Tuesday, June 02, 2009

How not to listen to people. By: a former expert.

Recently this: (please note how we seem to be talking at each other, rather than listening to each other. I'm a lot older than this friend, so this is more my fault. This represents a type of conversation which I used to have more of than I do now. I don't want to have this type of conversation anymore. Instead, I want to practice genuine curiosity and listening. Alas. I'm still learning. I shall do better. I shall I shall I shall)

A friend:

If you believe the bible to be true then you believe that God designed Marriage for one man and one woman, no loopholes he clearly states it. if you do not believe the bible to be true, then you have no moral obligation whatsoever and then [name of other friend] arguing morals with him will be completely pointless.

You say "you" a lot when, I imagine, you actually mean "I".

As in "I believe the Bible to be true, and I believe that God designed marriage etc.".

Am I getting that right?

Are you really convinced that people who don't believe the Bible have absolutely no basis for morality in their lives? That's a pretty huge leap. There are at least some 5 billion people on the planet who don't believe the Bible in the sense that you are talking about. Some largish majority of them have various (more or less) workable systems of morality which they use--many of them arguably at least as, if not clearly more, workable than the Christian sense of morality.

A friend:
I believe God to be absolute morality so then any other system is wasting their time, if they don't choose God then screw over morals why not spend your life having fun.I know I would.

the Bible condemns homosexuality as an immoral and unnatural sin. Leviticus 18:22 identifies homosexual sex as an abomination, a detestable sin. Romans 1:26-27 declares homosexual desires and actions to be shameful, unnatural, lustful, and indecent. First Corinthians 6:9 states that homosexuals are unrighteous and will not inherit the kingdom of God. Since both homosexual desires and actions are condemned in the Bible, it is clear that homosexuals “marrying” is not God’s will, and would be, in fact, sinful.

Leviticus, or so I'm told, also condemns eating shell fish as an abomination. Does this mean that the list of what is or isn't abomination can change over time? =)

the same passage in Corinthians says the same thing about the greedy. So how does any American get to inherit the kingdom of god, taking into consideration the rate at which we consume while 1 billion people go without potable water and 25,000 starve to death every day?

Does this mean that greedy people shouldn't be allowed to be married either? What other groups of sinners will you prevent from getting married? Shellfish eaters?

A friend:
You missed the point.the point was that God despises homosexuality.
Just like God despises shellfish. I thought I had gotten it. How did I miss it?

I don't want to argue with you. I feel like I've done a terrible job of listening, and I want to do better, and I'm hoping to change the tenor of this conversation.

To that end--an attempt at a genuinely curious question: It sounds like maybe this is fairly important to you. Am I getting that right, or am i way off? Either way, why is it important, or not important, to you? Do you find homosexuality personally offputting or frightening? Has a homosexual person been unkind toward you? Or is it more a thing where you genuinely believe that homosexuality is a big threat to you and/or your family/community's way-of-being? I know, for instance, that some people have, after having been married for years, left their spouse having discovered that they were gay. That must be astoundingly painful for the spouse and children of that person. Do you know someone like that?


Joe said...

I don't even bother wasting breath on that kind of conversation.

Moonaroo said...

This is clearly a case of someone using the Bible to justify their narrowminded beliefs. If they use the Bible, then they feel that they don't need to actually think it through for themselves. Although this kind of conversation is ultimately futile, it does show who is thinking and who is not.

Karin said...

Don't be too hard on yourself. Firstly old habits die hard, but you will change over time, if you keep trying.

Secondly, you aren't as bad as you think you are. Check what you actually said, you did ask questions to check you had understood correctly and you weren't trying to ram your opinions down your friend's throat, or just telling them they were wrong.

Elleann said...

Very interesting point. Initially I thought you were doing pretty well in the convo, until you introduced your last paragraph, which made me stop and think. What you are saying here, essentially, is that when we are engaged in a conversation (with anyone about anything) we need to explore the subtext of that conversation in order to truly get in touch with the person we are talking too. Very interesting idea. Challenging too. It's so much easier to stay with the superficialities, esp when the subject matter is contentious and divisive.

I like this post - you have given me something good to think about!

Robin said...

One of my best friends is a born again Christian, and goes to bible studies all the time. I'm pretty sure she knows her stuff, (unlike me. I'm a bible retard.) She says that people misquote the bible, and it never actually says God is against homosexuality. I like to go with her on this one. But we just can't seem to agree on abortion. . .

Karin said...

Hi Robin, abortion is a tricky one. I don't think my God likes it, maybe he weeps for every aborted foetus, HOWEVER, I don't think he likes it any more when women, who have been put in difficult, and sometimes impossible, situations, and have agonised long and hard over the decision, are abused verbally and physically and made to feel even worse than they even do.

OK, some women may be careless about getting pregnant and treat abortion as just another form of contraception, but I doubt if they are the majority, and even they may end up tortured with guilt, not to mention suffering physically as a result of the abortion.

Maybe God hates even more the attitudes of the men who get the women pregnant without thinking, and the men and women who brought the girls up believing they shouldn't say 'no', desperate for love, or thinking of themselves as primarily sex objects.