Gentle Jesus – meek and mild?

StonedWhen it comes to derogatory and hateful remarks about minorities, Jesus is frequently given a pass. His ‘meek and mild’ persona – not one he actually had, but one he’s acquired over time – is brought into play to absolve him of all unpleasantness.

For example, and as liberal bloggers are fond of saying, here’s what he had to say about gay marriage:

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Yup, that’s right; he said absolutely nothing about it – not directly anyway. But what Jesus did say, if ‘Matthew’ is to believed, was that he upheld the Jewish Law in its minutest detail:

Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfil. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5.17-19)

That’s the Law that prescribes death for even the smallest infraction that he’s endorsing there. Here’s a brief sample of that Law and the penalty for breaking its petty rules:

Stone to death anyone who works on the Sabbath. (Exodus 35.2 and Numbers 15.32-36)

Kill publicly children who dishonour their father or mother. (Leviticus 20.9)

Stone to death anyone who blasphemes the name of the Lord. (Leviticus 24.16)

Execute a married couple who have sexual intercourse during the woman’s period. (Leviticus 18.19)

Put to death those involved in adultery. (Leviticus 20.10)

Execute any man who lies with another man, as with a woman. (Leviticus 20.13)

Stone to death at her father’s door any woman who is not a virgin on her wedding night. (Deuteronomy 22.13-14 and 20-21).

Sound familiar? With its oppressive brutality and liberal use of the death penalty, this sort of behaviour is like IS practices today. They’re both desert ‘moralities’, after all. And this is the law that Jesus advocates and insists remains in place until ‘heaven and earth pass away’. As that hasn’t happened yet, the Law, according to Jesus anyway, remains in effect. Never mind that Paul says it doesn’t – God himself, in the shape of Jesus Christ says it does. How’s that for meek and mild?

(Cue Christians referencing the story of the woman caught in adultery. That, however, is a late addition to the Bible and, in any case, Jesus only saves the woman because his beloved Law hasn’t been properly complied with.)

Thankfully, civilised human beings – and civilised Christians too – ignore Jesus and don’t seek to apply such old barbaric laws (though there are some believers who want to when it comes to LGBT people; see my previous post.) But if you want to know Jesus’ position on moral issues that he doesn’t pontificate on explicitly, just remember he fully supports the death penalty for adultery, homosexuality, working on the Sabbath, not being a virgin on your wedding night, having sex at the wrong time of month, dancing, listening to the radio, tweeting and texting… oh wait… now I have got him confused with Islamic extremists. It’s so easy to do.
Next time: Jesus says that the only way to gain eternal life is to follow this vicious Law with all its unreasonable demands.

And another three things…

Following on from last time’s post, here, below the picture, are some more points I hold to be true.Image

Human behaviour, not sin.
There is no such thing as sin and we don’t need God’s forgiveness for it. Sin is a Christian construct with no purchase in the real world. There is only human behaviour – good, bad and indifferent. Most of it is indifferent (or neutral if you like) including what consenting adults may do with each other sexually. Some of it is good, in the sense that it benefits others significantly; some of it is bad – evil even – because of the harm it causes others. None of it is offensive to God, because there isn’t a God, and none of it is forgiven by him for the same reason. We are moral or not, without the assistance of a God. This seems to me to be self-evident: if there is no God and yet we are capable of behaving morally then any goodness cannot come from him. Similarly, immoral behaviour, of which the religious are as capable as the rest of us, is also entirely human.

We can draw two conclusions from this:

  1. No sin = nothing to be saved from = no redemption.

  2. The Christian claim that because atheists don’t acknowledge God they have no grounds for behaving morally is demonstrably false. The golden rule of ‘do unto others…’ is of value to us as social animals, which is why it pre-dates Jesus by millennia. Non-believers are as capable of behaving morally as believers, and sometimes a darn-sight better.

It is impossible to know the future.
No-one can know the future. The same Christians who castigate scientists for not being there when the Earth came into existence, have the temerity to claim they know what will happen at some indeterminate time in the future. There will be, they tell us, an anti-Christ, a rapture and Jesus will return from Heaven. They cannot know this of course, even if their holy book seems to predict it. It too was created by human beings with no more ability to read the future as anyone else. People have long wished they could tell what the future holds, which is why fortune tellers, astrologers, priests who read auspices, oracles and prophets have been with us throughout history. They’ve never been right, except by chance, for the simple expedient that humans are not gifted with accurate foresight. Biblical prophecies are no exception and have already failed, as we’ll see in future postings.

(Scientists do of course predict what the consequences of certain actions might be, but scientific predictions are subject to amendment as more information becomes available and are always open to refutation. They are not in the same category as prophecies purportedly from a deity who doesn’t actually exist.)

We are all humanists.
We are all utterly reliant on other human beings, not God, to help us fulfil our needs. Believers do not turn to God when they are hungry, because if they did they would starve (in spite of what Jesus says in Matthew 6.25). They don’t turn to him when they are ill, but look to medical science to help them (yes, there are a small minority of extremists who, because of faith in God and the likes of Mark 16.18, let their children die. But most believers don’t; they have faith in other humans, in science and technology). Christians and believers of all stripes demonstrate their faith, not in God but in human endeavours every time they get dressed, put on spectacles, catch a bus, board a plane, buy a house, switch on a computer, television or oven, use a phone, listen to music, admire art and marvel at architecture. None of this is God-given, it is all human, and believers, whatever else they may claim, are all humanists at heart, having far more faith in the human than the divine.