliminary questions and went right into the religious aspects.
You see, what I chose for “how do you feel about religion” was a phone booth in darkness- it was black all around the booth (something like above, except the blue box with Roger in it was just a regular American payphone). I explained that if there was ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ELSE and I NEEDED something, I would turn to religion, but only if I had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ELSE- that includes puppies, cookies, imaginary friends I knew were imaginary, self-mutilation and/or self-medication, and masturbation.
This person chose the same picture- except for the question of how they felt about god, saying that instead of nothing else being available, god is always available to be spoken to. This person asked me if I got lonely. I told her not really, and if and when I do, I talk to family, friends, or I go out and make family and friends. Simple. The conversation continued until I told this person I did not enjoy any of the rigmarole of religion- which includes believing in an imaginary being and following the guidance of men living in the Bronze Age. This person then says, “Well, you know, I’m religious, but I don’t really like religion.” I look at this person with my best poker face, which isn’t very good, because they continued, “You don’t really see much of a difference, do you?”>”Not at all.”
And then I see this person later with this!!!
So I saw several people wearing this, but each time I was hurrying elsewhere, and I was curious about the stories, and I thought, perhaps, these were trans people telling their experiences, and it’s always good to absorb the troubles of others just to have a better, larger, more open perspective of the world.
And then the person who interviewed me earlier posted what these shirts and stories were all about. Apparently they wanted to spread their god story (which really boggles my mind because doesn’t everyone, especially in Bumhill, Tennessee and down) already know the god stories in intricate detail? Who are they trying to convert?
In this exact same post, this person listed some of their habits concerning god, and so I think, what could you possibly mean when you say you don’t like religion? This is not the first time I’ve heard this phrase; people older than these shirt-wearers have said it hundreds of times before they did, but it’s not anymore convincing, or conducive of sense when they say it.
The phrase itself is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, I could take the fact that you don’t like religion but you’re religious at face value- but you can’t call yourself a Christian or any god-worshiper without indeed being part of the religion. As we well know, there are different facets to even the same religion, and just because SOME of your habits (which ones???!!!) are different from others of the following religion, doesn’t mean you are not with that religion.
On the other hand, you don’t like the rigmarole of religion. Okay. Like drinking wine and crackers, bowing your head towards the east five times a day, wearing anything other than white in the church, but you are open to rigmarole of spreading the Good Word and converting and praying and going to church- which is the average Christian in America.
And this brings me back to the beginning of this post. There’s a whole book of instructions on what to do and what not to do, but you’re just going to choose the ones you should follow, and for that you are not ‘of the religion’, but you’re a Christian? Following the Christian religion? ‘Kay.
“FOR not TO” and “Religious, but dislike Religion” are things that are so complicatedly wrong, I feel like I’m losing brain cells trying to explain it. I get it, but sorry, you can’t use “FOR not TO” for the sins you do or don’t like, and you can’t do all the stuff that makes a religion a religion (which is very little really), and say you dislike religion. This can only work on other goddites or people looking for some goddey to worship (so one could change god to Allah or Shiva etc.) Knock yourself out.