Wednesday, 09 May 2012
Jesus Was a Liberal: How the Conservative Agenda Is a Rejection of Christ's Teachings
By Jerry Wilde
see relatedI've never understood how people can claim to be Christians who follow the New Testament, but have such amazingly Old Testament values. The group that fully embodies this mindset to me is the Moral Majority. Even as a Christian, I could never understood how you could read the words of Jesus and then go out and vote to not help the poor. Many justify this with the saying "God helps those who help themselves," which is often falsely attributed to the Bible. When I was a Christian, I always figured the final word on any issue in which the Bible's message might be in question should be settled by the words of Jesus, the man who is, supposedly, the most important person in the Christian religion. So what do we hear Jesus say about economics?
We can look at Mark 10, which says "21Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22At this the man's face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. 23Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” 24Thedisciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." "
I often hear from Christians, when discussing things like abstaining from homosexuality or premarital sex, that following the Bible isn't mean to be easy. But I'm amazed at how rarely this verse comes up when the religious right discusses their faith. I can only assume because this faction of Christianity somehow combines Old Testament morality with a 1980s Wall Street "greed is good" mentality. Obviously these people seem to find Jesus' teachings to be too difficult to follow, but the restrictions on homosexuality and sex outside of marriage are no problem to them (publicly at least... just look at Kent Hovind and his male prostitute or Newt Gingrich divorcing his wife on his death bed so he can move on to his third wife).
We know for certain that Jesus had no problem healing the sick free of charge (can you say socialized medicine?), as is evidenced in passages like Matthew 4:23 & 9:35. And let's not forget that we are to "forgive our debtors" and "give to every one who begs from you." Jesus even spoke on trickle-down economics nearly 2000 years before Republicans would start to promote the concept as an addendum to the New Testament, when he discussed the beggar Lazarus "who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table." If you're familiar with Jesus' message at all (and not in a 700 Club kind of way) you probably know that Lazarus ended up in a better place than the rich man.
But I think the most convincing evidence of Jesus being more of a leftie hippie than a right-wing Reaganomics promoter comes from James 2: "1My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism. 2Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. 3If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet," 4have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5Listen,my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong? "
None of this makes Jesus seem like the supply-side, laissez-faire, capitalist, "let the market take care of it" fiscal conservative the modern GOP likes to paint him as. I think if Jesus were around today, he'd shrink away from these people that love to jump on the six Bible passages about homosexuality and ignore the hundreds on how to treat the poor.