Do We Know Jesus At All? I Fear the Answer.

Joel Michael Herbert
4 min readApr 15, 2020
Photo by Wonderlane on Unsplash

The “Religious Right,” it seems, is principally concerned with two things when it comes to reforming society: abortion and “religious freedom.”

This is ironic, because, as “people of the Book,” ostensibly, Christians ought to emphasize what Scripture emphasizes, no?

Doubtless, there were forms of abortion in ancient times. The Bible, Hebrew or Christian, has absolutely nothing to say about the topic. Not one word.

This is not to say that abortion is necessarily a good thing, or that we shouldn’t have ethical conversations about it on a national level, or even in our political discussions. It is to say that the Bible is completely silent on the issue, at least directly.

Likewise, there was certainly religious totalitarianism in the ancient world, as there were also the beginnings of democracy (Athens) and republicanism (Rome). But Jesus specifically told his followers not worry about their religious freedoms (Matt 10:19, Lk. 12:11). St. Paul specifically told the first Christians not to cause trouble and to prove their piety by being kind, peaceful, hard-working citizens (1 Thess. 4:11); he told another early congregation that it would be better to allow wrongs to be done to them rather than to inflict them on someone else (1 Cor. 6:7), actually advising against suing those who would try to impinge on their liberties. Jesus very explicitly told his followers not to be like the “hypocrites,” who loved to pray loudly and in public places (football games? school flagpoles?).

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On the other hand, the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures are chock-full of commandments not to “vex” or “oppress” (Exodus 22:21) the stranger/alien/immigrant, and even to “love” them (Deut 10:19; 24:14)- in fact, it is the most repeated command in the Torah. James, the biological brother of Jesus, laments that workers are deprived of their fair wages in a crushing oracle of judgment against the “rich” (5:1). TWICE in Leviticus (19:9; 23:22) is repeated the command for farmers to literally “cut corners” in their reaping of the harvest, to leave food for the poorest of the poor to harvest for themselves for free, no…

Joel Michael Herbert

Husband. Father. Artist. Storyteller. Armchair Theologian. Advocate, activist and politician. Gryffindor. [neuro]Divergent.