The liberator of India, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, was asked once what he thought of Western civilization. His reply was that he thought it would be a good idea for the West to become civilized. Another question inquired of his opinion of Christianity. "I like your Christ," he responded. "I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."
The history of Christianity is rife with examples of why someone would think so, and it is no different today. All one has to do is peruse the rantings of McCain supporters like John Hagee or Rod Parsley. Anti-Catholic homophobe Hagee's Zionist rantings have his erstwhile Hebrew allies asking themselves, "O, What A Friend We Have In Hagee?" while Parsley's blood lust for a modern Crusade against the Islamic infidels can hardly be contained.
One has to ask when Jesus ever expressed such hatred as spews from the mouths of his self-proclaimed adherents.
If one reads the Gospels, the only incidence of violence Jesus performs that I am aware of is when he evicts the money changers from the temple, and there is no report of physical injury to anyone. He was also known to openly visit with those social outcasts the rest of society scrupulously avoided: the lepers and whores, the criminals, and — gasp! — even the recently deceased! Why, what would Pat Robertson say about that?
One thing that I've noticed about today's so-called Christians that confirms Gandhi's assessment of them is that they thrive on division and hatred. I've noticed an increase in the expression of a desire to avoid things that they dislike or deem un-Godly. One good Christian was complaining to me just the other day about the public schools and "the crap they are putting in my kids' heads". The only "crap" I can think of that justifies the complaint are the diversity programs, specifically – but not exclusively – those aimed at fostering acceptance of homosexuals.
We are now in the time of Easter, the reason for Christianity to exist as a religion. One has to wonder why, if the followers of Christ truly have faith, the thought that gays can marry and be as accepted as anyone else fills the faithful with fear and loathing. Are they not, according to their own beliefs, allied with the ultimate power of all creation? Have they forgotten the tales of Daniel in the lions den? Have they forgotten the faith held by the early Christians in Rome for whom belief likely meant a horrible death?
I know that the Old Testament (the only part of the Bible that counts for the likes of Hagee and Parsley) is lush Rush Limbaugh territory, full of proscriptions against The Other. Unless one had the time back then to actually study all of the religious law, however, there was a real risk that an observance of such a ban might be missed. This dilemma was eased when Moses descended from Mt. Ararat with only ten rules – one for each finger of each hand to facilitate remembering them – for the chosen people of Jehovah to observe as they roamed about the Sinai desert seeking their promised land.
One would think that this should have made living easier, but by the time the foretold Jesus actually arrived, he found it necessary to further refine these dictates into just one: "And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise." (Luke 6:31)
We have all heard this excerpt so many times our responses are Pavlovian. But there are follow-up passages which expose the like of Hagee and Parsley for the hypocrites they are: "But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and [to] the evil" (Luke 6:35) and "Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven…" (Luke 6:37)
More directly, the desire for separation from that which threatens their sense of Christian life is addressed by Luke 6:22: "Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you [from their company], and shall reproach [you], and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake." The way I'm inspired to read this, those who are the object of modern Christian vilification are themselves more "blessed" than are those Christians performing the persecution in the name of their version of Jesus.
Do show me where Jesus rejected anyone for religious beliefs or personal behaviors – please. Maybe then I could accept the superiority concept of Christian isolationism. Until then, I fail to understand what there is about the beliefs or behaviors of others that is so threatening. Are Christians so weak and insecure in their beliefs that they cannot abide that which differs? Is not the Bible full of the experiences of those suffering great travails beyond their control or influence who manage to survive and thrive because of their faith? Why can't modern Christians?
Like Gandhi, I like Jesus. Treating others as I would be treated makes a lot of sense, and dispenses with wasteful hostility and fear. It is so logical that much of the world's religious thought – even that of non-Christians – contains similar precepts. It is so simple to understand that even Red State Christians should be able to get it (to be fair, many do). In fact, IMHO, if Christians were serious about actually behaving as they claim to believe, they would make Luke 6:1-49 the centerpiece of their daily activity.
All they would then have to do is put it into practice, but that would first require that they quit listening to those talking about how much they need to practice it who then themselves do the exact opposite.
Fat chance as long as the clamor emanating from the likes of Hagee and Parsley continues to distort the words of Jesus.[Biblical quotes taken from Textus Receptus Greek Text King James Bible With Strongs Dictionary] Powered by Sidelines