In a greatly divided nation and the world, everyone wants people they idolize to agree with their worldview. From the founding fathers to Jesus Christ, everyone makes claims to justify their actions.
We all have seen the memes, the TikTok videos, and even the political rally signs of how Jesus of the Bible (Jesus Christ) would have been a liberal. Then, if you flip that, and in greater numbers, we all have also heard from the Christian evangelicals stating, “If Jesus were alive today, he would hate what this great nation has become, with all the illegals, gays, and nonbelievers, running everything.” As a gay liberal raised on the Christian mythos, my first response is to call bull on any pastors, priests, or radical Christians who say, or agree with, such statements. However, putting my personal believes and ideology aside, I wanted to see which was true about the Jesus of the Bible.
If he was alive today,
which would be true of his character?
Would he agree with the Pussyhat wearing, spiritual but non-dogmatic, bisexual who wrote in Bernie Sanders in the 2020 election, or the gun-toting, confederate flag flying, demanding the teaching of Creationism in biology class crowd? This question is what I wanted to find out.
To find my answers and give a fair assessment, I used only the Bible as a reference point. To be more accurate, I used the New International Version (NIV), one of the most popular translation versions among Christians. The last criteria I used in my search; I will only be referencing the words of Jesus himself, aka the Red Words, since we are looking at his character and not interpretations of his words.
Starting at the beginning, Jesus spoke of those who are merciful, pure of heart, and peacemakers. Matthew 5:7-9 Jesus held mercy and peacemaking (diplomacy) in high regard since he continued to speak of these attributes throughout his teachings. His famous line of “turn the other cheek” (Matthew 5:38-39) shows that even if someone does you harm, do not retaliate in anger, but we should love our enemies. This idea is precisely what he states just a few verses away in Matthew 5:43-48 and Luke 6:27. Too many people in today’s society want to retaliate for literally every little thing. Whether it be on social media to a post they disagree with or to an entire group of people they do not understand. But what happened to mercy, peacemaking, and diplomacy among the people of Earth?
Speaking of social media, how many times in a day’s cycle of newsfeeds do we all see evangelicals posting anti-gay, anti-refugees, and wanting praise for their good deeds? I have seen a lot on my newsfeed, especially in the last few years. In 2019 a Tennessee pastor who was also a local police officer called for the arrest and execution of all LGBT+ Americans. He has stated that he “hates homosexuals and so does God.” But, if we only look at the spoken words of Jesus, he makes zero statements about any form of homosexuality, nor does he even reference Leviticus 18:22, which may have been a mistranslation and doesn’t even refer to homosexuality at all, anyways. Jesus also doesn’t refer to the following chapter either, in Leviticus 19:19, which is good because I’m wearing a polyester/cotton blend T-shirt. Plus, my garden has more than two different types of plants planted in it, but I digress. Plus, Jesus never hated anyone, not Judas Iscariot, not Pontius Pilate, not even the hypocrites he spoke so often about; Jesus never hated anyone. However, Jesus did have a particular opinion on those that scream scripture on street corners or wanting ‘Likes’ and praise for their good deeds, and for those that condemn others.
For example, “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues (churches) and on the street corners to be seen by others.” Or when Jesus said, “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward.” What about, “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do.” Matthew 6:1-5
Okay, A little side note here: This has always been a little pet peeve of mine, especially when I attended church or at any family function. Keeping the same chapter as quoted above in mind, I would always get annoyed when the pastor at my childhood church would do his closing prayer for more than twenty minutes. I was also hungry, which could have played into my annoyance. But I always thought if Jesus said to only pray the Lord’s Prayer and not ramble on, then pray the prayer and get to lunch, come on, people! “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.” Matthew 6:7-8, but I again digress. I apologize for getting a little off-topic; however, my point still stands that people do not listen to the words of Jesus himself.
Now, on the topic of condemning others, whether it be LGBT+ Americans, refugees seeking asylum, or disenfranchised minorities, some, not all, conservative evangelical Christians condemn some, if not all, of these groups. As stated above, Jesus never mentions homosexuality, even though some of his followers make it seem like he never spoke about anything else but the gays, aka people like me. However, there are two statements that Jesus did make that I think Jesus would say to those who do condemn and vilify other people that are different from themselves –
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you too will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1-2 and Luke 6:37, so if a Latinx, immigrant, pride-proud flamboyant, non-binary, queer lives in your neighborhood and is flying their rainbow flag all year round, then listen to your savior, judge not, and shut up.
When it comes to ‘the southern border,’ many evangelicals have been preaching at the pulpit against asylum seekers and refugees, especially in the past few years. Plus, many of these same evangelicals endorse politicians and preach state policies at the pulpit; this is a clear violation of the US tax code’s Johnson amendment, which allows them to keep tens of billions of dollars annually without paying taxes. I guess they forgot another one of Jesus’s quotes, “Give unto Caesar(government) the things which are Caesar’s (government’s)” (Matthew 22:21)
Back to the southern border issues, these evangelicals tend to forget the teachings of their Lord and Savior, for he said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks shall receive; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8) Realistically, we live in a world of grey. I understand that we need borders to ensure our safety and sovereignty as a nation. However, isn’t it the Christ-like thing to do, is give them a chance, give them asylum and a safe place to stay? These are fellow human beings fleeing war-torn countries where they could be raped, murdered, or sold into slavery, and at the same time, we can check their backgrounds to make sure everything they claim is five by five? As a country, we should help our neighboring brothers and sisters. Hmm, I think Jesus said something on this: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39).
What about the stories told in Matthew 14:16, Luke 9:13, and John 6:10, setting aside the magic, this act of taking from one person to give to the many sounds a lot like, dare I use the word … socialism. Jesus spoke several times about helping the hungry, the needy, and the poor. But all I see are conservative evangelicals saying things like, “Get a job!” “I pay my taxes!” “If you don’t like how it is here, go somewhere else.” Or the one I heard so much from my Southern Baptist family “We should do away with the welfare system too many people abuse it.”
Jesus often spoke of helping the poor and hungry. He was even invited to a feast and told his host to let the baggers in for everyone who is hungry should be feed. “When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the disabled, the lame, and the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid in kind.” (Luke 14:13-14) He also speaks a lot on giving to the less fortunate, without a litmus test of whether they are Christian or not, as some soup kitchens and homeless shelters do in the States.
Another time Jesus spoke to an arrogant rich man about giving to the poor. “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then you can come, follow me” (Matthew 19:21), or think of the story Jesus told about The Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31. Jesus had strong opinions on the rich. They weren’t exactly his favorite people unless they used their wealth to better the less fortunate and the world, but so few did and even less do today. “Truly, I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:23), but yet, we have multi-million dollar megachurches that are tax-free in the United States, and billionaire pastors who pay zero in taxes. How do you think Jesus would respond to them? I have a theory. Let’s look at John 2:14-15
“In the temple, he (Jesus) found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves. Others seated at tables exchanging money. So, he (Jesus) made a whip out of cords and drove all of them from the temple, even the sheep and cattle; he scattered the money changers’ coins and overturned their tables. And he said to them all, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” Now, please do not twist my meaning for referencing this story. I am not advocating violence against megachurches or any church/temple/synagogue/mosques with giftshops or have yardsales. As Jesus had done in the story, I am a pacifist, but it gives a pretty vivid image of how Jesus would react to the Sunday morning broadcast shows asking for donations. Instead of giving that money to the rich wolves in sheep’s clothing, every follower of Jesus should be giving it to the poor, the sick, and the homeless. In fact, in Acts 20:35, he states, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” But I guess these pastors that publish books on how to get rich through Jesus forgot some passages.
Lastly, did you know that Jesus even spoke on gun control? Well, sort of, more like sword control, but swords were the guns of the times in the biblical era.
During Jesus’s arrest, his followers wanted to defend him, so they drew their swords to fight the arresting guards, but Jesus said no with these wise words. “for all who use the sword will die by the sword” (Matthew 26:52). If we were to replace the word ‘sword’ with ‘gun,’ it seems like he would be against weapons of any kind. Which I find ironic when I see posts online of his followers in the present day taking Instagram posts holding an AK-47 and the Bible. In all fairness, we do live in a multi-cultural country with many different viewpoints. So, unless the people of the United States undergo a mass personality shift in the future, I do not foresee the USA moving away from weapons of destruction being mass sold to the public any time soon. But you would think people who believe that the word of Jesus is the word of their God would listen to these words of Jesus and be for gun control, but it seems to be the opposite.
What Would Jesus Do?
Picture in today’s world, a 33-year-old, Jewish, middle eastern male living in the United States. A double minority and a millennial to boot. A person who has repeatedly spoken on the rich taking care of the poor, on everyone helping the sick and less fortunate, loving your enemies, diplomacy instead of war, anger, vengeance, and violence is never the answer. Peace and love are the answer if you wish to be Christ-like.
So, it is my conclusion that Jesus would befriend; the Pussyhat wearing, spiritual, but non-dogmatic bisexual who wrote in Bernie Sanders in the 2020 election. Plus, based on his personality from the gospels, he would probably call out the hypocrisy of those that spew hate using his words to justify their bigotry, greed, and condemnation of those different from themselves. If you only take just one thing from my findings, please take the new commandment Jesus outlined in John 13:34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another.” And do not forget, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” (Luke 6:37)
Even if Jesus was just a fictional character, there is wisdom in his words. We all should act a little more Christ-like, especially those that claim to be Christians.