don’t get Jesus angry

angry Jesus cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward
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*** TRIGGER WARNING: swear words…

Someone is bound to say, “But the things Jesus called the religious back then had theological significance!” Yes they did.

“Brood of vipers” meant that if you, for any reason, fell into their nest, they will eventually poison you to death with their religion.

“Den of thieves” meant that they are going to take your money in deceptive ways.

“Children of the devil” meant that even though they might think they are sincere, they in fact will destroy you.

“Whitewashed tombs” meant that even though they might look good on the outside, on the inside they are rotten.

I believe that Jesus was insulting these people and did so in an attempt to open their eyes to what they were doing. It was his attempt at issuing a wakeup call to these arrogant, destructive people. I also think he was issuing a clear warning to those around about what these people are really made of. As well, I think he was just expressing his dismay and frustration with such willfully blind religious people who were hurting others left right and center.

But I would argue my version of what Jesus would say is just as valid today and has theological significance!

“Fucking” means that they are raping people, up the ass, and doing it for their own pleasure and enjoyment. They’re taking advantage by getting themselves off on others.

“Assholes” means that nothing but shit comes out of their mouths. Plus they stink.

The finger is Jesus prophetic gesture that they’re going to get what’s coming to them and it’s not going to feel very good.

Getting angry and expressing it hasn’t been encouraged by the church. But more and more people don’t care anymore and they’re letting it out.

I think it’s a good thing.

I personally invite you to join The Lasting Supper, a growing community of people who are learning how to walk out of toxic religion together in healthy ways.

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  • klhayes

    Agreed. People are tired of being told what to do and how to live their lives by people who are not living what they preach.

  • Brian Metzger

    Again, I disagree with the words you are putting in Jesus’ mouth. Swearing is not my issue. As you note, the first set of metaphors carry the intention of redemption while I think “fucking assholes” conclusively shuts down dialog. There is no doubt that Jesus reserved his harshest, most terse language for this group of people and yet he still had table fellowship with them.

    I also would suggest the primary issue with the Pharisees was not “religion” as we see it practiced today but religion based on Nationalism – more Tea Party than Holy Rollers. The struggle in the day was to get them to see that they weren’t good with God because of their DNA/ethnicity (a commonly recurring theme for Israel but one embodied by the Pharisees). While they perpetrated evil it is important to recognize that they themselves where also victims of an evil system. They weren’t born that way, they were shaped by culture and context.

    Perhaps “fucking assholes” could be communicated in some way that was redemptive and invited dialog and sought to find the “Thou” in the other but my imagine can’t stretch that far.

  • The good news is that some of the modern “Pharisees” in the group will eventually slink away from the back of the group, circle around, and walk away as well.

  • curtismpls

    I’ve often thought the same as Paul’s use of the word “sinner”. I would think that, in the context of Paul’s time of orthodox Judaism, being called a “sinner” would be an ultimate insult, but being called a “sinner” today does not carry much weight. In Paul’s time, a sinner was the ultimate extreme of moral failure, maybe not unlike our use of the word “terrorist” today.

    If we read Romans 3 with this in mind, it becomes “for all of us are terrorists and fall short of the glory of God”, and is much more powerful. Probably closer to the meaning it had in Paul’s time.

  • Is there truly no doubt that Jesus reserved his harshest, most terse language for this group of people and still had table fellowship with them? I don’t know that there is such eradication of doubt.

    I think we revise history when we place assumptions that Jesus communicated the sentiment “you guys are fucking assholes” in a way that was redemptive and invited dialogue.

  • Brian Metzger

    Yes, no doubt. A simple reading of the four gospels will make it clear.
    We revise history the moment we suggest Jesus ever communicated “you guys are fucking assholes”. My limited imagination just can’t be stretched so far as to see it happen in a redemptive context. I am aware of my own limitations however and won’t presume to have the definitive word on a completely speculative idea.

  • I appreciate that you won’t presume to have the definitive word on a speculative idea, but then you say there is “no doubt.” I personally can see it in a redemptive context. Calling people what they are is truth-telling and that is always redemptive. Though evangelical culture (and many other traditions) would say that if it doesn’t look pretty to them, it cannot be redemptive.

  • Brian Metzger

    The passage in Romans you are referring to uses a word for sin (the most commonly used word for sin) that literally means “to miss the mark”. Paul called himself the “chief of sinners”. At no time did the word mean “terrorist” nor was it taken that way. “Gentile” would be much closer to “terrorist” in their context.

  • Brian Metzger

    The “speculative idea” is not about whom Jesus reserved his harshest criticism/language. The “speculative idea” is that Jesus said, “fucking assholes” or anything he did say was an equivalent. “what they are is truth-telling and that is always redemptive.” I think if you will ponder that statement a few moments you will realize this is not true.

    I don’t know enough about evangelical culture to speak for them en masse but I do know many evangelicals who work in slums, garbage dumps and to stop human trafficking to say that it’s not always true that only the pretty things are redemptive.

  • I couldn’t disagree more with you that it is not true that truth-telling is always redemptive. The prophets freaked everyone out with their language and behavior. So did Jesus.

  • curtismpls

    Right, but in the context of Jewish theology of the time, “to miss the mark” was extremely damning. It was the equivalent of a complete moral failure. The word “sin” does not carry that same weight in today’s Christian culture. A stronger word is needed today to convey the same damning weight that the word “sin” carried in Paul’s time.

  • connorwood

    Your implication that all religious believers are morally bankrupt is a bit of an extreme position, and one which perpetuates simplistic stereotypes at exactly the time when we need to think more critically and deeply about religion in this culture.

    Religious believers certainly cause their share of trouble, and can be obnoxiously close-minded to new insights and outsiders, but there’re also not universally a den of vipers; religious people are more likely to donate to charities (including secular ones) and volunteer for civic groups than secular people, for instance. Does this mean religious people are better than secularists? No. But it does mean that black-and-white stereotypes aren’t helpful, even when they’re presented in the form of cute cartoons.

  • Actually, I think it was only partially what he actually said that got him in trouble. I think the main issue is that he resisted these guys and called them on their bullshit and got away with it. I think he was an embarrassment to the establishment and was popular to boot! This was the problem. Not his actual language. So “fucking assholes” conveys the same sentiment: “I don’t believe or trust you guys, and I’m saying so in front of your congregation! What are you going to do now?”

  • curtismpls

    The OT passage that Paul uses to support his claim,
    “There is no one righteous, not even one…
    Their feet are swift to shed blood;
    ruin and misery mark their ways
    and the way of peace they do not know.
    There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

    sounds closer to terrorism than sin to me.

  • Gary

    Considering David’s comment about who Jesus was speaking to was…

    “As well, I think he was just expressing his dismay and frustration with such willfully blind religious people who were hurting others left right and center.”

    …I am curious as to how you came to the conclusion that he was stereotyping and referring to “all religious believers” and that they are all “morally bankrupt”. Since clearly not ALL religious believers are morally bankrupt and hurting others, either in Jesus day or today, (and David did not claim such either) your charge of stereotyping seems to be completely manufactured on your part.

  • Brian Metzger

    “Does this make me look fat?” has no redemptive answer.
    🙂 More seriously, neither does “I think you’re _______ (fill in the blank: ugly, stupid, fat, lazy, etc.)” While it might be a true statement about how you feel it can be destructive to relationship and self-esteem.

    The prophets did not freak everyone out. I’m not sure what part of the text you are getting that from. Certainly they pissed people off but perhaps that’s what you mean.

    There were people who asked Jesus to move along but children were drawn to him, the riff raff found a friend, women were honored and esteemed beyond contemporary standards and blue collar workers, tax collectors and zealots found a rabbi who called them disciples and friends. But perhaps those are not the ‘everyone'(s) you are referring to.

  • Gary

    Jesus (according to scripture) referred to them as “children of the devil”, “whitewashed tombs”, “den of thieves”, and “brood of vipers”. For the life of me I can’t see the distinction you are claiming between those insults and “fucking assholes”. Either both are redemptive or neither is. The intent of either insult is the same…to make a declarative statement about the nature of the individual being insulted.

  • Brian Metzger

    Do you have source you can quote about that? For a Jew the only damning thing was not to be a Jew. Perhaps you mean “damning” in a different sense. David sinned with Bathsheba and then sinned in having her husband put in harm’s way to be killed. David was neither stoned (as the Law required) or deposed. This is only one example of many from the Jewish tradition that held that mercy triumphs over judgment. In the “Ethics of the Sages – Pirke Avot” the Rabbis don’t seem to use “sin” in an extremely damning way. I genuinely would love to get a source. Thanks!

  • connorwood

    > But the things Jesus called the religious back then

    “The religious.” Not “the bad religious” or “the religious who were not good at being nice to people.” My point is that David’s use of language is a bit unmeasured in this article. I see what you’re saying, and I actually DON’T think that David thinks all religious people are bad nuts. But there’s a good deal of ambiguity in his rhetoric here, and I think my charge is a reasonable one. We do need to stop the black-and-white thinking when it comes to religion, and David should consider using his high-visibility platform to lead the way rather than succumb to the easy and fun habit of whipping up popular resentment against “the religious.”

  • jdm8

    Wait, calling people a bunch of snakes was supposed to enhance the discussion? What’s the redemptive property in that?

  • Brian Metzger

    Sure, let me try to explain my thought.
    “Children of the devil” is a contrast to “children of Abraham” and also connected with the Essene apocalyptic “children of darkness” that oppose the “children of light”. Jesus is engaging them with a contemporary, theological term that, as David notes in his post, would jar them into considering the position they have taken on how to free Israel from Roman occupation (this was the pre-imminent desire of the Pharisees). “Whitewashed tombs” is again a cultural and theological reference. The Pharisees sought purity in order to finally be set free from exile/delivered from Roman occupation. Part of this purity required not touching things that were dead. To avoid accidental uncleanness they would whitewash places in fields where bones were buried so as to avoid walking on those sites. Jesus is “speaking their language” so to speak, not using a contemporary swear word or call them idiots, evil or otherwise. He is challenging them with humor that they’ve become the very thing they have sought to avoid. “Thieves” and “Vipers” are just rinse and repeat of above. Again, not dismissive terms in their cultural context. In ours, if someone tells me to “fuck off asshole” I don’t feel that he has offered me an invitation to converse or consider, merely to know that I am not worth their time for conversation and understanding.

    Again, that’s my vernacular and perhaps not yours. It’s not something I would say to my children, neighbor or my wife (except to be hurtful) and would any of them speak that way to me, I obviously would feel hurt but not reflective.

  • gpresident

    I hear what you are saying, and I wholeheartedly agree…but I don’t think Jesus approached life this way. You know, there’s that whole scripture about setting aside all bitterness, etc. He never gave up his personal power in any confrontation, and I don’t think he would resort to this level of communication.

  • Edju

    Oh yes. If there’s anything this world needs more of, it’s profanity. :-/

  • Brian Metzger

    O.K., clearly it’s my personal background that’s the issue here as I can’t personally relate “fucking assholes” (having fun typing that though) to that sentiment. The congregations really belonged to the Sadduccees rather than the Pharisees. The Pharisees were a relatively new sect and they died off a short time later. Once the Temple was destroyed they lost their steam. Much love to you and Mrs. Nakepastor. Let me know if you want a ‘getaway’ this winter to a warmer climate and cheap accommodations.

  • Barbara Chhay

    I’ll throw something out there for the “don’t cuss” crowd….what’s the difference between “Oh crap” and “Oh shit”…society has decided that “shit” is a “cuss” word and “crap” is an acceptable exclamation of dismay. Food for thought. 🙂

  • Brian Metzger

    The context of the statement is that they are children of snakes not children of Abraham or God or light. He is challenging their perception that Nationalism and the Temple is enough to be “righteous”. The Pharisees felt if they could eradicate moral impurity then God would finally raise up a new David, kick the Romans’ collective asses and restore the fortunes of Israel. They were responding to hundreds of years of occupation that flew in the face of their sacred history. Jesus’ language – as supplied by Matthew – questions their real DNA and the entire passage leads up to the destruction of the Temple (Matthew 24).

  • Gary

    I agree!! I have found that when I am talking to people who are not afraid of throwing out a few “shits” or “fucks”, they are much more trustworthy than the people I deal with who are offended by silly things like this. In fact, I find that those who feel they have to censure themselves (and of course monitor others as well) are usually trying to present a false and more lofty view of themselves than is accurate, as if they are hiding the truth. Some are downright abusive and condescending.

    Of course you likely meant your comment as pure sarcasm. 🙂 My response, however, is quite genuine.

  • getting somewhere warm always sounds good. thanks! 🙂

  • I don’t think we’re on the same page.

  • I don’t think the Living God needed to use vulgarities to get His point across.

    He painted just the right picture with the descriptive language that he did use.

  • It is possible that Jesus was quite the potty mouth and his language was cleaned up during the subsequent oral tradition of passing down what he said through a couple of generations and then having it ultimately written down. Unfortunately, no audio recordings remain from that time. 🙂 The Living God for some reason didn’t see fit to write anything down. He left that to others so all we have is the writings of others removed from the actual source by quite some time. It is fun to speculate and apply probabilities, correlations, and historical context to what might actually have been said by Jesus but all we know for sure is that the gospels were written by people other than Jesus – and people that in all probability never even met Jesus.

  • Matthew, Luke, and John knew Jesus. Mark may have known him.

    Jesus was true man, and true God. I highly doubt that a righteous God would need to resort to vulgar language to get His point across.

  • jdm8

    And you don’t think that’s deeply insulting to them? Remember, Jesus got them mad enough to want him dead.

  • Brian Metzger

    They wanted him dead because he blasphemed, threatened their temple and most importantly threatened the status quo with Rome. The Sadducees wanted him dead because they didn’t want Rome coming down on the Jews for this one rebel. Calling them “snakes” didn’t get them killing mad but threatening their “peace” with Rome did.

  • klhayes

    This is funny. This is somewhat off topic, but some of the comments remind me of an article on read on Lincoln that mentioned he liked dirty jokes. People were horrified of course (gotta love the fake outrage) and suggested certain words did not exist in his time *rolling eyes*.

  • Gary, I think you’ll find that these people censor themselves, but censure others. Then again, maybe they censure everyone…

  • Just insults, Steve… harsh insults from a righteous God…

  • Gary

    As I understand it, referring to someone as sons of vipers, which He did in the Matthew passage, is one of the most offensive and derogatory things one could say to someone in that day. It is very much like our term “son of a bitch”…only even more “vulgar”.

  • Gary

    No I don’t think they necessarily censure themselves from profanity as they find it so personally repulsive I am sure most have never incorporated swearing into their vocabulary in the first place. I am more referring to the need to present a self image that is “holy”, as if holiness was all about appearances rather than right attitudes and treatment of others.

  • Um, Gary, censor and censure mean different things – the first is about suppression, but the second is about attitude.

  • Gary

    Yes…a random statement about “the religious” (a term I often use to differentiate between religious trappings and sincere faith) which is clarified within the same piece is not IMHO “unmeasured”. Not trying to be David’s defender here…just pointing out that I find your critique of David’s piece MORE biased than it was.

  • Gary

    Yes one definition of “censure” is “an expression of strong disapproval or harsh criticism”, (Wikipedia) and it is in this vein that I am using the word. As I said…I don’t believe they necessarily apply this to themselves as they likely don’t incorporate any profanity in their own speech in the first place. However I have heard some very “religious” folk let a swear word slip at which point they are very harsh and critical of themselves.

  • There is a purpose to those insults, Tim. He loved those men and he wanted to wake them up to their need of a Savior.

    Just like He wants to wake you up to your same need of one.

  • Gary

    Except for the ones he does not “choose” for the “gift of faith” right Steve? Those are the ones he plans to roast in hell because he did not choose them.

  • connorwood

    Fine with me. I can tell you as a religious studies scholar that your use of “religious” to differentiate between some idealized, sincere faith (a very Protestant idea, by the way) and hypocritical institutional religion and its trappings is pretty specious. The reality is a lot more complicated, and interesting, than the stereotypes you seem to have about it.

  • Gary

    Well though your characterizations of me as a “religious studies scholar” and the notion that my reference to sincere faith being a “protestant idea”, are cute (or insulting, depending upon your intent) they do not reflect an accurate portrayal of what I was saying. You seem to have a consistent problem with “stereotyping”, which was your initial charge I believe.

  • connorwood

    Gary – I am the religious studies scholar. The clause that includes mention of religious studies has “I” (that’s me) as its subject.

  • Gary

    Ah thank you for the clarification.

    I would be very curious to know how or why you believe my rather sarcastic use of the term “the religious” as a means of differentiating them from people of sincere faith (ANY sincere conviction btw – Not just Protestant) is “specious”. Also not really sure what you think my “stereotypes” about institutional religion are, but I assure you my views concerning the institutional church have nothing to do with “stereotypes” and everything to do with my personal views and beliefs.

  • Brigitte

    Jesus’ metaphors invite some thought. “Fucking assoholes” is something people say who can’t express themselves.

  • Brigitte

    Gary, that’s not Lutheran teaching.

  • Brigitte

    We’ve explained it lots of times.

  • Gary

    I am quoting Steve directly from a previous discussion. Do not really concern myself with what is or is not “Lutheran teaching”.

  • Brigitte

    I can tell you for sure that you are not quoting Steve.

  • Gary

    What I placed i quotes is directly from our last discussion. Try to keep up. Lol

  • Gary

    I completely disagree with your analysis.

  • Brigitte

    You haven’t really said anything.

  • Brigitte

    Would you mind cutting and pasting it, here, so we can take it up?

  • Gary

    Lol…what the fuck ever. So nice to see you again too.

  • Gary

    Yes actually I would mind. My comment was to Steve and i have no intention of getting into the discussion with you.

  • Brigitte

    Obviously, you were wrong about the quote.

  • connorwood

    Gary: The reason I’m hesitant about your definition of “religious” is because, as you say, your definition has everything to do with your personal views and beliefs, and not as much to do with how people who call themselves religious perceive themselves, nor with the 150 or so years of academic research into religious phenomena. The idea that “religion” describes people who are not sincere in their faith flies in the face of billions of actual people’s lived experience. Religious people, after all, usually consider themselves to be sincere in some way about their faith.

    So it might work for YOU to say that religious people are insincerely spiritual people (which I think is what you’re saying – am I correct?), but this usage doesn’t fit very well with the linguistic conventions in religious circles, or in academic ones. A better definition of religion might have to do with regular participation in ritual, for example – which could be done by both insincere and sincere people.

    Finally, your emphasis on sincerity in religious practice is actually historically a very Protestant idea. Protestants after Luther put great emphasis on INWARD faith, rather than outward participation in ritual. You’re probably American (am I right? I’m happy to be wrong), and since the US is culturally rooted in Protestantism most Americans (even non-religious ones) associate “good” faith or spirituality with sincerity, and “bad” faith with “just going through the motions.”

    But this is not a cultural universal. Jews, for instance, are not required to believe the propositions of the Bible in order to participate in Jewish liturgical life. Just showing up to Temple and DOING the actions of ritual is what’s important. In fact, many Jews (and philosophers such as William James) would argue that action actually PRECEDES sincerity – that faith comes from, and because of, participation in religious ritual, not the other way around.

    I’m not saying you have to agree with William James. I’m just saying that your definition of religion, as I’m reading it, is a bit too personal and value-laden (that is, prescriptive rather than descriptive), and misses a lot of the actual data of religion because of this. Cheers, C

  • Steve, did you just assume that I’m unaware that I need Jesus?

    (Because, whatever my beliefs, the assumption comes across as a little condescending…)

    Maybe I’m just waking up to the fact that I don’t need many of the extras that “religious” people foist on me!

    Could that be Jesus waking me up, Steve?

  • Gary,

    We ALL deserve to roast in hell. But Jesus has done something about it. and those who hear it…and believe it…will be saved.

    So…hear…and believe. And if you don’t believe it yet…don’t give up. Stay in front of that Word and trust what He has done for you in your Baptism!

    Now that’s good news!

  • Listen to this, Gary:

    It explains how we are all unbelievers at heart, and how we are basically determined to stay that way. And what God has done about it.

    It’s my all time favorite sermon. Really good stuff.

  • Gary

    Obviously you are too lazy to look for yourself.

  • Gary

    No Steve…NONE of us “deserve” to “roast in hell” for being exactly the way God made us. I have thankfully come to realize that that is an abusive and fear laden teaching designed to manipulate and control the masses…and of course also that it is false.

  • Gary

    Yes my use of it absolutely has to do with my views and beliefs of course. Interestingly enough my usage of the term has become pretty widespread among those who have suffered much abuse and/or witnessed much hypocrisy at the hands of many who practice religion. I also happen to believe that a significant portion of the modern institutional church has completely forsaken following Christ’s teaching for a life of in your face activism and confrontation of perceived “sin” rather than sharing the good news in love, or even simply living the good news. But that is a separate issue I suppose. I do not in any way stereotype all believers in such a way however as I know many who do not fall into that mold.

    It is interesting to me that you believe my focus on the sincerity of the heart over the trappings of religion began primarily AFTER Luther considering the extensive focus Jesus paid on this very subject.

  • Gary

    Steve I spent 40 years of my life listening to fundamental sermons. Since I do not believe “we are all unbelievers at heart”, why would I want to listen to an entire sermon by a guy I firmly believe is seriously misguided?

  • connorwood

    Thanks for sharing, Gary. I understand about the abuse of religion, and in fact my dad uses the word “religion” in much the same way you do, because his questions and inquiries got him in so much trouble with the Baptist church as a kid. I was raised with no church, and that came with its own problems (, so I’m coming at the whole question from the angle of knowing how serious the consequences are of giving up on religion, for individuals and societies both. But that doesn’t mean that all religions are good or even that any are immune to being destructive. As far as I can tell, all of them have that potential.

    Jesus did focus on sincerity of the heart, but in Catholicism salvation has always required both faith and works (belief and ritual). Protestantism introduced a very, very strong emphasis on “sola fide,” or faith alone. This does distinguish it pretty cleanly from Catholicism, and has deeply influenced American ideas about religion.

  • Tim,

    Just that He is trying to wake us all up (all the time) to the fact that we need Him.

    We all seem to wander off…regularly.

  • We are not fundamentalists. But if you don’t want to listen, that is ok by me.

  • OK. Gary.

    We’ll have to agree to disagree. Thanks for the discussion.

    Take care.

  • Gary

    LOL – uhm….ok.

  • Gary

    Yes I see where you are coming from. Very interesting our two perspectives as I was raised in and served in (Even pastored for a season) very fundamental churches. I have walked away from organized religion due to my convictions concerning the loss of focus of the Christian religion today. Many in my shoes also leave behind their faith. While it is true my beliefs have changed much in the last 10 years, I do still believe in a creator God and am much more at peace with my relationship with Him and others than I ever was in the institutional church.

  • johnnay blaton

    …as if there were not any cuss words, at all at the time of Jesus.

  • Lisa Zinzow

    Hooray! Someone else has noticed that the only people Jesus criticized were not the gays or the adulterers or the pregnant teens or the drug addicts, etc. etc. but the teachy preachy uber religious people who were so quick to point out where someone was not following the law, or sinning. Drives me nuts!! I try not to blow a gasket at them but my poor husband listens to me vent after an encounter. He’s the one who has to deal with my spinning head and the green goo spewing from my mouth. Thankfully he’s on the same page and good at listening and I eventually thanki him for letting me vent and we end up laughing about it.

  • Lisa Zinzow

    Woot! Go Jesus!

  • Josh Givler

    Isiah laid naked in the capitol, screaming about the sins of the religious elite. But that didn’t freak people out? And yet, “fucking assholes” freaks people out?