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The (Im)Moral Christian

Updated on January 17, 2012
Christian ethics are quite puzzling.
Christian ethics are quite puzzling. | Source

Calm down, Christians. I am not picking on you. I merely want to bring to light a paradox, or, conundrum, if you will. It has come to my attention, after recently writing several articles on the immorality of the bible, that Christians, who claim to practice love, mercy, forgiveness, and kindness, will quickly defend the vile acts that their god perpetrated in the bible. Now, you have to agree that this does defy logic, if, that is, one is willing to grant that these Christians do indeed practice love, mercy, forgiveness and kindness. I'll get to that part later.

So how can a person that claims to be a gentle soul, a lover of all his fellow humans, one with impeccable morals, turn around and defend things like slavery, genocide, rape, and incest in the bible? Blind hero worship might be one answer, but then one has to ask oneself, what exactly did they see in their "hero" that made them want to worship him in the first place? Another answer would be that they were brainwashed or indoctrinated from a very young age into a way of thinking that seems natural to them. One would hope, however, that with time and maturity, just like one grows out of the old Santa Clause lie, one can recognize force fed lies for what they are and grow out of them, as well. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to happen so much with Christians. If anything, they grow even more defensive of their beliefs.

Well, I hope to analyze this weird phenomenon and hopefully supply some answers.

Circular Reasoning

I think the crux of this paradox is the circular reasoning that Christians tend to engage in on a regular basis. Example: God is good because he says he is good in the bible, a book that he wrote/divinely inspired. Yes. And every politician is the best man for the job because their campaign add says they are. Is it just me, or does anyone else see the problem here?

Well, Christians can easily avoid justifying their god's behavior in the bible because most Christians will say that it is Jesus, not god that they follow and worship. Correct me if I am wrong here, but, isn't Jesus god? I mean, with over 35,000 different Christian denominations I'm sure it's hard to agree on, but for the most part, don't Christians agree that Jesus the son is also god the father? I know Emperor Constantine tried to nip this little dilemma in the butt, but there are so many references in the bible where Jesus, himself, claims that he is god, that it seems kind of pointless to quibble about this anymore.

John

1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

8:58 I tell you the truth, before Abraham was born, I am!

10:30 I and the Father are one.

10:33 ...you, a mere man, claim to be God.

There are several other passages where Jesus is referred to or addressed as god, and he does not correct them. You can argue all you want, Christians, but you are worshiping the same god from the Old Testament--maybe a new and improved version, but still the same god.

Another point on circular reasoning is, how much of a blind sheep do you have to be to reason that your god is allowed to break rules that you cannot? There is no distinction, then, between the god in the bible and a tyrant like Sadam Hussein or Kim Jong Il. You are worshiping a monster. Perhaps because you feel like you have no choice, just like the people of Iraq or North Korea felt. The difference is, Sadam and Kim were real. They could definitely expect punishment in the form of death. You don't have to worship the god in the bible. You do so because you chose to, and that, in many ways, seems so much worse.

Christianity, a New Invention

The fact is that the Christianity that most Americans practice now-a-days is not a religion that requires the bible. Most Christians do not stone their children to death for talking back. Most Christians are okay with eating pork. Things like getting a tattoo are not considered a sin anymore by most. And I know everyone wears or has worn a poly-cotton blend before, and that is clearly considered a sin in the bible. Even more serious things like divorce, which were condemned in the past, are now excused by modern Christians. So, what exactly is the basis for your beliefs?

Well, most Christians will say Jesus. They want to follow in his foot steps and feed the poor, give to the needy, heal the sick, and so on. But that, too, is a conundrum, because it has been my experience that while most Christians do like to tout their "good deeds" they will be quick to scoff at the poor, call people without health insurance lazy or parasites for wanting universal health care, and blame the people that have lost their houses because of greedy banks instead of blaming the greedy, rich corporations. So, I am at a loss. I must not have read the part where Jesus condemned the poor, threw them out of their houses, told the sick to suck it up, and told the greedy tax collectors to keep at it because they will surely be the first to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.

Nice Christian morals.
Nice Christian morals. | Source

Do Christians Really Practice What They Preach?

Well, I think I've already established that they do not follow what either the bible or Jesus says. Let's define what it is that they do preach, first. For the most part, Christians will preach about loving their brother and living an honest, moral life. It's pretty vague until you get to a specific issue where the Christian in question feels strongly about, like gay marriage or abortion. Then loving your brother and honesty and ethics go out the window. Okay, maybe I am lumping all Christians into the same boat, and I apologize for that, because I do know that there are those Christians that are pro gay and pro choice. But they also might be the Christians that will condemn me to hell for being an atheist.

Maybe Christians need to get together and decide among themselves what it is they believe and why. You really can't base it on the bible anymore, and thank goodness for that, but it seems that now this religion is so vague that anything goes. And there is always the bible to fall back on, so I guess that's why Christians hold on to that immoral nonsense. It's quite convenient for Christians to ignore just about every rule, law and suggestion in the bible when it applies to them, but when it serves some purpose, to drag out an ancient little gem like Leviticus 20:13.

Christians are out of touch with reality. If one can condemn someone because of some obscure verse in the bible, yet live their life ignoring the rest of it in its entirety, I think that pretty much makes you an unreliable source on morality. In that same context, if you as a Christian can claim that you practice love and kindness, but can justify the genocide and slavery in the bible at the hands of your god, you are also an unreliable source for morality. You clearly have no idea what it is.

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    • hecate-horus profile image

      hecate-horus 5 years ago from Rowland Woods

      As always, you bring up very valid points. Many of these points are things I questioned myself when I was a Christian. Voted up!

    • emmaspeaks profile image
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      emmaspeaks 5 years ago from Kansas City

      Thank you, hecate! I hope I am not going too far with this one. After my last few hubs, though, I felt compelled to write this one.

    • liftandsoar profile image

      Frank P. Crane 5 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Well, emmaspeaks, my first inclination after reading your hub was to chalk if off as one more anti-Christian rant. But methinks you reveal more than you intend. If the Christian faith is self-evidently false why waste so much of your time and energy attacking it? Somewhere along the line someone must have hurt you very severely in the name of Christ. Let me just address one item. Everything recorded in the Bible is not necessarily approved by God. The Scriptures are the inspired and reliable record of God dealing in justice and mercy with a rebellious people. That the picadillos of those people are faithfully reported is just one more proof that the Bible is something more than a human book.

    • emmaspeaks profile image
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      emmaspeaks 5 years ago from Kansas City

      Liftandsoar, that is probably the most common response I get from Christians when confronted with such a painful truth. I have to ask you, have you been hurt in the name of christ? It sounds like you have. If I spend any time at all on this topic it's because I am a scholar and a historian. The philosophical aspect fascinates me, however. And whether you think the bible is the word of god or not, it is the basis of your faith. You can nit pick at it all you want, but in the end, when asked, this is the reference you will cite. I am merely pointing out the paradox. The bible is an ancient text written by ancient humans, just like any other ancient text written by humans. The only thing special about it is the importance people like you have given it on the one hand, but go to great lengths to give excuses of why laws like stoning your children are no longer relevant. Sounds like hypocrisy to me. You either accept it or you don't. Don't cherry pick. And THAT is the moral of the story.

    • liftandsoar profile image

      Frank P. Crane 5 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Of course I've been hurt by my fellow Christians, some very close friends. However, I never expected not to be hurt. True Christians are the first to recognize that they are far from perfect and often inconsistent. Our hope lies not our performance but in the righteousness of Christ. That doesn't excuse our misdeeds, for Christ's love moves us to grow more and more toward him.

      I don't cherry pick the Bible. I take every word of it seriously but I confess to not understanding much of what God does. He's God and I'm not. What keeps me in the Christian camp is not intellectual certainty about every issue raised by those who attack us, but the reasonable conviction that Jesus who was crucifed rose to life. Again, I hold it as a reasonable conviction, as reasonable as believing that the sun will rise tomorrow morning. But one can't be certain even of that.

    • emmaspeaks profile image
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      emmaspeaks 5 years ago from Kansas City

      Well, good for you liftandsoar. I'm glad you can find some form of happiness from a myth. I prefer to find happiness in things that are real, like my kids, my education, and my desire to write. We can agree to disagree. As for attacking you...I believe it was YOU that attacked me by suggesting that I was not happy for merely writing an article, which I am free to do. The notion that anytime something disagrees with your beliefs is an attack is absolutely ridiculous and childish. Grow up.

    • liftandsoar profile image

      Frank P. Crane 5 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Sorry, no personal offense intended. Time will tell.

    • PlanksandNails profile image

      PlanksandNails 5 years ago from among the called out of the ekklesia of Christ

      emmaspeaks,

      There is a contextual distinction between the OT and NT. The Old Testament applies to Israel as a nation as it developed in its relationship with God with Israel’s national law. One must look at it as a legal and historic document. From a personal or emotional perspective Scripture verses can be pulled out of context. The OT today, for the followers of Jesus Christ, is a historical background to their faith. The regulations of the Law of Moses were applied and binding to those at that time and was abolished when Jesus Christ died.

      With the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the ex post facto principle could be paralleled; one is not amenable to the consequences of a law passed after the commission of a certain act.

      The NT reveals God in the flesh, Jesus Christ, and is more personal on level of how individuals should relate, behave, and bring more understanding to the OT law.

      (“So how can a person that claims to be a gentle soul, a lover of all his fellow humans, one with impeccable morals, turn around and defend things like slavery, genocide, rape, and incest in the bible?”)

      God used slavery as a punishment when Israel strayed from their choice to be obedient to Him, which is a result of man’s sinful nature, not God’s.

      The origins of genocide historically have derived from many reasons; here are a few:

      Hate, domination, injustice, and un-compassion.

      Discrimination, lawlessness, and revenge.

      Terror, hardship, and famine.

      Purposeful destruction of families, individuals, and culture.

      According to Scripture, as the result and consequences of the Fall of man, we are all destined to die in one way or another.

      Is God wrong and should he be morally blamed for His actions on all deaths in history including the special case of genocide?

      Is God right, should He not be morally blamed for His actions on all deaths in history, except for the special reasons concerning genocide?

      Is God right, should He not be blamed for His actions on all deaths in history if genocide is not a special case, which means God is not morally at fault?

      When looking at these three questions a bit closer, it becomes apparent that the issues God deals with, and the issues humans have, are quite different. Upon hearing stories of tragedies over the centuries, there is much more emotional depth to them, which put them on more of a personal and emotional level, but it is not simply that cut and dry. Historical and cultural circumstances should take precedence over relative emotional beliefs.

      Scripture is historical evidence of God, but does not prove God.

      Seeing through the lens of God vs. the lens of man reveals two different perspectives.

    • emmaspeaks profile image
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      emmaspeaks 5 years ago from Kansas City

      Planksandnails, needless to say, we don't agree. Not only do we not agree, history does not agree with you. Your lengthy comment has done nothing but prove my point. Punishment indeed. That's sick. And you are sick to defend it.

    • PlanksandNails profile image

      PlanksandNails 5 years ago from among the called out of the ekklesia of Christ

      emmaspeaks,

      ("Not only do we not agree, history does not agree with you.")

      Feel free to disagree. Pick apart my comment and we can walk out the history that does not agree for further clarification, as well as the sickness you speak of.

      The cliché tools of character assassination, half-truths, and out-of-context Bible verses don't provide any additional evidence to your case, but are simply emotional reactions.

    • emmaspeaks profile image
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      emmaspeaks 5 years ago from Kansas City

      Sure, we can do that. You can only use reliable sources, though. The bible is not a reliable source, so that's out. There are enough lies, half-truths, inconsistencies, errors, and discrepancies to rule that one out. And the need for its interpretation is also highly questionable. You can cite any other reliable source you like, though. As for emotional reactions...yeah, I guess being disgusted that anyone would defend slavery is an emotional reaction. It's sad that you aren't disgusted with it. It's wrong and immoral no matter if you do it or if your god did it. A truly gracious god would have made sure such a barbaric practice was ended a long time ago. That's just proof that your "god" was a human invention. Only humans act that way. And only humans, immoral ones, at that, justify it. So bring it on. I am a history major. I'm waiting.

    • PlanksandNails profile image

      PlanksandNails 5 years ago from among the called out of the ekklesia of Christ

      ("You can only use reliable sources, though. The bible is not a reliable source, so that's out.")

      Then your case self-destructs, as you are referencing Biblical sources in in your hub to solidify your case, but on the other hand, you also say that Biblical sources are unreliable.

      ("You can argue all you want, Christians, but you are worshiping the same god from the Old Testament...")

      You are confident in your Biblical sources that you used, but then tell me that Biblical sources are unreliable.

    • emmaspeaks profile image
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      emmaspeaks 5 years ago from Kansas City

      I'm pretending for just a moment that I agree with you that god exists, solely for the purposes of pointing out what a terrible god he is if he does. Of course the bible is unreliable! That's why no person in their right mind would buy any of it. So, thanks for agreeing with me there. But since you christians want to argue that god is real and your best proof is a book you insist that he inspired, you need to prove that that book is reliable, first, which you can't. I win.

    • PlanksandNails profile image

      PlanksandNails 5 years ago from among the called out of the ekklesia of Christ

      (" I merely want to bring to light a paradox, or, conundrum, if you will.")

      Pretending, emotions, and contradiction; of course you win at undermining the laws of logic. Can't you see that the train derailed a long time ago.

      (" But since you christians want to argue that god is real and your best proof is a book you insist that he inspired, you need to prove that that book is reliable, first, which you can't.")

      I'm not arguing with you whether God is real, I am pointing out the flaws in your logic.

      I have already stated before, Scripture is historical evidence of God, but does not prove God.

      Since you have used Scripture in your hub, and say it is unreliable, how can you justify that it is a reliable source when you say that the Bible is an unreliable source? You need to provide evidence that your sources are reliable, not flip-flop conjecture to fit what you desire it to be.

      Since you say that you are a "history major," I would have hoped that your emotional judgement would not have clouded your ability to look at the cultural and historical background, the literary genre, and the syntax of Scripture. From that point, you may be able to apply your "skills" to justify your premise.

      ("Of course the bible is unreliable! That's why no person in their right mind would buy any of it.")

      Opinions are relative, but if you are simply venting here, then I understand your position.

    • emmaspeaks profile image
      Author

      emmaspeaks 5 years ago from Kansas City

      Well, this hub, and I'm sure many others, went right over your small head. I would take the time to explain it to you, but I see now that it would be pointless. You have the brain capacity of a 2 year old. Have a nice life.

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      shawn 5 years ago

      emma, you got pulled into his game and had your time wasted

    • profile image

      shawn 5 years ago

      by that, i mean that there is no point to talking in hypotheticals like "well if god says this, why does he do that, etc". if i told you "santa gets to every house in one night" you wouldn't explain the necessary speed, manpower, and organization required. you'd say "santa doesn't exist and there's no need to step into fairytale land to debate it". there are as many justifications and spins on christianity as there are christians. every single one (unless honest and rational) will have SOME kind of answer to everything you say, no matter how damning. don't waste your time on them =)

    • profile image

      Shån 5 years ago

      "I have already stated before, Scripture is historical evidence of God, but does not prove God."

      This statement in and of itself if a fallacy. If this is the argument it would then be arguable that all ancient Greek and Roman writings about their gods, are historical evidences of their gods, but not proof of existence (which makes zero sense). You cannot have evidence of something without ascerting the existence of the source. This is modus ponens at its simplest, and this aforementioned statement is riddled with false selfsustaining evidence.

      If this is the argument that will waste rational peoples' time, I am sure it would not be taken with an open mind when they realize the symbolism and progression of time and events that are mimicking ancient history. Pefore Romans and Greeks there were animist. They outbunbered the polytheist at first. Then, the animist were told "believe in our gods or die." Then came the monotheist, they were also outnumbered. Eventually they told the polytheist to "believe in our god or die.". Now there Is Islam (the fastest growing religion) saying "believe in our methodology of worshiping god or die." Same cycle just different millenniums. Luckily, the areligious/ atheist numbers grow as the "god gap" narrows and the cycle is consistently repeated.

    • profile image

      Shån 5 years ago

      Please disregard my spelling errors of the second "if" and "Pefore". That should have been "before."

    • emmaspeaks profile image
      Author

      emmaspeaks 5 years ago from Kansas City

      Thank you Shawn and Shan for your comments. Perhaps I have been sucked in by this. I will admit it would be easier to just say this is nonsense and I will not waste any more time on it. I am compelled, however, to waste time on it, if that makes sense. I feel I have a duty to speak out loudly about this. As a former Christian, myself, I know that christians will read this and walk away, mad, but with doubt. They may not want to admit it, but this will keep them up at night. I know it did me. I spent many a nights turning over the "facts" in my head until I came to the only conclusion that I could come to. So, that is why I write about this. But thank you so much for reading my article and commenting.

    • profile image

      Robert 5 years ago

      You have some very valid points! I completely agree. I think if Christians can't agree with 100% of the bible, then they shouldn't be counted as true Christians. They only believe what they want to believe in the book. It's like that with every religion. Hypocrisy is religion's worst nightmare.

    • profile image

      r-skull 5 years ago

      You're doing a good thing emmaspeaks... i respect your opinion and feel that this is a relevant topic in this day and age. All religions should be open to free inquiry, good people / organizations have nothing to hide.

    • emmaspeaks profile image
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      emmaspeaks 5 years ago from Kansas City

      Thank you so much guys! It really means a lot to hear from rational people like you! I will keep at it.

    • profile image

      shawn 5 years ago

      i get the need to speak out as well. in case i wasn't clear, i mean not to waste time with certain types of people having certain types of conversations because they don't go anywhere. i wasn't saying don't write =) i don't think you'll ever convince the types of people who argue with you. the people you will convince are the ones who ask you questions and listen

    • profile image

      Tristan 5 years ago

      WOW, you brought up some vary good points. I've been an atheist now for a few years, as long as I actually cared what i believed anyways. And now i am trying to educate myself on religion to understand it better and see where it's gone wrong, and in many cases right. I truly enjoyed this and I hope to see more.

    • emmaspeaks profile image
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      emmaspeaks 5 years ago from Kansas City

      Shawn, I agree. And sometimes I just have to walk away. But I definitely will keep on writing. Thanks for the comments guys!

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      Nefreet 5 years ago

      The phrase is "nip it in the bud", not "nip it in the butt". The origin of the saying comes from trimming rose bushes to get them to grow a certain way. But it's okay, it just made me laugh out loud.

    • emmaspeaks profile image
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      emmaspeaks 5 years ago from Kansas City

      Well, thank you for that clarification. I often get sayings like that messed up. One of my many flaws, I guess.

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      Bia 5 years ago

      Emmaspeaks, I would not bother arguing with some of these Christians. They either accept your article or they get rather angry and just go down the 'I'm right, you're wrong' path until they think you will submit, they lack the ability to accept anything that doesn't hold their religion up on a pedestal. I congratulate you on 1.) a great article and 2.) actually having the nerve to put it here where you know these kind of people are going to read it and attack you for it.

    • emmaspeaks profile image
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      emmaspeaks 5 years ago from Kansas City

      Thank you Bia! Well, I try no to think that it is a waste, but you are right. However, my intention is to get people thinking and asking questions.

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      christchildjay 5 years ago

      Hi Emmaspeaks,

      Do you really think that Our God of the OT and NT is the god that have allowed all these bad things to happen. What about the Jews outside of Biblical times and the Rhwandians genocides, the Blood Diamonds massacars of Ser Lieon (forgive my bad spelling)etc, who have died not because of Our God but by mans greed and evil intentions. Do you think that when Cain killed Abel in the bible that it was God's doing. No our (yours and mine) wicked evil desires cause it. Why aids, why starvation, why poverty, yet we have all the billionaires but you don't bug them down about why things are so bad. You rather question God on it. Your history have given you an eye to see through. You have read on Islam, Hinduism, Budaism, etc and made your conclusion the God in your mind finally does not exist.

      IN the Gospel, Jesus said to Thomas only after he had placed his finger in the wholes and side of Jesus that he believe the it was Jesus. Jesus said to him you believe because you have seen but Blessed are they who have not seen yet believe.

      You have your family and friends, job and other things you seemed to have given yourself.

      Faith comes not by sight but by hearing the Word of God.

      If you think the Bible is immoral, then your whole life Emma is an immoral one because the Bible just shows the true existence of how and why we came to be.

      If we came from apes as your history tells you then how come these gracious creatures do have speech and a soul to convict it of wrong doing as ours do.

      As humans we have love and hate, good and bad in each one of us for none of us are perfect or is without sinful intent.

      How do you rationalize a world without God,and say Christians don't know what they believe. There are more Christians across the globe and there is only one book (THE HOLY BIBLE)written in every language under heaven

      speaking boldly of one GOD and HIS goal to save the children He greatly loves. But God has given us free will to do as we please and whenever we please.

      In your theory emma are you saying that a person shouldn't pay for their wrong doing. In the OT God gave laws to follow and when broken the price had to be paid.

      Today's world you break the law of the land and you would be charge for it,likewise of OT & NT. If you and I do wrong things that are not visible to the eye how can we know it is wrong our god-given conscience convicts us of it. I don't have to prove that GOD lives I know He lives. You tell me when it all began and I rest my case. Have Heavenly Day with God.

    • emmaspeaks profile image
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      emmaspeaks 5 years ago from Kansas City

      I can tell by your username that we will not be having a logical conversation. Your opening statement proves it. He is not my god, sir, so don't refer to him as such. Your comment is pretty much whining.

    • profile image

      Bia 5 years ago

      Just breezed over this, had to quote him because it was so stupid ( and a common religious fundy argument) it made me laugh:

      -'If we came from apes as your history tells you then how come these gracious creatures do have speech and a soul to convict it of wrong doing as ours do.'-

      We came from a common ancestor of Apes.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_evolution

      Take particular note of the part that says: "The evidence for Human evolution is overwhelming" Because I'm quite sure that will upset you... But the truth often does in these cases.

      Also this may come as a shock to you but we don't have 'souls' we are just as any other animal is.. As Hawking puts it, when you die, your mind is like a computer, it shuts off, that's the end. I really shouldn't have to explain to you that what you perceive as a 'soul' is just your physical brain which, when you die, will rot away in a hole in the ground. It's hard to accept, I know, it's very overwhelming to know that you can exist and then suddenly cease to. I don't like it, if I was of a weaker mind I would go down the 'people have souls and there is a god' path because I *WANT* it to be true, but sadly there is no evidence to back this other than wishful thinking. I compare it to wishing there was a Unicorn in front of me right now, and I can sit here and wish and pray for that Unicorn to exist all day but the truth of the matter is, there's no Unicorn no matter how much I want there to be one.

      And @ Emma, Although I feel it's fruitless to argue with these people, I can totally see why you do.. it's extremely sad to watch these people waste their lives and mind's potential on complete crap, I feel a great loss, it is comparable to watching someone with dementia or another mental illness slowly decline into a lesser person, and all you want to do is help them. When I was young, I was indoctrinated with all that religious nonsense and it wasn't until my teenage years that I was snapped out of it by a book 'The God Delusion' By Richard Dawkins.. At the time I had gone into agnosticism because I doubted the crap they shoved down my throat at the Christian school, but I wasn't an atheist until I realised (thanks to Dawkins) that even Agnosticism lends more respect and trust to religion than to reality and reason. I do feel for these people, but always there is a tinge of hopelessness to their plight, trying to help them feels so useless sometimes.

      A few more Quotes because I'm bored:

      -'How do you rationalize a world without God,and say Christians don't know what they believe.'-

      *sigh *

      Pretty sure I have morals without god... And you can too. ( I have had to say this so many times, they still don't understand)

      -'speaking boldly of one GOD and HIS goal to save the children He..blah blah blah'-

      This is also common in a fundamentalist Christian, they like to type 'GOD' in capital letters like that makes for a more compelling argument, in many cases it's the only compelling part of their argument at all.

    • emmaspeaks profile image
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      emmaspeaks 5 years ago from Kansas City

      Thank you for that very detailed and insightful comment, Bia. I tend to ignore christians that come on here hoping to convert me. I can have a discussion about religion and god with you, if you leave that crap at home. But, I can see having that argument with a fundy if you are bored. A rational person, on her worst day, is ten times better than an irrational person on their best day.

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