Unless you live under a rock, you know the Boy Scouts of America recently allowed gay kids to be in their club. Or, as Jesse Berney said in The Guardian, “There have always been gay children in the Boy Scouts. What changed yesterday is that they won’t kick you out if you tell people you’re gay.” Now, I’m not here to talk about the rightness or wrongness of what the Boy Scouts have done (it is right, though), I want to ask a question about something I read in Berney’s article. Erick Erickson of RedState.com tweeted “Yes, Christ is love, but he is also wrath, vengeance, and redemption. The modern emo Christ is a fiction. Christ could throw a punch.” Jesus could throw a punch? Where the hell did that come from?
Erickson’s not the first person I’ve heard say this. Preacher Mark Driscoll (I refuse to call him “Pastor” because what this guy does is anything but pastoral) once said of Jesus, his disciples and other men of the Bible “I’ve gotta think these guys [David, Paul, John the Baptist] were dudes. Heterosexual, win a fight, punch you in the nose dudes”. Now, with David, he may have had a point. Anyone who collects 100 Phillistine foreskins has more than a nodding acquaintance with violence. And, Peter did cut off that dude’s ear. But, Jesus? Really? I’m no Bible scholar, but I’m pretty sure there’s no mention of the Christ punching someone in the throat (0r anywhere else for that matter).
Is that really the case, though? Let’s take a look at the Bible and see what Jesus had to say about violence. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told the crowd “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who harass you” and “If people slap you on your right cheek, you must turn the left cheek to them as well”. In the story of his arrest, we hear “When those around him recognized what was about to happen, they said, “Lord, should we fight with our swords?” One of them struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. Jesus responded, “Stop! No more of this!” He touched the slave’s ear and healed him”. Doesn’t really sound like a guy who would throw a punch, huh?
The only time in the Gospels that Jesus even came close to actual violence was when he ran the money changers out of the Temple. And, even then, they never say that he actually hit anyone. There are a lot of things the Bible doesn’t mention, but if Jesus popped somebody, you’d think that would make the book.
Look, I know a Jesus that would knock the crap out of anyone that pissed him off is attractive to some people. He would certainly be easier to follow than the peace-loving dude the Bible portrays, if only because there are plenty of people in this world that might benefit from a punch in the throat. But, that’s not the model we were left with. Maybe it’s about time we tried following it.