Friday, April 06, 2007
BAT: Let him without sin pass the first religious law
One of the most instructive examples posed by Jesus in regards to his take on the law of his time is when he was presented with an adulteress in the temple. Let me briefly describe the event. The law of Jesus' time condemned this woman to death by stoning for her transgression. The scribes and Pharisees were presenting Jesus with a trap, trying to get him to denounce the law of Moses and thereby be guilty of transgression himself. But Jesus answered in a way which has resounded through the ages. He said: "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her".
The simple and irrefutable logic left those who would trap Jesus speechless and they left him and the woman in the temple. Jesus then told the woman that he did not accuse her, and told her to go and sin no more. He saved this woman's life while giving an example of the forgiving and tolerant law which he brought to replace the old law, while exposing the scribes and Pharisees hypocrisy. This was a philosophical trifecta and has resonated through the generations to gain mythical status.
I love the imagery of Jesus, using a truth so obvious, the logic so plain, that his enemies who thought they had drawn the perfect trap found themselves dumbstruck and just turn and leave. Seeing that in a modern day political debate would be truly amazing. Can you imagine if John Kerry had made some salient point in one of his debates with Bush, and Bush had just rubbed his chin for a few seconds and then turned and walked off the stage? I would have laughed so hard I cried... But I digress!!
One of the most popular sayings in the Christian community is what would Jesus do? I believe it would be absolutely fantastic if our lawmakers took this approach, and actually considered the teachings of Christ. I fear that many conservative Christians practice a decidedly old testament type of religion, more closely related to Judaism than to the teachings of Christ. It is the law of Moses that condemned the adulteress to death, and the wisdom and compassion of Jesus that saved her.
I find it hard to believe that Senator Jesus Christ from the great state of Oregon would vote for a law that would put a first time offender in prison for years on end for possession of crack. How about President Jesus Christ pushing for authorization of a needless war with deception and lies? Simply trying to even imagine how Jesus would be treated in today's cut throat political environment is instructive. I can see the attack video now... Jesus' faces morphs into Osama bin Ladens with the breathless lowtoned voice and the sinister music in the background: "Jesus was executed for sedition against the state, but now he wants us to trust him with our security?!"
By his own words, Jesus had every right to pick up a stone and commence the execution of that woman. He was the only man who had not sinned. But the example he would have provided had he done that would have been so un-Christ like that it is difficult to imagine how he would have continued in his work. What is the example provided then by the leaders who proclaim themselves to be Christians while approving the execution of prisoners, and the torture of detainees? Are these lawmakers themselves untouched by sin? Being responsible for needless war with the deaths of tens if not hundreds of thousands is Christlike? Not in my understanding of Jesus!
Here's what Jesus would have done in today's world. Just what he did in ancient Israel. He didn't march to Rome to convert the emperor. He didn't even try to make the puppet King of Israel see the light. He didn't seek political power. He spent his time with the poor and hungry, the prisoners and the working people. Back in his day Jesus did not seek the high class politicos. Those he witnessed to were politically silent. The only power they held was the possibility that they would one day revolt against the powers that were. And revolt was in the air alot during those days. It's one of the reasons the powers that be thought Jesus was so dangerous actually.
I have no reason to believe that Jesus would follow a different course if he were amongst us in the flesh today. In fact we see it if we know where to look for it. We see it in the volunteer, and the prison minister. In the soup kitchen and the person who gives his time for the less fortunate to better themselves. We normally don't see it in the windy politician who makes the greatest show of faith. The sad fact is that those most likely to be the noisiest in their public displays of faith these days are most likely the least Christlike amongst us, being filled with pride and self importance, and forwarding policies which do not reflect the teachings of Jesus.
Let him without sin pass the first law which condemns a transgressor to death. Let him without sin start the next war which kills people by the thousands. I rather suspect the truly Christlike amongst us are not passing laws. They are minimally concerned with the massive political issues of our times and are neck deep in helping those Jesus helped in his day.
Let me wrap this up with my compulsory disclaimer whenever I wax eloquent on religion. I speak from my perspective alone. I do not pretend that I am a great bastion of correctness or wisdom. I do not pretend to understand the will of God or to be his conduit to humanity. If you feel differently than I do, more power to you, and I would love to explore those differences.
But...isn't it ironic that in this modern time, we find that not only do Christians, as you put it, "practice a decidedly old testament type of religion," but Jews (many at least) practice a more tolerant brand of religion. Oh I'm certainly not talking about all Jews. Isreal certainly has it's factions that are decidedly 'Old Testament,' intolerant, but that country is split, and here in the United States, I found as a young agnostic considerably more acceptance from Jews than I ever found from Christians.
isn't even included in the earliest manuscripts of the Gospel attributed to John.
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