I was surprised that I hadn’t received more comments on my previous article. Especially when I attack the Apostle Paul. Paul is the fundamental follower that the Religious Right quotes when it comes to justifying their judgment of others. One reader made several comments to my article and I would like to address them here. First, in regard to the differing beliefs from Jesus, the reader wanted me to list a few. Well, here they are:
Jesus prohibited public prayer and public displays of worship (Matt. 6:1-18). Paul organized churches and started the “religion” of Christianity. His letters (epistles) were more to maintain control and to make standards for the church. Most of these were not based on the teachings of Jesus, but on his own beliefs. The apostles were horrified when Jesus sat and ate dinner with Matthew, the tax collector. Jesus made it a point to sit down with sinners and the downtrodden. Paul states in 1st Corinthians 5:11 "But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat." This is in direct contradiction to the behavior of Jesus. Jesus fed the poor and those not capable of working. He said that if someone comes knocking at our door and we turn them away we are turning him away. Yet Paul says in 2nd Thessalonians 3:10 "For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat." Where is Paul’s charity for the poor?
In Ephesians 6:5 and Titus 2:9-10 Paul says to the slaves to “obey their masters” and never condemns the ownership of man over man. The reader asks why we should care about what Thomas Jefferson said. Jefferson was a slave owner and still recognized the folly of Paul’s words and how they undermined what Jesus had said. Go ahead my friend, defend Paul over Jesus and reap the rewards you so justly deserve! Paul didn’t believe in equality for women and that they should be submissive to their husbands (Ephesians 5:22-24 and Colossians 3:18-19). Oh, that’s right; it’s a man’s world for the Religious Right. Finally, the only thing about homosexuals in the New Testament is Paul’s account in Romans 1:26-27. Please take note: JESUS DID NOT SAY THIS!!! PAUL DID! Yet, church after church, preacher after preacher, believer after believer quotes this passage to JUDGE a group of people who only want their God given right to love another human being and to not be trampled upon by those who are “HOLIER THAN THOU.” Listen up Pat Robertson! How dare any of you judge another human being! Like in the account of the adulteress whom the crowd wanted to stone, Jesus said, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” (John 8:7). Drop your stones my friend and start acting like Jesus wanted you to act! Paul asserts that the Law of Moses is no longer operational in his writings EXCEPT when it comes to the passage in Leviticus 18:22! It sounds like Paul didn’t respect women, slaves and homosexuals. Perhaps they didn’t fit into his idol picture of the followers of Christ. This is the man who stated so eloquently, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). Then why didn’t you embrace what Jesus did and stop preaching what you “thought” he would say?
The reader further states to me, “You cherry pick Jesus' words, I say. Of course Jesus was not opposed to judgment. He opposed hypocritical judgment, not prudent judgment. John 7:24 says "Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment." And who determines what is right judgment? Man? As with all verses in the Bible, they can be taken out of context. Preachers and theologians have been doing this century after century. In reference to this verse and the previous verse I respond with what Jesus said; “The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). No one has the right to judge another! Pluck the beam out of your own eye before criticizing the mote in another. Love is love. That’s what Jesus taught. Judgment is judgment; no matter what form or excuse you can make. Can you see this? If not, then I can only pray for your salvation. I read what Jesus said and I listen to the spirit of the law behind it. Don’t judge others based on your standards. Live and let live; or should I say live and let God. If there truly is a problem based on what Paul has said about anything, then who appointed you judge and jury? It is not your cross to bear. Why do you choose to bear it?
Jesus’ behavior and actions are the ones we should emulate. He is our role model. Stop listening to “Holier Than Thous” who misinterpret the word. Don’t just read the Bible and not take into account the translations, idioms and proclamations made by those in robes with pomp and circumstance and their extended reach on the radio, TV and Internet. I have one question for you; did Jesus act that way?
For more info: Download my free Wilmington Spirituality Examiner toolbar. “Life is a gift. Be thankful for it and it will be replete with abundance. Encourage others to express creativity, release negativity and embrace pro-activity." Dean A. Banks, MCIWD, DD can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or banksnet.com. Download my free eBook on Articles 1-10 here.