Ken Harrison, CEO of the right-wing Christian Nationalist organization Promise Keepers, for example, recently warned against the belief that Jesus is nice. Harrison said:
“We’ve taught a Jesus that’s an idol. That’s not the real Jesus. We’ve taught a Jesus that says love means being nice to everybody all the time. Well, when I read my bible, Jesus wasn’t very nice. He was not very nice most of the time. I mean when you’re saying you want to set the world on fire and how you wish it was already alight, and I came to turn father against son and mother against daughter, what was Jesus saying? Love is forcing people to make a choice.”
Jesus doesn’t want to save the world, Harrison points out. Jesus aims to destroy the world, to set it on fire. Jesus doesn’t want to bring people together, Harrison says. Jesus wants to create division and strife.
“Love is forcing people,” Harrison says. In Christianity, love is not about acceptance and respect. Christian love is about the use of force to make people do what religious leaders think they should do.
Progressive Christians might protest that Jesus would never support the use of force and coercion to compel people to submit to Christian authority. The Christian bible, however, doesn’t support this interpretation. The New Testament is filled with examples of Jesus threatening people with acts of extreme violence. Occasionally, Jesus even launches into direct violent attacks against people who dare to disagree with his religious beliefs.
The gospels of the New Testament say that more than once, Jesus physically attacked people in the sacred temple in Jerusalem. Jesus is depicted in the Christian bible as lashing people with a whip and destroying their property. Why would Jesus violently assault people like that? Jesus was upset at them because they were engaged in acts of ritualized commerce that were commonly accepted as part of the religious rites of the Jewish temple. Jesus didn’t approve of this religious activity, and wanted something different to take place in the temple, but instead of talking about his ideas with the people there, or with the temple’s religious leaders, Jesus chose to violently attack and terrify people into submission.
Jesus went much further than that, of course. The New Testament records Jesus as showing the signs of a paranoid narcissistic personality disorder. He insisted on being recognized as a divine being who should instantly be granted the authority to rule as king. When people quite understandably refused to immediately worship him as a god king, Jesus would frequently lash out and make threats of extreme violence.
In the Gospel of Luke chapter 19, Jesus explains how he should be understood as a divine king by telling a story of a king who becomes furious at people who don’t follow his instructions to the letter while he is gone. This king’s tirade ends with him issuing an order for deadly violence:
“Those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them, bring them here and kill them in front of me!”
This is Jesus warning people that if they don’t submit to his authority, he’s going to kill them.
Right after threatening to kill anyone who doesn’t follow him, Jesus marched into the city of Jerusalem and announced that he was the king. When the people of Jerusalem didn’t respond positively, Jesus launched into a fit of rage. Jesus cursed the children of Jerusalem to be slaughtered because their parents did not immediately acclaim him as a god king. Jesus declared:
“They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls! They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of god’s coming to you!”
When Jesus talks about the “time of god’s coming”, he was talking about himself. Jesus was saying a curse that Jerusalem’s children would be slaughtered because the city refused to recognize and worship him as a god. Immediately after saying this curse against Jerusalem’s children, Jesus violently attacked people in the city’s temple.
This wasn’t the only time that Jesus threatened to kill large numbers of people for the offense of refusing to worship him. The gospel of Matthew proudly relates the story of Jesus screaming death threats at the residents of three different cities that would not acclaim him as their divine ruler.
"Then Jesus began to denounce the towns in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. ‘Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes, but I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you, and you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades, for if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day, but I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.’”
To understand what this passage from the Christian bible is saying, you have to understand what happened to the cities of Tyre and Sidon.
The city of Tyre was built on an Island near to the city of Sidon, and its residents hoped that this would enable them to defy a siege by Alexander the Great. That siege lasted seven months, but at the end of it, the city’s defenses fell, and Alexander was in such a terrible rage that he ordered his soldiers to destroy half of the city’s buildings. Seven thousand soldiers from Tyre were killed in the final assault, and two thousand more executed after surrendering. That wasn’t the end of the bloodshed. After the fighting was done, eight thousand civilian inhabitants of Tyre were executed, and thirty thousand more were sold into slavery.
The fate of Sodom was a legend from the Old Testament. The entire city was slaughtered, including the children, because it refused to follow the religious laws that the writers of the bible believed were proper.
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus warns the cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum that they will be destroyed, and all their residents killed or sold into slavery, as punishment for refusing to worship him as a god king. Jesus had walked into these cities, performed some faith healing tricks of the sort done at carnivals and tent revivals, claiming that he was a divine being who deserved to be treated like a king. The cities told him to take his cheap tricks and move along. For this, Jesus declared that he would use his magical powers to enact a mass slaughter upon anyone who wouldn’t worship him.
Steven Lawson of OnePassion Ministries cites a passage from the Christian bible as a justification for this religious hatred. When Christians hate people, Lawson suggests, they are following the divine example of Jesus. Lawson said in a recent message to his followers:
"The title of this devotion today is A Loving Hatred, a loving hatred, and that sounds like an oxymoron, but both sides of that are true. And so, I want to begin by reading the verse. This is our lord’s letter to the church at Ephesus, and he writes this: ‘Yet, this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolatians, which I also hate.” Jesus has just commended the Ephesians for their perseverance in the lord and his work and how they don’t tolerate false teachers… and Jesus commends them for their hatred. He says that you hate the deeds of the Nicolatians, and then he adds, ‘which I also hate’. I mean, the holiness of god in the lord Jesus Christ necessitates that there is a holy hatred for all that which does not conform to Christ’s flawless, perfect character and integrity.”
Lawson is referring here to a passage in the New Testament Book of Revelation. In this passage, Jesus, after rising from his grave, instructed his followers that they were right to practice hatred, and reassured them that he practiced hatred himself. Conveniently, Jesus just so happened to hate the very same people that his followers hated: The Nicolatians.
Who were the Nicolatians? They were an early sect of Christianity, but not much is known about them, because the more powerful sects of Christianity persecuted them into complete oblivion. Specifically, it has been alleged that the Nicolatians held a doctrine that permitted them to eat food that had been sacrificed to Jesus, and that they believed in some degree of sexual freedom.
Jesus declared that his followers should hate the Nicolatians because they liked to have sex and eat food. That same attitude is what we’re suffering under with the hateful, unforgiving agenda of today’s Christian Nationalism. According to the Christian bible, it was Jesus who first taught Christians to hate.
Oh, but it's a loving hatred. Does that make you feel better?
This article is part of a larger text at Stop Christian Nationalism.