The Curmudgeon


Sunday, July 01, 2018

Bad Theology

Text for today: Mark 7 i-xxiii

The scribes and Pharisees ask Jesus why His disciples eat with unwashed hands, thereby failing to keep the traditions of their elders. Jesus responds by denouncing His questioners as hypocrites because the commandments of Moses call for anyone who insults their father and mother to be executed, and the Pharisees have instituted a milder penalty. Jesus goes on to preach that people are defiled by what comes out of them, and not by what goes in.

According to Jesus, people are defiled by what they do and not by what is done to them; thus, when a child becomes disobedient in response to its parent's abuse, neurotic jealousy and extreme violence, all blame and punishment should fall upon the child. Defilement and moral uncleanliness occur when the child misbehaves, not with the arbitrary punishment which preceded the misbehaviour; and a person's emotions and actions have no connection with exterior circumstances which, according to the Saviour's sublime formulation, can be thrown off as easily as going to the privy. Rather, people's misdeeds result from an interior impurity, for which only they, and not the Creator who made them, are to blame, and for which they are justly chastised.

Called out for permitting His disciples to disobey a law that is sensible and hygienic, Jesus scolds His accusers for failing to obey a law that is authoritarian and murderous. This is entirely consistent with His teaching that otherworldly considerations outweigh all humane concerns; equally, His insistence on the absolute authority of parents over their children is entirely natural and logical given His constant gloating over His Father's approaching punishment of all who fail to obey.


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