Note to self: do not talk about religion on Facebook

Twice late last month – once on Christmas eve – I had “conversations” about religion on Facebook. It’s often unsatisfying, because I am a believer in spite of uncertainty, and these folks are usually convinced of their rightness.

Oddly, both ended up involving the Biblical phrase “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, render unto God what is God’s.” Without getting into the whole back-and-forth, one guy insisted that the verses, appearing in all three of the synoptic Gospels (all, except John), meant that we are directed to obey earthly authority, pay taxes, and the like.

My view is more in line that it suggests a separation of church and state, and that, further, the church should speak out when the state is going wrong, rather than embrace the state’s bad behavior (apartheid, slavery, exploitation, et al.) If you read the Wikipedia article on the phrase, you’ll see that there are several different interpretations of those verses, including both of these, a notion which I can accept.

Guy on Facebook cannot. While I’m perfectly willing to debate religion, I find it tiresome when persons unknown to me make assertions about me that are untrue, such as “You don’t know the Bible very well” or “You must not have read very much of the Bible.” Defensively, I sneer (if you can sneer online): “I have read the Bible at least three times all the way through,” noting the King James, New Revised Standard Version and the New International Version.

Now he has ticked me off, and I assert something about the nonviolent direct action of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others being in the Jesus tradition. Bored with me, he went away.

He’s like those people I grew up with who were convinced at least two-thirds of the world is going to hell. This, BTW, was the mindset that drove me out of the church by the time I was twenty. As the article says:

…we WILL NOT judge another person’s soul. Jesus warned us not to do so. Paul warned the same thing. Jesus will be the judge. Period. It is not our job and we are not qualified.

I’ll give a big AMEN to THAT.

8 thoughts on “Note to self: do not talk about religion on Facebook”

  1. You title ,s a useful note, Roger:) I have something similar – trying to be nice to annoying people turned (from being Christians) atheists – but they could be a proponent of any view – the annoying side is that they have been stuck in an adolescent phase, and it will leak out on one subject or another.

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  2. It’s always the radical fringe that ruins the religion for everyone… whether it be Fundamentalist Christians (I’m of the Christian Left and NALT, Not All Like That) or Fundamentalist Muslims. The fact is both are oxymorons. If you take the fundamental message of any religion or spiritual pursuit, the heart of it is always LOVE. You are right on target, Roger. Make sure you have your settings on “Friends” and not “Public” and maybe you can get these weedwhackers off your back.

    Amen, brother. Amy

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  3. On the religious debate, I stand here: I hate smugness, self-righteousness, and the misguided belief that people need to be lectured into agreement. I don’t care who it comes from. The past 10 years on the internet have been life-changing for me in regards to argument and identification, and I just wish it were possible to get online and profess a like for something without people getting huffy because you don’t like things in exactly the same way they do.

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  4. As that “render unto Caesar” story makes clear, you choose the game you want to play, you choose the rules. But if you choose to play another person’s game (Caesar’s, for instance) then you have to be play by that person’s rules. That applies to obeying the government, that applies to arguing with trolls. Your choice all the way, or you can let someone else choose for you.

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  5. I believe Jesus answers cryptically on purpose. He neither endorses nor defies Caesar’s authority. Since everything belongs to God, we need to make the decision on how to interpret that line.

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