Saturday, March 9, 2013

What would a Christian society actually look like? Part 2

Yesterday, we left American society in shambles with just three quotes from Jesus. Let's see what else the Savior has to offer us (quotes are again from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible):

Matthew 10:34-38- "Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against his mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's foes will be those of his own household. He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me."

So if you really, really believe in Jesus, then you are to leave your family behind (assuming that you can't convert them) and follow him. This means that if you're a guy who believes in Jesus, and your wife doesn't, the right and ethical thing to do must be to abandon your wife and children and join that horde of homeless Christians roaming the streets, proclaiming the Gospel. Of course, your wife can't actually divorce you for abandoning your family, because we also know that "what God has joined together, let no man tear asunder." Presumably she's just out of luck. Also, if you've really listened to Jesus, you've given away all your worldly goods, which may leave your family homeless anyway. You're certainly not going to be helping to pay the mortgage, at any rate-- you'll be busy preaching the Gospel.

So Jesus advocates 1. leaving your family behind if they disagree with your religion, and 2. as we saw yesterday, giving away all your worldly possessions and hitting the road to "follow" him, thus leaving your family homeless. I think most of us would frown on this style of parenting. What happened to responsibility?

Matthew 6:30: "But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith?"

This is part of a long passage in which Jesus tells his disciples not to worry about food and clothing, because God will provide, just as he does for the birds of the air and the lilies of the field. So when we look at those millions of homeless Christians roaming through the economic devastation of America, we can expect that God has provided them with food and clothing. But if by some chance God hasn't managed to provide millions of garments and manna from Heaven, they have only two avenues open to them: charity (and even if the remainder of our wrecked country has any wealth to spare, one might forgive them for not wanting to give freely to people who gave all their worldly goods away) or theft.

Matthew 10:14-15: "If any one will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly, I say to you, it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment of the land of Sodom and Gomor'rah than for that town."

So while you're wandering around, preaching, and you come across a town that's not really interested in hearing the Gospel, you are to shake the dust off your feet, and then God will punish that town more severely on Judgment Day than he will Sodom and Gomorrah. Those two towns, of course, were utterly obliterated by God because they were so sinful. So anyone who doesn't listen to you is worthy of being obliterated. Doesn't that make you feel good about wandering around and preaching to people? If you don't do a good job, they're going to suffer, quite terribly. Way to put the pressure on there, Jesus.

(Matthew 11:20-24 is also dedicated to Jesus upbraiding several cities "where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent." He lists the cities by name and says they will all suffer bigtime. What about the kids in the cities? Did he expect them to suffer, just as the children in Sodom and Gomorrah were wiped out along with their sinning elders?)

Matthew 13:41: (At the close of the age) "The Son of man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all curses of sin and all evildoers, and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth."

So if you aren't quite sure about abandoning your family, giving all your goods away, and following Jesus, a terrible, fiery fate awaits you. Of course, if you do all these things, then you will "shine like the sun" with God in Heaven. Just try not to think about all those people down in Hell, burning in the flames for eternity.

So in order to be holy, you must give away all your belongings and rely on God for your sustenance, let yourself suffer any sort of abuse without retribution, abandon your family if necessary, and remain wed to your spouse no matter what (except for unchastity). If you don't do all these things, then the angels will throw you into the furnace of fire, where you can expect a rather unpleasant punishment. Meanwhile, all those who gave away everything they had will frolic in the sunshine with God. "So the last will be first, and the first shall be last."

But if you're a theist reading this, and you're feeling a bit smug right now because you know that you're going to Heaven, while we atheists burn, do notice the full extent of what Jesus is asking you to do. Have you given your house and car away to the homeless? How about your bank account? Have you walked away from your wife if she's not a believer? If not, is there a chance that what Jesus is asking for is really simply not possible for a functioning society? And if we have to admit that Jesus really didn't know what he was talking about, then why are we still worrying about what this Jesus dude said, two thousand years later?

Let's leave United States society in the total disarray brought on by following Jesus literally, and listen to one more quote from Jesus:

Matthew 11:28-30: "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

So our gentle Messiah tells us to give away everything, leave our families behind, and trust God to clothe and feed us. He threatens to throw us into Hell if we're not good enough, and says that whole cities will be horribly punished for not following him. He demands that we turn our whole life over to following him. And then he actually has the temerity to say that he's gentle, and the burden he's laying on us is light, and that this will be easy? To paraphrase Douglas Adams, this is obviously some strange usage of the word "easy" that I wasn't previously aware of.

1 comment:

  1. I like this series. It points out a literal interpretation of Jesus' teachings is impractical or unethical at best, and impossible at worst in the modern world.

    "This means that if you're a guy who believes in Jesus, and your wife doesn't, the right and ethical thing to do must be to abandon your wife and children..."

    Unfortunately, plenty of Christians do this already. The whole NT passage about being "unevenly yoked" with nonbelievers has broken up more than a few religiously mixed relationships.