"If we ask: ‘Why ought I to be unselfish?’ and you reply ‘Because it is good for society,’ we may then ask, ‘Why should I care what’s good for society except when it happens to pay me personally?’ and then you will have to say, ‘Because you ought to be unselfish’—which simply brings us back to where we started. You are saying what is true, but you are not getting any further. If a man asked what was the point of playing football, it would not be much good saying ‘in order to score goals’, for trying to score goals is the game itself, not the reason for the game, and you would really only be saying that football was football—which is true, but not worth saying…Consequently, this Rule of Right and Wrong, or Law of Human Nature, or whatever you call it, must somehow or other be a real thing—a thing that is really there, not made up by ourselves. And yet it is not a fact in the ordinary sense, in the same way as our actual behaviour is a fact. It begins to look as if we shall have to admit that there is more than one kind of reality; that, in this particular case, there is something above and beyond the ordinary facts of men’s behaviour, and yet quite definitely real—a real law, which none of us made, but which we find pressing on us."

— C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

"In all the ages the Roman Church has owned slaves, bought and sold slaves, authorized and encouraged her children to trade in them. Long after some Christian peoples had freed their slaves the Church still held on to hers. If any could know, to absolute certainty, that all this was right, and according to God’s will and desire, surely it was she, since she was God’s specially appointed representative in the earth and sole authorized and infallible expounder of his Bible. There were the texts; there was no mistaking their meaning; she was right, she was doing in this thing what the Bible had mapped out for her to do. So unassailable was her position that in all the centuries she had no word to say against human slavery. Yet now at last, in our immediate day, we hear a Pope saying slave trading is wrong, and we see him sending an expedition to Africa to stop it. The texts remain: it is the practice that has changed. Why? Because the world has corrected the Bible. The Church never corrects it; and also never fails to drop in at the tail of the procession — and take the credit of the correction. As she will presently do in this instance."

— Mark Twain

"

I am not preaching, and Heaven knows I do not pretend to be better than anyone else. I am only trying to call attention to a fact; the fact that this year, or this month, or, more likely, this very day, we have failed to practise ourselves the kind of behaviour we expect from other people. There may be all sorts of excuses for us. That time you were so unfair to the children was when you were very tired. That slightly shady business about the money—the one you have almost forgotten—came when you were very hard-up. And what you promised to do for old So-and-so and have never done—well, you never would have promised if you had known how frightfully busy you were going to be. And as for your behaviour to your wife (or husband) or sister (or brother) if I knew how irritating they could be, I would not wonder at it—and who the dickens am I, anyway? I am just the same. That is to say, I do not succeed in keeping the Law of Nature very well, and the moment anyone tells me I am not keeping it, there starts up in my mind a string of excuses as long as your arm. The question at the moment is not whether they are good excuses. The point is that they are one more proof of how deeply, whether we like it or not, we believe in the Law of Nature. If we do not believe in decent behaviour, why should we be so anxious to make excuses for not having behaved decently?

For you notice that it is only for our bad behaviour that we find all these explanations. It is only our bad temper that we put down to being tired or worried or hungry; we put our good temper down to ourselves. These, then, are the two points I wanted to make. First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. Secondly, that they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in.

"

— C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

"

Zondervan’s NIV Study Bible, which boasts more than twenty thousand notes. Nearly half of this Bible is “supplemental.” Some of the added material offers to help readers delve deeper into the biblical text itself, providing information about historical contexts, or alternative translations of the original Greek or Hebrew. More often, however, the intention is not to encourage readers to interpret for themselves but to interpret for them, to control meaning, dispelling doubts and questions and directing readers toward specific conclusions…

Often these values-adding editorial controls focus on texts that could have something to do with present-day hot-button issues…Take, for example, the small handful of biblical passages usually cited in discussions about homosexuality. The popular cultural assumption is that the Bible very clearly says that homosexuality is an abominable sin. Biblical literature itself, however, is not so clear. In fact, it has very little explicitly to offer by way of moral teaching or legislation on matters of sexuality, let alone homosexuality, and what it does have to say does not speak directly to the issue as it appears in contemporary society…

In the New Testament, Jesus has nothing to say about homosexuality and very, very little to say about sexuality in general. Paul’s letters do disparage some specific male-male sexual practices common in the larger Greco-Roman society (e.g., pederasty, or sexual “mentoring” of young men by older men, and soliciting young male prostitutes). But Paul never condemns consensual same-sex relations between adults. That’s not to say that if Paul were time-machined to the present he would be an advocate of gay marriage. It is to say that one can—and many do—interpret the Bible in ways that are supportive of homosexual unions and gay rights. The simple fact is that the Christian Scriptures are not clear on this issue. It is a matter of biblical interpretation and ethical reflection in which faithful Christians can and do disagree…Yet the supplemental features in many Bibles, especially those marketed to teens, make much ado about the “biblical view” of homosexuality—that is, “what God says” about it in the Bible.

"

— Timothy Beal, The Rise and Fall of the Bible

Today most people have in their lives, and deeply care for, at least one person who is no closer to being a Protestant Christian than I am to being French Canadian. Today everyone is related to, shares a neighborhood with, works with, or goes to school with someone who is gay, Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu, Mormon, Unitarian Universalism, Wiccan, Native American, Shinto, Baha’i, Rastafarian, Cao Dai, Tenrikyo, agnostic, atheist, or any combination thereof. (Humans. We are a creative group, are we not?)
 
It’s a great deal more troubling to condemn to hell someone for whom you have affection than it is an abstract member of an abstract group. Growing up in my white suburban neighborhood, I didn’t know a single person who was Hindu. Today there are five young men who are Hindu living right next door to me. Those young men have become friends. If part of my theology insists that my Hindu friends are going to hell, you better believe I’m going to reassess that part of my theology. I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t.

It is a favorite talking point that the Government should protect the sanctity of this or that, such as the Sanctity of Marriage. This means that the Government should prevent gay marriage, in effect, to ward off God’s wrath, i.e. Sodom. So, I got to thinking. What if we forced the Government to protect the Sanctity of Compassion?

John Shore – a straight blogger who shows tremendous love to the gay Christian community – has a great perspective on Hinkle’s dilemma:

While Hinkle’s closeted homosexuality may not be sufficient cause for all this horrendousness, it is, I believe, a necessary condition for it. The shameful behavior for which Hinkle is certainly culpable grew from a shame for which he is certainly not. That shame—the great, burning inner shame that every gay and lesbian person is forced to overcome if he or she is ever to claim for themselves the same righteous pride of self that straight people so easily accept as their birthright—should be the shame of everyone who is not today working toward full LGBT acceptance and affirmation. And that holds especially true for Christians, who for far too long have used the Good News of the Gospels to bring nothing but terrible news to homosexuals, who, just like them, want nothing more, and nothing less, than to be loved for who they are.

One of the duties of the artist – not the only duty, but a central one – is to impel people to imagine the complexity of thought and feeling inside another person. Art complicates moral action, because we have to accept that other people matter, that their hardship and suffering, even their rage and sorrow, are, to some extent, our responsibility.

Propaganda has the opposite aim: it is intended to simplify moral action. People get to disregard the humanity of others. This makes them easier to ignore, deport, imprison, torture, enslave, and kill.

A moment in the middle of this scene from ABC’s “What Would You Do?” brought tears to my eyes.