Gay marriage – 0
Pro-life vs. pro-choice – 0
Patriotism – 0
Gun rights – 0 *
Marijuana – 0
Democrats – 0
Republicans – 0
The nuclear family – 0 **
Heaven – 0 ***
Keeping himself in Christmas – 0
Prayer in schools – 0
The Ten Commandments in schools – 0
“Two Corinthians” – 0 ****
**The times where he mentions family at all would seem to indicate that he was somewhere between ambivalent and skeptical of how certain cultural definitions of family can very often be used to reinforce an unjust status quo; instead, he sought to create a new definition of family among his followers (Mt. 10:34-39; Mk. 3:20-21, 31-35).
***The greek term ouranos refers literally to the sky and symbolically to wherever God’s Spirit, and the love and justice that materially accompany God’s presence, happens to dwell at a given time—not to an alternate reality, which we experience in the afterlife; references to “kingdom of heaven” in Matthew are a Hebraic circumlocution for talking about the “kingdom of God” (as opposed to the kingdom of Caesar) without impiously saying the word “God” in vain.
****President Trump’s favorite book in the Bible.
So if Jesus didn’t address virtually any of the topics that are strongly associated with “the Christian vote” in our society, what did he talk about?
Well here is one thing: money. He talked about money a lot. Obsessively. Would you believe that, if we were to do a Microsoft word search on the sheer number of mentions, Jesus was over 100 to 1 more interested in what we do with our money than even what we do with our genitals (he does mention the latter a few times—Mt. 5:27-32; Mk. 10:1-12; John 4:1-45; 7:53-8:11—but the moral thrust of the teaching is always pro-fidelity, never anti-LGBTQ relationships, anti-masturbation, anti-dancing, or really any of the antis that are so stressed in modern day religious schools).
If you’ve ever heard someone grumble about it in church, just remember that Jesus is the original preacher who “talks about money too much.”
So ubiquitous are his teachings on the subject that one struggles to catalogue them in a blog like this. But here is a somewhat random sample of what he has to say.
- Don’t obsess over your savings and your portfolio; today is the only day you’ll ever get to live and your life is worth way more than your investments (Lk. 12:13-21).
- Don’t be anxious about it; it’s not money but God who will always take care of you just as God takes care of the many creatures who never think twice about money (Lk. 12:22-31).
- Investing in things has no permanent value. Investing in people does. If you want the heart in your chest to have any lasting value, invest in a value that lasts (Lk. 12:32-34).
- If a corrupt and unjust ruler like Caesar comes asking for your money, give it to him; life is bigger than money and controlling our money doesn’t mean he controls our lives the way he thinks he does (Mt. 22:21-27).
- The Kingdom of God is worth selling off everything for (Mt. 13:44).
- Don’t get so hung up on what’s the right way to be generous that you just stop doing anything at all; you’ll always have the poor around to help so get started on growing your heart with whatever kindnesses you can (Mt. 26:6-13).
- If you should have to choose between having money and having a soul, go with the soul (Mk 8:36-37).
- You have to pick a master. You cannot serve both God and money (Mt. 6:24).
- Money is of so little eternal value, and God draws so near to those who are without, that, honestly, blessed are the poor who have none to worry about (Lk. 6:20).
- When the poor give from what little they have, it is more significant than the attention-grabbing “philanthropy” of the rich (Mt. 6:1-4; 12:41-44).
- If you want to follow God’s law perfectly, give it all away (Mk. 10:17-31).
Hopefully, it will be apparent by now, why this pastor gets a bit confused whenever “Christian values” are cited in this or that debate. That is, unless there was some meeting I wasn’t privy to, where everyone agreed that the term “Christian” should just describe a set of stances and dog whistles that no longer have any discernible link to Christ. Otherwise, it's not clear where any of these dogmatic stances so often associated with Christians are coming from.
Does the fact that Jesus never weighed in on a modern day issue mean that it deserves no attention? Passion, even? No. But if we’re not all agreed on throwing out what Jesus had to say, entirely, then might I humbly suggest that we give a little airtime to the things that he actually cared about as well?
Cheers and Peace,