Things Jesus Never Said, No. 3

john 1315 meme

The modern-day evangelical litmus test for the TRUE CHRISTIAN™ couldn’t be more different than the one Jesus used.

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  • Word of advice: lumping evolution and same-sex marriage together is not exactly gonna help your cause, which I otherwise support.

    • Hey Kevin, thanks for your thoughts. The intention was not really to “lump them together,” but I was making a point that I think is valid: If you ask an everyday person in America what they think of when they think of Christians, or what Christians “do,” I think opposing same-sex marriage and rejecting evolution are two of the top — if not the top — answers you would get. Jesus said we Christians would be known by our love. Is there a disconnect between these two pictures? Maybe not — I know some would try and argue that there isn’t. But at any rate, I think there’s a valuable dialogue that could be had there.

      • Right, I wouldn’t disagree with you there! And, moreover, I fully understand your hesitance to make gospel ethics (which I far prefer to say than “family values”) a matter of civic policy.

        Yet, I would still caution you. I have lots of family/friends who are evangelical and open (thank God!) to evolutionary science, though they are wary because clowns like Ken Ham are saying that evolution leads to immoral ethics. Thus, they would see this graphic as a case in point. All the same, I appreciate your hard work.

        • Good points, thank you. I really appreciate your thoughts, and will definitely keep them in mind in the future.

  • Eddie B

    Neither did Jesus say that those who had evolved would leave their parents and men cleave to their civil partners or husbands; but then – like the above piece – such a fabrication is silly and bordering on offensive.

    What Jesus did say was: “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate”. (Matt 19:4-6).

    • Technically, what Jesus said in this exact context was, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Maybe we should let that really sink in before we start determining what our role should be in civil society.

      • Eddie B

        So please Tyler what’s your point, when your original statement is clearly aimed at trying to antagonise other Christians who hold different views to yours?

        • The point was exactly what I told another commenter above: If you ask an everyday person in America what they think of when they think of Christians, or what Christians “do,” I think opposing same-sex marriage and rejecting evolution are two of the top — if not the top — answers you would get. Jesus said we Christians would be known by our love. I think there is a disconnect between these two pictures. Am I right about that? Maybe not — I know some would try and argue that I’m not. But at any rate, I think there’s a valuable dialogue that could be had there.

          • Eddie B

            If your intention was to make a mature point, then why trivialise it in the way you did and which gives the wrong impression to many who might visit this site? Secondly there’s a difference between issuing a rebuke to Christians who seek to inflict standards of morality on an unbelieving society and attacking convictions that find more support in scripture than much of what you promote here.

          • If your intention was to make a mature point, then why trivialise it in the way you did and which gives the wrong impression to many who might visit this site?

            As the poet T.S. Eliot said, “Humor is also a way of saying something serious.”

            Secondly there’s a difference between issuing a rebuke to Christians who seek to inflict standards of morality on an unbelieving society and attacking convictions that find more support in scripture than much of what you promote here.

            Yeah? Please enlighten me, then. What support does scripture offer for the view that Christians should oppose the civil establishment of same-sex marriage? Indeed, what support does scripture offer that Christians should “seek to inflict standards of morality on an unbelieving society”? Because I can think of quite a few teachings of both Jesus and Paul that would seem to say exactly the opposite.

            Teaching people about what Christ said and did is one thing. It is quite a different thing altogether to attempt to impose morality upon people with laws from the top down. Theologically, I think that is pretty much the exact opposite of what Christ came to do, and the exact opposite of how Paul describes the Christian faith.

          • Eddie B

            I see your TS Eliot and raise you Proverbs 26:18-19. Serious point, actually.
            I think you’ve misunderstood the difference I described: “issuing a rebuke to Christians who seek to inflict standards of morality on an unbelieving society” = good (when done in humility); “attacking convictions that find more support in scripture than much of what you promote” = not so good.
            When you appear to ridicule Christians for holding a belief that same-sex marriage is wrong or believing that God created man in his own image (maybe I’ve misunderstood you), then I would say that you have much less scriptural support than them.
            Yes, we all need a dose of humility and grace. Me first.
            Our calling is to be salt and light. That means to live by a different code of conduct to the secular (and religious) world and to bear witness to God’s truth – as Jesus did and taught.

          • Hey Eddie, yes, I believe you’ve misunderstood me. First of all, I believe I have done nothing to “ridicule Christians for holding a belief that same-sex marriage is wrong.” My goal is, like I have already told you, to point out what I believe to be a significant disconnect between what Jesus said we Christians would be known by, and what we are actually known by — and to foster dialogue in that regard.

            I asked you to provide any scripture that supports the view that Christians should oppose the civil establishment of same-sex marriage, or that Christians should “seek to inflict standards of morality on an unbelieving society,” and received nothing in response. On the other hand, I can point you to multiple scriptures where Jesus would seem to oppose the establishment of what we might call today “institutionalized (law-backed, state-supported) Christianity,” as well as teachings of Paul that explicitly discuss the utter impotency of external laws to change hearts, contain the power of sin or save souls. These teachings would seem to support my position (that the church has no business seeking to impose theologically backed laws on secular society) more than yours. Unless you can refute them, and offer support of your own, I would appreciate you no longer intimating that I am out on some kind of wacky, unorthodox limb in this regard.

            As far as God creating man in his own image, I don’t reject that in the slightest, but I do believe it is a spiritual statement. As theologians since at least Thomas Aquinas have held, I believe the “imago Dei” refers to our spiritual natures, our abilities to think and reason and create and commune with God — the things that make us like the creative, spiritual being that is our God. I do not believe it refers to our physical bodies, since God has no physical body (besides the flesh he briefly donned when he was incarnate as the man Jesus). Thus, it is in no way incompatible with the theory of evolution.

          • Eddie B

            This is becoming a bit like two trains passing on parallel tracks.
            I did not seek to provide scriptural support for the church imposing its morality on secular society because – like you – I don’t believe that is our conmmission. Read carefully what I’ve written and you will see that has been my position all through this dialogue. I said it is good (sometimes) to rebuke the church when it does that. I just think there are better ways of doing so than demonstrated here.
            There is a much larger subject about when and how the church should engage with the world in terms of “social action”. John the Baptist got involved with the ruling elite of his day and lost his head; Jesus, markedly, did not. But who would ever dare say that the church should not engage with social issues of its day – welfare and alleviation of poverty, speaking out against structural or specific injustice (I could go on)? Shifting the thrust into areas of debate where the church is already being baited by militant atheists means that the battleground is moved away from the church’s positive influences on society (salt and light) to perceived negatives (morality and anti-science).
            So, to give an example, if I were American (I’m English) I would be working within my church to ensure that it did not oppose state provision of universal health care, so that the poorest and most disadvantaged in society receive the full treatment and care they need. I would also be urging my elected representatives to do the same. But, and please hear me, I am not called to do those things as an outsider, or seek to impose such views on anyone. Yet still, I bet that by raising the subject I could be opening up a great big can of worms. Better to had kept the lid on in the first place.

          • Fair enough, Eddie. Thanks for explaining further. I appreciate your time and apologize for my misunderstanding. Glad to see we have found some common ground 🙂

  • Darwin Bloise

    Wait, this confuses me. What IS your opinion on same sex marriage? I always thought that the Bible clearly taught that gay marriage was wrong.

    • The Bible says absolutely nothing about gay marriage. It references only same-sex acts. If we really wanted to follow the Bible’s teachings on the issue, we should be advocating for the outlawing of gay sex, not gay marriage.

      My take on the issue is that it’s a “Christ’s kingdom is not of this world” kind of thing. We are here to make disciples, not make a Christian nation. If Christ had wanted a Christian nation, he wouldn’t have run away every time the people tried to forced him to be king.

      In the end, our goal is, like I said, to make disciples, teach the world what Jesus said and did, and share the love, grace and truth of God. I fail to see how any of those goals are advanced by the church stonewalling civil same sex marriage.

      • Darwin Bloise

        I hear what you’re saying, but something in my head feels like disagreeing. I don’t think the ancient Isrealites felt the same way. I’m pretty sure they would’ve seen both as the same thing, as marriage eventually leads to sex.

        • If the sin is same-sex behavior, then allowing them to get married or not makes no difference. Really, I don’t want to lose sight of my main question: How might opposing same-sex marriage help accomplish any of the goals Jesus called his disciples to do?

          • Darwin Bloise

            I guess… but I still feel a nagging presence. Maybe it’s just the way I was raised, but I can’t just leave the question alone just yet. Thanks anyways Tyler.

            P.S. I sent you a few emails a while ago. I think they were from the beginning of the month.

          • Darwin Bloise

            Ah yes. THIS is the verse that bothered me the most about that.
            http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Corinthians+6:9-10

            Well, actually, not really the verse, but more of the little thing at the bottom about the passive acts. I will admit, I have absolutely no idea what it means (heheh.) But maybe you do. If you can help, Tyler.

          • Again, Darwin, I do not dispute the fact that the Bible discusses same-sex acts. It does, and it repeatedly and consistently describes them as wrong. That is not what we are discussing. The question is, what value does the kingdom of God gain from the church using its significant influence to alter public policy in this regard?

            First of all, as I’ve already said, the sin the Bible describes is same-sex acts, not same-sex marriage. Unless you are advocating for the full banning of all same-sex behavior, then you are advocating for something that the Bible says nothing about and does not describe as sinful.

            Second of all, and more importantly, people are not saved or made righteous by ceasing to do a bad thing. Even if the Church did impose a law banning sodomy, and even if nonbelievers followed it, it would not make them part of the kingdom of God. One is saved through faith in Christ and the acceptance of his free gift of atonement, and that alone — not works. So what is the point of trying to legislate morality??

          • Darwin Bloise

            Oh yeah. Sorry. It’s just that I have a bit if a thick skull. I can’tt exactly grasp a concept easily. Thanks Tyler.

          • I think we are all guilty of that at one time or another. No apology necessary, pal.

  • Couldn’t you write an almost unending string of posts on things about which Jesus was never explicit – especially in the 21st Century? But what would they actually prove?

    • I think you might have missed the point, Mike. This series is not just about arbitrarily noting modern things that Jesus didn’t mention; the series is about highlighting things Jesus said nothing about that have become hugely important “sticking points” within large factions of the church, particularly among evangelicals.

      • Isn’t it also true that Jesus never taught explicitly against the sale of indulgences which had become a “sticking point” in the Protestant Reformation? Does this mean that Martin Luther had wandered from the gospel in opposing them?

        Isn’t it the job of believers to extract principles from the Scriptures in order to deal with the issues that confront our times?

        Evolution and same-sex marriage are not front-burner issues because believers put them in that place. Rather, broader society made them important, believers have resisted, and in that way they’ve become front and center.

        It also seems fair to acknowledge that Jesus and the first disciples did not live in a democracy where it is expected of each citizen to be informed about opinions, express them, and, most of all, to vote. Thus disciples of Jesus who live today have a responsibility for assisting in the formation of public policy that believers in ancient generations never had. On those rare occasions when they did – e.g. with Joseph and Esther – they were expected to use their influence for good.

        • I still think it is fundamentally inconsistent when believers are expending countless resources opposing things Jesus was completely silent about (e.g., evolution and same-sex marriage), when we still have problems that he explicitly said to address (like caring for the poor, orphans, widows, hungry, imprisoned, etc.). To give just one example, Jesus said in no uncertain terms that divorce is a sin except in the case of adultery. So why aren’t more Christians who oppose evolution and same-sex marriage also advocating for the outlaw of divorce, if their goal really is to be faithful to what Jesus taught his disciples to do?

          • 1. A believer in Christ is rightly concerned with pursuing sexual purity. To tolerate heterosexual impurity while condemning homosexuality would indeed be hypocritical. It’s neither fair nor accurate, however, to say that everyone who rejects homosexuality is being a hypocrite.

            2. The point is not to create a ranking order of sexual sins with some receiving greater condemnation than others. The point is to honor marriage, which is God’s means of preserving the human race.

            3. Christians are far too ready to divorce. It is hypocritical to make divorce easy to achieve while simultaneously railing against same-sex marriage.

            4. At the root of America’s ills is the 40% of children being born today without a mom and a dad. Our social policies should foster family and not destabilize it. Social policy toward marriage is fundamentally social policy toward children – that is, making sure children come into the world in a protected and privileged state.

            5. It’s not a matter of outlawing that which we as believers deem sinful. Rather, it is about forming public policy that supports what is good for society and discourages what is bad for it. For at least forty years, homosexual couples have been living together without interference. No one is talking about outlawing that. The issue being pressed is do we award the same sort of status to these couples that has historically only been given to marriage.

            8. Going forward I would like to restrict my questions of you to the subject of evolution. That issue is big enough, and that’s where I think you can help me most.