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More Christian advice needed

So now we know the Bible says it’s bad to be gay, I have a couple of other questions regarding Christianity which regularly find their way to my email inbox…

a) When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord (Lev 1:9). The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

b) I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

c) I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness (Lev 15:19-24). The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

d) Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?

e) I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

f) A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an Abomination (Lev 11:10), it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this?

g) Lev 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

h) Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev 19:27. How should they die?

i) I know from Lev 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

j) My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? (Lev 24:10-16) Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

Anyone have any advice?

This 767th post was filed under: Miscellaneous.

Can’t be a priest if you’re gay; can if you’re just a bit poofy

From Guardian Unlimited:

The Vatican today published its long-awaited statement on homosexuals and the priesthood, affirming that those with “deep-seated” gay tendencies should not be ordained.

Note that I got this spectacularly wrong, saying in August that

I would personally be surprised to see this published any time soon, especially by this Pope.

Oopsie. Though, to be fair, they did go much further than the earlier draft. Compare and contrast today’s document…

The document confirms the Catholic church’s view that deep-seated homosexual tendencies are “objectively disordered” and “grave sins”. It also says heads of seminaries have a serious duty to see to it that candidates for the priesthood do not “present disturbances of a sexual nature which are incompatible with the priesthood”.

…with the August leak…

the presence of homosexuals in seminaries is ‘unfair’ to both gay and heterosexual priests by subjecting the former to temptation

But either way, I was clearly wrong.

Whilst I think it’s entirely fair for the Church to take its own standpoint on its own issues, I do still think they might have some difficulty here. After all, with a less than brilliant history of preventing paedophiles from joining the clergy, how do they expect to prevent gay people from joining? And what precisely is the difference between ‘deep-seated homosexuality’ and any other kind? Are they saying bisexual priests are allowed in? Or is it a case of ‘no hard-core gays, but it’s okay if you’re just a bit poofy’?

But then perhaps, like much the Church says these days, maybe this move’s more about symbolism than practicality. As much as I disagree with the standpoint taken by the Church on this and many other issues, it’s their prerogative to take it, just as it’s my prerogative to condemn and ridicule their ancient delusional fantasies, outdated stereotypical views, and general separation from reality.

This 766th post was filed under: News and Comment.

The Mail’s coming to get you…

From Catherine Bennett’s column in Thursday’s Grauny:

Readers of the Daily Mail are used to being frightened out of their wits, usually by you-couldn’t-make-it-up announcements to the effect that Tony Blair is developing plans to hand out morning-after pills to war veterans, or to sell sick puppies into the white slave trade. But the most hardened readers must have been shocked, yesterday, to find the paper resorting to outright threats. “Free Christmas Cartoon DVD”, it announced on the front page. Adding, in the spirit of we-know-where-you-live: “Collect yours from WH Smith today, or we’ll post the whole collection to your home”.

Be afraid; be very afraid.

This 765th post was filed under: News and Comment.

Issuing guns to all police officers

Following on from yesterday’s post about the suggestion that capital punishment should be brought back, today I thought I’d comment on the equally silly suggestion that all police officers should carry guns.

Before I make any argument, let’s look at the figures. 11 police officers have been shot and killed in the line of duty in the UK in the last twenty years. 30 civilians have been shot and killed by police officers in the line of duty in the UK in the last twelve years. That means that about one police officer is shot dead every couple of years, while the police shoot dead five civvies in the same amount of time. To the best of my researching powers, every single one of the police officers shot dead in the last twenty years have resulted in prosecution of the civvy with the gun. Of the thirty civvies shot and killed, not one has resulted in a police officer with a gun being prosecuted – even in the cases where the civvies were completely innocent.

To me, that alone suggests that arming every police officer is not a bright idea.

Figures aside, let’s think about this. The suggestion is that every police officer should be given a two-day training course, then sent out on the street with a gun. Frankly, after a two-day training course, they’ll be lucky to be able to hit a guy at six paces without some ‘collateral damage’. Then there’s the medical aspect – you don’t need great eye-sight to be in the police. I could be in it. But I have a squint. Should I ever try and fire a gun, I’ll miss the target by a mile. What are you going to do with police like me? Not arm me, so I become the obvious target in a force of armed officers? Or kick me out, despite loyal service?

People claim that the police would only use the guns in the most extreme circumstances. To be frank, I say that’s bollocks. You see a guy coming at you with a knife. You’re unarmed, so, with heart thumping, you try to negotiate. Worse case scenario, you fail. You’ve got a knife sticking out of your abdomen, because you weren’t wearing your knife-proof vest. That’s not a good state to be in, but you’re pretty certain to survive, and get over it, returning to complete health. Yes, it would take time, but you put yourself on the front line, that was your choice. Now consider that you’re armed. Before the guy gets to you, you pull out your gun. He keeps coming towards you. Luckily, you’re quite talented at shooting, avoid the rest of the people on the busy street, and shoot and kill the guy. He ain’t going to recover. He’s dead. No court will ever be able to decide whether he was guilty, psychiatrically impaired, in need of help, or whatever. He’s dead. He’ll never get a chance to tackle his problems.

I’m by no means suggesting that all attackers would continue to lunge. But some would, and those would die. And that can’t really be too good.

All police being armed raises the stakes of the game significantly, and means that much more premeditated crime will involve guns. If the police have them, the criminals will have to match or even beat them. Gun crime soars, the streets become inevitably more dangerous. And then there’s the issue of the guns falling into the wrong hands, or even new, inexperienced police officers being attacked for their guns. Not a healthy prospect.

And the final point… It completely changes the relationship between the public and the police. For example, I’m quite heartened to see the (very) occasional police officer on the beat now and again. Would I be so heartened if I knew he was carrying a gun, and capable of lethal force? I think not. And I think some in the police would let that power go to their heads, and imagine (even more-so than now) that they are an untouchable, greater class, rather than public servants policing by consent.

So, as far as I can see, there are many more arguments of greater power for keeping the police unarmed than there are for routinely arming them. So it’s not something I’d support.

This 764th post was filed under: News and Comment.


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