He was probably right, I guess, if I thought Jesus had an opinion on my language when there are wars to be fought and bellies to be fed and slavery to be abolished and the kid in my theater class was getting picked on by another teacher because he had good hair and he liked to shop more than he liked shop class, and nobody said anything about it.
Not to mention that the kid I had cursed at had been picking on me mercilessly for two years, and I finally had gotten the nerve to tell him that I wasn’t interested in being a chew toy for him to throw around to impress his friends anymore.
I wonder if Jesus has an opinion about that.
We talk about Jesus all the time as if Jesus is opining about our every move, and while part of me thinks this is a healthy response to a theology that reinforces the nearness of God, it can sometimes just be plain stupid.
As catch-22 as “What Would Jesus Do,” when we imagine that Jesus wouldn’t “like” a particular action, I wonder what kind of guilt we think we’re laying on the person. I think that they’re “Rubik’s Cube” questions. We puzzle them about, except that with these cubes, there’s no solution.
I think we ask these questions and make these statements because we’re trying to escape the fact that we don’t like it and we don’t know what to do (or we do, but we’d like to pretend we don’t so that we can justify our actions by saying we prayed on it).
When we’re held up a mirror and the truth about ourselves is exposed, we don’t like it.
Truth is, that teacher saw that kid pick on me about 10 times a week for two years. I wonder if Jesus has an opinion on that. Maybe that’s why he didn’t like me telling the kid to kiss my ass; I had gotten the guts that the teacher had lacked.
Or maybe the teacher didn’t care. I don’t know.
What I do know is that we don’t like mirrors. We rebel against them.
Like when I read a little blog the other day where a pastor goes off on Hollywood for flaunting what he calls “anti-Christian propaganda.” It’s a preview about a kid’s movie that talks about how some families have a mom and a dad, while others have two mommies and two daddies, or one parent, or a whole bunch of relatives in one house. Movie looks cute.
Apparently this is propaganda and oppressive for this particular parent.
God forbid that his children hear that families come in all sorts of forms (as if the kid can’t look around and see that). How dare Hollywood expose his children so such truth?! The bubble of brainwashing is burst in such ways; that’s not what he wants as a parent, I guess.
I imagine he doesn’t think Jesus would like that.
So I wonder what he’ll do when his kids get invited over to a classmate’s house who has two mommies. And I wonder if he’ll consider, before uttering “Jesus wouldn’t like that,” how one of those mommies was forced by society into a loveless marriage at a young age because she had been told that Jesus wouldn’t like her acting on her attraction to women. And she had broken free of those societal chains that were killing her insides, speaking up in a way that society couldn’t or wouldn’t and found a way to be more whole.
And then I wonder if he might consider that Jesus wouldn’t like his child turning down an invitation to celebrate another child’s birth just because the sight of two mommies might cause some cognitive dissonance for that young kid being raised in a bubble full of half-truths.
Because, as much as the father doesn’t want to believe it, the child will be living in a world where there are two mommy families and two daddy families and divorced families and all sorts of families. And to pretend that they won’t, well, I wonder if Jesus would like that sort of ignorance…
See the kind of bind we get in when we think like this? We pretend to pit Jesus against these situations when really all we’re doing is crashing the mirror set up in front of us because we don’t like being shown truth and our own inabilities to deal with life situations.
Because my teacher didn’t like being confronted with the fact that I had been picked on in front of him for far too long without him saying a word, and I wasn’t having it from the bully or from the voiceless teacher anymore. And this father doesn’t like the fact that love comes in a few different forms–even if he doesn’t approve of them–and his speaking out against same-sex couples, his flaunting of his “traditional, Biblical values,” is now being drowned out by other voices of love as he cries out that he is now the oppressed one.
Jesus wouldn’t like that, I think.
And I wonder what Jesus would do in that situation.
And as you sit with those unsolvable Rubik’s Cube questions, perhaps you’ll just come to see, as I see, that they are manipulative ways of trying to get around the fact that we’re sometimes confronted with our own shortsightedness and don’t like it.
Perhaps we shouldn’t get Jesus into the damning business like “Jesus wouldn’t like that” does. And perhaps we should get Jesus out of the “choose your own Christian adventure” business like “What would Jesus do?” tries to press on us.
Instead, why don’t we live like Jesus lived. Or try to. And I don’t think you have to ask WWJD in every situation to try to live like the Christ. We have a pretty good understanding of what Jesus would do: love God and the neighbor as yourself. Give of yourself for others. Get mad at injustice in the world and act on it, even if it kills you. Be peaceful. Forgive.
I mean, I guess we can look at the rampant malnutrition in a world full of food and say, “Jesus wouldn’t like that…” But we won’t, by and large. Because there’s probably not enough guilt in the world to make us change our economic practices and allow the food insecure to eat well. We’ll just save Jesus’ damnation for people who use the word ass…
I’m a reluctant Christian sometimes because we’ve confused trying to predict how Jesus would act in the 21st Century and what he’d opine on 21st Century problems without even mastering how to live like he did in ancient Palestine first, and we call it “Christian values” or “the Christian life.”
When you’ve mastered loving your God and your neighbor as yourself, then perhaps we can ponder what Jesus thinks about movie previews and what Jesus would do about it.
My hunch is he’d smile and mark his calendar to go see it.