Sunday, August 15, 2010

What the Hell is Wrong With Jesus?

There are Christians out there who like to look on the Old Testament as a parable, not the absolute, unalterable truth. And that's only reasonable - the Old Testament is, as I've mentioned before, a pretty savage book, filled with the bloody demands of a small-minded Bronze Age deity.

After all, according to Leviticus and Exodus, the death penalty isn't just required for murderers (Lev. 24:17-22) and kidnappers (Ex. 21:16), but for teenagers who fight with their parents (Ex. 21:17 and Lev. 20:9), and for guys who have sex with their mother-in-law (Lev. 20:14 - and the rough part is here, he gets burned to death, along with his mother-in-law, and his wife! - what? She knew about it? Now that's an open marriage...)

Meanwhile, you're allowed to have sex with another man’s slave, but you have to sacrifice a ram to do it (Lev 19:20-22). I can go on and on - and have, now that I think about it...

But, hey, Jesus came along and made everything all better, right? Well, not really. First of all, he didn't cancel out the laws of the Old Testament. Or, to put it in His words,
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Matt. 5:17-18)
Of course, he quickly contradicted himself when he said that you didn't have to follow kosher dietary laws (Matt. 15:11) or stop working on the Sabbath (Most of Matthew 12, and part of Mark 2 - "The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath Mark 2:27"), so these two laws were apparently neither jots nor tittles.

(Does anybody know what a tittle is? I've got to jot down a note to remind me to find out... Oh, yeah, and incidentally, do you know why he had to explain, in Matthew 12, why the Sabbath ain't all that holy? He and his disciples had been caught stealing corn. Just thought I'd mention that.)

As usual, incidentally, all quotes, unless otherwise attributed, are from the King James Version, because I prefer the poetry of the language.

Of course, this isn't the only time he contradicted himself. Compare the two following quotes:
If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true. John 5:31

Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go. John 8:14
One of my favorite passages in the Bible, when I'm talking to those streetcorner preachers, is Matthew 6:5-6:
And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret...
Of course, by cutting it off there, you miss the opening of verse 7, which says "But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do."

Contrast that with Matthew 26:44: "And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words." (I guess the heathen repeat themselves more than three times.)

Jesus was a big promoter of "family values," too, right?
If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:26)
Self-confidence is also at a premium in that quote.
For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.
Whatever happened to that whole "Honor thy father and mother" thing, anyway?
And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.Matt. 8:21-22
In Matthew 12, while explaining why that whole "keep the Sabbath Day holy" was outdated, humble Jesus explained how He was more important than the temple, and a greater man than either Jonah or Solomon. You know, gentle, loving Jesus, the Prince of Peace.
Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
The Catholics, at least, have figured out that Jesus was opposed to divorce.
And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away (divorces) his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away (divorced) doth commit adultery. (Matt. 19:9)
Of course, by stopping there, they miss the spectacular argument three verses later. Because, after all, not everybody can keep from getting married, right?
For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it. (Matt. 19:12)
Admittedly, you might say he was just listing some special cases. Or you could say that you have metaphorically become a eunuch if you don't have sex with women. (Hmmm... gay marriage...) On the other hand, a lot of (former, I suppose) men, from Christian scholar Origen in the Third Century B.C., to Boston Corbett in 1858, the Heaven's Gate cult in the Nineties, to Luis Alfonzo Sanchez Ortiz just last year, have all castrated themselves because of that verse. So, you know... bad advice, maybe?

But in the end, it's OK. Because the books of the New Testament can't even agree on the beginning or the the end of Jesus' life. And we'll consider that tomorrow.

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