I’m just not into Jesus I have to tell you. I know he has a good reputation and a lot of people claim to worship him, or at least belong to the religion that was made in his name. But his positions just don’t work for me and frankly, I’m surprised that so many people find inspiration in them. Maybe they just haven’t really thought it through, which seems to be an affliction that a lot of people suffer from.
My beef with Jesus is his absolutism–his totalitarian vibe. You either get with his program, do as he says, follow his instructions or you’re cast into the fire. He really gives very little leeway when it comes to following him. I mean, check out this quote from the Gospel of Matthew: “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.” This strikes me as a contemptible position from a leader. He basically demands allegiance rather than attempt to earn it. He goes on to state that those who leave “…houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life.“ So again, he demands absolute devotion to him, even abandoning home and family, and rather than trying to earn such a commitment, he makes promises any rational person would find difficult to accept.
One of the other things I think brings Jesus down a few rungs on the ladder of praise people tend to put him on is his threat of eternal punishment. The concept of eternity is not a simple one to grasp. The word can be tossed about easily enough, but in practical terms it’s beyond the scope of human comprehension. All that aside, what crime could be worthy of such extreme retribution? Speaking against the Holy Spirit for one. He’s not even specific about who the Holy Spirit is, but there is no forgiveness for badmouthing him. He even makes claims on our thoughts, stating that to look at a woman with lust–just look mind you–means you’ve committed adultery. Jesus apparently has Thought Police and isn’t afraid to use them, creating the ultimate totalitarian regime from which one cannot hide. Jesus goes so far as to say that if your hand or foot causes you to sin, you should cut them off and live your life maimed, because it’s better than burning in eternal hellfire. Not only is this kind of threat far-fetched, it is deplorable.
Now many people will say that Jesus was about love and compassion, kindness to the poor and the sick, the downtrodden and the weak. Certainly these are worthy qualities so let’s overlook the tyrannical, threatening Jesus for a moment and look toward this kind and compassionate man. The first problem I see in his teaching about love is that he commands that we must love indiscriminately. Everyone must love everyone else as they love themselves. In fact, you must love those who would do you harm; your enemies. Those who hate you, curse you, abuse you and persecute you must be loved if you’re to obey Jesus. In my opinion, this cheapens love to the utmost extreme. The caring feelings one has for another human being come from a myriad of connections, of common ground and purpose, of mutual attraction and a desire to share thoughts and ideas, time and companionship. In Jesus’ view, all are to be loved equally. It is his most authoritarian command in my view, and it is an impossible one.
When Jesus talks about charity, he speaks not of altruism in its purest form. Instead he offers a reward for charitable acts done in the manner in which he prescribes: “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.” I will say right here and now that true charity is done because it’s the right thing to do, because selfless giving to one in need makes both people feel good, and I’ll even state that there’s nothing wrong with performing your charity publicly. In fact, I encourage it. Let others see your selfless acts of kindness so as to lead by example. What we need is more public humanity, not less.
When it comes to the poor and the meek, sure he says that they’re blessed and that the hungry and the thirsty are righteous, but he offers no suggestion, no solution to the problem of poverty and hunger. When you combine this with his command to be submissive to those who would oppress you, even beat you, and to give them all they ask of you and more, he undermines the very foundation of human liberty and self-respect. Essentially the command of Jesus is to persevere through this life for your reward will come in the next, which is a promise no rational man can make.
There are certainly some worthy nuggets of wisdom in the teachings of this man, but taken in its entirety, his body of work is a dictatorial set of impossible rules with excessive threats of judgment for non-compliance and promises of reward in order to entice allegiance. The promises he makes could only be kept if he indeed was the Supreme Being he was made out to be, and I think that’s highly unlikely. At least I’ve seen no compelling evidence that this man was and is above and outside the laws of nature. So while Jesus remains popular, I’m just not that into him.