I repent …

… for ever thinking that God cares about cussing.

Don’t get me wrong. There are more important things for me to repent for, and I’m doing that the best I know how. And cussing is childish, inconsiderate, and indicates either low intelligence or being too lazy to use intelligence. I do not recommend it.

But I’ll be damned if I’m ever going to return to being a Pharisee, making moral mountains out of the minutiae of human behavior.

I mean that literally … the "damned" part, I mean.

After all, Jesus was pretty condemning with the Pharisees 2,000 years ago.

Why?

I could find Scriptures to back up what I’m saying, and, in fact, Jesus’ statement that we’re to be concerned with the weightier matters of the Law—judgment, mercy, and faith—has a lot to do with this post.

Further, the people that Jesus hung out with have a lot to do with this post.

Further, the treatment Jesus gave the good, line-toeing, religious people have a lot to do with this post.

But mostly, a particular wasp on Facebook stirred up this post. By wasp, I don’t mean a white, anglo-saxon Protestant, though he is one. I mean an insect that delivers painful stings and devours other insects without producing any honey.

What?

Christmas, Easter, the King James Version, evolution, gambling, smoking, homosexuality and every other "don’t touch, don’t taste, don’t handle" that we’ve aggrandized so that there’s no way to even discuss them.

I thought about leaving this section just that one paragraph long, but I probably owe you at least a little explanation.

Smoking’s bad. It will kill you. It’s wrong for a disciple. Why shorten your time on earth at your own hand? It’s a version of suicide … no, murder by your own lusts. It ought to make the victim mad.

But, do we really need to tell a person that they can’t be baptized until they quit smoking? Are we basing that on Scripture, or are we basing that on the Surgeon General’s report?

You know the answer. We’re not basing it on either. We’re basing it on conservative American culture. It’s the bad guy in America, so it’s the bad guy in the church.

I don’t believe for a minute that our powers of scriptural interpretation are so bad that we would believe that 1 Cor. 3:16-17 refers to our physical body unless we were simply sold on American prejudices. God’s not going to just destroy anyone that happens to do things destructive to their bodies. His concern is Jesus’ body. Your body isn’t the temple of God; Jesus’ body is. As long as you are joined to Jesus’ body, you can defile that body by joining yourself to a harlot (1 Cor. 6:15). And there our bodies are called members, to the temple of God. In 1 Cor. 3, where our body, singular, is called the temple of God, all the yous are plural.

Mess with the church, and God will destroy you.

Smoke? Then he may have mercy because 1 Cor. 3:16-17 has nothing to do with smoking or overeating.

Homosexuality? God will condemn homosexuals, just like he will condemn adulterers and the heterosexually promiscuous.

But he will not condemn them as harshly as he will condemn those with a Pharisaical attitude, who ignore their own sins while harshly denouncing homosexuals as though that were the worst plague that’s ever hit the earth.

And holidays? Heavens to Betsy! This guy on Facebook poured out the most unloving, embarrassing batch of insults and invective on some lady who presented an argument against his anti-holiday logorrhea (love that word!). I understand the arguments against "pagan" holidays like Christmas and Easter, but I have yet to see God back up that argument or for there to be the slightest bit of good fruit from it.

Missing the Boat

We Americans think that righteousness involves "I don’t smoke, drink, cuss, or chew, nor hang around with those that do."

Jesus hung around with those that do as preferred company.

Something about the way he was made them want to hang around him.

It’s true that bad company corrupts good morals (1 Cor. 15:33). It’s also true that a guy who smokes and cusses may not be bad company. Pharisees may be bad company. Bad company is a person that moves you to be less like Christ. Don’t follow your buddy down to the strip joint while pretending that you’re doing what Jesus did. Sinners got righteous around Jesus.

But they didn’t become Pharisees.

Last Word

There is a point to all this.

Jesus wants people who can hear God, see into people’s hearts, control their temper, speak out of love, care all the time about people, and care little about this world.

Rooting out the great public corruption of public smoking, proving that we’re too pure to listen to a sinner cuss, and bringing the government down on the head of immoral non-Christians is hardly on God’s priority list.

Judgment, he says, begins in his house.

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4 Responses to I repent …

  1. Nate Morales says:

    Shammah!!
    As always – wonderfully biblical in spirit and in its exegesis.
    25 years ago, as a young pastor, a member of my church was outed as being gay. I reacted the way I had been trained in word and action. Which is to say with no love, no mercy and with a heart of pride. That has bothered me for years. Recently I tracked this man down through Facebook and asked forgiveness. What ensued was a life changing moment for both of us. He had never been back to church anywhere and was convinced that God hated him. I am so grateful to God that He has allowed me to chance to make a great wrong right and to show His love for the person, who as it turns out, is a really “good Company”.

  2. Kitty Lockard says:

    Thanks Shammah, this was a good post. Just think that if most of us had not been touched by God’s people just cause of some things we did, I don’t think alot of us would be here.

  3. Shammah says:

    Thanks, Benjamyn.

    It turned out to be a big help that you commented! I had made a bad mental glitch and typed in “spiritual” instead of “physical” in my comment about 1 Cor. 3:16-17 and our bodies.

    The way I wrote it is hard enough to understand, anyway, but it must have seemed really bizarre when it said “spiritual body.”

    It’s fixed now.

  4. That was a great post to read. It is easy to miss the children of God just because they have a rough exterior. I know I’ve been on both sides, so I completely agree with this post. Thank you again.

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