Gentiles = “Dogs” To Jesus

An excellent article I found I think every Christian should read.

https://www.facebook.com/diane.fadden?ref=tn_tnmn#!/notes/the-thinking-atheist/lies-damned-lies-and-the-claim-jesus-would-have-loved-you/470499726313342

Page admin and guest blogger Meg put together a perspective on the beloved Christian “savior” that many haven’t yet heard.  This is her article, entitled:

 

Lies, Damned Lies, And The Claim Jesus Would Have Loved You

Jesus did not want you in his club. Unless you were a Jew, Jesus thought you were a filthy animal. Yes, even if you are Christian. It is all in the Bible.

Unless you spend much time on The Thinking Atheist Facebook page where you might have already seen me discuss this topic, the above statement regarding Jesus is likely surprising even to you as a nonbeliever. To put the issues aside, we will first clarify a couple of the obvious questions before examining what the Bible says on the subject, questions such as:  How could Christianity become the dominate faith of the world if Jesus would have detested nearly every one of his followers? And how could it not be common knowledge that Jesus held such views? And why is an atheist interested in what the Bible says, much less making the effort to tell others about it?

Prior to the Reformation when Protestants began translating Bibles and thus undermined the efforts of the Church, for the first 1,550 years or so of the Christian faith, the Church went to extreme lengths to ensure the average person could not read the texts of the Bible themselves and were forced to rely on Church clergy.

It was not only a crime to translate the Bible from Latin into common languages, it was a crime to even possess a translation of the Bible or to print a Bible in Latin without a license granted by Church authorities, and the Church took the matter seriously.

Not satisfied by his death, the Church had the body of a man who dared to translate the Bible into English, John Wycliffe, dug out of his grave 74 years after his initial burial. Church officials then burned what was left of Wycliffe’s body, dumped his ashes in a river, and decreed the same fate for any of his remaining followers. While that sounds petty to us, the Church had Christians convinced they required their physical bodies for the Second Coming, so no body meant no eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven for you, a fate far worse than death to their minds.

The few people with the means to obtain an education and become functionally literate generally did not speak Latin, but rather their native tongue, so even the educated were prevented from reading the Bible. With the exception of a few members of the French nobility who had partial texts in their own language, those who could both read Latin and had access to the Biblical texts were typically members of the clergy. Obviously, telling followers what the Bible actually said would have put early Christian leaders and their predecessors out of a job — a job that gave the clergy enormous privilege and power over the illiterate masses.

Contemporary Christians, at least those who actually bother to read their Bible, are aware of the verses we are going to review. What they lack is knowledge on Judaism, the traditional views and culture of the Middle East, and the history behind the writing of the New Testament, knowledge that the Biblical authors and early Church leaders would have taken for granted. Reading the Bible through the filter of a modern mind gives a skewed impression of what the texts intend to communicate.

To read the Bible and truly understand it, you have to keep in mind that Jesus was a Jew of the ancient world, not a modern Christian. And you must read the Bible in context. Not only the verses of the Bible, which must be read in their entire chapter to grasp the actual meaning, but also read in the context of the culture and time in which a particular text was written.

Due to the rise of Christianity, in which, as we have just explored, lack of public education played a tremendous role, humanity has suffered through nearly 2,000 years of innocent lives being destroyed and there is still no end in sight.

2,000 years of witch burnings, Crusades, the subjugation of women, the persecution of homosexuals, genocide, families and societies being torn apart, superstition being taught as truth, and hard-won factual knowledge being sacrificed on the altar of the God of tiny minds.

What people believe informs their actions, such as how they vote and how they treat others. Those who long for the end of the world so they can live on a cloud in the sky, who believe women are lesser beings, who believe being homosexual is unnatural, who believe “The Flintstones” was a documentary series, and people who are willing to throw their fellow human beings, even their own family members, under the bus to score points with a nonexistent deity tend to vote differently than those of us who do not believe those things. It matters what others believe; it affects each and every one of us who lives in a democratic society.  

Education is key to the future well-being of humanity. And we know for a fact that education works, because like the overwhelming majority of those in the TTA community including its driving force, TTA Founder Seth Andrews, I am a former Christian.

So, for those of you plagued by friends and family who insist Jesus loves you, we are going to provide information useful in educating those around you, in this case to explain to them how Jesus felt about non-Jews.   The following is written to address Christian believers.

In the culture in which Jesus lived, the ultimate insult was to call someone a dog. One of dozens of disparaging verses in the Bible which mentions dogs is Job 30:1, which says, “But now those younger than I mock me, whose fathers I disdained to have set with the dogs of my flock.”

That verse is described as the following in “Barnes’ Notes on the Bible”:  “To have set with the dogs of my flock – To have associated with my dogs in guarding my flock. That is, they were held in less esteem than his dogs. This was the lowest conceivable point of debasement. The Orientals (a European term for those from the Middle East) had no language that would express greater contempt of anyone than to call him a dog.”  

In Matthew 7:6 Jesus says, “Do not give what is holy to dogs; do not cast your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”

Jesus is not talking about dogs in the sense of the animal; he is using the term to refer to human beings. In that verse, Jesus is saying to not give what is holy to contemptible, repugnant people.

Of course, that is only one example of Jesus using a particular word or phrase to represent other people or himself. In the Bible, Jesus refers to himself as bread, for example by saying he is the bread of life (John 6:25-59) and to eat bread as his body (Matthew 26:26). And Jesus also used a number of phrases, which he took from the Tanakh (also called the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament) to refer to his fellow Jews, such as the lost sheep of Israel (Matthew 15:24), the children of Israel, etc.

You’re not a Jew? Then you are not a child of Israel.

For the Jesus fans reading this, Gentiles means “white people” and all other non-Jews.  You’re not a Jew? Then you are a Gentile.  So what did Jesus have to say about a Gentile like you?

  • Matthew 10:5 “Go not into the way of the Gentiles”
  • Matthew 15:24 “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
  • John 4:22 “Salvation is of the Jews.”

In Matthew 15:21-28 (and in Mark 7:25-30) Jesus is in Gentile territory when a distraught mother approaches Jesus and begs him to help her daughter.  Jesus ignores the mother, and his disciples (also all Jews, naturally) complain, “Jesus, that woman is getting on our nerves. Get rid of her.”  

The Gentile woman persists, begging Jesus to heal her sick child. Jesus eventually responds by insulting the woman for being a Gentile. But rather than getting angry, the Gentile woman uses his slur to talk Jesus into healing her daughter.

21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.

22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”

23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”

24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”

25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.

26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”

28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

 Jesus turned his back on this mother’s child while his disciples complained the woman was being a pain in the ass. It is not until the mother begs and grovels at his feet after being called the most rotten term of contempt possible is his language that Jesus finally caves in and helps the woman’s poor daughter.

In neither version of the story, which appears in both the gospels of Mark and of Matthew, does Jesus even touch the daughter. Perhaps the daughter was menstruating and was “dirty” according to the religion of Jesus, Judaism? Or perhaps the fact she was a filthy dog was bad enough?

And amazingly, after all that, Jesus making it clear he and his disciples had nothing to do with the Gentiles and Jesus slinging the most degrading, hateful insult of his culture at us non-Jews, Christians will read that and say, “yeah, but he did heal the child.”

That’s nice. Is that how you would react if you came across a wounded little kitten that needed your help? Refuse to do anything until someone managed to beg and grovel at your feet until you relented? How would you honestly feel if you saw a doctor refuse to render help because a child was outside his ethnic or religious group until the child’s mother fed the doctor’s bigoted superiority complex?

The only reason you’re a Christian as a non-Jew is that Paul and Luke, who were close friends with each other and not part of the disciple gang, took it upon them to spread their own altered version of the message of Jesus. Paul and Luke never even met Jesus. It was Paul and Luke, along with forged letters attributed to Peter [1][2][3], who changed the message of Jesus to include Gentiles for their own benefit.

Writings attributed to Peter contributed to Gentiles being allowed to join the Jesus club as well, though according to the Bible Peter was illiterate (Acts 4:13 describes both Peter and John as agrammatoi, a Greek word that literally means “unlettered” that is “illiterate”) and even Christian Biblical Historians acknowledge Peter didn’t author the books attributed to him.

It was Paul, Luke, and an unknown individual pretending to be Peter who created Christianity, not Jesus. And Jesus clearly did not intend to change his mind either.

In Revelation 3:9 Jesus says, “I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you.”

Jesus makes no mention of Christians or anyone else. According to his own words (see Matthew chapter 5, along with other comments such as those above), Jesus never intended to begin a new faith; he came to further his own religion, Judaism.

If you’re not a Jew, you’re not a member of his club. In the words of Jesus, you’re the lowest, most contemptible sort of person on the planet.

The reason you think you can speak to Jesus and feel his love is the same reason you can have a conversation in your head with President Obama. We build models of other individuals in our brains to predict their behavior. [4]

That’s what happens when you neglect to read the book by which you supposedly live your life, when you fail to learn its history and objectively investigate what you think you believe — you end up having a fantasy relationship with a bigoted, dead Jew.

[1] Ehrman, Bart D. The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings. Oxford University Press, 2000.

[2] Brown, Raymond E. An Introduction to the New Testament. Doubleday, 1997

[3] Harris, Stephen L. Understanding the Bible. Mayfield, 1985

[4] Thomson, J. Anderson; Clare Aukofer. Why We Believe in God(s): A Concise Guide to the Science of Faith. Pitchstone Publishing, 2011.

 

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Becoming Atheist

It seems to me people think it’s a choice, being atheist.  Like, I wake up one day and think, “today I’m going to become atheist.”  That’s not what happens!

For many it’s not about “becoming” atheist at all.  They simply are atheist.  They’ve heard all the bible verses before–all the arguments, always the same cherry picked verses people quote.   They’ve perhaps tried various faiths or religions, or at least looked into them, but none are backed up by fact or evidence, and so they can’t believe.  Not everyone can have magical thinking, and that’s what it takes to be a believer–any kind of believer.  The same quality children have to be able to believe in a Santa Claus.  Magical thinking.  The ability to suspend disbelief or put aside the questions and just have FAITH, trust that what a million or more people say is real–if so many people believe, it must be real.

But for others like myself, we did believe once.  We were able to set aside the doubts and nagging questions.  Like, having a little pebble in your shoe; rather than stop and shake it out, you keep walking, hoping it will slide to the side where it can’t be felt and you can walk normally for awhile, without limping, forgetting the pebble is there…up until it finds its way back under your foot again where it hurts.

No Christian wants to lose their faith.  That’s the thing.  Every Christian really loves the idea of seeing Jesus when they die, and not having to cross the valley of the shadow of death alone.  To see loved ones you miss.  To be young again if you’re old, or strong and whole again if you’ve been hurt, blinded, or crippled by some disease.   We all like to think we’re special, too special for us to deserve to just…cease to exist after we die.   There must be a reason we were made.  Certainly this isn’t all there is!

Belief is like a teddy bear.  Once you have it, it comforts you.  You don’t want to let it go.  In the storm, in the dark, it’s what you reach for to clutch tight against you.  The idea of having that taken away…what a scary thing!   So you block your ears whenever anyone says anything that stirs up that doubt again, brings the pebble back under your foot inside your shoe.   You don’t want to hear.  You don’t want to risk losing something you treasure, something so much a part of you for so long.

No born again Christian (or any kind of Christian) asked to become an atheist.  We were all Christians once, desperate to keep the faith alive, the hope of seeing our loved ones again, of living forever in some paradise.  But then something happened.

Does it make us evil that this something…happened?  Do we deserve contempt and to be branded as demonic or worse…because this something happened?   I have been an atheist now for three years.  I was a Christian for over 30.  Has anything changed for me?  I don’t think so.  I still FEEL all the things I did before.  I still feel in tune with that little voice inside, that I now realize is really myself, my rational self that comes and comforts my animal, frightened, instinctive self.   I love the same, care the same, still possess what I once called “the fruits of the spirit.”  I feel guilty when I make someone feel sad.  I feel the same strong desire to not cause hurt or harm.

Nothing has changed.  And because nothing has changed in me, this has reinforced for me that what I had before was just a different explanation for what I’ve had all along.  I haven’t lost it.  What it is simply isn’t what I thought.  It’s not a supernatural being or a eye in the sky or imaginary friend.  It’s not a teddy bear.  It’s my strength I have within me, that I didn’t believe in–thought I needed this crutch instead, to be strong.  But I don’t because…it’s all still there inside me, making me strong.

All on my own.

I didn’t ask to become an atheist.  But I’m really glad I did.  I like living with the perspective I will cease to exist when I die.  Perhaps it will make me try a little harder to make a difference in this life, while I live.  Then if I’m wrong and I do find something after death, it will be a happy surprise.  And if I don’t, I won’t be here anymore to feel regret–but I also will not have wasted my life on something false, either.

Depression & Addiction. Would Die To Make Them Stop.

Making it stop, making an end.  Every day that crosses my mind.    Being atheist removes the unnatural dread of death for me that religion creates.  i was hit on the head with ice-skates once and I remember how that was.  I fell, saw my older brother fall to try to avoid hitting me, his skate came up–darkness.  That was it.  I didn’t feel the cut of the blades across my forehead, leaving a -1 scar that would last for many years.   I don’t recall the throng of people who gathered around or my Aunt Eve placing my head in her lap.  What I do remember is waking with blood in my eyes and wondering where all the people had come from.

In that moment of black out, time stopped for me.  The time it took for those people to gather round, and for my Aunt who was an RN, to show up.   There was no pain from the blow, no fear or distress.  I was completely unaware.   And now I’m thinking, that is death.  Or that is how death is if in fact all the hopes in an afterlife we humans like to hold dear, are false.

Is that so bad?   One friend put it very well.   “I didn’t mind not existing all the millions of years before I was born, why should i mind not existing after I die?”  

Or if there’s an afterlife, and evidence doesn’t disprove it any more than it proves it, I really do think it’s a natural condition same as our physical life is a natural condition.  There are no hoops to jump through.  No holy rituals one must complete.  No giant man god in the sky who’s unending ego must be appeased.   It’s just something that comes after the darkness, after the body shuts down, when the energy leaves the body and who knows, perhaps takes with it a little echo of what we are.

Why do I sometimes wish to die?   Because I have depression, and because people with depression are subjected to a stigma.  Now if I had cancer, or heart disease or any other physical illness, I am quite sure my friends or the people who cared, would still be there for me.  But any form of mental illness, which, by the way, is just as much a physical illness people can’t help as cancer or heart disease or anything else, is not the same.   Having any sort of mental illness effects the way your brain works. It effects the way your thoughts come across in your head.   Mental illness distorts your thoughts, or makes your brain less efficient at processing them.   Little problems seem huge.   Or at least that’s how it is with depression and anxiety disorders.   The person with these illnesses, reacts differently than people without them.  And in doing so, drives friends away at the precise time encouragement, support, and kindess would help the most.

I used to love my life.  I used to laugh and look forward to new experiences.  I engaged in the world around me.   Since depression has cost me the few friends I have, and left me feeling outcast and unwanted at a time I could really use some support, I find myself with nothing to look forward to.  The friends i miss, do not miss me.  Because I was a burden to them.  I didn’t mean to be, but I was and people do get tired, even nice, well meaning people.   But unlike them I am unable to abandon myself, and so on I must plod mostly alone, understanding that my illness is punishing me by taking away my already small ability to have/keep friends. 

Or so it seems.    So every day I must fight to find reasons to get out of bed.  This is what depression is.   I find there are a lot of addictions in the world that hide behind labels calling them something else.  In addition to the known addictions like cigarette smoking and alcohol abuse, there is also addiction to anything else that we might use as a crutch to get through our day.  Many people are addicted to work, and the feeling of success and worth it brings.  Or people can be addicted to people, which I was.  I was addicted to how wonderful it made me feel being around people who treated me like I was okay too, like I was wanted and liked and cared for.  I loved how that felt.  I loved how it made me feel.  I didn’t want to lose that, and when I did it tore me apart; what little I had left of happiness fell to pieces, and why is that?  Because I had a dependency on other people to give me that warm fuzzy feeling I loved so much.   I went years hoping to have the company of people I respected who seemed to actually like me and accept me flaws and all, and having people like that, knowing people like that, gave me happiness I hadn’t felt for a very long time, if ever.

This was a nice thing for me at the time, but it had a negative side.  Without knowing it, I became addicted to that.  I never developed any ability to make my happiness on my own.  I needed something on the outside to make it for me, other people to make it for me.   And people get tired of making happiness for someone else.  It’s hard enough learning how to make happiness just for yourself–but to have someone else dependent on you for their happiness–that gets very tiresome after awhile.

So that was my addiction, and it helped ease my depression having those people, and then when I lost the support of those people, I fell to pieces, just as much as any heroin addict or alcoholic would fall to pieces cut off from his/her drug.

Another addiction of course, is religion.   That crutch that people need to feel good about themselves.   Doesn’t matter if no one else likes me, Jesus is always there–he will never forsake me.   Or…I wouldn’t be such a loving person as I am if I didn’t have Jesus.  Because of Jesus I am saved, because of Jesus I am not an abomination in god’s eyes anymore–a sinner.  I am a new being, born again.  I am saved.

See, I had that addiction too, but losing the people in my life I thought cared for me because I developed this illness, made me realize or become aware that people are not reliable or dependable.  Sometimes they’re not even what they seem to be.  And learning this about people I had grown to care for very much, made me want to remove any other falsehoods I didn’t realize existed, from my life.   Any crutch I might turn to like so many alcoholics turn from one addiction–alcohol–to another–religion. 

But I am not writing about religion.  I am writing about dependency and how easy it is to fall to addiction and dependency when you have depression, because with depression you will do and try anything to feel good.  To have a reason to get out of bed.  To not step in front of a train once you discover how to get on the tracks.   To not OD or jump off bridges or in front of Metro buses. 

People think it’s selfish and cowardice to comit suicide.  I submit that no one does so lightly.   The people who kill themselves have very likely gotten tired of trying and failing all the time, tired of succeeding and having no one notice.  Because really, it’s only the failures people notice who want to find fault with you–see only the disappointments in us to justify their actions in turning their backs when we needed them most.   And it’s the aloneness people can’t bear.  The feeling like nothing they do will ever be enough or help enough.  Death is scary–thanks to threats of hellfire or the fear of not existing anymore or…whatever, and many religions even threaten mentally ill people who die because of their mental illness are going straight to hell, so….it takes a lot of desperation to make someone, esp. a religious someone, suicidal.  It’s only when life is scarier and the pain becomes so unbearable that people want to kill themselves–just to make it stop, nevermind whatever fears they have.

It is hard work to love and care for a depressed person.  But it’s even harder work being in our shoes.  Because depression isn’t like a lot of other illnesses.  Many people don’t understand they have it.  Many people who do, don’t know how to regain control of their thoughts they can’t seem to manage anymore.  Everything seems huge.  Overwhelming.  You walk around feeling like a shattered vase just barely holding itself together–and if a strong wind comes you’ll fly to pieces across the road.  That’s depression.  When you want and need a loving heart to hold you, help you glue the cracks so you don’t fall apart, so you can at least function again even if you’ll never again look brand new.

But it’s work to care for someone with depression, or any mental illness.  It’s work.  Because just like AIDS or Hepatitis C or cancer or heart disease, depression isn’t fun, and it isn’t pretty, and it isn’t easy.  It hurts, and it kills just as readily as these other illnesses, and the person inflicted is just as wanting to be cured, to feel well again, as any other sick person.  But they have to go every day completely alone, feeling completely like they will never measure up or be loved or wanted or accepted or cared for–that they’ll never be whole enough again for such things.

Sometimes death seems better.  Sometimes I wish for the black oblivion I felt when those ice skates hit my face.  Even non-existence would be a gentle peace and an ending to a hurt I often find unbearable.  

And I could deny it that I think of death.  I could deny it to keep my friends from having to worry.  But that would be a falsehood too.  So instead I say every day I have to struggle to get out of bed, find a reason.  My reasons are my animals.  I have little animals who need me to go to work so I can feed and shelter and care for them.  These are my reasons, and really my only reasons.  Because my animals love me even when I’m struggling.  Even when I’m in pain.  Even when I’m damaged and I don’t know yet how to make me better.  My animals do not turn their back or judge me, and they are always there.  I can’t disappoint them.  I can’t let them down.  And they, in turn, are honest with me.  They never give me false hopes, or false caring.  They simply are what they are, and they love me.

This is my reason–because of my little animals.  I do not put my hopes in some world yet to come.  I don’t believe there is such a place.  And I do not turn to Jesus to make me happy, because that’s just one more crutch, one more addiction, one more hoping for something outside myself to make my world right for me.

Happiness, real happiness, doesn’t depend on things, or imaginary friends, or other people, or such and such working out just right.  Happiness is a decision.  A choice we must learn to make.  Those thoughts that seem so big and terrible, that the depressed or anxious person must battle every single day just to get through from dawn to dusk–only we can decide which ones to believe and which ones to reject, which ones we want to attach to and let them control our mood, our emotions, our life, and which ones we decide aren’t worthy of us.

Everyone hates me.  No one loves me.  All my friends were fake.  I’m not worth anyone standing up for and supporting me.   These are the thoughts I get every day that make me want to shrivel up and die.  Every single day.  These are the foes I battle.  And don’t talk religion with me.  It’s because of religion I have many of these thoughts now.  This programming I can’t be whole and healthy and good without the help of some god.  See, that’s not true.  I was born beautiful, and good, and perfect, and exactly what nature meant me to be.  I am a happy and wonderful, loving and good person.  All I have to do is believe it about myself.  Really believe it.  And not look outside myself for other things to make my happiness for me.

That is the key to survival for me.  The key to finding reasons to get through each day.  The reasons must come from within, from myself.  Not from drugs.  Not from therapy.  Not from self help books.  But from me.  Every day I need to make the decision which forces inside I want to control me–which thoughts I want to take seriously and which ones I want to recognize are just the bullshit religion I was fed or the negative  messages I let myself believe all my life from my mother or the people I liked who couldn’t like me.