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August 21, 2010

Theology on YouTube

He's a vegetarian. He demands people not judge him on his various sins (and, first off the bat, there must be something in the Bible about a Foot Locker employee wearing so much mascara).

But then he judges "animal murderers" for their, um, murder.

He makes a simple claim. As he explains in his text introduction:

An often misinterpreted bible quote - it means to only judge others for what they are doing, so long as you are not doing the same thing yourself.

So, according to his reading of the Bible, Jesus' injunction "judge not lest ye be judged yourself" only applies to those sins which you yourself are committing. On the rest, he contends, judge away!

Is he right? Certainly it's a very useful position, a convenient one for him; its an interpretation of Jesus' command which permits him a whole lot of judgment, which he seems to enjoy.

So is he right? Is his theology sound?

Or is engaging in sophistry and twisting the words of Jesus to give himself a pass on doing that which he so clearly enjoys doing?

Because It's Not Fair... I will say: Be careful in answering. This is designed as a set-up, a trick question.

It's a trap.

I had actually been looking for the Simpsons clip from a Treehouse of Horror episode; in that episode, taking place in 1700s Salem, Marge is accused on scanty evidence of being a witch. So the mob (which includes, of course, Homer, who is just caught up in the excitement) brings Marge to a cliff-side, intending to throw her off, to test if she's a witch; if she's not a witch, then God will call her home by means of gravity; if she is a witch, she'll fly away. Either way, they'll have their answer.

As Wiggums calls Marge a no-good witch (or words to that effect), Lisa asks, "Does the Bible not say, Judge not lest ye be judged yourself?"

Wiggums answers: "The Bible says a lot of things, kid. Push her off!"

The point of this, the trick question, the trap, is that I read an awful lot of people defending an open hostility to gays -- not their agenda, but gays as gays, as people -- on the basis of Scriptural command; and it seemed to me they were dwelling on a particular while ignoring the basics of the plot, as it were, the overriding message, the take-away, the black letter.

Injuctions to love thy enemy and judge not lest ye be judged yourself seem to be hand-waved away, as Wiggums did, as minor and inconsequential in favor of other commands, it is implicitly asserted, take precedence.

I'm not a theologian but that seems to be doing a certain amount of picking and choosing, as Paul Anka said, based on one's personal desires, and not upon any defensible theology.

I didn't find that clip, alas. But I found this guy, who seemed to be making the same point for me; by making it so plain he was interpreting the Bible not according to any principled guidance of theology, but according to what justified his beliefs, he offered an unattractive, obviously-wrong illustration of the point.

Sorry for the set-up, the trap. I felt it was an important point though.

This Christian blogger had written to me about his own post, and I had been thinking about it, and it was large in my mind.

Corrected: I called out a commenter at Hot Air for engaging in hyperbolic language. But I attributed to him a position he says he does not espouse, and, looking back, I can't find evidence he's wrong.

So I take him at his word, and have deleted that part of this post, with apologies.

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posted by Ace at 03:02 PM

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