Friday, December 21, 2007

The New Testament + Logic: Also Happy Fun Times!

Ok, so the Old testament is barbaric. If we choose to be good Christians and ditch the Old Testament as "Pre-Jesus" and accept the New Testament as the basis of Christian ethics, we will also find ourselves quickly confused.

In Luke 14:26 we get: "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own soul, he cannot be my disciple."

I have to hate my parents and my spouse and my kids and my siblings to follow Jesus? That's not very nice, Jesus. Downright un-Christian. And a bit of a mind fuck. I have to hate my soul? So... should I sin? How should I show this righteous hatred for my soul? Become a cutter? Get into S&M? I'm confused...

Fortunately, John writes in his first letter (4:20) "If anyone makes the statement: 'I love God,' and yet is hating his brother, he is a liar. For he who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot be loving God, whom he has not seen." Seems Jesus got a little "off message" there in Luke, so John, his PR flack, set us straight. "When Jesus said 'Hate your brother' he really meant 'Love your brother.'" Ah, got it. So to love God and follow Jesus, I have to both love and hate my brother. No problem, since 'love' and 'hate' aren't opposites, or anything.

In Matthew 26:52, JC is pretty clear:"Then Jesus said to him: 'Return your sword to its place, for all those who take the sword will perish by the sword.'" Swords = bad. Clear.

Yet in Luke 32:36-38, we get: "Then he [Jesus] said to them: 'But now let the one that has a purse take it up, likewise also a food pouch; and let the one having no sword sell his outer garment and buy one. For I tell you that this which is written must be accomplished in me, namely, ‘And he was reckoned with lawless ones.’ For that which concerns me is having an accomplishment.'Then they said: 'Lord, look! here are two swords.' He said to them: 'It is enough.'" Swords = quite useful. Glad you guys brought those swords. Too bad you'll now perish by them, because I also said that.

In Matthew 5:44 we get some Jesus Classic: "However, I say to you: Continue to love your enemies and to pray for those persecuting you." Aw, that's so nice! That's the Jesus we all know and love, except when crusading, denying gays civil rights, or assassinating folks who work in reproductive health. Then we forget that part.

But then, JC starts showing some attitude in 22:18: "But Jesus, knowing their wickedness, said: 'Why do you put me to the test, hypocrites?'" Yeah, bitches, why? And then there's that whole knocking over the tables of the money changers at the temple. Nice way to show love for the enemies, chasing them with a whip. I actually know a few folks who'd find being chased with a whip a sign of love. But this is San Francisco.

So: Love your enemies, unless they piss you off, in which case, violence and name calling are A-OK. Ah: Crusades explained. Inquisition justified. What would Jesus do? Manifest his love of his enemies through war & torture. Coming to a theater near you: Jesus vs. Predator. Watch Jesus love his enemy from outer space to death.

In Matthew 5:32 we get divorce is bad, unless she's a skank: "However, I say to you that everyone divorcing his wife, except on account of fornication, makes her a subject for adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery."

Yet in Mark 10:11-12 we get that divorce is bad, no exceptions: "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, and if ever a woman, after divorcing her husband, marries another, she commits adultery"

So, Jesus, which is it? Is there a skank escape clause, or no?

Now I don't know about you, but I have a hard time both loving and hating my brother, both loving my enemies and calling them names, both owning and using weapons and not owning and using weapons, and thinking that divorce for adultery is both permissible and not permissible. It makes my head explode. Like believing both 2 + 2 = 4, and 2+ 2 = 376. Maybe some "faith" would help?

Now it's possible that only some of the New Testament is bullshit, but once we accept that, we're no longer on "because the bible says so" grounds, but, having turned on our own factory-installed bullshit detectors, we're now on "because the bible says so and I agree" grounds, which is more or less "because I think so" grounds, since you could choose whichever book you like to justify your morality. If I had to choose, I think I'd live my life according to the teachings of Yoda. Episode V, Chapter 13, verse 12: "Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try."

If we go beyond the philosophical inconsistencies (nay, contradictions) in the NT, and take in the outright "factual" contradictions, there are too many to name. Fortunately, others have done this for me. Were there 28 generations from David to Jesus, or 43? What's a mere 15 generations, between friends? But the bible is all true. Just don't, you know, expect the math to check out.

The factual contradictions merely serve to demonstrate the impact of the giant game of telephone that's been played with this book, as translated, re-translated, edited and re-edited over the years. It's been so corrupted by human influence that it's difficult to take any of it seriously.

Of course, people are free to take it as the source of their moral convictions, if they like. But those literarily-sourced convictions should get no less scrutiny than those who base theirs on "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix", or Machiavelli's "The Prince". "Because my special book says so" can't be a legit answer to "Why is that wrong?".

The Old Testament is barbaric ("Hey, Abraham, I'd like a human sacrifice of your kid"), the New Testament is self contradictory and corrupted by human influence. So if you're going to say that "Homosexuality is a sin because the Old New Testament says so", you may do that, as long as you also hate your whole family, as Jesus instructed.