home
RSS
My Take: Jesus was a dirty, dirty God
January 5th, 2013
10:00 PM ET

My Take: Jesus was a dirty, dirty God

Editor’s note: Johnnie Moore is the author of Dirty God (#DirtyGod). He is a professor of religion and vice president at Liberty University. Keep track of him @johnnieM .

By Johnnie Moore, Special to CNN

(CNN) - Jesus was a lot more like you than you think, and a lot less clean cut than this iconic image of him that floats around culture.

You know the image. It’s the one where Jesus is walking like he’s floating in robes of pristine white followed by birds singing some holy little ditty. He’s polished, manicured, and clearly – God.

But despite the Christian belief that Jesus was both fully God and fully man, Jesus was a rather dirty God.

He was the “earthly” son of a carpenter, and life in the first-century was both more lurid and unfinished than our collective religious memory seems to recall.

To that end, I suggested recently to several astounded colleagues of mine that Jesus actually had to go to the bathroom, perhaps even on the side of the road between Capernaum and Jerusalem.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

What tipped them over the edge was when I insinuated that Jesus, like almost every other human being living in the rural world in that time, might have even had dysentery on an occasion or two.

Someone said, “You mean that Jesus might have had severe diarrhea?”

“Yep,” I replied, “That’s exactly what I mean.”

It seems like an obvious statement if you believe that Jesus was “fully God” and “fully man” (as most evangelicals believe and call the Incarnation), but to some of us it seems in the least, inappropriate, and at the most, sacrilege, to imagine Jesus in this way. We might believe that God was also man, but we picture him with an ever-present halo over his head.

But, actually, the Jesus of the Bible was more human than most people are conditioned to think.

I call this the dirty side of Jesus. He was grittier, and a lot more like us than maybe we believe, and that’s one of the reasons why so many thousands of people followed him so quickly.

They could relate to him.

He was the teacher from a small town who knew and understood the economic insecurity that was common in the first century. Times must have been rather tough for Jesus at points in his life, for he even spoke of being homeless, having to sleep on the ground with no roof over his head.

He also knew what it was like to have his message rejected and how it felt to be misunderstood. Jesus was regarded with such little significance in his hometown that one of his critics once remarked sardonically, “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son?” Jesus eventually had to move to different city (Capernaum) because his teachings so infuriated the people living in his hometown that they drove him out of Nazareth and even tried to throw him off a cliff.

'Jesus Wife' fragment gets more testing, delays article

The real Jesus had dirt underneath his fingernails and calluses on his hands. He probably smelled badly from sweating profusely in the Judean sun on his long hikes to Jerusalem, and Jesus was, without a doubt, rumored to be a hypocrite or absolutely mad for all the time he spent with prostitutes and those afflicted with leprosy.

Not exactly have a clean-cut image.

He had a rather shady reputation.

Some people thought he was a revolutionary. The religious leaders called him a heretic, and others even accused him of being a drunkard and a glutton - in no small part because of the vagabond group of disciples he had with him. No serious religious leader of his day would have ever recruited such people.

For his core 12 disciples, Jesus included a tough-as-nails, bombastic fisherman (Peter), a chief tax collector named Matthew (the most hated popular figure of the time), an eventual traitor who was stealing money out of the offering bucket (Judas), a prolific doubter (Thomas), two jocks nicknamed the “Sons of Thunder” (James and John) and Simon the Zealot, a member of a radical political party which believed in using violence to kick out the Romans.

Jesus was sarcastic, too.

He often snapped back at the Pharisees with a tone fit for late-night television, and in a terribly embarrassing moment for all those around him, Jesus even called these respected religious teachers “snakes” that were probably sons of “Satan.”

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

That’s not exactly the behavior of a sweet, self-help teacher with a halo over his head.

It’s the behavior of a frustrated man who might also be divine, but sure knows how it feels for annoying people to get under his skin.

Christians believe that Jesus chose to be born fully human, too, but why?

Lots of theologians have laid out opinions over the centuries, and in their opining they have tried once again to hijack Jesus’ humanity by defining it in philosophical terms. I believe it’s simpler than the philosophy and church councils and centuries of argument.

The brilliance of Christianity is the image of a God, named Jesus, arrived with dirty hands.

Jesus came in a time period when Greco-Roman gods were housed in gigantic temples and portrayed with superhuman powers and with superhuman physiques. Gods were believed to be far away from people on their mountains or hemmed up in their sanctuaries.

Jesus arrived in defiance of this prevailing imagery.

Jesus didn’t come flinging lightning bolts from a mountaintop, or playing politics in Rome. He came to live in a typical Middle Eastern village called Nazareth that was home to a couple hundred typical people. He didn’t decide to brandish his power, but to spend most of his time with the powerless and disenfranchised. And when he started a religious movement that reshaped history, he did it in the most profound and anticlimatic way:

He let himself be killed, and then he busted open a tomb.

In Jesus we meet a Savior who understood the desire to sleep just a few more hours, and who had to control his temper sometimes. In Jesus we find a God we can relate to because he chose to relate to us.

He was the God who became dirty so that the world’s souls might be made clean.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Johnnie Moore.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Jesus

soundoff (7,741 Responses)
  1. OpposingView

    I don't know what was in the author's mind when he wrote this article and I don't know what his intentions were (meaning I don't know whether his motive was good or bad), but rest assured, he shall have to give an account to God for this article when he stands before God on Judgment Day...

    Matthew 12:26 – But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.

    January 6, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
    • JWT

      Apparently Matthew was delusional.

      January 6, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "OpposingView", but "God" and "Judgement Day" are elements of mythology, therefore your assertions are unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".

      January 6, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
    • rightforlife

      Hey Hal, The Bible is full of other mythology too, all those empires that never existed, Babylonian, Assyrian and Roman.

      Check out these silly scientific ideas, the Earth is round, it rotates, universe is expanding.

      January 6, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      hal 9001,

      God, unfounded? Where have you been searching for God and God's kingdom domains? Or are you leaving the search up to others whereupon you can just jump onboard when God and God's kingdom domains are scientifically found? Mathew 6:33 "But seek ye first the kingdom of God!"

      January 6, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
  2. Michael

    Very interesting perspective and well thought out and written !! Makes sense to me.

    January 6, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
  3. Jesus is God

    Moore, yes Jesus came down to earth to deal with dirt such as you, whitewashed tomb like creature!

    January 6, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
  4. Laurie

    Always trying to taint Jesus Christ, particularly on CNN.
    But every knee will bow, every tongue will confess, every nation will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

    January 6, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
    • RG 3

      Amen! God bless and have a wonderful day :)

      January 6, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
    • Begone

      "But every knee will bow, every tongue will confess, every nation will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord."

      That sounds more like something that your "Satan" character would groove on...

      January 6, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
    • JW

      Sounds like the words of Kim Jong Il or the likes.

      Christians.... Always following the love with threats of bending knees and judgements. So hypocritical.

      January 6, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
  5. RG 3

    @answer

    What would you tell someone who was raised without and religion in the household (i.e. completely secular), who grew up atheist or agnostic, but then became a Christian in adulthood?

    Since atheists love to claim that people are only Christians mostly due to religious indoctrination, I'd love to know your perspective on those who grew up w no religion but found God in adulthood after tenuous research into the topic.

    January 6, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
    • Answer

      Well here let me pose you one in reverse...

      How did I grow up to be an atheist when my parents were honest Buddhists. I can tell you there's nothing wrong with Buddhisms – it's got really good tenets on life.

      So tell me how you view myself. Am I much different from you. You've adopted a slight "I don't like this person" because of why? Let's see your views.

      January 6, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
    • Answer

      Did I write too many references to your kind of being "religious t-w-a-t-s"? Did that tick you off ? XD

      January 6, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
    • Russell's Teapot

      Fairly certain your grasp of common English vocabulary is tenuous. Maybe you meant strenuous?

      January 6, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
    • RG 3

      Self deflection, nice one. Want to answer the question? If not it's fine, just say you don't want to answer the question. Don't try to turn the tables because you're not comfortable being called out for your hypocrisy.

      January 6, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
    • Answer

      Of course I'm a hypocrite. I use any tool in the manner I like. Hypocrisy is the most fundamental tool against you.

      So is laughing at you. You already see it. Is that your only point?

      January 6, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
    • RG 3

      @russel – yes I meant strenuous. Was typing fast and must've had a braun lapse.

      @answer – no you didn't make me mad. I'm confident in my beliefs and childish name calling doesn't hurt my feelings. In fact, name calling is generally performed by immature people and those lacking support for their arguments.

      January 6, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
    • Answer

      So let's go on with an argument..

      You places references on an atheist as hateful towards your god. So tell me why?

      Tell us all.. how you want to vilify in a disagreement with any person as hateful towards "your god". It's actually you – you are your own god. You want to tell others why you t-w-a-t-s love labeling others as having hate towards your delusions?

      I've asked you below about Zeus... tell me how much hate you have for Zeus. On a scale from 1 to 10. Do so please.

      January 6, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
    • RG 3

      @answer – ok well you've proved your point while writing barely coherent sentences. Enjoy living in your world where you're always right and can do no wrong. I'll stick to reality and looking at things from all sides.

      Btw I became Christian after being undecided and looking at all sides, not through indoctrination.

      January 6, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
    • OTOH

      RG 3,
      "In fact, name calling is generally performed by immature people and those lacking support for their arguments."

      Oh, like the writer of Psalms and Paul (for just 2 instances), who call people who don't believe their schtick, "fools" ?!

      January 6, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
    • Answer

      Well RG do go on.. do you still have all the materials that you were given that you've evaluated that made you who you are now?

      I know your kind are just a sack full of emotions. So go on.

      January 6, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
  6. JW

    Why does a myth have to poop on the side of the road?

    January 6, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
    • Vincent

      Are ya constipated? take some laxatives

      January 6, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
  7. paul

    Do not show your yellow teeth and write some nonsense. Are you convinced about what you are writing here?

    January 6, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
  8. sarah

    hey, my corn flake looks like a mother with an intact hymen !!! call the Pope!!!

    January 6, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
  9. Mike D.

    The sudden rise in critical thinking and skepticism will eventually reduce the three Abrahamic religions into myths.
    Believers won't admit it though.

    January 6, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
    • Answer

      Giving up is the hardest thing to do. Especially when you've been held back by the indoctrinated fear tactics.

      January 6, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
    • RG 3

      Apparently you don't prefer to look at actual facts bc if you did, you'd realize that critical thinking skills are decreasing. I find it quite amusing how simplistic atheists arguments are, when in fact, they're often overly simplistic as.sumptions based on little fact.

      January 6, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
    • Saraswati

      I think there is a lessening of the influence of religion, which, given that the current major religions don't fit well with our science, is probably for the good. But I don't seem people as much more skeptical or rational than in previous times. We've had some improvement with the rise of education...more people graduating high school and attending college. But at each education level, people are performing about the same, and we aren't going to squeeze much more out of education. People continue for the most part to be uncritical, and just focus their faith on political or health or personal spiritual beliefs instead of organized religion.

      January 6, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
    • Charles

      Keep on dreamin non-believer, if only wishes were horses even beggars would ride on it!

      January 6, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Saraswati,

      Your rather presumptive reasoning regarding the declination of religious peripherals due scientific understandings is curiously flawed. While many scientists do believe in godliness, they are meekly voicing themselves and would rather not shake up their money trees. My science orientated stance is based upon three cosmological ordinances. One is the atomized cosmologies while the second is the celestial cosmologies and the third being the cellular cosmologies. As yet, no one here who has read my views on the triune cosmologies have said anything negatively about them.

      January 6, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
  10. CJA

    Of course this is all corect Jesus was a poor person who lived in primitive conditions as did 99.99% of everyone at that time. Most people died before they became adults.

    January 6, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
    • moobs

      of course jesus was dirty. he was a zombie.

      January 6, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
    • dreamer96

      So you mean Rich people do not go to the bathroom, have bowel movements...have body odor?..hmmm

      January 6, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
  11. cybercmdr

    OK, let's take it the next step. Jesus would have looked middle-eastern, with curly hair, darker complexion. Definitely not the blond, long haired European he is usually portrayed as.

    January 6, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
    • Answer

      It's how white people like for their saints and saviors to look like – "white".

      January 6, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
    • sam stone

      he would have looked like corporal klinger, without the dress

      January 6, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • Perry Keener

      The biggest peob I see with this debate is too much thinking in earthly terms. I don't care how he looked, It isn't important how or where he or in fact took a dump and I'm all white, but don't care if he was black, yellow or brown. He died to save all man kind is all. You think it bothers a believer what he looked like or whether he was dirty or not, truth is being the divine leaving us the Holy Spirit until he comes again for his children, that's all that matters to me. You're arguing over stuff that isn't within his rhealm of being, in which someday you will find out, he's the God, creator and Savior that lovesa yopu and I, and not because of what color or race we are. We are all his children, nothing else is relevant.

      January 6, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
  12. MashaSobaka

    I've always found the question of whether or not there is a creator to be a colossal waste of time; the question of a divine figure's hygiene habits is even more tedious. Who cares? I have more important things to do. So does everyone else. These sandbox fights between atheists and believers (bigots on both sides, usually) that we see in every comment section of any article remotely related to religion are pointless and maddening. If atheists cared about bringing reason to the world, and if theists really cared about bringing peace and love to the world, they'd all focus on the problems that can be solved and leave the insults to schoolyard bullies. Unfortunately many of them appear to be grown-up schoolyard bullies themselves. I find myself wondering how many atheists honestly appreciate science; it seems that many of them just enjoy insulting everyone else and looking at pictures of nebulae.

    January 6, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • sara

      grow up! so rude...

      January 6, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
    • RG 3

      Well said! I often find that the atheists are the most hypocritical of all, although it certainly exists on each side!

      January 6, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
    • Answer

      I love insulting the stupid religious clowns. It's entertaining to watch them duck for cover behind their delusions and have them defend themselves. It's even better when they plaster their false assertions and claims.

      January 6, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
    • RG 3

      @answer

      How did you get so smart? To think that you're smarter than all of any group of people actually shows you willful ignorance and self pride. Not to mention the over simplification which no doubt helps gives you a false sense of intelligence,

      Too funny.

      January 6, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
    • Answer

      And you want to take some claims about "smarts"... oh congrats. It's like that with everyone on comments. I love doing what I want. Making fun of the religious t-w-a-t-s. You just want someone to talk with.

      Well talk to me. I'll hear ya out.

      January 6, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
    • RG 3

      "I love doing what I want"

      Yup, that pretty much sums up the real reason, self pride. You hate God because you can't stand the fact of possibly having to face up to everything. You'd much rather do what you feel like and call everyone who doesn't agree with you stupid and t-w-a-t-s as you so eloquently put it. That's been my experience with all the atheists I know in real life and it's only further displayed here.

      January 6, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
    • Answer

      Hailarious.

      "You hate god."

      Oh you jest. Your god is you. Being rejected by an atheist with our opinions and facts.. just gets to you. The model of the rejects is to come back with "love". My god loves you.. but you reject it.

      So hilarious.

      Why do you hate Zeus or the Spaghetti Monster? Tell me why.

      January 6, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
    • RichardD

      Not true! Most of us non believers (call us atheists if you will) simply don't care. And yes, we do admire science and the constantly increasing understanding of our ever smaller place in the magnificent universe(s). To you believers, if it makes you feel better and do less wrong, that's fine, go with it. But, please, quit trying to impose your bronze age belief system on the rest of us; leave us alone to stand in awe of the world and the universe and their beauty without the need to believe any more in mythological sky gods from ages long past.

      January 6, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
  13. Luis Wu

    And so we get our weekly dose of ignorant drivel from the CNN religion blog. When will human beings stop believing in imaginary sky fairies and actually THINK for themselves for a change?

    January 6, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • Anon

      As long believers are spreading their religious idiocy through tradition aka childhood indoctrination the chances of it slowing down is slim.

      January 6, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
    • rightforlife

      And yet you feel compelled for some reason to at least look at the article. Could it be your foundation of human reasoning is failing you?

      January 6, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
  14. Vic D

    To the author of this story, were you there???!!! So before writing articles like this well you should dwell on this concept first!

    January 6, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
    • sam stone

      As should all writing about Jesus

      January 6, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
    • Answer

      Look at the resentment in the comment. Anybody can spot how "offended" this person is at this belief blog entry.

      Carry on t-w-a-t with you being offended. It looks great on ya.

      January 6, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
    • svann

      He is obviously contrasting the words in the bible with what the 'holy' church teaches. Clearly, his position is supported by any honest reading of the bible. But if you dont believe in the bible or God then obviously this article has nothing to do with you.

      January 6, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
    • Joe

      Funny how you believe the bible word for word but the bible wasn't even written until like 75 to 100 years after Jesus's death. So are you telling me the people that wrote the bible was there during Jesus's life? Thats a big reason why people don't believe in the bible and the fact that the Roman Empire was falling apart so instead of fighting Christianity (which was a poor people's belief) they adopted it to unite the Roman Empire. Plus it helps that Constantine's mother was Christian too.

      January 6, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
    • JW

      It's been proven that the idiots who wrote the gospels weren't even there.

      January 6, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
  15. believer

    I believe what the author says. Even before this was published I had my own ideas that this could be true and this is "his" ideas as well. This is not to debate if there is a God or not, in my opinion. This is an author giving his resrearch in a paper and that paper is now posted on CNN. There is a God and he has a son, Jesus, who died on the cross for each one of us.
    As for as evil in the world goes, yes we have evil. But not from God. If you have been through nightmariss hell, there is a reason....you are there for a reason....someone around you needs you. God would NOT put you in hell unless you are needed.

    January 6, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
    • Anon

      If you're crazy and you know it clap your hands.
      If you're crazy and you know it clap your hands.

      January 6, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
    • JWT

      Just remember that your religious beliefs are yours and in no possible way apply to me.

      January 6, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "believer", but "God" is an element of mythology, therefore your assertions are unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".

      January 6, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
  16. JoeV

    ...and other then upsetting a particular group of people, this article is intended to do what???

    January 6, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
  17. Anon

    It's simple. Jesus has always been a myth and Christians are delusional lemmings that depend on childhood indoctrination to spread their religious idiocy.
    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvleOBYTrDE&w=640&h=390]

    January 6, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
    • DustyOnes

      Nothing like a Jesus article to ge the Atheists going! Snicker....

      January 6, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • rightforlife

      I wasn't indoctrinated as a kid. And it's usually best to know something the subject before writing about it.

      January 6, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
    • Mordecai

      Anon, please look up Francis Collins (Director of the Human Genome Project), then please tell me if you think he is a lemming. Then, please remember that you are as much a product of your own indoctrinations as any other person, Christian, Jew, Muslim, atheist, etc. Your sense of "enlightenment" is truly a product of predispositions–established in your upbringing–to accept some teachings as true and others as false. Your adherence to your beliefs has no more or less scientific basis than any other persons' adherence to theirs.

      January 6, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
  18. Kate

    Interesting how these religions and man made deities all revolve around humans. One ape species on one planet. Christianity is the funniest because so many people follow it! A small tribe of men in one tiny section of the planet and oh look! our deity has granted us a prime piece of real estate! that makes it official, because the god we made up says its ours. Here we can all live in peace finally and if anyone doesn't like it we can kill them in the name of our holy .... wait, what? LOL, in 150 years christianity will be as dead as the gods of Greece, Rome, and the Nile. Why just a guess of 150 years and not 1000? Lol, well we have learned quite a bit since these fables were written...

    January 6, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
    • Anon

      The sudden rise in critical thinking and skepticism will eventually reduce the three Abrahamic religions into myths.
      Believers won't admit it though.

      January 6, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
  19. pmleblanc1

    This piece is dumb. This guy has dedicated his life to prove Jesus probably, "had severe diarrhea." I'm not even religious, but I just feel like this guy is trying to start a pointless argument. Dedicate yourself to something more worthwhile and get a life.

    January 6, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
  20. Jeff

    Dear CNN: Why isn't there a Fact Blog?

    January 6, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
    • Answer

      Certain facts can change. Change is never constant – that is the purest fact of all.

      January 6, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
    • joeknockz

      @ ":Answer" you're an idiot. The saying is ":The only thing constant is change"....and you say Change is never constant?... get what you're TRYING to say straight before you say it..

      January 6, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
    • Answer

      So you're saying change is always constant?

      Well well.. let's see you provide evidence of your views. I'm glad to be given a lesson so do go on. XD

      January 6, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107
Advertisement
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.