The Old Testament Is Not Christian Book
The Old Testament Is Not A Christian Book
By I.B. Freely
God Hates You
There seems to be a particular reputation which Christians have gotten over the last few decades. One that has lead several disaffected youth to “go atheist.” Nothing wrong with being atheist if that is what you want, but going against “The Rules” because they are there is just another kind of conformity. Particularly considering that anyone who would claim to be Christian and then judge, let alone hate, anyone for “religious reasons” are doing it wrong.
Thou Shalt Not
Christian Conservatives can quote the Old Testament chapter and verse all they like, a bit ironic considering their general attitude to our Jewish friends, but it won’t make a lot of difference. Not least because, stay with me here, THE OLD TESTAMENT IS NOT A CHRISTIAN BOOK! Forgive me the shouting but few things bend my wand like so-called “Christians” who don’t seem to realize that the Old Testament (otherwise known as the Torah), was mostly the Bible as background for Jesus. It is part of the Christian story but not the main plot. Including that bit in Exodus, 22:18 to be exact, about not suffering a witch to live.
Cool Guy Christ
Jesus was nothing but clear on his opinion when it came to accepting others. Unafraid to sit with outsiders he made friends and disciples of the dregs of society at the time. Lepers, both social and literal, accepted by him. Jesus making friends and even disciples of prostitutes and tax collectors. He is mostly known for driving money changers from the temple but that was a special case.
Some of J-man’s most famous and memorable quotes are on this theme. “Judge not lest ye be judged” could not be any clearer. The “treat thy neighbor as they self” also seems pretty cut and dry. Apparently the judgmental and pious among us are just as open to the same sort of treatment. Otherwise they would be massive hypocrites. The clearest indication of what Jesus really meant, particularly for those who take the bit about being made in God’s image to mean they are literally God, is the bit about stones.
Sticks & Stones
The clearest indication that the rules had changed between Testaments is “let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” Stoning was a popular mode of punishment before the arrival of Christ, used for “infractions against the lord” from adultery to working on the Sabbath and mixing fabrics. What Jesus was helpfully pointing out is none of us are perfect. So if you are going to punish someone for their sins, you’d better make darn sure you don’t have any yourself. The general idea being that judgement properly lies with God. As does vengeance as it turns out. The full quote on which the phrase vengeance is based is “vengeance is mine, saith the Lord.” Judgement, punishment and vengeance are not for humans to take. At least for those who call themselves Christians.
Someone who laid things out in a cogent, and funny, way was Frank Zappa. In reaction to the attempts by the Christian Republicans at the Parent’s Music Resource Center to label records they didn’t like, Zappa opted to apply his own warning sticker to his 1985 album Frank Zappa Meets the Mother of Prevention:
“WARNING GUARANTEE: This album contains material which a truly free society would neither fear nor suppress. In some socially retarded areas, religious fanatics and ultra-conservative political organizations violate your First Amendment Rights by attempting to censor rock & roll albums. We feel that this is Un-Constitutional and Un-American. As an alternative to these government-supported programs (designed to keep you docile and ignorant). Barking Pumpkin is pleased to provide stimulating digital audio entertainment for those of you who have outgrown the ordinary.
The language and concepts contained herein are GUARANTEED NOT TO CAUSE ETERNAL TORMENT IN THE PLACE WHERE THE GUY WITH THE HORNS AND POINTED STIK CONDUCTS HIS BUSINESS.
This guarantee is as real as the threat of the video fundamentalists who use attacks on rock music in their attempt to transform America into a nation of check-mailing nincompoops (in the name of Jesus Christ). If there is a hell, its fires wait for them, not us.”
The Loudest Voices
That’s it. Don’t let religious fundamentalists take away the right of free speech (guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution) in the name of Jesus, when those folks keep proving they are taking their message from the wrong book.