Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Christianity and Pacifism

In a previous post, I took issue with those conservative Christians who would turn Jesus into a free-market capitalist. I stand by my conviction that there is no way that you can read the Gospels and conclude that Jesus could possibly approve of the insatiable greed that drives our American capitalist system. If you can show me a single passage from scripture, for example, where Jesus says to his apostles anything like, "Go ye forth and rape and plunder the earth for your profit and mine," I'll stand corrected. But until then, please stop trying to turn Jesus into a first century Donald Trump. It just doesn't work.

And I also have a bit of advice for those Christians who think that they can combine their Christian faith with support for the military industrial complex, expansionist wars in the Middle East, and the torture and assassination of our political and military enemies: this doesn't work either.

You see, it is damn hard to reconcile your devotion for the guy who said things like "do not resist the evil-doer" and "if someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn your other cheek to him as well" with the lust that you have to "nuke the whole f#$%ing Middle East" or bomb our enemies "back into the Stone Age."

I'm almost embarrassed to say this, because it should be self-evident to anyone who has ever picked up the Bible, but that fellow, Jesus of Nazareth, who you claim to worship, was even more of a bleeding-heart pacifist than he was a socialist. If you really took his teachings to heart, instead of being a cheerleader for more military spending, you'd be on the front lines of every anti-war protest; instead of squealing with delight whenever we assassinate a suspected terrorist, you'd be shouting from every street corner for justice, not revenge. People would hate you for the position you'd take on these issues, but they hated your savior too. That's part of what it means to be his disciple.

It's rather unfortunate that the person who seems to really understand what Jesus was all about is one of this country's most outspoken atheists--the comedian Bill Maher. You see, despite Maher's antipathy for any form of organized religion, at least he gets the fact that, if you really want to call yourself a follower of Jesus, you might want to actually try following his teachings on occasion. The big guy had nothing at all to say about abortion, gay marriage, or birth control, but he was very clear that, if you wanted to be his disciple, you had to "love your enemies" and "bless those who persecute you. "

It's for this very reason that I hesitate to call myself a Christian: because unlike those who have actually tried to live out the teachings of the Gospels (Tolstoy, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day, Bishop Romero, Daniel Berrigan, etc), I have neither the courage nor the conviction to put aside all thoughts of revenge against my own enemies. This lust for revenge may make me perfectly human, but it seems to me that Jesus came precisely to teach us how to transcend our brute humanity and live a more divine life.

So, I really don't blame you at all if you hate the fact that your savior has commanded you to become a pacifist and redistribute your wealth (to be perfectly honest, I'm not ready yet to embrace these positions either). In fact, you may just want to consider finding a religion whose basic moral precepts are not quite as difficult to follow as those of Christianity.

Druidism, anyone?


  1. bill maher really understands what Christianity is all about? he's a hardcore athiest and pot-head, dude! not that there'a anything wrong with either of those things, but that doesn't mean he knows squat about religion!!! stick to politics and philosophy and stay away from religion, man....you're out of your element here.

  2. oh, and i certainly hope that you are not mocking druids with your last comment. that is one deep fucking religion!!!

  3. Ok sorry this took so long.

    Well, I have to say that I do agree with you up to a certain point. We as Christians need to unite, and truly follow Christ's message of Love and Peace in a much better way. (Personally I think that in years to come we will see a much smaller Catholic Church, a much more united and holy church..just my opinion) I agree with those comments, who wouldn't? I just don't think you presented it the right way, you cannot use Bill Maher, although a funny comic, as an authority on the dogma and doctrine of the Catholic Church! That doesn't really work, I mean I can just comment on anything - it does not make me an expert on that particular subject! This is where I really disagree with you. You went to a great high school, one where you had to learn a lot about Holy Scripture! How could you make statements that Christ does not discuss the topics of Homosexuality, Abortion, Divorce?! It;s every where in the Bible! I mean come on? For example:

    (Exodus 20:14; I Cor. 6:9, 10). (Matthew 5:28) (I Corinthians 5:1; 6:13, 18; Ephesians 5:3). - Divorce/ Adultery

    The Apostle Paul, writing by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, declares that homosexuality "shall not inherit the kingdom of God" (I Corinthians 6:9; 10). Now Paul does not single out the homosexual as a special offender. He includes fornicators, idolators, adulterers, thieves, covetous persons, drunkards, revilers and extortioners. And then he adds the comment that some of the Christians at Corinth had been delivered from these very practices: "And such were some of you: But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the spirit of our God" (I Corinthians 6:11). All of the sins mentioned in this passage are condemned by God, but just as there was hope in Christ for the Corinthians, so is theres hope for all of us. Here we have a passage of not only sin, which by our own nature human being are created, can be washed clean and be forgiven no matter what!

    Everything else I truly agree with! You just need to be careful with how you support you point of view.

  4. Kevin, you are going to make an excellent philosopher one day. I love the fact that you are not afraid to go after me for this, admittedly, antagonistic posts. And I do agree with you that claiming that Bill Maher is an authority on Christianity is a bit absurd. But I certainly think that he understands the true meaning of the Christian faith much better than those who think ignore the clearly pacifist statements in the Gospels.

    But you don't take that stand...much to your credit. Instead, you single in on my statement that Jesus had nothing to say about abortion or homosexuality. Your argument is that Paul condemns homosexuality. But I don't dispute this. I only claimed that the founder of Christianity was silent on the subject. I hope you'll forgive me if I choose to take my inspiration from Christ himself rather than one of his followers.

    The real point of my two posts on Christianity is that, if you read the Gospels as they are written (as opposed to how we would like them to be written), the message certainly is a progressive one--i.e., non-violence, forgiveness of one's enemies, care for the vulnerable members of the society,etc.

    That this point has become debatable demonstrates just how anti-Christian we have become as a society.