I am not an ardent Bible reader. The Truly Religious, the Falwellian Moral Majority, the righteous gay bashers, the on-going “the Bible tells me so” types…I gave up on them and their rule book years ago. More recently I’ve realized that the parts of the New Testament printed in red are meant to be ignored…that’s why they’re in red, it seems. Not because Jesus allegedly said it and it should be followed; rather, even though Jesus allegedly said it and it can be ignored.
I had a sort of religious upbringing. Presbyterian, but back in the ‘50s and ‘60s, so they were still pretty literal. We did not read the Bible daily, although father ultimately succumbed to some brand of “put your paycheck in the collection plate and you’ll be saved” grift. However, Sunday school was Bible drill and church was “I know the Bible means this…question me at your peril,” so I had to know the drill.
And there was also Old Testament and New Testament “study” at school, a small Christian college for small Christians.
Now I’m grateful because it helps me see how disgusting The Truly Religious are. Not just in their treatment of others, but by their careful cherry-picking of Bible verses. The most recent, as of 6/17/18, is our morally bankrupt attorney general’s quote of Romans 13:1 to justify the separation of brown-skinned children from their brown-skinned parents as they all still believed the bullshit and wanted to find a better life in the once-great United States.
“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” All right. That justifies ripping kids from their parents.
But then there’s an “oops” in verse 6: “This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing.” This comes awfully close to Jesus’ bout with the Pharisees in Matthew 22: 18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”
21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.
Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.
It’s not my intention to use Romans 13:6 as an argument for why churches should be tax-exempt (“It’s in the Bible!”) or for showing off one’s “deeply-held religious beliefs” while refusing to make a wedding cake for an LGBTQ couple. Also, it's in red. However, it is interesting to contemplate.
And while we all know that god himself wrote the King James Version, I don’t speak that version of English, so this is the New International, written by mere mortals.
Anyway, our oh-so-honorable/god-fearing attorney general (or his lovable lackey speechwriter) also failed to get to the point of the entire chapter.
According to Paul:
8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
If verse 6 seems to paraphrase Matthew 22:21b, this is nearly an actual quote from Matthew 22:34-40:
34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Those Pharisees could really be annoying, but nearly as annoying as that Jesus guy. Fortunately, it’s highlighted in red, so we can ignore it.
However, for cherry-picking purposes, how’s this:
Psalm 137:9: Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.
Or, if you prefer god’s own words:
Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.
How long before this one is used?