Friday, July 16, 2010

Why Christians Aren't Christ-Like

There's no doubt that Jesus Christ -- whether he was a real man or not -- generally was a good role model. Even non-believers would find that notion hard to refute. Sure, he got weirdly pissed at a fig tree once for not bearing fruit out of season, but everyone loses their temper now and then. The fact is that he seemed to be a man of love and peace, and that's not a hard set of values to rally behind. So, Christians may have a point that getting your values from the example set by Jesus is a good thing.

Well, they'd have a point if they got their values from Jesus, but they most certainly do not. Jesus advocated plenty of concepts that no right-minded (pun intended) fundamentalist Christian ever would adhere to. Here are just a few samplings of the teachings of Jesus:

Jesus' Teaching: Be poor, give everything you have, and spread the wealth, because you don't need any of it.

Examples:

Matthew 19:24 -- And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

Matthew 19:21 -- Jesus said to him, 'If thou dost will to be perfect, go away, sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven, and come, follow me.'

Luke 12:33-34 -- Sell what ye have, and give alms: provide yourselves bags, which become not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

How Well Do Christians Follow This?

Erm ... not very well at all. One look at the Vatican would tell you that much. (The Onion even wrote a humor article about how a pope was disappointed upon reaching heaven and discovering that it was less opulent than the Vatican. I mean, seriously, that crazy pope will encrust anything with jewels -- his toilet seat probably is encrusted with jewels, even though it hurts his ass when he sits on it.)

Just look at this picture inside the Vatican at the right. Sure, it's beautiful (read "gaudy") as hell, but it's not exactly a Christ-like example being set.

And, of course, there are evangelical preachers who revel in their riches and wear super-expensive clothing and jewelry when giving their sermons. Bill Maher made fun of that very fact when he interviewed Rev. Jeremiah Cummings in his must-watch movie Religulous. (See the clip embedded below. It's horribly low quality, but if you haven't seen the movie already, you should rent/buy it anyway.)




It's not just the leaders of the church who are overly attached to material possessions, the individual followers are, too. How many Christians do you know with nice cars, big houses, and fancy clothes? How many Christians do you think would give everything they had to the poor, as Jesus told them to? Most of them don't even want to pay higher taxes to support universal healthcare because they don't like paying for "freeloaders." Christ despised freeloaders, too -- riiiigghhht ...

And it's not like Jesus was subtle about this philosophy -- he was quite clear. Jesus basically told everyone to be socialist, which is the scariest word Christian's can hear in the entire English language nowadays. So, why don't Christians follow these explicit teachings of Christ? Why are so many Christians big on the Old Testament's Saddam and Gomorrah's anti-gay teachings and so "Meh" about Jesus' give-all-you-have-to-the-poor teachings? Like with most things in the Bible, people take from it what they want/agree with and sorta just forget about the rest.


Jesus' Teaching:Forgive everyone, forgive them immediately, and do not retaliate against your enemies or those who slight you/steal from you.

Examples:

Matthew 18:21-22 -- Then Peter came and said to Him, 'Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?' Jesus said to him, 'I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.'

Luke 6:27-36 -- But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

How Well Do Christians Follow This?

1) The wars in Iraq/Afghanistan, backed by super-religious George W. Bush, 2) The Inquisition, 3) The Crusades, 4) The conservative-backed death penalty, 5) The conservative-backed anti-immigration laws (purportedly meant to prevent illegals from "stealing" our jobs), 6) Abortion clinic bombings, 7) Hate crimes against gays ... and the list goes on (and on, and on).

The truth is, it's human nature to attempt retaliation against your enemies or people you don't like, and Christians are as susceptible as the rest of us to falling prey to desires of retaliation. That isn't the part I have such a big beef with, though; the part that ticks me off is that most Christians don't even see the hypocrisy of, say, an extremely religious president authorizing a war (for any reason, ever). They don't understand how hypocritical it is for a Christian to enact strict laws of any kind. Seriously, read the Bible passage from Luke again -- Jesus was possibly the most passive guy in history, and he told his followers to be the same.


Jesus' Teaching: Give anyone money who asks it of you, even people you hate, and do not expect them ever to do anything good to reciprocate, or even ever to give you back your money.

Examples:

This is from the Luke passage above again, but it deserved its own mention:

Luke 6:33-35 -- If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great.

How Well Do Christians Follow This?

Go ask a Christian you don't know to give you all of their money and you'll find out. They'll probably call the police and/or attack you with mace. A safer method would be to get a mailing list of Christians and send all of them a form letter asking for $5,000. Assure them that they never will be paid back, and that they should be ashamed for even thinking of it. Quote the above passage from the Bible and watch the money roll in. ... yeah, or not.

I once read just such a form letter and I really wish I remembered where I'd found it so I could link you guys to it. (If any of you remember seeing it, let me know where to find it so I can update this entry.) In the very least, it'd be a funny experiment to actually implement. You might tick some people off, but you also might cause some Christians to truly think about the tenets of their religion. And hell, you might actually get one demented fundamentalist to send you $5,000. Hey, crazy money spends just as well as sane money!


As an end-note, I wanted to once again promote one of my favorite anti-theist YouTubers, NonStampCollector. He did an excellent video wherein Jesus is giving his Sermon on the Mount and a 21st-century Christian time travels from the future to help interpret what Jesus is really saying so that people don't get confused. It hits many of the same points I made above and is kinda ridiculously hilarious.






-- The Atheist Apologist --

24 comments:

  1. May I play devil's advocate on this one? (pun intended)

    Many would argue (not just Christopher Hitchens) that Jesus was NOT a good role model.

    Is it really virtuous to love your enemies? Is it really a good idea to "take no heed for the morrow" to disregard our families and the things of this world? Is it really more noble to remain poor than to become rich?

    Food for thought.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, if one was so highly evolved to do so. Loving your enemy doesn't mean you have to invite them over for potato salad. They need not even be made aware of it. Love, in this context, is a state of Being, not an emotional act. Emotions, after all, are derivatives of either Love or Fear. Love & Fear are the only two states of being that a person can be in. Every emotion we feel is based either in Love or in fear. So, basically you're being told not to fear your enemy because, it's out of a state of fear that humans, & animals alike, Strike or lash out at one another. Hate is a derivative of fear. We hate that which we fear. We fear that which we don't understand or whose motives are unclear. Have you noticed the amount of time & energy that goes into hating another person? Quite often it's more than the amount of time & energy we put into the ones we love. And, it's not asking that you "disregard" your family. It's suggesting that you yourself are not dependent upon them nor do you cater to their imagined dependencies upon you. Because you served a role in ones life doesn't mean you are assigned that role forever. Nor does it mean that you'll serve no other role in no other persons life from there on. The advice is given from a supposedly highly evolved being who would have known & understood things far beyond your level of awareness. As confusing as it might all sound it's more than likely His version of dumbing it down. It'd be like me attempting to write an essay for a 12 year old & trying to make it sound like the child had written it himself. As hard as I try it's still going to sound far more advanced than anything the child would have written. Jesus, would have been so highly evolved that his own mind could not reach so far back as to write or say it in any simpler terms than He did. He'd re-read his notes & thought, "Who wouldn't understand this? It couldn't be made any simpler." It's people taking the words of, or the words written in the name of, Christ so literal that have caused so many problems. When un-evolved human beings attempt to translate something written by a highly evolved individual they will inevitably screw it up & then mindlessly teach their version to their offspring who, even less evolved then their parents, misinterpret them and before you know it a bunch of idiots are walking around preaching it as universal truth to masses of idiots who imagine the one preaching is more evolved then they & so he must be right. Before you know it there's a bunch of different groups of idiots forming around the world; calling themselves a religion.

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    2. Further, all these "things of the world" are imagined needs. If you had non of it, nothing at all, you'd not cease to exist. You would only cease to exist as the person you imagined yourself to be based on all the labels you'd been given or had given yourself i.e. The funny one, the hard worker, the clean freak, the hoarder, the black sheep, the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker. You need food & water to maintain your physical body, period. However, if you believe in God & his word, even these things you do not need in order to live as you've eternal life. All need is imagined. You imagine you need that car, that house, that job, that money, that coat, that type of razor to shave with, in order to Be Who You Are. But, it's Who You Are without any of it that matters. If you were stripped naked, starving, without a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of, and caused to forget your own name & the faces of anyone you've ever known, who would you be then? What would you say? What would you do & how would you go about it? If everything you did, from that point on, came from a place of love; you would be clothed, you would be fed, you would be given a name. Then, as it happened the first time around, others would begin to label you & you would begin to define yourself based on those labels & your surroundings. A Master would not attach himself to those labels or define himself by the world around him. He'd love & be loved and walk in the knowledge that without all those "things", including love, he'd not ceased to be & thus does not need it but, merely requires it in order to mesh with society and not end up in jail or in the loony bend. He must obey the laws of the land to remain free, physically and, out of harms way of man-made consequences. It is among us that some of the greatest masters live & work. Rarely will you find a HEB standing at the pulpit preaching to those who already believe they know the truth, if not the facts. A true Master understands that you can not teach one who already knows everything, or believes that they do, and thus would not waste their time attempting it on a large scale. No, the real Masters are standing next to you, waiting for you to ask. A true Master also knows that unsolicited advice of any kind is not often welcomed & too, that until the question is asked it's most likely the person isn't ready for the answers as he lacks the awareness that such questions need to be asked.

      Delete
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