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Reflections on Ethics 10
Easy Money at the Circle C:
The Folly of Christian Ethics

by Chen Chapman

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From the Bible / Authorized (King James) Version:

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”

John 3:16 is the most translated Biblical passage in the world – over 1100 languages by 1978, according to the Gideons – and to almost every Christian sect, a guaranteed minimum pay-off lottery ticket at the Convenient Soul-Mart.

In the world of the typical Christian, John 3:16 sums up the entire requirement for Eternal Salvation: as long as one believes, they can and will be forgiven for any Sin, regardless of severity, and be eligible to enter the Kingdom of Heaven in the afterlife. A really good excuse for misbehavior is not needed; we are the weakling children of God – and as long as we are willing to pay homage to His Son, we escape Divine punishment for our misdeeds.

The Reverend Jerry Falwell has said that “America is rotting from within”. I happen to agree, but I believe that an important key to America’s cultural self-destruction can be found within the Bible verse above.

Any thinking person (especially parents of small persons) can see that American culture is indeed getting more out of control by the second. Almost daily, we learn about another celebrity mis-doer: religious leaders who fail to keep their pants on and hands out the collection plate, dishonest and alduterous politicians, murderous sports heroes, thieving actors, and music industry pedophiles, to name a few. Not to mention an increasingly inappropriate TV landscape, in which it is perfectly ok to broadcast Jerry Springer at 4pm (prime unsupervised TV time for millions of children), but that’s another story.

Interestingly, almost all of these disgraced public figures have one notable thing in common: They are (or sometimes suddenly become) vocal Christians who swear that as wo/men of God, they could not possibly be guilty. Or alternately, when convicted or caught red-handed, publicly call upon the Lord for forgiveness, hoping like crazy that their supporters and the law of the land will be as forgiving as their God.

Worse yet, many of their peers and admirers add to the disgracefulness of these figures’ behavior by answering the call - taking the position “God forgives, and so should we all”. I find it particularly awful that Clergy make themselves available as public supporters and advocates of individuals who have made serious transgressions against the laws of society and accepted morality.

One of the more disturbing recent examples is the case of R. Kelly and the Reverend James Meeks (Chicago’s Salem Baptist Church):

R. Kelly, a popular R&B Artist and Producer who has received many awards for his work, is alleged to have made pornographic videotapes (of himself having sexual relations) with girls as young as 14, including one clip in which he urinates on a young girl. Kelly denies the allegations despite compelling visual evidence.

Kelly has since been indicted in Florida and Illinois, but before any hearings had even taken place he had already secured damage-control assistance from Reverend Meeks.

Immediately following Kelly’s payment of $750,000.00 bond and subsequent release from jail in Illinois, he accompanied Reverend Meeks to the Kindergarten Graduation Ceremony at Salem Christian Academy, where Meeks is Pastor. There a group of 25-30 children sang Kelly's song "The World's Greatest", with Kelly joining them onstage to sing a few bars (an event described by the Chicago Sun-Times, as “almost surreal").

As is reported on BET’s website, Meeks said. "He hasn't been convicted of… anything. But if he had been, God still has a big enough umbrella for all of us to fit under", and Kelly, during an interview with MTV, asked friends and fans to “pray for me”. They have done so, too: Kelly’s fans have assembled in huge numbers outside the Chicago Courthouse shouting “We Love You, Kelly” and “We’re Praying for You!”.

In manner strangely supportive of Kelly and damning of public and religious figures in general, Michael Eric Dyson, the University of Pennsylvania's newly hired professor of humanities notes:

"It's easy to beat up on R. Kelly and say he's a pervert. But older (men) have been routinely having sexual relations with younger women for years, giving them babies and bad news and leaving them behind. Those same men go on to become preachers and politicians and public moralists (italics mine).”

Does the Reverend Meeks assure Kelly that he will be going to Heaven, despite his damaging social behavior? Isn’t that what Christians tell us John 3:16 is all about?

That’s the fatal flaw of the concept of Christian Ethics…though the Bible’s commandments and ethical guidelines exist, they are not ultimately required:

If you’ll only believe, YOU WILL NOT BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE. The Lord will forgive you. For anything.

And unfortunately, in a culture dominated by Christians, society often follows the path of easy forgiveness if the transgressor agrees to come into the fold, particularly if the transgressor is popular. But only if. Pretty compelling stuff for the morally weak, don’t you think? It’s a license to perpetrate harm against other people, straight from the Bible.

Oh, and R. Kelly’s latest single release? It’s called: “Heaven I Need a Hug”.

(For a chillingly funny spin, see: http://www.beansouptimes.com/generic151.html)