Wednesday, September 10, 2014

God's QC 10.5: Punishment Porn, Jesus Style

Here I continue my thoughts on the disconnect between what the bible says about Jesus and what most people, superstitious or otherwise, tend to believe about him. In this video, I'll continue to explore the question whether Jesus can be considered a compassionate figure.

So far, we have discovered that even when we ignore his belief in eternal punishment, Jesus falls far short of his reputation. We have observed him positively reveling in stories of people being brutally punished, punctuating each gruesome scenario with the gleeful reminder that: there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Sadly, his punishment fetish does not end there. Let's have a look:
  • In Matthew 5, for the sin of being angry with one's fellow humans, Jesus proposes punishment by fire.
  • In Chapter 11, he makes a pronouncement concerning the city of Sodom. You may recall the story of Sodom from the Book of Genesis: Jesus' merciful father massacred its inhabitants--from infants to the elderly--with a rain of fiery sulphur that burned them to death. Jesus finds this punishment incomplete, as he calls for a further day of judgment for Sodom.
  • In Matthew 12 we discover that Jesus finds delight not only in physical punishment, but also psychological trauma. On judgment day, each of us will be forced to provide an explanation of—and face condemnation for—every idle comment we have ever made.
  • In Chapter 18, Jesus is playfully creative in describing the punishment for causing one of his followers to stumble. Rather than providing details, he invites us to imagine a fate worse than being drowned at the bottom of the sea.
  • Also in Chapter 18, another delicious tale of brutality. A man owes the king 20 years' worth of wages. It is ordered that the man and his family be sold to cover the king's losses. When the man begs for mercy, the king cancels the debt. The man himself is owed one day's wages by a fellow citizen, but refuses to forgive, demanding jail time. The king becomes angry and, uhh, sells the man and his family to cover his losses, right? No. He hands the man over to the jailers. To be tortured. For how long? Until the debt—that is, 20 years' wages—is repaid. Note that the king, being king after-all, presumably has at his fingertips countless means for encouraging mercy and compassion in his kingdom. If nothing else, a humane king could simply change the law to eliminate jail sentences for debt. What is this king's preferred solution? Terror. Be merciful or be hideously tortured. Jesus ends this lovely parable with, This is how my heavenly father will treat each of you.
  • In Chapter 22, Jesus tells a story that begins with, The kingdom of heaven is like this... I touched on it in my previous video, because it's a story that ends with weeping and gnashing of teeth. It's the one about the guy who is tied up and thrown out of the royal wedding banquet because of the dress code. But there's more: leading up to the banquet, the king sends his servants to summon those who have been invited. These invitees dismiss the summons and send the servants home. The petulant king reissues the summons. This time, an outrage: the invitees mistreat and even kill the servants. As often happens as we learn about the kingdom of heaven, our outrage turns to incredulity: the king sends his army to burn their city. Jesus is casually unaware that this would likely result in the deaths of many people who had nothing to do with the crime, not to mention causing no end of suffering to those who survive, who must endure the loss of loved ones, friends, homes, livelihoods.
Even when we ignore his predilection for weeping and gnashing of teeth, we find not a compassionate Jesus, but a deeply disturbed individual with a pornographic fixation on punishment.

That's 10.5. Thanks for watching.

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