If Jesus was alive today, would right wingers call him a socialist?

If Jesus were alive toda, he probably wouldn't look like pretty Jim Caviezel, but th.

If Jesus were alive toda, he probably wouldn't look like pretty Jim Caviezel either, but there you go.

A commenter named Tameka got me thinking with a post about what the Bible says our attitude should be toward our leaders; namely, that like them or not, we should pray for them:

1I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— 2for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. — 1 Timothy 2:1-4 (New International Version)

I don’t think any of us, on the left or the right, has had that attitude toward a president on the other side of the aisle, and I include myself — although I will point out that when Dubya was in office, I don’t recall anyone taking a gun to his town halls or praying for him to die… Still, Tameka’s point seemed to be that the incivility we’re seeing at the town halls, tea party protests, and even in the halls of Congress, not to mention the calls by people like “Pastor” Steven Anderson for the president to be “melted like a snail,” can be called many things; but the acts of Christians is not one of them.

Which got me thinking: would any of the tenets of Jesus of Nazareth hold up in the “Obama is a Nazi/Marxist/commie/socialist” climate of today?

After all, Jesus was for a lot of things that by today’s standards, as articulated by right wingers, be considered “socialist.” As this Soulcast poster put it in a post titled “10 reasons Jesus was a socialist”:

1. Jesus owned nothing. 2. Jesus argued for the dissolution of the family and the establishment of communes. 3. Jesus loved all people regardless of ethnicity or class. 4. Jesus revolted against the imperial government, established religion and finance capitalism (usury). 5. Jesus taught that we should act as one body, one blood. 6. Jesus taught that his kingdom (ie nation state) is in the heart and not below the feet. 7. Jesus taught that we should fight for Justice and ‘turn the other cheek’ to petty morality. 8. Jesus was a laborer and a teacher. 9. Jesus practiced healing and forgiveness. 10. Jesus taught that you can’t be an imperialist and a disciple at the same time.

I don’t know about the “dissolution of the family” bit, but I’ll take his point. Jesus said and did a lot of things that would have earned him the ire of people like Newt Gingrich, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and the entire delegations from South Carolina and Arizona. Namely, where the right respects (and in some ways even worships) wealth,  and power, while scorning the poor as “lazy” and unworthy, Jesus seemed to be for everyone they are against. Said Jesus, according to Matthew (or whoever actually wrote the book of Matthew):

Matt. 5:3. Blessed [are] the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matt. 5:4 Blessed [are] they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Matt. 5:5 Blessed [are] the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Matt. 5:6 Blessed [are] they who hunger and thirst for righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Matt. 5:7 Blessed [are] the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Matt. 5:8 Blessed [are] the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Matt. 5:9 Blessed [are] the peacemakers: for they shall be called children of God.
Matt. 5:10 Blessed [are] they who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matt. 5:11 Blessed are ye, when [men] shall revile you, and persecute [you], and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. {falsely: Gr. lying}
Matt. 5:12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great [is] your reward in heaven: for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

And when confronted with the hungry, Jesus foreswore the option of letting them obtain food by their own means, through commerce:

Matthew 14:14 And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.
Mat 14:15 And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals.
Mat 14:16 But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat.
Mat 14:17 And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes.
Mat 14:18 He said, Bring them hither to me.
Mat 14:19 And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.
Mat 14:20 And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full.
Mat 14:21 And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children.

And he preached against turning away those in need in favor of their wealthy “betters” –

“My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, ‘Here’s a good seat for you,’ but say to the poor man, ‘You stand there’ or ‘Sit on the floor by my feet,’ have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong?

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.”
James 2:1-9 (NIV)

And recall that Jesus overturned the tables of the money changers. Aren’t conservatives, for all intents and purposes, the defenders of the modern-day money changers? The right’s penchant for worshiping the elite is borne out in Washington, where an “evangelical elite” is being groomed by groups like The Family, which advocate exempting this “elect” from almost all rules — financial, ethical and otherwise.

There’s more to Jesus that it seems to me, would separate him from the modern right:

Jesus (but moreso Paul after Jesus’ death) reached out to non-Jews, something unheard of during that time. Those who today exhibit what can only be described as Islamophobia, and literal rage against anyone they perceive as not sufficiently Christian, let alone “secular” — seems exactly the opposite of Jesus’ ethic.

On war, during the Bush administration, leaders of the Christian right advocated for the invasion of Iraq (George W. Bush even claimed God told him to do it), and Pat Robertson — considered a legitimate leader of the Christian right — even advocated the assassination of Hugo Chavez. I can’t imagine Jesus being for any of that. In fact, in the ultimate irony, leaders of a religion based on the worship of someone who was scourged to ribbons by Roman soldiers and then crucified — his torment lasting for hours — are the fiercest advocates of torture. All of this seems entirely inconsistent with the Jesus of the New Testament, who refused to stand up to the Romans militarily, the way his people (who were Jewish, not Christian, which I feel at pains to point out to my winger friends) thought a real Messiah would. There were, in Jesus’ time, a number of “Messiahs,” who came and went after being discredited by the populace for one reason or another, including a failure to overthrow the cruel Roman rulers of Israel. Jesus fell into that category, not because the Jews were bad people, as some Christian fundamentalists claim, but because he, like others, failed to deliver on that promise. When beaten and scourged, he not only refused to fight back, he prayed for his tormentors, and forgave them, something that wouldn’t exactly be celebrated today, by either the right or the left.

With his lack of personal wealth (his travels were financed by friends, including a woman – Mary Magdeline,) his simple status as a carpenter, his entreaties for tradesman to leave their nets and become “fishers of men,” and what has to be called a beatnik lifestyle, Jesus was in many ways an ancient hippie, or at least he would be perceived as such today. How would right wing Republicans feel about a man walking around today, owning nothing, calling on the world to care for the sick and poor and aged, eschewing war, and preaching about peace? Well if they attacked a 13-year-old for wearing a peace shirt, I think that answers the question.

It’s a good question, not meant to imply that either right-wingers or Republicans are ungodly — I’m in no position to judge them on that. In fact, per another quote posted by Tameka:

1″Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

3″Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. — Matthew 7:1-5 (New International Version)

And I will attest that I have moments of utterly despising those on the other side, for their tactics, their disrespect for this president, their outrageous lies about him, and their cynicism in exploiting the fears of the elderly in order to advance a corporate-fueled agenda. What I’m arguing is that whatever you think of these people’s beliefs, you cannot credibly claim that they have anything to do with the life or teachings of Jesus.

And that goes double for people like “Pastor” Anderson, whose scatalogical ravings are about as Biblical as a ham sandwich. Jesus, it should be pointed out, never prayed for a single Roman to be melted like a snail.

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13 Responses to If Jesus was alive today, would right wingers call him a socialist?

  1. Pingback: If Jesus was alive today, would right wingers call him a socialist? « curlykidz

  2. McMama says:

    Yes, dissolution of the family (cf Matthew 34-37, Mark 3:31-34).

  3. McMama says:

    Er.. Matthew 10:34-37

  4. Mike says:

    I am a “right-winger”, a Conservative Christian that believes Jesus was the Son of God, lived, was executed on the cross, and returned from the dead 3 days later. And I believe everyone should know that, though of course the choice to believe it or not is up to them. So I side a lot more with “right wing” ideas than “left”, though the better description would be, “I side with the Bible and God, no matter what side of the political line it lands on.”

    First of all, if Jesus showed up today, he’d have a whole lot of things to be seriously pissed about. Jesus’ most angry and harsh words were targeted straight at the religious establishment of his day. That would be equally true today, maybe even more so. Corruption, hypocrisy, greed, moral degradation and more (especially among the religious) were very very high on Christ’s list of hot spots. He tore apart the kiosks in the temple court yard for disgracing God’s holy place and turning it into a shopping mall for the religious. He called the religious leaders, teachers and preachers vipers, liars, hypocrites, immoral, greedy, ungodly, snakes, deceivers, false prophets and more. These guys seriously ticked Him off! The modern church today in general would be no better. In some areas, worse.

    Jesus came with two very clear messages beyond the message of salvation from our sins with his life and death. 1) In a perfect Godly society without any sin, things would be and should be likes this… And He told how it should be. What we should put above all else, how we should live. 2) He was focused on healing society’s problems, lowering the amount of suffering and tragedy, building up the innocent and stepped on.

    However Jesus saying that money is a terrible idol, a major handicap for a person’s faith and Godly life does not make Him a socialist. The message was that our wealth was getting in the way of our faith, our connection to God. Money was corrupting and chaining everyone down, both the rich and the poor. So in that regard, it sounds very socialist. Except that Jesus also taught that people who could should work to make their living. He praised in parables people that used their wealth for God and the betterment of mankind. In other words, charity service. Charity is not a mandated tax, it’s a personal choice, one that should be taken, but one that does no good if it’s always forced. One parable tells of a businessman that gives a portion of his wealth/business to his trusted servants (people that work for him) for them to take care of. One hides it to keep it safe. Another spends it away. Another goes to work like a good ol’ capitalist, investing, buying, selling, working, hiring and all the rest, making back five times as much as he was given. When the businessman returns, he chastises all but the last servant. He didn’t sit on it and do nothing with it. He didn’t waste it. He was productive with it. He earned back even more than he was given, and in so doing, provided jobs and wealth for many other people as well. In that parable, Jesus was the businessman and we’re the servants.

    Capitalism is Biblical, as long as it is moral. THAT is the key of it all! Hard work, earning your wealth, being productive, reaching higher, progressing forward, building up and all that is good, just as long as it is done in a moral way instead of immoral way. Without capitalism, most of the inventions and wonders that our modern world enjoys today would simply not exist. Capitalism pushes forward while socialism stagnates with “this right here is fine.”

    The ideas of socialism and communism are great ideas but for the most part impractical and do not fit into reality. Give people free rides and they’ll never have the need or desire to work to earn them. Jesus absolutely reached out to the poor and needy, the outcasts, the sick. He also reached out to the rich tax collectors. His message to the poor, the rich, the religious and non-religious was one and the same. Stop sinning! Don’t be greedy! Don’t lie! Don’t hurt each other! Love each other, even your enemies! Don’t support sin, but love the sinner despite the sins! Jesus reached out to the adulterous wife that everyone had outcast and told her, “I love you. I know you. I forgive you if you want it. Now go and stop sinning. Stop being an adulterer.” The poor, the sick and the different were being abused to no end and Jesus came to shake people out of that and make them stop. God loves ALL people. That means God wants the best for everyone, not what THEY think is best or want. Jesus came to heal and to bring everyone back to God and God’s ideals. Everyone is human (everyone sins) and everyone needs God. If everyone did what was right all the time, did what God and Jesus wanted (want), the world would be a much better place.

    Never mind what’s “left” or what’s “right”. The question should be what is moral? What is Biblical? What is true? What does God/Jesus want?

    Let’s quickly shoot off some of the common left/right platform and see how it stands under the gaze of Jesus and the Bible.

    Sex outside of marriage (left pushes to support/allow it, right disagrees but does it anyway, God says don’t do it! Both lose. The right wants sexual purity in word, but they seem just as happy to disregard God’s laws as anyone else.)

    Abortion: Left says good, Right says bad. God says ALL life is sacred and that life begins at conception. Life trumps comfort. Consequences (unwanted pregnancy) arise from sinful decisions (sex out of wedlock, underage sex, etc.). Without that sin, the topic of abortion wouldn’t even exist. That’s just how God wants it. Here, God leans right.

    Population Control: Left says we must restrict the number of pregnancies. Some of the more extreme left go so far as to preach forced sterilization and forced abortions. All in the name of population control, reducing and cutting mankind’s population. Righties say that’s wrong to do because you’re destroying God’s created system, killing babies (abortion, morning after pill, etc.), and potentially even discriminating between rich/poor/white/block/etc for who is controlled and who isn’t. God says, “Be fruitful and multiply. Life is sacred no matter the age of the person/baby/embryo. ALL ethnicities and people are equally special and important in God’s eyes no matter their skin colour, height, nationality or anything else. God leans Right.

    Restricted Immigration: Left says throw the borders open and let the masses in. Shared culture, religion and traditions are good. Everyone should benefit from our standard of life, not just the rich or natural-born citizens. The Right says the borders need to be controlled with only the acceptable immigrants being allowed in. Otherwise the “bad apples” of less fortunate nations will come here and cause all kinds of crime and problems for the rest of us. God says ALL people are His. He loves them all no matter where they’re from and they should ALL have enough food, shelter, health, opportunity and more. That doesn’t mean an end to Capitalism, that means an increase in charity. God says culture, art and more is good, so long as it doesn’t cross into the realm of the immoral. Bringing the needy in is good. But don’t let bad morals pollute you (whether they come from outside [immigrants] or from your own people within [natural-born citizens]). Going to the needy is even better! God runs straight down the middle on this one. Definitely help the needy, but actually help them. And don’t let anyone of low morals pull society down. Sometimes people need to be kept out for the good of others, but in that case, GO TO THEM. Leave home base and save the wounded out in the field no matter which side they’re on.

    Divorce: Left says the family unit is many different things other than a mother, father and children. Marriage doesn’t need to be for life. Divorce is not ideal, but very acceptable. Righties say divorce shatters the family, rips children apart on the inside and rips them from having both parents. The best family is a family with a good mother and father. Kids need BOTH. Anything else is going to hurt the parents and the kids more often than not and in more ways than one. Jesus says don’t ever divorce. Marriage is for life. Get married if you intend to spend your life together, otherwise don’t do it. If you must divorce, than never marry anyone else. You promised yourself to one person, don’t break that promise. Leave them if you must, but don’t have an affair with someone else. In the eyes of God, your marriage is permanent until death. The best family structure is a consistent mother, father and children. It is how God wants it always and every effort should be made to keep it together and strongly grounded in the morals and standards of God. In other words, an abusive family is bad, NOT within God’s standards. In those cases, what’s best for all needs to be figured out and met.

    I could go on forever, but I’ve already gone on for way too long already. Basically, God/Jesus definitely stands “right” on the political spectrum. He even harshly criticizes tolerating sin and calling it normal or ok. The left tends to try to push the envelope of what’s morally acceptable while the right tries to hold on to the moral standard of the day or return it to the standards of their religious/traditional beliefs. Not all traditions and moral beliefs are actually moral or right in the eyes of God. Not all progressive movements are wrong or evil incarnate. The Bible tells us how best to live. Getting that right should be the key of all movements. What’s politically correct isn’t necessarily Biblically correct and what’s old and traditional isn’t necessarily Biblical either.

    Unfortunately it isn’t always easy to know exactly what God wants in any given situation. That’s why a deep and well rounded knowledge of the whole Bible inside and out is key to getting it right. Something must agree with the whole Bible and God’s standards therein, otherwise no matter what side of the political spectrum, it needs to be tossed. Considering more “lefties” are not Bible believing Jesus believing God adoring students of God and the Bible and more “righties” are, you can see where God’s standard tends to rest. Of course saying/believing something is one thing. Actually living it is another. Something the religious leaders of Jesus’ day got blasted for by the Son of God.

  5. Joe says:

    If Jesus was a Socialist, he would have paid for our sins on the cross with someone else’s blood!

  6. Bill says:

    Joe – that is funny. People always seem to pull the Jesus card when saying that it is good for us to be socialists. True, Christians should do all they can to reach out to those in need. The difference between us “right wingers” and those “socialist left wingers” is that we believe that us right wingers should join with the left wingers to assist the poor … not the government.

  7. Antonius says:

    May I point out one of the most famous Socialists: Che Guevara. He believed in none of this ‘free ride’ nonsense. Socialism does not stand for the ‘free rides’ and for the unemployed to reap luxuries with sloth. It stands for those who cannot. Che, like Buddha and Jesus, travelled outside of their own comforts and saw the reality that there are the poor, the weak, the ugly and the tired. What socialism strives for is the bar for standards of living to be raised. From a conservative standpoint, it is completely logical that a human is entitled to the rewards he worked for. But from a Socialist view, it is completely illogical that a human is not entitled to the rewards he worked for.

    Put me in the shoes of a successful man, and i will vote conservative to keep my wealth and hopefully make it grow. Likewise, put me in a peasants shoes working hard for little pay and i will vote socialist in hopes to claim what is mine. From my opinion, the human will is greater in the peasant than that of the successful man. In that sense, I stand for socialism.

  8. Brian says:

    Mike pretty well sums up what I would say. Jesus is as conservative as it gets and socialism is as far from what he preached. It’s kind of funny how almost every one of the points that supposedly make him “socialist” are either extremely conservative values or highly twisted (whether intentionally or not) to fit.

    Also, the terms right and left wing are both speaking of socialistm. They’re just opposite ends of the big-government spectrum. Jesus was not for big government, in fact he wasn’t focused on any kind of government at all. He was all about the condition of the soul, not the state. If the souls of the people are right, a good government is sure to fall into place.

    And I can’t believe anyone can compare mass-murdering Che Guevara to Jesus and be serious about it.

  9. Tim says:

    To those commenters above that say that the government shouldn’t help the poor and the sick: we, the people, are the government. We decide what the law will be. Why don’t you just admit that you don’t want to do what Jesus said? It’s simple: help the poor and the sick. The most effective way to do that is through the government and taxes. This way the poor and the sick definitely get the help they need. That’s what Jesus wanted. It’s not about you getting a reward in heaven. It’s about the sick and the poor getting the help they need. You want to leave it up to the individual Christians to donate (if they feel like it). As I said, just admit that you don’t want to do what Jesus said instead of going through all of the mental gymnastics to justify your disobedience to God.

  10. Steve says:

    I need some chapter and verse here.

    Sex outside of marriage: What did Christ say about this?

    Abortion: What did Christ say about this?

    Population Control: What did Christ say about this?

    Restricted Immigration: What did Christ say about this?

    Divorce: What did Christ say about this?

    Christ said little about earthly affairs in general.

    Here is the most conservative thing Christ said: 6Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, 7There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat. 8But when his disciples saw it, they ha…d indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? 9For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. 10When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. 11For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. 12For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. 13Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.

  11. alfred says:

    Don’t flatter socialists. There is not one verse in the gospel where Jesus said we should use the power of government to redistribute wealth. That is what socialists do, they stick a gun in your ribs, take what’s yours and give it to someone else. Oh you can call it whatever fancy name you want, but in ultimate that is what happens. Government sticks a gun in your back and takes what’s yours. Do you really think Jesus would do this?

  12. Alfredo says:

    Sorry Tim, but we the people are not the government. We have not been the government for some time. You are totally fooled by the farce of an election that we hold every two years so that we can pretend we are the government. The politicians and their cronies are the government, and no, we can’t replace them, because they have taken such control of the machinations of government that to remove them you need a stick of dynamite not a bullet. Relieve yourself of this myth. What is noble about 50.1% of the people telling the other 49.9% how to live their lives. There is not only crony capitalism, there is also crony government. The political parties are no more than gangs fighting over turf, over who gets the right to rob you for the next four years.

  13. alfred says:

    “a stick of dynamite not a ballot” is what I meant to say.

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