Hello again! I know it's been a little while since I've blogged, but after getting in a few online scrapes, I felt I just had to clear things up for future reference. I've found that most people, Christian or otherwise, really do have this candy-coated picture of what Christian mercy and forgiveness is supposed to be. They're under the peculiar impression that the Biblical definition of mercy and forgiveness is "anything goes". I will agree that Jesus Christ does want all Christians to be forgiving and He desires us to be merciful. What's been lost is the context in which this was said.
Let's begin with God, also known as Jehovah, the God of the Covenant that was established in the book of Leviticus (which is also in the Bible). Christians are supposed to worship Jesus Christ because we believe that He is the son of Jehovah, the God of the Covenant. In this Covenant, rules are laid down as to what Jews, Christians, and even some Muslims, should and should not do. Leviticus is quite simply "The Law" as far as Judeo-Christian religions are concerned. Now when the Law was written it also established the punishment that was required for each infraction. Feel free to read it on your own, but in the meantime, here's an abstraction:
If you committed adultery, you were killed.
If you had sex with an animal, you were killed.
If you were gay, you were killed.
If you were a woman that kicked a man in the nuts, you were killed.
If you raped a woman, you had to marry her. If you didn't, you were killed.
You're probably starting to notice a theme here. Don't worry. If you were found guilty of theft, you only had to repay the value of what you stole seven times over. However, if you were caught in a person's home stealing, there was a good chance you'd be killed. Also...
If your child was a hellion no one could control, he/she was killed.
If you went to worship while on your menstrual cycle, you were killed.
It is worth noting that if you beat your meat (masturbated), you were not killed. You were merely considered unclean and could not participate in any holy ceremony until you had bathed and waited until evening. However, if you went to worship without doing this, you were killed.
Now this is The Law. This is what Christians are talking about usually when they say that the Bible forbids something. Have you ever heard the saying, "The wages of Sin are Death"? That's not a metaphor. The Bible is filled with metaphors, I'll admit, and there's a bit of "spiritual death" in the book, but, more often than not, Biblical characters (including Jesus) took that saying VERY literally. Also that verse about "Thou shalt not kill" was a mistranslation if you didn't get the memo. The correct translation is "Thou shalt not murder". The difference? Killing is the ending of a life, any life, human or otherwise. Murder is usually defined as a human specifically that kills another human being that has not wronged them or committed an immoral act. In practice? You can kill bugs, but not children, unless the community has deemed the child an uncontrollable hellion.
Now The Law did have some escape clauses in it. Certain crimes could be forgiven with the sacrifice of a certain animal. If you did this correctly, you would be FORGIVEN (not killed). Of course, if you sacrificed the animal after having terrific sex with your wife that morning, well, you would be... deprived of your breathing privileges. This is what FORGIVENESS means in the Bible: a lighter sentence than what the Law would prescribe, i.e. you weren't killed. This is the Law that Jehovah, the God of the Covenant, gave to us. So if you cheat on your Christian wife and she slashes your tires, she is being FORGIVING because according to The Law, she can get her brothers to kill you and be well within her rights. I reiterate, having your cheating spouse killed, according to Levitical Law, is not a sin. It's illegal. It's unmerciful. It's unforgiving, but not immoral.
This is Christian forgiveness. Then again, you probably think that Christians should be more God-like in how they forgive. Well, let's take a look at how the Judeo-Christian God forgives. The character of David in the Bible is one of the most important as he is considered to be God's favorite, second only to Jesus Christ Himself. However, David, like all humans, sinned against God. He had a man killed so that he could sleep with the man's wife. The Law specifically says not to lust after another man's wife. Would you like to take a wild guess as to what David's punishment should have been? But NO! David begged, prayed, and pleaded with God for His Forgiveness. Then God, in His Great Mercy, forgave David. He gave David a lighter sentence. The sentence? His next baby would be killed and "evil" would rise against David from his own house. What kind of evil, you ask? His daughter was raped by her brother. That brother was killed by another brother, then that brother tried to kill David. This was David's punishment AFTER he was forgiven. Dead sons and raped family.
Remember this when you chastise another Christian for not showing, what you believe to be, God's Forgiveness. David was not killed for his transgression. His children were. Oh, and a couple of his wives were raped too. FORGIVENESS is such a beautiful thing, isn't it? Now I've said and done some harsh things to people who have wronged me, but, yes, I do walk around with a very clear conscience. Why? Because I showed mercy and forgiveness. I didn't kill any of the offenders (although the thought did cross my mind) and I didn't rape or slaughter their children. Thus I have forgiven my offenders and shown them mercy. Their refusal of my non-murderous and non-sexually-aggressive harshness I simply see as an act of ingratitude.
Oh, but still, some of you believe that Christians should focus less on the Old Testament and more on the New Testament because the New Testament has Jesus Christ in it. Ah, Jesus Christ! The greatest person in history! What a wonderful man! He's here to save the day! Here it comes:
"He who is without sin cast the first stone"
BAM! POW! ZING! That metaphor has destroyed my whole argument. But wait... You've forgotten the context again. Jesus Christ wasn't being metaphorical. He was talking to a crowd of people intent on throwing actual stones. Thus Christian forgiveness is still centered around giving lighter sentences than what The Law prescribes. The crime here? Adultery. Hmm...what's the sentence for adultery again? Oh yeah! Death. The person being stoned was a woman, which the scripture explicitly states, was caught in the act of adultery. Jesus prevented her from being killed for this crime. He also told her not to sin again, i.e., screw the same guy they caught her screwing before. This is another part of Christian forgiveness: the cessation of the offense. Jesus Christ doesn't want us to kill people for their sins, but he would like for those people to stop sinning.
Now you're probably still grinning about the non-murderous Messiah and you're planning on berating some more Christians that take you to task for your lifestyle since they're not being the pacifist punk you believe our Savior to be. Well...I'll try to make this brief:
This is how Jesus Christ would speak to the Pharisees, the people who were constantly trying to trick, deceive, and destroy Jesus, a.k.a. his "haters".
"But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?" (Matthew 3:7 NIV)
"You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?" (Matthew 23:33 NIV)
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!" (Matthew 23: 23, 25, 27 & 29 NIV)
Oh, and that last notation isn't a mistake. Jesus Christ repeated that exact same line four times in the same chapter. Then there was that incident with the money changers in the temple:
"Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves." (Matthew 21:12 NIV)
Then there was the Syro-Phoenician woman:
"She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter.
'First let the children eat all they want,' he told her, 'for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.'
'Lord,' she replied, 'even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.'
Then he told her, 'For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.' "
For those of you who missed that, yes, that passage contains a woman begging for her child to be healed and Jesus not wanting to because the woman is not Jewish, or even Samaritan (Samaritans used a different Torah). Yes, Jesus Christ, a Jew, had a strong preference for other Jews. The original twelve Apostles? All Jewish. Today, we would call that racism. I just call it good Christian fun. With that being said, what were you telling other Christians about tolerance again?
Well, let me tell you how Jesus actually treated people. He would call you names and insult you if He didn't like you or were "proud" of the sin you were committing. If you brought your mess into a church, he would knock over your tables and tell you to leave. And when you finally came to Him asking for FORGIVENESS and mercy, His race would get preferential treatment, although he wouldn't reject you outright.
Jesus didn't kill anyone and he didn't rape or murder any children. Why? Because He was FORGIVING. Now you actually know what you're asking Christians when you tell them to have Christian forgiveness. You're simply telling us not to kill you or rape your children. I mean, we're Christians. We kill people, and much like the ancient Hebrews we strive to emulate, we've been killing people for a very long time. We follow a more forgiving Deity in that He preferred to insult people rather than butcher them, but if you're looking for quiet pacifists, go dig up Gandhi or call the Dalai Lama. Do not ask Christians for forgiveness or mercy because if you're still alive and your children are living and un-raped (in the literal sense), then you have already received it.
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