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.
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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.
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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.”
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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.
HS acts and behaviors are Bible condemned and not traits that are called out in the medical journals. If you don't believe me, read the OT and NT.
"HS acts and behaviors are Bible condemned"
No, they're not only prejudice people read that into the bible. The scriptures actually say nothing about homosexuality as a psychosexual orientation. Our understandings of sexual orientation are distinctly modern ones that were not present in the minds of Scripture writers. A few passages of Scripture (seven at the most) object to certain types of same-sex expressions or acts. The particular acts in question, however, are sexual expressions which are exploitative, oppressive, commercialized, or offensive to ancient purity rituals. There is no Scriptural guidance for same-sex relationships which are loving and mutually respecting. Guidelines for these relationships should come from the same general Scriptural norms that apply to heterosexual relationships.
The Biblical condemnation of homosexuality is based on human ignorance, suspicion of those who are different, and an overwhelming concern for ensuring the survival of the people. Since the Bible regards homosexuality as a capital crime, it clearly assumes that homosexuality is a matter of free choice, a deliberate rebellion against God. We have learned from modern science that people do not choose to be gay or straight; hence it is neither logical nor moral to condemn those whose nature it is to be gay or lesbian.
"Irregardless of our genetic background, and predispositions, the choices we make in the bedroom are behaviors and not inherent characteristics like skin color, and gender. "
All major medical professional organizations concur that sexual orientation is not a choice and cannot be changed, from gay to straight or otherwise. The American, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, and European Psychological, Psychiatric, and Medical Associations all agree with this, as does the World Health Organization and the medical organizations of Japan, China, and most recently, Thailand. Furthermore, attempts to change one's sexual orientation can be psychologically damaging, and cause great inner turmoil and depression, especially for Christian gays and lesbians.
The scientific evidence of the innateness of homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgenderism is overwhelming, and more peer-reviewed studies which bolster this fact are being added all the time. Science has long regarded sexual orientation – and that's all sexual orientations, including heterosexuality – as a phenotype. Simply put, a phenotype is an observable set of properties that varies among individuals and is deeply rooted in biology. For the scientific community, the role of genetics in sexuality is about as "disputable" as the role of evolution in biology.
On the second point, that there is no conclusion that there is a "gay gene," they are right. No so-called gay gene has been found, and it's highly unlikely that one ever will. This is where conservative Christians and Muslims quickly say "See, I told you so! There's no gay gene, so being gay is a choice!"
Many of these reparative "therapists" are basing this concept on a random Bible verse or two. When you hold those up against the mountain of scientific research that has been conducted, peer-reviewed, and then peer-reviewed again, it absolutely holds no water. A person's sexuality – whether heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual – is a very deep biological piece of who that person is as an individual.
The fact that a so-called "gay gene" has not been discovered does not mean that homosexuality is not genetic in its causation. This is understandably something that can seem a bit strange to those who have not been educated in fields of science and advanced biology, and it is also why people who are not scientists ought not try to explain the processes in simple black-and-white terms. There is no gay gene, but there is also no "height gene" or "skin tone gene" or "left-handed gene." These, like sexuality, have a heritable aspect, but no one dominant gene is responsible for them.
Many genes, working in sync, contribute to the phenotype and therefore do have a role in sexual orientation. In many animal model systems, for example, the precise genes involved in sexual partner selection have been identified, and their neuro-biochemical pathways have been worked out in great detail. A great number of these mechanisms have been preserved evolutionarily in humans, just as they are for every other behavioral trait we know (including heterosexuality).
There are many biologic traits which are not specifically genetic but are biologic nonetheless. These traits are rooted in hormonal influences, contributed especially during the early stages of fetal development. This too is indisputable and based on extensive peer-reviewed research the world over. Such prenatal hormonal influences are not genetic per se, but are inborn, natural, and biologic nevertheless.
@ Erik...go easy on the facts, it can confuse the scriptural certainty
While I agree with Viking's humorous statement, thanks for taking the trouble to post the facts, Erik.
Cognitive dissonance is sinful...damn rational thinking! :0)
Genesis essentially takes the motifs of the Egypt, Babylon, and Assyrian stories, and strips them of their myth content. Instead of ascribing divinity to inanimate nature itself, Genesis puts God in His rightful place as Creator of the natural world.
Well, now all you need to do is solve the tiny, smidgenly little nagging issue. The lack of evidence for the Christian myths in the face of their wild, self-contradictory claims. Oh dear...
I'm sorry, "Buster", but "God", "His" and "Creator" are still elements of the same mythology. In essence, they are the supernatural claims of mythology for which there has never been any credible evidence. Therefore your assertions remain unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your repeated assertions may represent truths is: "CHRONIC TOTAL FAIL".
Jesus, Hymens & Aliens
In a sense, we are free and salvation has been purchased for us by Jesus Christ. We just have to cling to Him as our savior to achieve eternal life. Give your heart to God.
Thats what men told you is true. believing everything that extremely old with no way to verify the info, and no evidence since that any of the claims are true, is irrational.
Interesting that some people desire eternity with a being from whom they have to be "saved".
Sort of a spiritual Stockholm Syndrome
20 years a Christian and never thought of it like that...another point making salvation in Christ contraindicated
Christians, think this through a bit: how come your ‘omnipotent’ creature couldn’t do all that supposed saving without the loony son sacrifice bit anyway? And for that matter, how was it a sacrifice at all, when an omnipotent being could just pop up a replacement son any time it wants with less than a snap of its fingers? Pretty feeble god it is that you’ve made for yourself there.
Give that some thought and maybe it will help you leave your delusions behind. You will remain a laughingstock otherwise, and the more you dwell in your silly delusion and ancient myths, instead of keeping up with advances in medicine and technology, the more America slips downward relative to the rest of the world in science and other fields.
Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement.
Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.
I don't see why any of this should raise any sort of kerfuffle – he was a man just like any other in the manner of his living conditions, etc. That is part of the meaning of "fully human."
Irregardless of our genetic background, and predispositions, the choices we make in the bedroom are behaviors and not inherent characteristics like skin color, and gender. The Bible condemns the act and behavior, and not the person., However, We should treat all people equally, regardless of their partner and bedroom choices.
Wow, nothing more convincing than the blather of Iron Age sheep boinkers
Orientation IS an inherent characteristic
Denying people their civil rights is NOT treating them equally
"The Bible condemns the act and behavior"
No, it doesn't. The scriptures actually say nothing about homosexuality as a psychosexual orientation. Our understandings of sexual orientation are distinctly modern ones that were not present in the minds of Scripture writers. A few passages of Scripture (seven at the most) object to certain types of same-sex expressions or acts. The particular acts in question, however, are sexual expressions which are exploitative, oppressive, commercialized, or offensive to ancient purity rituals. There is no Scriptural guidance for same-sex relationships which are loving and mutually respecting. Guidelines for these relationships should come from the same general Scriptural norms that apply to heterosexual relationships.
my comments are not going through. TEST
Here, Buster, check these:
Bad letter combinations / words to avoid if you want to get past the CNN automatic filter:
Many, if not most, are buried within other words, so use your imagination.
You can use dashes, spaces, or other characters or some html tricks to modify the "offending" letter combinations.
ar-se.....as in ar-senic.
co-ck.....as in co-ckatiel, co-ckatrice, co-ckleshell, co-ckles, etc.
co-on.....as in racc-oon, coc-oon, etc.
cu-m......as in doc-ument, accu-mulate, circu-mnavigate, circu-mstances, cu-mbersome, cuc-umber, etc.
ef-fing...as in ef-fing filter
ft-w......as in soft-ware, delft-ware, swift-water, drift-wood, etc.
ho-mo.....as in ho-mo sapiens or ho-mose-xual, ho-mogenous, sopho-more, etc.
ho-oters…as in sho-oters
ho-rny....as in tho-rny, etc.
hu-mp… as in th-ump, th-umper, th-umping
jacka-ss...yet "ass" is allowed by itself.....
ja-p......as in j-apanese, ja-pan, j-ape, etc.
koo-ch....as in koo-chie koo..!
o-rgy….as in po-rgy, zo-rgy, etc.
pi-s......as in pi-stol, lapi-s, pi-ssed, therapi-st, etc.
p-oon… as in sp-oon, lamp-oon, harp-oon
p-orn… as in p-ornography
pr-ick....as in pri-ckling, pri-ckles, etc.
ra-pe.....as in scra-pe, tra-peze, gr-ape, thera-peutic, sara-pe, etc.
se-x......as in Ess-ex, s-exual, etc.
sm-ut…..as in transm-utation
sp-ic.....as in desp-icable, hosp-ice, consp-icuous, susp-icious, sp-icule, sp-ice, etc.
sp-ook… as in sp-ooky, sp-ooked
ti-t......as in const-itution, att-itude, t-itle, ent-ity, alt-itude, beat-itude, etc.
tw-at.....as in wristw-atch, nightw-atchman, salt-water, etc.
va-g......as in extrava-gant, va-gina, va-grant, va-gue, sava-ge, etc.
who-re....as in who're you kidding / don't forget to put in that apostrophe!
There's another phrase that someone found, "wo-nderful us" (have no idea what sets that one off).
There are more, some of them considered "racist", so do not assume that this list is complete.
So iron if nothing happened why are you here talking about nothing that is really sane right. Now I'm here because I'm one of the ones that God changed my life, helped me at every turn, provides and secures me. I really am so happy that I am called by Him and have this relationship. I just don't understand why God the holy one that came in His Son took all the sins and burden reached His hand out to that which is not holy has to made accessible or dirty to make people think He is indeed just that accessible. Maybe the problem is knowing that we are not holy and really not acceptable allow that to turn us away from the Lord. I once was lost now I'm found what a awesome thought thank you Lord for my Salvation that even though my robes were dirty and stained you as the loving Father called me forgave my sins and now call me son. What a privilege what a joy that's amazing grace.
I'm sorry, "Bob", but "God", "His Son", "Him", "His hand", "Lord", and "Salvation" are all 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: "EPIC FAIL".
Other Bob, stop your blathering and present some details of your supposed encounters and relationship with "god". Proof please. No proof means your claims should be tossed and you should withdraw them.
The majority of comments on here show the hypocrisy of religion and it's followers. To begin with, none of that nonsense actually happened. Yet religion denies the very written words it trys to force on others. The reality is that unless you were of wealth at that time in history you would be dirty, smelly, consistently sick with something and poor. Christianity is nothing more than fairytales pulled together from other religions of the time. However, if you are going to wave around your little book all the time, then accept the reality of what a person of that time & background was actually like.
If so why are you wasting your time on this site?
Greg, Why not keep your faith to yourself? Do you think your faith overrides the 1st Amendment?
Many of us realists are trying to enlighten and assist the hard-of-thinking folks.
Others of us just want them to know that we are onto them and are watching out for realism.
Who told you I am a believer? I am just disappointed when people pick fights for nothing. There are many other important issues that we need to "waste" out time and energy. The existence or the absence of God is not one of them
I am amazed at the European mentality or may I say the Christian mentality,, maybe your unaware that you are talking about a very holy person who is close to Allah.... as a muslim I deplore the use of your info and vocab, I am saddened at how you talk of your holy man. We the Muslims and Christians in Pakistan are so much in love with this man who is suppose to come now and we are horrified at how you use your low quality imagination. On a man who is close to GOD should have your respect not your fun on his behalf.
What's the matter? Can't handle the truth that is written in your own stories? Can't handle the truth about the life of most people at that time in history? Simple fact is that you twist your stories into some modern day version of purity that isn't reality based on your own written word. That is the hypocrisy of religion.
Jesus cannot be a God if he is still dead....Mind numbing....
Jesus had a bad weekend for your sins
The connection is that the Book of Genesis in the Holy Bible paved the bath for Western Science and the age of reason and logic. Up until the Book of Genesis was written, divinity was ascribed to the material world in a way that we now clearly recognize as mythology. What Genesis did was essentially put divinity over the material world in such a way that made it fair game for the type of Western thought, reason and scientific inquiry that exists today.
How are the stories in Genesis any different than mythology? Some, like Noah's Ark, are actually just retellings of older myths. People living to near a 1000 years old, giants, creation stories, talking snakes, angels making out with women, sea monsters, people being turned into salt, human sacrifice as a good thing, ... Compared to that some of the Greek myths actually look realistic.
Because they have similar motifs, but vastly different content. Genesis is a thesis defense against traditional mythology.
Please provide specifics on how the bible differs from other mythology.
It is people like this that the world holds up as knowing so much but in reality they don't know anything when it comes to how God operates. He could be compared to the Pharisees or the Sadducee of Jesus time.
Actually, the religious Right are the Pharisees of our time. Too obsessed with the literal interpretation of scripture to follow the spirit of Jesus' liberal ideas.
How god operates is a moot point, as we don't know of any gods that have ever actually existed. The ones that we are familiar with have long been discounted by science, history, and anthropology. So in the end, you can only judge a god's operations by studying the lives of all the pharoahs and kings the Hebrew gods evolved from.
The rest of the gods that we are familiar with were first discounted by Christians, Jews and Muslims too, and they sure didn't need any proof to say that they were all just myth. The irony is that, when their own God is dismissed in the dame way, then they demand that we prove that he doesn't exist.
Don't over think what is required for you to achieve salvation as before you know it, the opportunity will have passed you by. You don't get forever to make decision, but the choice is eternal.
Strike the iron while it's still hot.
What if you're not interested in "salvation" or, at least, not interested in jumping through the kind of hoops that born agains say that a person needs to in order to be "saved"? I'm sorry, but I couldn't force myself to believe in creationism, or that gay people don't deserve to be treated fairly, even if I hit myself over the head with a bat, repeatedly. Honestly, how do you people do it?
free people do not need salvation
Brian, you obviously do not know anything about Christianity.
You do not know him- who are you- we do not know you!
And you sure don't understand how the system works!
And Yes God came to man as a man . Only to open a door to save you! And yes if you think it's bad Now -tonight give thanks you did not come in those days!
Because for what you have written you would have been beheaded!
And its because of his works you are not!
Pass the good news to your boy freind!
Michael had a good time at church today I see
Michael sounds like he sniffed too much of the incense.
Were you there with Jesus? Just because he had dirt under His fingernails tells me He was a man/God who stood with the poor people and the hard working people. What do you find wrong with that? Just because Jesus chose to live a hard life when He did not have to, tells me He was a God who believed in the poor of the world.
Maybe you should try getting a real job instead of putting Jesus, my God, down !
Cram a bible up your backside and see if that uplifts your spirits.
If he believed in the poor of the world then do you think that he is with the rich televangelists, mega church pastors, and Christian writers like Lee Strobel, Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins? A whole lot of people are making their fortunes off of selling Jesus instead of just giving him to people for free, is that what he would have wanted? Would he want you to support these people?
You'd need to be more specific about which gods you are worshiping. Jesus is based on about a dozen messiah figures, most notably Mattia. If you're speaking of Jehovah, then he was a bloodline of Jacobian kings ruling Mediterannean Egypt. If you're speaking of the Elohim, they were reimaginatons of ancient Sumerian and Ugaritic rulers. There are no singular gods in the Old or New Testament, nor any reason to assume they were anything more than flesh and blood men.
I have friends of all religious beliefs...Christian, Wiccan, Hindu, Agnostic, and Atheist just to name a few. However millitantisam in any form is intollerable. If you don't believe in a God, wonderful! You have free will. If you believe in one God, wonderful! You have free will. If you believe in many Gods, wonderful! You have free will. What none of us have is proof the other is wrong. So why don't we just learn to love eachother instead of trying to bite eachother's heads off. Peace and Love to you all.
I'm laughing at those that only read the headline!
Finally somebody who make sense. The World is big enough to accomodate everybody, believer, atheist, agnostic...
I would encourage you to read God's word (The Holy Bible), and let the word marinate in your mind, heart, soul and Spirit. After this point, you'll be in a better position to make decision based on sound reason and logic. <<>>
right, let it marinate in you. sounds logical to me
Marinating is used to soften meat, right? So, you're asking people to soften their brains in order for them to understand the Bible better? Yup, sounds like the best way to go, all right!
And what's the connection between reason and logic and the bible?
I read the bible daily. I would never be so foolish and gullible as to believe the words contained within it.
Yup, even the most hard core Trekkie doesn't actually believe in Vulcans and Klingons, or the magic of transporters. You can enjoy the stories in the Bible, and even appreciate the rough morals that there invented to teach, all while knowing that it's mostly all a fable.
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