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Jesus Is Not a Role Model for the Left

A reactionary protestor with a sandwich board sign reading "Repent Hell is real Jesus saith"

I've hesitated to talk about this because I've been reluctant to alienate my Christian fans, but I feel like this has to be said. I am tired of leftists trying to recuperate Jesus as some radical feminist socialist. Jesus was the pull-your-pants-up and respect-the-police preacher of 1st century Judea.

In order to understand why, you must understand the times in which Jesus lived as well as the theology of the religion he was rebelling against, Judaism. Jesus lived in Jewish Judea during the Roman Empire's colonial occupation of that land. The land was largely inhabited by Jews, and most of their interaction with Romans was in the form of the military police they had stationed there.

What you must also understand is how Judaism works. Unlike Christianity, Judaism does not have a punitive afterlife where you either ascend to heaven or descend to hell depending upon your sinfulness. Jewish law, the law of the Torah, is a covenant, a contract, with God whereby the Jews (and only the Jews), if following the law as a nation, will be granted safety and a kingdom in Israel.

This is the world Jesus is operating in and reacting to–one in which Roman colonial authorities routinely brutalized Jews and Jews found themselves largely in abject poverty trying to abide their national law while also being subject to shifting Roman military code.

Respect and Ire

So it should not surprise anyone that Christianity has become a religion of subjugation and oppression given the words and actions of Jesus regarding this colonial occupation. When it came to the Romans, the lesson was “turn the other cheek” (Matthew 5:39, Luke 6:27), “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s” (Matthew 22:21, Mark 12:17, Luke 20:25), and “put away your sword” (Matthew 26:52, Luke 22:49-51, John 18:11).

However, when it came to the Jews, Jesus was turning over tables of Jewish merchants and currency exchangers (Matthew 21:12, Mark 11:15, Luke 19:45), telling Jews “go sell your possessions” (Matthew 19:21, Luke 18:22) and “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword/division” (Matthew 10:34, Luke 12:51).

Jesus always urged respect and deference to the Roman authorities, even when it meant his own certain demise, but reserved all his ire for his own people. Pull your pants up. Respect the police. These are the values Jesus teaches.

Not a Feminist

Another point of recuperation I see among leftists is to claim that Jesus was some sort of feminist. As Christians are wont to do, they pull verses from the Bible out of context in order to make this point.

One point they like to make is that Jesus liked to hang out with sex workers, even going so far as to say they would get into heaven before the Pharisees. However, in context, we realize that this is not because he thought them to be blessed with virtue but rather because he thought them to be wretched with sin (John 8:11), which explains why they were usually compared to tax collectors or money lenders (Matthew 21:31, Luke 7:41-44).

Further, feminists like to point to Jesus’s extreme aversion to lust. They claim that Jesus told men to pluck out their own eyes for looking at a woman lustfully (Matthew 5:28-29). However if we look at the actual passage, Jesus is not saying this to liberate women from lechery, but to bind all people into a reactionary conception of adultery in which any sexual desire outside of the bounds of monogamous marriage is sinful.

Caring for the Poor

Socialists like to claim Jesus was one of their own based on his regard for the poor. However, this says nothing about his view of political economy. Plenty of political positions from compassionate libertarianism to out and out nazism regard it a duty for the rich to provide charity to the poor.

Indeed this right-wing charity-based care for the poor is far closer to Jesus’s solution to poverty than anything approaching a political system to ameliorate human need (Matthew 19:21, Luke 18:22). In fact, it seems that Jesus did not just care about the poor, but even viewed poverty in itself as virtuous and a goal to be attained (Matthew 5:3, Luke 6:20).

And this is where the distinction between Jewish theology and Jesus’s theology comes into play, and why I believe Christianity to be morally bankrupt. In creating a punitive afterlife, Jesus makes life itself meaningless. In Jesus’s theology, living a sinless life takes precedence over living a good life. This even goes as far as dying for one’s religious conviction, something completely anathema to Judaism and its concept of Pikuach Nefesh.

Jesus Was No Socialist

Real socialism is about ensuring everyone is able to live a meaningful and fulfilling life liberated from want, not venerating the poor for their poverty as a virtuous goal to be attained. Real socialism is about organizing and fighting for justice in this world, not dying as a sinless martyr for individualistic salvation in the afterlife.

There is no virtue any leftist should find in the words or deeds of Jesus of Nazareth. He was a reactionary of the highest order who turned his people away from fighting a colonial empire and towards fighting among themselves. Jesus did not save anyone in his life, not his people who would die or be exiled in a Roman siege following his death, and not even himself in choosing to surrender himself to crucifixion by the Roman authorities.

If you are any shade of socialist, do not look to Jesus for inspiration. He will have you pointing fingers at your comrades for how they live their lives rather than joining them in the life they fight for. He will have you surrendering to the cops, costing the rest of the movement in donated bail money, medical bills, and legal fees. And he will have you embracing the escapism of waiting for another life rather than improving the only one you can be certain that you have.


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