Sunday, December 11, 2011

Matthew, Chapter 19: Auto-castration is best

Jesus gets bored in Galilee and heads for Judea, where he keeps on healing people. The Pharisees are also there, nagging him now about divorce. Jesus' famous answer: Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.' (v. 4-6) Seems pretty clear to me. And yet, Christians divorce all the time. Just ask Newt Gingrich.

The Pharisees point out that Moses allowed divorce, but Jesus rejoins that it was only allowed because they loved their country so much. Whoops! That was Gingrich again. Actually, their hearts were hard, but god never intended to make divorce legal. He does make one concession: if your wife cheats on you, you may divorce her. But you cannot take another wife, nor can your wife remarry. Again, why are those seven verses in Leviticus so important, but these ones aren't?

The disciples posit that perhaps then it's better to just not get married. Jesus agrees and expresses admiration for eunuchs, whether self-made or born that way, and highly recommends it to people who can handle it.

While this discussion of auto-castration and fornication is going on, a bunch of children show up. What would primitive Fox News say? He lays his hands on them, and the disciples protest. Jesus utters another famous line Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven (v. 14). One of the kids has a typical little kid question: what do I have to do to live forever? Jesus evades the question and tells him to follow the commandments. Which ones? Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (v. 18-19) Except if you can count, that's only 6 commandments, and the last one isn't on either of the lists in Exodus.

The boy says he does all those things, so what's next? Jesus replies that he should sell all his worldly goods and join the cause. The boy very sensibly doesn't want to give up all his nice stuff, so he leaves, prompting a spiteful Jesus to say, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God (v. 24). The amazed disciples ask who can make it then? Jesus remains evasive, saying only with God all things are possible. (v. 25)

Paul wants more details about how the disciples are going to be rewarded in the afterlife. Jesus promises them 12 thrones from which they can judge the 12 tribes of Israel. People who give up everything, including family, friends and land, will be rewarded a hundredfold.

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