the lost influence of Jesus

jesus in therapy cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward

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Everyone with any sense knows that we accept the acceptable words of Jesus and appropriate his unacceptable words in altered forms. That is, we use his sayings if they are agreeable, and we reject or theologically undermine the ones that aren’t.

Even philosophers such as Slavoj Žižek are aware of this trick. He tells the story of a conference he was at where he asked a Catholic priest what Jesus meant by “unless you hate your mother and father you cannot be my disciple” and the priest waffled and said he wasn’t prepared to answer such a difficult question. Žižek responded by saying, “Fuck you! You’ve had over 2,000 years to figure this out!” That’s because the priest, as representative of the church, knew that Jesus’ saying is too difficult to do. That is, Jesus redefined what family is and that unless we are willing to challenge our most precious ideologies (read “idols”), such as family, then we cannot follow him. Unless we free ourselves of our assigned and assumed groups and ideologies, we are not free at all.

Jesus was called a stumbling stone because he himself admitted that people would fall over things he said. Well, we just don’t want to do that anymore. Instead, the church uses Jesus in ways that secure, sustain, validate and endorse its own agenda.

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About David Hayward

David Hayward runs the blog nakedpastor as a graffiti artist on the walls of religion where he critiques religion… specifically Christianity and the church. He also runs the online community The Lasting Supper where people can help themselves discover, explore and live in spiritual freedom.

  • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

    “unless you hate your mother and father you cannot be my disciple”

    That merely means “Put God First”. Do what Jesus would have you do and if you need help in figuring out what Jesus would have you do, there are plenty of clergy that will be more than happy to help you figure it out – and they will back it up with all sorts of selective bible quotes.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com/ Steve Martin

    Jesus is the great stumbling stone because people trip over Him.

    They can’t abide that He (alone) is the way.

    And they go looking for more generous words and ways that fit in with their idea of generosity.

  • Toby

    If you had to leave your family to be a Christian, I don’t think many people would be Christian.

    I find this saying of Jesus scarily cult-like. When you join a cult, they always try to cut you off from your non-believing family, so that all your energy and time is devoted to the cult. You see this with mormons, scientologists and jehovah’s witnesses. It’s a dangerous saying and I’m glad Jesus gets ignored on this one.

    It also contradicts a commandment, surely? “Honour thy father and thy mother”?

    Maybe Jesus said this because his own mother rejected his teachings. There’s that episode where his brothers say ‘he’s mad!’ and then they come to collect him. He couldn’t do any miracles in Nazereth either.

    As for Joseph, maybe he died when Jesus was young? He doesn’t appear after the infancy narratives. Maybe that’s why Jesus went looking for a heavenly father instead. Maybe that’s why he was so concerned about widows and orphans- because he knew what it was like to be one. Maybe that’s why he tried to start his own ‘family’ of disciplines and wanted them to give up their own families? It’s something I’ve been thinking about lately.

  • http://nakedpastor.com/ nakedpastor

    I don’t think it necessarily means leaving the family, but no longer subscribing to its rules, conforming to its pressure, or defining our lives by that social structure that is so firmly entrenched. Especially in his day.

  • 2TrakMind

    Jesus seemed to go out of His way to weed out the people who weren’t ready to fully commit, so He said a lot of extreme things. I don’t think He was literally suggesting that we should just abandon our families, but that there shouldn’t be anything in our lives that is more important to us than Him. That is the very definition of sin. The Psalmist said, “Delight in the Lord, and He will give you the longings of your heart.” As we “delight in the Lord,” He will multiply our love for our families and all of humanity, as we will begin to see the world through His eyes.

  • Dan England

    If you are a Christian do what Jesus would have you do. And if you don’t know what He would have you do then ask Him what He would have you do. We will know whether or not He is talking to you by what you do.
    If you are not a Christian don’t ask. What He would have you do is get saved by following Romans 10: 9-10

  • Seamus King

    I’m shocked by how many are posting “the answer” to this one here in the comments. I enjoy you’re perspective on this David. It’s something unique and new to consider. And I’m glad someone in this thread made it clear we’re all going to hell if we don’t agree with their position. It’s not a proper discussion thread without it.

  • johnnay blaton

    The Cost of Discipleship
    If you just read the passage in its context. It makes sense….. In my bible the heading (put in by the editors) is called “The Cost of discipleship. The passage groups hating your father and mother with the rest of your family and even your own life. These verses are obviously a hyperbole to describe how a true disciple of Christ is one who is completely surrendered to God and whose first allegiance is to Jesus Christ. In Pilgrim’s Progress when Christian sets out on his pilgrimage he leaves his wife and children behind in the city of destruction because they will not come with him on his road to the celestial city. He sticks his fingers in his ears and quotes this passage of hating one’s father and mother. When the disciples were called to follow Jesus the bible says they left their father behind along with their fishing tools. Church tradition tells us that that the disciples of Christ had families, but they still were willing to be martyred and die for Christ, leaving their families behind. Marriage and the family are clearly things which God set up as institutions for civilization, and a Christian can obviously be married and have a family. However, the priority in our life is to follow Jesus down the path of calvary road, taking up our cross. The passage is all about what it means to be a disciple.

    25 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? (continuing is verse 33) . 33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

  • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

    There were a few others that were hand-written in my bible by someone else.

    32.1 Whoever supports same-sex unions and marriage equality cannot be my disciple.
    32.2 whoever supports organized labor cannot be my disciple.
    32.3 whoever supports the regulation of business for purposes of public safety or environmental protection cannot be my disciple.
    32.4 whoever supports the separation of my message from state (although the separation of other messages from state is fine) cannot be my disciple.
    32.5 Whoever supports the minimum wage cannot be my disciple
    32.6 Whoever supports universal health care cannot be my disciple.
    32.7 Whoever supports public education cannot be my disciple.
    32.8 Whoever supports a path to citizenship cannot be my disciple.
    32.9 Whoever supports woman’s rights cannot be my disciple
    The list goes on and on.

  • klhayes

    hahahahaha

  • disqus_35AwukS8d1

    Oh I see! Thanks. I never understood that. xD

    So it basically could mean leaving your family, if you were part of a subculture in which you were shunned if you went your own way. Not easy.

  • Carol

    It is much more difficult to risk the self-interest of our family members, especially the ones who do not share our faith commitment, than it is to risk our own self-interest for the sake of the Gospel. Perhaps that is why Scripture cautions against marrying “unbelievers” [who may also faithfully attend and serve in a church, BTW].

    “I have known more men destroyed by the desire to have wife and child and to keep
    them in comfort than I have seen destroyed by drink and harlots.” ~William
    Butler Yeats


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