Why Jesus would not have been Republican
In political discussions and arguments conservatives often try to claim the moral high ground on issues as if that gives them some kind of political authority. This is done because the “religious right”, as the media has termed them often; believe that as Christians they stand where Jesus stands. In my interactions with conservatives I often hear them frame their political arguments in terms of right and wrong, and sometimes even as wickedness versus righteousness.
As an active and practicing Christian this concerns me for two reasons: first, it has been my experience that a large majority of Christians tend to think of the Bible from an American perspective. This is no fault of their own; it is often said culture is the hardest thing to change, and having lived oversees I know there is profound truth in that statement. In order to truly understand Jesus, the Bible must be taken in context. If we only read the Bible for its words and not for its context and meaning then we lose half of its value, and for Christians, half of the message the Lord intended for his believers to have. For example, the statement in Matthew that after discovering her immaculate conception, Joseph, because he was a just man, sought to put Mary away (have her killed) privily. From an American perspective this seems harsh, and his change of heart after being visited by an angel looks as though the Angel had to humble Joseph. This is not the case. The religious elite of the day considered it a moral obligation to put an adulterer to death. The fact that Joseph listened to the angel is not a sign he needed humbled, but a sign of his remarkable faith. He had faith enough to listen to an angel and not to religious elites and the Law of Moses despite the fact this meant they would certainly be social outcasts and face difficulties because of this.
My second concern is with the concept of right and wrong. To Christians there is one true authority on what is right and what is wrong, but to humans, right and wrong is relative to perspective. As stated, to Jews in Jesus’ time, stoning an adulterer was the right thing to do. As were crusades to the Europeans, slavery to many southerners, the Holocaust to Hitler, and the 9/11 attacks to terrorist organizations. Clearly humanity gets critically confused when trying to determine right and wrong on our own. For the religious conservatives, without the one true authority on morality, how can we determine what is truly right and wrong when religious conservatives through generations have used religion to justify acts you and I see as wrong? We must take care not to make the same mistakes.
In my conversations with conservatives I have often heard good arguments for a flat tax because of the Biblical term tithe, the literal meaning of which is 10%. They state that if 10% was good enough for Jesus, it is good enough for us. However, taxes in Jesus’ time were determined by publicans, or roman tax collectors, on an individual basis. Furthermore, Jesus never taught anything concerning a flat tax. However, the story of the Widows mite shows us that Jesus clearly thought a small amount to a poor person was a contribution of greater worth than a large contribution from a rich person. In simple math, 10% means much more for a person making $25,000 than it does for a person making $250,000. Loosing $2500 to the poorer person makes living and eating much more difficult than losing $25,000 to a rich person, because they will still have $225,000 to make ends meet; certainly more than enough, and the widows might is a perfect illustration of this.
Moreover, after Jesus’ death the disciples had all things common among them, meaning literally socialism. This does not mean we should have socialism because we are not a religious society; however, it does show that the original generation of Christians did not agree with current conservative ideas. Furthermore, Jesus taught to give unto Cesar that which is Caesar’s. Paul wrote that the love of money is the root of all evil. Jesus taught that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven.
Many conservatives also argue that we need to cut back entitlements; some even maintain that we need to eliminate them all together. Patriotslog does not endorse an entitlement society, and as far as I understand the Bible, neither did Jesus; however, he most certainly did support entitlements, the extent to which can be debated, but he did not support no entitlements at all. Jesus taught social equality when He told a rich man that if he were to be perfect he needed to sell all he had and give to the poor; in a society where riches were viewed as a reward for righteousness this was particularly radical. He repeatedly criticized the Pharisees, Scribes, and Sadducees for disregarding the poor, the widowed, and the sick. He chastised them for devouring widows’ houses (the Greek word here can more commonly be used as estate), omitting justice and mercy, and being full of extortion and excess.
This shows that Jesus, a carpenter from the agrarian Galilee, was certainly not an elitist. He opposed the “1%”, for lack of a better term, with as much enthusiasm as he did sin. The governing body of Jerusalem was the Sanhedrin, a holy council comprised mostly of Pharisees and Scribes, along with a minority of Sadducees. The occupying Roman government recognized their authority so long as their decisions did not contradict or conflict Roman rule. Jesus rebuked them for giving burdens to others while refusing to lift a finger, and time after time for their elitism, and taking advantage of others. His unapologetic criticism of them is more than anything the reason they had him killed.
The Republican House just passed a $642 billion military budget that, if established, would continue the trend of the United States spending nearly as much in military expenses then the rest of the world combined. If passed, our military spending would be the highest since WWII. This is despite the fact that the War in Iraq has ended. Jesus taught to go the extra mile. This seems to have no relation, but when read in context it gives great meaning. A Roman law throughout the empire stated that a soldier could enlist any bystander under Roman occupation to carry their battle equipment for one roman mile without paying them. When Jesus taught this he was speaking to an audience of Galilean Zealots, who were some of history’s first terrorists. History outside of scripture shows us on many occasions how much effort the Galilean Zealots put into ousting Roman occupation, eventually ending in the destruction of the Temple and invasion of Jerusalem. It was to these people that Jesus taught not to take military action, but to voluntarily submit to service under their military. Jesus also taught to turn the other cheek, and when Peter cut off Malchus’ ear, Jesus rebuked him for his violence. Albert Einstein stated that one cannot simultaneously prepare for war and prevent it; Jesus may have been thinking the same thing when he taught that the peacemakers were blessed enough to be the children of God.
Republicans like Rush Limbaugh are quick to fight women’s social issues such as contraception, calling Sandra Fluke a slut who just wants to have sex, while Jesus benevolently encouraged. While it is difficult to determine where Jesus would have fallen on the contraception issue, it is clear that rather than call an adulterer a slut, he told her to go her way and sin no more. Many conservatives, such as Limbaugh apparently believe they are sinless enough to cast the first stone…despite substance abuse. Remember, Jesus made his home with publicans, sinners, harlots, and social outcasts. He most surely did not join the elites of his day in ridiculing and persecuting them.
Of course there are things Jesus agreed with conservatives on, such as marriage, homosexuality, sexual morality, and most likely abortion. However, agreeing with these concepts does not mean he would have joined their Party.
The danger in invoking right and wrong into politics is that if conservatives believe their views are the views of heaven, they will not compromise on anything. Compromise, on taxes, military, regulation, etc. is how this nation was built, not on a religious platform. Jesus would not have been republican; in fact, he may have fought against them as he did the conservative elite of his day. This is not to say at all that he would have been a Democrat; that is less than likely also. It is however, to say that many conservatives taking political stances based on their perception of Jesus are wrong to do so, and a continuation of this practice is more likely to produce wolves in sheep’s clothing than it is a utopia. All people are entitled to their views, and Patriotslog certainly respects the right Republicans take the stances they do. However, taking these stances on many issues because of religion will do more harm than good.
29 May, 2012
Posted on May 30, 2012, in Patriotslog Articles, Politics, Poverty and Welfare, Religion, Taxes and tagged 1 percent, 1%, 99 percent, 99%, beatitudes, Ben Carson, Ben Carson for President, Bible, birth control, Christian, Christianity, compromise, conservatives, Contraception, Dr. Ben Carson, gridlock, Jesus, Jew, Jewish, national prayer breakfast, Paul, poverty, Religion, religious right, right wing, Rush Limbaugh, Sandra Fluke, saving America speech, sermon on the mount, tax policy, taxes, womens rights. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.