Many Christians claim that they are no longer beholden to the Old Testament. Jesus and Paul gave them instructions on New Covenant living, and if all believers would just adhere to New Testament teaching, there would be no question that Christianity is a religion of love, tolerance, and peace.
I took it upon myself to compile a short overview of the commandments of both Jesus and Paul. In the interest of clarity, I’ve avoided vague statements that were worded as parables or could be interpreted as metaphors. These are the clear and unequivocal commandments of the two founders of New Testament Christianity:
- 1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4 They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. — Matthew 23: 1-4
Well… that causes a bit of a problem, doesn’t it? Jesus very clearly instructs his followers to obey the law. The only law he could possibly be talking about is the Old Testament law, since he was speaking of the Pharisees and teachers of the law. So… that’s pretty much the end of that whole “New Testament Only” Christianity.
For the sake of playing the game, though, we could assume that Jesus was speaking of *any* law of the land. So his message, when correctly interpreted, is to obey the law of the land, and don’t emulate politicians’ actions. So let’s make that our first New Testament precept for good Christian living. (See how fast we get in trouble when we try to *really* obey the Bible?)
- Obey the laws of the land. Do not emulate politicians. Good advice, although there’s a bit of a problem. If Jesus is NOT talking about Biblical law, but rather any law of the land, he is instructing his followers to obey ANY law. So much for justified revolt against tyranny, oppression, or unjust laws. Also… obey Mao, Stalin, Hitler, and George Bush.
- If someone sues you, give them more than the amount they asked. (LINK) This one sounds kind of silly, but in a way it facilitates obeying the following edict:
- Sell everything you own, and give it all to the poor. Both Paul and Jesus say this emphatically. (LINK) (LINK) One can suppose that Jesus was planning ahead. For good “Christians” like the Koch Brothers, Rupert Murdoch, and Pat Robertson who don’t assume the mantle of charitable poverty, there’s the bit about giving more than what you’re sued for in court.
- Never divorce. If you do divorce, do not remarry. (LINK)
- The tricky part about not divorcing is this: Jesus said to abandon your wife and family. (LINK) (LINK) So… sell all you own, and then leave your family in penury. There it is, in bold type. Straight from the New Testament. From the mouth of Jesus.
- Also… No 401Ks. (LINK)
- Homosexuality is wrong and punishable by death. (LINK) So much for that softer, gentler New Testament, eh?
- Courts of Law are not an option for Christians who disagree with other Christians. (LINK) Note to the Republican Party: Jesus did NOT say that the courts should be run on Christian principles. He said very clearly that Christians should NOT USE courts, but should settle their differences in church. There it is in bold print. SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE.
- Women must cover their heads with cloth while praying. (LINK)
- Women must not speak in church. (LINK) Women cannot be teachers. (LINK)
- Men must not have long hair. (LINK)
- Christians are not to allow any non-Christians to enter their house. (LINK)
- Shun philosophy. (LINK) This may not seem like much — lots of Christians do it on a daily basis. However, we should note that virtually every apologist argument hinges on philosophy, not empirical science. (Think: Cosmological Argument, argument from ultimate morality, etc…)
- Put your neighbor’s finances ahead of your own. (LINK) Or, to put it another way, any Christian who has more than his neighbor is not being a good Christian. Do the math… wouldn’t an entirely Christian nation be effectively communist? Think about it…
- Take your sick to the church to be prayed for. No mention of doctors. (LINK) Paul promises that god will take care of the sick.
Can any of us, Christian or non-believer, think of anyone — anyone at all — who obeys all of these New Testament commandments? Even one person?
The truth is plain. The New Testament must be cherry picked as much or even moreso than the Old. If even a tenth of American Christians sold all their possessions, how would the country feel about Social Security and Welfare? If every Christian gave more than what he was sued for, how long would it take before Christians were the lowest of the lower class? How many American teachers are blatantly disobeying the Bible by continuing in their chosen profession?
Perhaps most importantly for Americans, how many Christians are aware that Jesus clearly laid out the foundation for separation of church and state nearly two thousand years before the founding fathers?
There is simply no reason for allowing more “liberal” New Testament Christians off the hook for being more rational about their beliefs. They are ignoring their Bible just as surely and blatantly as any of the Old Testament holy-rollers. Having said that, the world would definitely be a better place for non-believers if more Christians took the New Testament literally and obeyed it fervently.
Read my critique of Old Testament Christianity here!
More Biblical Christianity 101
Biblical Christianity 101: Women
Biblical Christianity 101: Government
Biblical Christianity 101: Love Thy Neighbor
Biblical Christianity 101: Marriage