Thursday, 16 August 2012

Matthew's Bad Beatitudes

Continuing my quest for the source of the 'superior' Christian 'morality' which they are forever telling us they get from the Bible, I turned hopefully to Matthew 5 to read the so-called 'Beatitudes' from the quaintly named 'Sermon on the Mount'. Apparently, according the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus stood on a hill and made a speech to a multitude setting out the basis for a moral code.

For doubters, here is a nice photo of Jesus delivering his sermon.

I've noted before how Matthew reads more like someone trying the discredit Jesus, for example, 'Are These The Silliest Verses In The Bible?', 'Pull The Other One Matthew!', 'Hey Christians! Is Matthew For Real?' and 'Christians - Try Not To Think About Matthew', so I was not really surprised to find Matthew, true to form, showing us a Jesus with the morality of a mule stringer who thinks his charges only respond the threats and promises.

As Dan Barker points out in Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists, none of these are truly ethical because they are all conditions for a future reward. This is a précis of Dan Barker's analysis of them:

BeatitudeComment
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.Nothing by way of ethical actions here. All it says is that if you happen to be “poor in spirit” then you're going to heaven. Verses like this have been cited to keep slaves and women in their place.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.Again, nothing by way of ethical actions. Why didn't Jesus tell us to comfort those who are in mourning? That would have been ethical.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.This is only stating that if you happen to be a meek person then you're okay because you won’t be left out. This is like saying, “Be nice to Grandma because she might put you in her will.”
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.This is about observing rituals and has nothing to do with ethics. Politically, righteousness breeds censorship, segregation, persecution, civil inequality, intolerance and the death of millions. If “righteousness” means “morality,” then why not just be moral?
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.This is nothing more than a threat: God won't be merciful to those who aren't merciful. Why would God not be merciful in this situation if mercy is a good thing?
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.What does “pure in heart” mean? Feeling kindly towards others? Not wishing for misfortune for other people? Not being judgemental? Not thinking about sex? Never trying to mislead? Being 'spiritual'? Leaving aside the biological nonsense of believing thoughts occur in a heart, this is just a nebulous cliché which can mean almost anything to anyone. And how can a person be “pure in heart” if we are all sinners by virtue of being born in the first place anyway?
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.Jesus even flatly contradicted this when he said, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.” In biblical times, peace was a military concept. In Deuteronomy 20:10-11 God told his chosen people: “When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it. And it shall be, if it make thee answer of peace, and open unto thee, then it shall be, that all the people that is found therein shall be tributaries unto thee, and they shall serve thee.” So 'peace' means turning non-Jews into slaves, or killing them. Are these the 'blessed' to whom Jesus is referring or didn't he know his scripture?”
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.Again, no specific moral behaviour, just an encouragement to invite and praise confrontation and dispute; to seek persecution for its own sake. This persecution complex contradicts the seventh Beatitude but if you stir up trouble for Jesus, you will be blessed and will receive a great “reward in heaven.” You are supposed to “rejoice, and be exceeding glad” when your actions incite others to treat you badly!

We only need to look at the hate-filled antics of the Westboro Baptists to see what happens when people take this one seriously.

So, again, Matthew portrays Jesus as a sanctimonious hypocrite and purveyor of empty rhetoric - not so much Beatitudes as platitudes - and once again, no worthwhile morals can be found in the Bible. I'm really beginning to wonder if this book of origin myths and accounts of competing primitive sects called the Bible has anything worthwhile to offer at all.

I've shown that the 'Ten Commandments', whichever version you read, are next to useless, so can anyone suggest some other chapter which might contain a semblance of this 'moral compass' that Christians seem to be so sure is in there somewhere?





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2 comments :

  1. Rosa, I think you forgot one beatitude: Blessed are the pacemakers: for they shall postpone your meeting with the imaginary divine entity in Heaven. Don't you have that one in your Bible?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmm... I seem to have overlooked that one.:-)

      Delete

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