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Even the good things are bad
Last time, we focused on the disastrously stupid things Jesus said about money. If even one of them was an authentic saying of Jesus, then it is reason enough for every believer to walk away from the Jesus cult. I continue to await a challenge from Christians on this point.
We could stop the series there. We need no further reasons to stop caring about what the bible says. But I am in no rush to end the series. And there is plenty more. I only focused on what Jesus had to say about money. Some believers might decide that it doesn’t matter if Jesus was a bad financial advisor. Money doesn’t matter anyway. It is what he said about more important things that count.
What they do not understand is that even the good things they think Jesus said were not so good upon closer inspection. So rather than just picking the low-hanging fruit, this time, I will focus on the “good” teachings of Jesus. We will look beneath the surface to see if what dirt lies there:
Do unto others…
In everything, treat others as you would want them to treat you, for this fulfills the law and the prophets. Matt. 7:12
They call it the golden rule. And they attribute it to Jesus. However, I contend that the rule is not all that golden. And it didn’t originate with Jesus. Let’s tackle the first claim:
The rule states that the measure for how you should treat others is your own desire for how you want to be treated. Does that sound the warning bells for anyone besides me? Not everyone wants to be treated the way I want to be treated. That mindset is at the heart of some of the worst atrocities the world has ever known. It goes something like this:
If I was a sinner in need of a savior, I would want to be saved at any cost. I would want the conquistadors to enter my land, enslave me, take over my possessions, and force my children into fitting in with their more civilized, Christian society. What could be better than that? So naturally, I will treat those savages over there as I would want to be treated were the situation reversed.
For a less extreme example, I might be the kind of person who prefers to sit home all by myself with only the company of a good book. But my friends insist that I get out and join them in their idea of a good time. They mean well. And they are doing what they would hope someone would do for them. But they are not taking my preferences into account. They are only using their personal desire for treatment as the measurement.
In point of fact, treat others the way you want to be treated is a bad rule. It places you as the arbiter of how someone else might want to be treated. In many key situations, I don’t want to be treated the way you want to be treated. There is nothing golden about this rule. The sooner we stop pretending that it is good advice, the better.
Secondarily, some variation of that saying has been around long before Jesus. Check out the following article by Erich Vieth:
Here are some of the particulars:
Ancient Egypt.- circa 2000 BCE “Do for one who may do for you, That you may cause him thus to do.” – The Tale of the Eloquent Peasant 109-110,
Hebrew Bible – circa 700 BCE “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your countrymen. Love your fellow as yourself: I am the LORD.”
Zoroastrianism.- circa 600 BCE “That nature only is good when it shall not do unto another whatever is not good for its own self.” – Dadistan-i-Dinik 94:5,
Buddhism.- circa 500 BCE “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.” – Udana-Varga 5:18,
Confucianism.- circa 500 BCE “What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.” Analects of Confucius 15:24,
Socrates.- circa 400 BCE “Do not do to others what would anger you if done to you by others.”
Just to be clear, the golden rule is not good. And it is not original
Love one another
It seems hard to go wrong when you mention love as a part of your message. However, beware of special pleading. Not all love is created equally. Remember the season of free love? Conservatives didn’t much appreciate that definition of love from the hippies. So we recognize it is possible to have a twisted idea of what love is.
I contend that Jesus had a twisted sense of love. Many claim that Jesus was such a good teacher because love was his primary message. But these are people who have never actually read three paragraphs of anything Jesus had to say. So they are missing the fact that Jesus promoted love with a twist. Here are some of those twists:
If you love me…
“If you love me, you will obey my commandments. John 14:15
From the book, Red Letters…
You should be immediately suspicious of someone who starts a sentence with the words, if you really love me. That never ends well. But you already know that. Yet when Jesus does it, we ignore the manipulation and treat it as if it were something good.
The suspicion is immediately paid off when we note what it is Jesus believes to be the evidence of love. You must obey him. This reminds me of anachronistic wedding vows that assume the woman’s love for her husband is evidenced by her unquestioning obedience to his every command.
The love Jesus is talking about has strings attached. If you really love him, you will obey him. Even if you wanted to obey him, this is manipulation of the worst kind. It is only one of the twists behind the vaunted love of Jesus.
Greater Love hath no one than this…
My commandment is this—to love one another just as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this—that one lays down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. John 15:12-14
Here, Jesus goes into a little more detail about what he considers love. He believes that the highest expression of love is that a person die for another. This is an incorrect and unhealthy view of love.
Jesus, and indeed Christians, have an unhealthy obsession with suffering and dying as martyrs. The worse the suffering, the better, the more unfair, the better. And if that suffering is done for someone else, that is better still. Jesus didn’t suffer and die so that you don’t have to. He suffered and died so you could see how it’s done.
I believe that at times, dying is easy. Just ask all those who have attempted and successfully committed suicide. It is a moment of glorious release from suffering. It is much easier for an unfaithful husband and dead-beat father to take a bullet for the family than to do the hard things on a daily basis over the course of painstaking decades. Dying for someone is easier than living for someone.
A gang member might take a bullet for his kid. That doesn’t make him a good father. There are far greater acts of sacrificial love that person could have made for his family and society. Jesus was an occultist who believed in the virtue of suffering and death. He told his followers to take up their cross and follow him. That is what he meant by love.
The reason the Christian can so easily take on the role of suffering martyr is that they have been conditioned to see themselves as lower than everyone else. Consider the following passage:
Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort provided by love, any fellowship in the Spirit, any affection or mercy, complete my joy and be of the same mind, by having the same love, being united in spirit, and having one purpose. Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself. Phil. 2:1-3
Provided that Paul gets his understanding of love from Jesus, he defines the love relationship in similarly unhealthy ways. He believes love is best expressed by you regarding others more highly (more important) than yourself. Once you have lowered yourself sufficiently, you are ready to assume the proper attitude:
The most twisted attitudes
In the beatitudes, Jesus identifies a number of attitudes a true disciple should have. To have these attitudes is to be happy and blessed. Here is the list:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.
“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil things about you falsely on account of me. Rejoice and be glad because your reward is great in heaven, for they persecuted the prophets before you in the same way. Matt. 5 1-11
I could have made this writeup entirely about these passages. There is no time to deal with them all right now. I have done so elsewhere. For now, let’s just take the first four as a group. Consider the conditions Jesus is highlighting.
- The poor in spirit
- Those who mourn
- The meek
- Those who are starving for righteousness
In the Hebrew scriptures, Jesus/god calls for a broken and contrite heart. Beatitude commentators say that what Jesus is calling for are those with properly broken spirits before him. They mourn for their own sinful condition. They are meek because in their lowly condition, they have nothing to boast. And they hunger and thirst for righteousness because they cannot produce it themselves. Like David, they fall on their face and beg god to create in them a clean heart.
While there is room for many interpretations, I believe that this one best fits with the teachings of Jesus, and are in line with other biblical passages. Once you have achieved this lowly state of mind, you are ready to take on the last and worst of the beatitudes.
- Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness
- Blessed when you are insulted, persecuted, and slandered with evil accusations.
This theme runs throughout the New Testament. Jesus said to take up your cross before following him. Paul says all who live godly in Christi will suffer persecution. Christianity is a cult of suffering. Consider Peter:
A person might have to suffer even when it is unfair, but if he thinks of God and can stand the pain, God is pleased. 1 Peter 2:19
God is pleased when you suffer unfairly. All you have to do is endure the pain and think of god as you do it. And if you are really lucky, you will die from your torment. This is how you turn impressionable kids into martyrs.
Conclusion: Kids into martyrs
John Allen Chau is dead. He regarded himself a missionary to the Sentinelese under the protection and calling of god. He is a no longer living example of what happens when a young believer takes Jesus seriously.
Chau applied the golden rule of love by doing to the natives what he would have wanted for himself, with complete disregard for what they wanted. He esteemed them more important than himself. He was prepared to exhibit what he thought was the greatest love by laying down his life for them. And he was prepared to suffer persecution with joy. He died a martyr. And his god couldn’t be more pleased.
That is what happens when you take advice about love from the madman, Jesus. Remember, this is the best of what he had to say. It goes downhill from there.