Contrary to what many people in our culture think, Jesus Christ offered a full rebuke to the “think whatever you want to think” and “do whatever feels right” mentality, a July 2, 2018 statement by the Family Research Council (FRC) declares.
Jesus, instead, presented moral commands that are revolutionary and, in some cases, seemingly impossible to follow, FRC’s Managing Editor for Publications Dan Hart writes in the introduction to “Social Conservative review: An Insider’s Guide to Pro-Family News.”
Hart writes that Jesus is actually “subversive” by today’s permissive standards, and Jesus’ definition of sins, such as adultery and murder, are even more daunting that those of the Old Testament:
“Many in our society put Jesus in the ‘nice guy who said nice things’ box and insist that ‘niceness’ is all he stood for. What they do not realize, and what we believers must fight for, is this truth: that Jesus is a full rebuke of the ‘think whatever you want to think’ and ‘do whatever feels right’ mentality. In this age of confusion, where identities, emotions, and urges rule the day, there is nothing more subversive than Jesus. But the paradox is that there is nothing more attractive, either -- who doesn't want to be happy and fulfilled?”
Mr. Hart’s full statement can be seen below.
Many in our culture today think of Jesus as a kind of domesticated philosopher who had some polite things to say about how everyone should be nice to each other. Christ's actual words in the gospels, however, reveal just how subversive he truly was 2,000 years ago and remains to this day. When I say "subversive," I don't mean in the sense of dissident rebellion towards society. I mean that the demands that Jesus placed on our human capacity for love were and are truly revolutionary and formidable. Consider these words from the fifth chapter of Matthew's gospel:
"You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment..."
And again: "You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart."
And again: "You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well."
And again: "You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you..."
If we are honest with ourselves, these words should shake us to our core, because they sound impossibly impractical and superhumanly difficult to put into practice. We all fail at doing what Christ tells us to do in these verses with such routine regularity that his words can seem almost absurd at times. The reason for this can be traced all the way back to the beginning. Ever since our earliest ancestors fell into temptation in the Garden of Eden, we humans have been stuck in a default setting of selfishness -- our fallen natural instinct is to be comfortable in our own self-righteous anger, lust, defensiveness, and loathing. Christ's teachings completely subvert our inclinations, calling us to a higher and greater way of being. Since Christ is one with God the Father -- our Creator -- he has perfect understanding of man's fallen nature. Therefore, his teachings are ultimately designed for our complete restoration -- to bring about the apex of human flourishing, fulfillment, and happiness -- as it was meant to be from the beginning.
Many in our society put Jesus in the "nice guy who said nice things" box and insist that "niceness" is all he stood for. What they do not realize, and what we believers must fight for, is this truth: that Jesus is a full rebuke of the "think whatever you want to think" and "do whatever feels right" mentality. In this age of confusion, where identities, emotions, and urges rule the day, there is nothing more subversive than Jesus. But the paradox is that there is nothing more attractive, either -- who doesn't want to be happy and fulfilled?
This, then, is the challenge for believers: to help unbelievers rediscover their original design before the fall by living out Christ's radically challenging teachings in our own lives.