If You Heed Paul on Gays, Heed Jesus on Money
Oh, sure, it’s Paul rather than Jesus who in the Bible says anything at all about homosexuality — but (for now) we can put that aside. The fact remains that the language in the Bible that condemns homosexuality (or at least the way that language is most typically translated into English — but can we please stop quibbling?) is unequivocal. Its forceful clarity simply leaves no room for debate about its meaning.
And again: fair enough. Christians look to the Bible — and particularly, of course, to the New Testament — for direction from God on how they should live, and in what they should believe. And they try to make their lives worthy of what they find there. That’s not a dynamic anyone should too readily scoff at. Cliche or not, it is a large part of what built America.
But here’s my question: If you’re going to look to the Bible and words of Jesus for critical input on how to live your life, then don’t you need to very assiduously attend to the actual words of Jesus? Especially when he’s perfectly clear on a particular issue (which, let’s face it, doesn’t happen nearly as often as Christians are wont to pretend it does), right? If you’re trying to live your life in obedience to Christ, then you’re all about anything Christ actually says, right?
For one thing, I agree with how it is put something on Fighting For The Faith, "All the letters of the Bible are Red Letters". This attempt Emergents try to make to say that God speaks less well at times in the Bible than others is, well, rather sorry.
But it's nice that he acknowledges that Paul is unequivocal in his saying that homosexual practices are sinful. Even as he proceeds to think himself smarter than Paul and says they are ok.
But, anyway, let's look at what he thinks Jesus said about another issue.
Here is what God incarnate, Jesus the Christ, said about money:
“Sell your possessions and give to the poor.” (Luke 12:33)
“You cannot serve God and Money.” (Matthew 6:24)
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19)
“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Luke 18:25)
If anywhere in the Bible Jesus is more clear about anything than he is about money, I’d like to learn of that thing. Talk about slamming shut the door on the wiggle room. And that’s not the mortal Paul giving financial advice, either. That’s Jesus. That’s the very God of Gods, being as clear as language allows him to be.
So, let's see...
Jesus tells one man to sell all he had to follow Him, though at least some of the other disciples left things like fishing boats to follow Him. With Zacchaeus, though, Jesus seemed happy enough that he gave only half of his goods to the poor. Then, we have Jesus' friends, Lazarus and his sisters, who seemed to keep their own house, and we may think it was a rather large one if it was enough for Jesus and the disciples to occasionally stay in. Jesus certainly doesn't seem to have looked down on them or thought less of them for having a home of their own.
He brings up the passage about camels and needles, but doesn't really give give what follows.
24And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!
25For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
26And they that heard it said, Who then can be saved?
27And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.
And since there have been those with riches who have entered into the Kingdom, then apparently God has done the impossible many times.
I don’t see how it’s possible to avoid the conclusion that there is something very definitely wrong with any Christian who is not himself as poor as the proverbial church mouse pointing to the Bible as grounds for his condemnation of gays and lesbians. How can any self-respecting Christian take literally what Paul said about homosexuality, and at the same time ignore or seriously waffle on what Jesus Christ himself said about money?
If we were to play the kinds of games with Jesus' words that he is, we would have to practice self-mutilation, because we've all had problems with lustful eyes and hands that go places they shouldn't. And if we were to play the games with Paul's words that he is, we'd be condoning things like lying, murder, and the other things Paul says are wrong.
Some parts of his argument may be interesting, but overall it's rather a weak argument. Even if some Christians aren't following Christ as best they can (which none are, btw), do their fault excuse you? If you know what is right, and choose to ignore it, can you point to another's imperfects to excuse your own?
If your child did something wrong, and gave an excuse like "Everyone else is doing it", or "But Bobby/Susie were doing something ever worse", would you buy it?