Follow Jesus, not the Church: A message to Interfaith Couple
The Second Commandment(2) describes the jealous and angry(3) God’s stern message against praying to “other” gods and warning to punish your innocent grandchildren to the third and fourth generations if this commandment is not followed. In contrast when asked, Jesus stated the Second Commandment as “love thy neighbor.”(4) How beautiful!
Jesus was inclusivist and accepted Jews and Gentiles alike. Jesus himself never used the words “idol gods” or “other gods.” His teachings were more concerned with being a good person rather than criticizing “other” gods as emphasized in the rest of Bible(5) or church sermons(6). Regarding tolerance of others, many churches teach that Jews, Muslims and the non-baptized Mahatma Gandhi(7) will not be saved. This certainly is not in line with the inclusivist and tolerant message that Jesus gave us.
Jesus was not dogmatic. There was an old tradition of not doing any work on the Sabbath day(8) Jesus clarified however, that it was lawful to do good on the Sabbath(9, 10). Similarly regarding the tradition of washing hands before eating bread, Jesus said(11) it is more important to be a good human being than to strictly follow certain traditions. God asked to make a covenant to circumcise all males(12). Jesus explained that circumcision was of no avail(13). It was said that God loved burned animal offerings and animal sacrifices(14). Jesus clarified “…to love one’s neighbor as oneself is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices(15).” Apparently Jesus was a reformist and more interested in karma, not dogmas.
For enemies, LORD said(16), “Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.” Jesus gave exactly opposite message(17), “love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”
Jesus said, “Whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him.”(18) The person of such a tolerant spirit would probably never endorse the Christian crusades where millions of innocent people were killed in His name. How is it logical that killing millions of innocent people is not sin, but a newborn child carries sin so as to require cleansing with baptism?
On the matter of baptism(19), John the Baptist baptized Jesus(20) but Jesus never baptized anyone(21). For an interfaith marriage, the church will insist on baptism of the intended spouse. It is interesting that a Catholic church will insist on re-baptism of already baptized Mormons or Protestant Christians (and vice a versa). Apparently baptism is not as much about Jesus but for the church.
Are the leaders of today’s churches progressive thinkers and believers of adapting to the times, as Jesus was in his time?
If a couple were looking for an interfaith marriage with equality, it would be easier to follow Jesus but not the church. If you love Jesus, have a Christmas tree in your home and follow His messages. In line with Jesus’ inclusive teachings, also respect your spouse’s faith and celebrate ALL holidays but do not agree to baptize the children as an obligation to the church. It is just fair to let an interfaith child decide his or her own faith as an adult—that is progressive thinking.
1. Also read http://www.newsweek.com/andrew-sullivan-christianity-crisis-64025
2. God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai (around year 1593 BC). The Second commandment states, “You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God… punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and fourth generations of those who reject me.” (Exodus 20:4-5).
3. God is described as a “Jealous God” 31 times, as an “Angry God” 238 times and “fear” word is used 455 times in the Bible, many of these citations are by God Himself.
4. “And the Second (commandment) is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39). “There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:31)
6. Currently, no major Christian church holds pluralist theology (each person is saved by his or her own religion, independent of Christ) or liberal concept of salvation.
8. And LORD spoke to Moses, saying: “Tell the people of Israel to keep my Sabbath day, for the Sabbath is a sign of the covenant between me and you forever. It helps you to remember that I am the LORD, who makes you holy. Yes, keep the Sabbath day, for it is holy. Anyone who desecrates it must die; anyone who works on that day will be cut off from the community. Work six days only, but the seventh day must be a day of total rest. I repeat: Because the LORD considers it a holy day, anyone who works on the Sabbath must be put to death.” (Exodus 31:12-15)
9. Matthew 12:12
10. Jesus said: “What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out?” (Matthew 12:11) “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27)
11. Not wash their hands when they eat bread is not that important as to transgress commandment of God. Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? (Matthew 15:2-3) For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man. (Matthew 15:19-20)
12. “There is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your descendants after you and your descendants after you. Every male among you shall be circumcised. And you shall circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you,” God commands Abraham (Genesis 17:10-11), the Jewish patriarch. “Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.” (Genesis 16:14)
13. For circumcision is indeed profitable if you keep the law; but if you are a breaker of the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. Therefore, if an uncircumcised man keeps the righteous requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision? And will not the physically uncircumcised, if he fulfills the law, judge you who, even with your written code and circumcision, are a transgressor of the law? For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God. (Romans 2:25-29)
14. Leviticus 6:25; I Kings 8:63; II Chronicles 7:5, II Chronicles 15:11-12, II Chronicles 29:32-33, Psalms 66:15, Ezekiel 43:19-25.
15. Mark 12:33
16. Samuel 15:3
17. Matthew 5:44
18. Matthew 5:39
19. Conversion to cleanse from former practices and later live with Christ forever.
20. Matthew 3:13
21. Father Kenneth Doyle: “The synoptic writers—Matthew, Mark and Luke—offer no clarity on this, because they are silent on the question of Jesus baptizing.” (http://catholicphilly.com/2013/03/think-tank/catholic-spirituality/did-jesus-baptize-anyone-lectors-and-the-shehe-problem/). This book’s author focused on Jesus’ direct messages (in Matthew, Mark and Luke) but acknowledges John’s (3:22) message, “After these things Jesus and His desciples came into the land of Judea, and there He remained with them and batized.”