Should Religion Evolve With Society?
Two highly debated issues in the media lately are gay marriage and free contraceptive coverage. The largest opponents to these two issues are people of varying religious faiths. Using history as an indicator, we have learned things we held true in the past are no longer true in the present. We thought the world was flat, the Earth was the center of the solar system, pipes were made out of lead, buildings were insulated with asbestos, and the ongoing eggs are good - eggs are bad to eat debate. Reflecting on these thoughts I asked myself the question: Should religion evolve with society? If science and society show us that religious beliefs are not upheld or that they harm people should we change our thinking?
While writing an article on the contraceptive coverage issue I discovered in my research that 98% of Catholic women use contraceptives to prevent birth. If the Pope's message falls on deaf ears it fails in either its wording or it simply does not benefit the lifestyle of the people it is intended for. Today's global economy is shaky at best and personally I cannot imagine the costs of raising an unending number of children. We no longer need large families to work on the family farm and thankfully laws prevent children from working alongside their parents. Instead of children financially helping their parents they are more of a financial burden these days. Statistics show that children who are born into financially inadequate living situations are more likely to be victims of abuse and neglect. Furthermore, I can't think of any occupation in the middle class where the level of yearly salary increase would match or outpace the growing costs of raising additional children.
Anyone who has ever had a child knows how expensive prenatal care and a hospital delivery can be. My husband worked and carried insurance for the same hospital where our son was born. Even with "good" insurance we still spent thousands of dollars out of pocket. The cost of birth control pills range from $9 to $90 dollars a month plus the cost of a yearly doctor visit. A 9 month supply of birth control contraceptives is greatly cheaper for people and insurance companies to cover compared to the costs of pregnancy. Many opponents to the contraceptive coverage argue that religious schools, universities, and hospitals shouldn't have to pay for insurance coverage for something they don't believe in. I can't imagine insurance premiums skyrocketing or even changing at all for an insurance plan to cover a few more prescriptions, especially when pregnancy is much more costly. If insurance premiums do not increase then what's the difference? Non-Catholic employees at these institutions won't have their freedoms infringed upon and no extra money is spent on the coverage thereby making it "free".
I agree that there should always be a separation between church and state, hence why churches are not included in the mandate. However, not all employees of religious based businesses practice that same faith of their employer. Is it right for a Catholic university to impose its religious belief on a non-Catholic employee? I don't believe that it is right, nor do I think Catholic Bishops should enlist the help of Republicans to take the coverage away from all the other citizens in the nation who would otherwise be covered by the contraceptive mandate. Do they not see that they're complaining about their religious freedom and then turning around to impose the religious/basic freedom of everyone else?
Looking for the origin of this belief on Catholic.com I discovered it all began because a man would not sleep with his dead brother's wife. Sure there are other scriptures that evidently uphold this belief but it is my understanding that this was the first one written. In the media I've read a number of stories where Catholic women support the contraceptive coverage and the men oppose it. This mandate directly affects women and only women so why is the voice of the men so loud?
A topic that has always puzzled me is the number of denominations in the world based on one book, The Bible. According to the World Christian Encyclopedia there are 33,000 denominations of Christianity in the world. If this one book is the gospel why does man get to interpret it as he sees fit? Shouldn't there be a universal language or code that every Christian follows? Other Christian religions study the same book as Catholics yet they don't all believe in abstaining from contraceptives. Similarly not all Christian churches oppose same-sex marriage.
Science has shown us the brain structure and resulting chemistry of a homosexual is simply different than that of a heterosexual. Different does not make it wrong, it is simply different. People are born with different hair color; I myself am 6 inches taller than the average female. We are each unique in our own way and none of it is wrong. The simplest phrase I associate with Christianity is "love one another" so why do some Christians deny love? If a church does not believe in same-sex marriage they certainly don't have to perform the ceremony. However, if two people want to go to the court house to be married religious beliefs shouldn't infringe on state law and stand in their way. It's love plain and simple and I believe the world can always use more love.
I can only imagine what it must be like for a person to grow up with a religion that will some day turn on them for their sexual orientation. Some of these people live their entire life in secret and may never get to discover the freedom and love they truly seek. Currently residing in a largely Mormon community I have encountered people who have been shunned not only by their church but also by their immediate families for being homosexual. Whatever happened to "judge not lest ye be judged" and why do some religions not follow that scripture universally? It seems to me that if there is a scripture to cling to this should definitely be one of them.
The story of Adam and Eve is often offered as evidence that only heterosexual unions should take place. However, the story is about the creation of women. Adam and Eve didn't exchange rings and have a celebratory party afterwards. As an instructor of anatomy and physiology for 7 years I promise you that men and women have the same number of ribs, in case you were wondering. Granted they didn't have x-ray machines when the Bible was written but how many more errors are lurking in the book that has been translated several times. My Biblical knowledge is very limited so I had to research what scriptures lead some to believe same-sex marriage is wrong. In the HuffingtonPost.com article written by Lee Jefferson titled, What Does The Bible Actually Say About Gay Marriage?, he discusses 4 very important points.
- The origin of marriage is a civil matter and not a religious one. The issue of same-sex marriage was addressed by Christians after the Bible was written.
- The Bible does not clearly endorse one form of marriage over another.
- The Biblical arguments made against same-sex marriage do not come from scripture about marriage itself. In the gospels, Jesus never addressed same-sex practices.
- In the ancient world there were no arguments or discussions about sexual orientation. There is no Hebrew or Greek word with a common origin synonymous to the modern terms of homosexuality or same-sex marriage.
If they were standing here today I can't imagine God or Jesus standing in the way of love when that was their universal message. Some Christians will agree with that statement because they too support same sex marriage. Again I ask the question: When a religious belief does more harm to people than good shouldn't it be re-considered?