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Religious communities respond to contemporary issues; Judaism and Christianity Expository Essay


Over the years, the human societies have changed dramatically; from the way they dress, talk and believe. Without a doubt, these changes have infringed the religious ways of life and norms. This leaves has left many religious people in a quagmire. Like many other religious followers, Christians and Jews have to declare their stand on issues like homosexuality, stem cell research, euthanasia, ordination and marriage.

Since religious books do not often give clear guidelines on some of these issues, debates have erupted on the level of tolerance regarding these issues. The thesis of this paper is that division among Judaism and Christianity in relation to contemporary issues, can be divided into two; conservative groups and liberal groups.

Both Judaism and Christianity consider human sexuality to be a leading cause in sinning. In general homosexual, bisexual and transgendered people are considered to have sinned, but there are differing opinions on the issue.

Some of the Christian religious groups are tolerant, for example, The Unitarian Universalist Association and United Church of Christ. Both of these denominations consider lesbians and gay people to have committed no sin, therefore, they should be treated the same as everybody else. They have demonstrated equal rights for homosexuals and bisexuals by proclaiming some as clergy.

Other conservative Christian groups like the Evangelical Christian denominations have declared that homosexuality is a sin. They have even denied lesbians and gay people membership to their denomination. Presbyterians and Methodists have not resolved on where they stand, but there seem to be some division between the young and the old. The youth are more moderate on the matter but the older members are still conventional (Eisenbaum, 630).

This attitude is also evident in the Judaism denominations. Liberal groups like Reform Judaism have commonly acknowledged homosexuals and bisexuals as part of their community. They regard them as ordinary people who have a particular rare sexual preference.

They respect their scriptures which denounce homosexuality and bisexuality but, claim that these scriptures refer to particular homosexual practices like rape and prostitution. In short, they also advocate for equal rights to all, whether Jews or not. Orthodox Jews are conformist on the matter and therefore, they consider homosexuality and bisexuality as unusual, perverted and a sin. They interpret the scriptures to mean that all forms of homosexuality are wrong (Gale, 56).

Transgendered individuals are those people who have changed their gender through a medical procedure. Orthodox Judaism states that; the type of sex is inborn and it is a perpetual phenomenal. Therefore, there should be no way a human should change the gender of another human being.

The catholic worshippers hold a similar thought as demonstrated in the 2000 Doctrine of Faith. It says that even though there might be a physical change, deep down, the person will always remain the same. Therefore, medical procedures do not change the gender of someone. On the other hand, Reformed Jews have widely accepted individuals who have undergone a gender change surgery. This was made official in 2003 when the Commission on Social Action approved a pledge to add transgendered individuals in their congregation.

Some Christian branches like Unitarian Universalist Association have likewise acknowledged transgendered individuals, and have given them full membership. They have even gone to the extent of opening an office to cater for homosexuals, bisexuals and transgendered people (Eisenbaum, 678).

Stem cells are extraordinary human cells that are capable of becoming any type of cell. This means that they can be used to restore spoilt tissues as a result of a disease. Diseases like diabetes and Parkinson’s diseases can be cured using research on stem cells. These stem cells can be harvested from many places on a human body like the bone marrow and fat.

However, it has been noted that stem cells from embryos have a higher probability of curing some of these ailments. The problem with most pro-lifers is that, extraction of stem cells from embryos leads to their destruction. To them, an embryo is already a living being and destroying embryos is the same as murder. Others say that at that stage, the human life has not begun, while others say that the use of embryos from fertility clinic is okay since they are meant to be destroyed anyway (Gale, 60).

The research on stem cell has been widely condemned by many religions in general. Politicians together with philosophers have also declared their opinions publically. The Roman Catholics and conservative Protestants are especially against use of stem cell. Pope John Paul the second personally in public expressed his opposition on the use of stem cells from the embryo.

However, the United Church of Christ and Progressive Christianity do not oppose the use of stem cells from fertility clinics. They reason from the fact that these ‘waste’ embryos will be discarded, so why not make use of them. Surprisingly, according to the Jews traditions, it is acceptable to obliterate an embryo to aid another breathing person. In fact, this idea has been readily accepted by the majority of the Jews.

This has been attributed to the difficulty in finding any Jewish literature that talk about this issue. Traditionally, Jews lowly regard an embryo that is less than 40 years old, it is seen as just a fluid. Some Jewish doctors consider the research on stem cell as the hope of humankind (Steinberg, 40).

Euthanasia is the procedure of aiding a person to pass away painlessly. This procedure is usually carried out on a patient who is facing an inevitable death and is in pain. By ending his life soon, he would have been relieved from his suffering. The Catholic Doctrine of Faith of 1980 forbids euthanasia claiming that it is a great offense towards a human life. Even though death is inevitable, there should be no human intervention whatsoever.

However some more liberal Christians like The Unitarian Universalist Association do not agree with the Catholics. They say that it does not make sense that it is okay to intervene and prolong a human life but not okay to end it if conditions are favorable. Their members are allowed to carry on with euthanasia as long as it is okay with the patient (Robinson, 69).

Like among the Christians, there is a division among Judaism followers regarding euthanasia. Conservative Judaism followers are against intended euthanasia but are not strict on intended passive euthanasia. On the other hand, Reformed Jews particularly support euthanasia in general, especially from the 1970s.

Ordination is the training and examination of members who wish to join any religious group. Ordination is carried out on people who wish to be the leaders of a congregation. Different religious groups and denomination have different ways of carrying out the process.

However, there are different opinions on the ordination of women. In traditional Christian society, women were never ordained, but that changed after the Protestant Reformation. They base their decision on ordaining women on the fact that Deborah was made a Judge in the ancient Israel by God.

Denominations like and Evangelical Lutheran Church of America have been ordaining women since the early 1930s. Meanwhile, Catholic and Orthodox Churches have not allowed the ordination of women. In 1995 Pope John Paul the second announced that the Holy Spirit had not granted permission to ordain females. Traditional Catholics were satisfied with the answer but modern Catholics have been reluctantly protesting (Paul, 46).

Ordination of females as rabbis among the Jews is a reflection of what is in Christendom. Liberal Jews like those in Reformed Judaism have ordained women since 1950s. They consider them to equal to men when it comes to leadership in a congregation. Meanwhile, conservative Jews like those in Orthodox Judaism have never permitted women to be ordained as rabbis. They claim that; just as the man is the head of the family, he is also the head of the congregation (Robinson, 56).

In the Roman Catholic tradition, marriage is regarded as ritual intended by the creator. This means that the two spouses are obliged to bear children. Also, they do not recognize divorce. The Protestants have refuted the Catholic sacramental model and they get married in order to praise God.

Protestant married couple do not have to bear children and they are allowed to divorce. Conservative Jews consider marriage to be a bond between a man, woman and God. The married couple are also expected to procreate. More tolerant denomination like the Reformed Jews have accepted couples to be living together with no intention of having children (Paul, 48).

Both Judaism and Christianity have become tolerant to technology. All of them consider technology to be neutral and what matters is how it is used. However, in the middle of 20th century, the Orthodox and the Reformed Judaism followers had a debate on whether technology was a blessing or a curse.

The Reformists were for technology and the Orthodox were against it. Later, the Orthodox followers changed their teachings to allow the use of technology. All Christians have accepted technology and embraced it since it makes their lives easier (Mendelsohn, 48).

From this paper, it is obvious there are always two differing opinions in these two religious groups. Denominations that were established early like the Orthodox Judaism and Catholic Church followers in many ways have the same opinion regarding contemporary issues. Later down the line, other denominations cropped up which also in many ways had similar opinions. So it can be concluded that these two religions can be divided into two; the traditional religion and the modern religion.

Works Cited

Eisenbaum, Pamela. “Jesus, Gentiles, and Genealogy in Romans.” Journal of Biblical Literature 123 .4 (2009): 671–702. Print

Gale, Thomson. “A Modern Jew.” Judaism, the religion 34.8 (2000): 45-67. Print

Mendelsohn, Ezra. “People of the city.” Studies in contemporary Jewry 15.5 (1999): 34-90. Print

Paul, Avis. “An Introduction to the Major Traditions.” The Christian Church 15.7 (2002): 30-58. Print

Robinson, Steve. “Beliefs, Customs and Rituals.” Essential Judaism 12.4 (2004): 50-78. Print

Steinberg, Milton. “Ordination.” Basic Judaism 37.11 (1999): 37-67. Print

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IvyPanda. (2019, February 20). Religious communities respond to contemporary issues; Judaism and Christianity. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/religious-communities-respond-to-contemporary-issues-judaism-and-christianity/

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IvyPanda. "Religious communities respond to contemporary issues; Judaism and Christianity." February 20, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/religious-communities-respond-to-contemporary-issues-judaism-and-christianity/.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Religious communities respond to contemporary issues; Judaism and Christianity." February 20, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/religious-communities-respond-to-contemporary-issues-judaism-and-christianity/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Religious communities respond to contemporary issues; Judaism and Christianity'. 20 February.

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