Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Biblical Schmiblical!

Jay Michaelson claims that Jesus had 'advice' for homophobes. What?! you're saying. Yeah, that's what I said: What did this joker just make up and put into Jesus' mouth? Turns out Michaelson is referring to Matthew 22:21 : "Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's." What?! you're saying. How does does that have anything to do with homophobia? It doesn't, of course, but in Christian theology, just as in punk rock, there are no rules. If you've sat through very many Christian sermons, and actually stayed awake and paid attention, you know that it's standard procedure to pick a topic from current politics, pick a Bible verse, and then invent a connection between the two. Such was the traditional authority of Christianity that it was seldom that a member of the congregation dared to say something so shameless, so wicked and surly as, "But Reverend, that doesn't make any sense," no matter how senseless the supposed connection between the Bible verse and the current political topic may have been. Sorry, Reverends, but those days are gone.

Nevermind the way you put a statement on gay rights into Jesus' mouth, Dr Michaelson -- as someone with a a PhD in religion from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, you ought to know how high the chances are that the author of Matthew put those words, about what to give to Caesar and what to give to God, into Jesus' mouth: Matthew was probably the last of the 4 canonical Gospels to be written, and many of the possible reasons for differences between Matthew and the other 3 Gospels, besides pure accuracy on the part of Matthew, are among the things taught to freshmen pursuing Bachelor's degrees in Biblical studies or Christian theology. They're also taught things such as how many changes were made to the New Testament over the course of the 2nd and 3rd centuries, and many of the reasons, besides a pure concern for accuracy, why these changes may have been made.

Maybe it's time for me to stop taking umbrage at people like you for things like that, and finally accept how widespread "lying for the Lord" is, including the lie that the Mormons are more guilty of it than others.

But nevermind the complete non-sequitor of claiming that "give Caesar the things that are Caesar and give God the things that are God's" has some relevance to the, it now appears unsuccessful, thank goodness and common sense, attempt on the part of the Arizona state legislature to give legal backing to discrimination against gays on religious grounds. And nevermind the high probability that you know damn well that Jesus very likely never said anything like Matthew 22:21, and that you probably already know much better than I do why that verse is in the Bible, and nevermind the possibility that Jesus never existed at all -- yes, ?I can picture very well the sneer you would give me for saying that, I'm very much used to getting that sneer. Don't worry, Reverend: we're sneering right back. And we in fact are not climate-change skeptics or Holocaust deniers, we're neither scientifically-illiterate nor bigoted, and we can see quite plainly the difference between when an authority provides copious data, as meterologists do when asked about climate change, and the quite curious case of authorities appealing to authority, as Biblical scholars do when asked why they're so sure that Jesus existed -- nevermind all that.

Let's say for the sake of argument that Jesus existed, and that he made that remark about giving Caesar his and giving God his, and just for the sake of argument that there really is a perfectly clear statement in there about the the legal status of LGBT's -- so what? It was Christianity which introduced homophobia into Christian lands to begin with. Homophobia was foreign to most of them before they were converted. We don't need theological arguments to undo this damage which theology has wrought.

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