Column: What Jesus wouldn’t do

By Jenette Sturges

In an earlier era, Preacher Dan stalked the Quad, proclaiming the evils of fornication and gathering around him a crowd of bemused people enjoying live entertainment. Last week, the north end of the Quad witnessed an entirely different breed of Bible Banger, and I don’t think I was the only one who was offended. A small group had gathered Monday, condemning students to hell and carrying signs proclaiming, “Jesus or Hell” and “Sinners go to Hell.” Fair enough. Traditionally, God judges non-Christians who have been taught the gospel and reject its message harshly. Christianity is undeniably an evangelical religion that calls all Christians to spread the word of the Gospel. But honestly, it’s up to the rest of us to listen. Signs proclaiming the supposed sins of the entire student body probably aren’t the most convincing messages for proselytization.

More importantly, the entirety of the New Testament discusses love a great deal more than hate. Fearing God is not nearly as stressed as loving God and your fellow man. Extremists like those on the Quad, condemning people to hellfire, are not only missing the point, but they are spreading the wrong message of God. And they appear to be growing in numbers. Anyone who can string the meanings of three words together can see the problem with the website, the official site of a supposedly Christian-based group, hell-bent on eliminating homosexuals. It’s a far cry from the message of tolerance and love that Jesus spreads throughout Jerusalem, Galilee and Rome. Moreover, I cannot recall a single instance in which God ever, either in the New Testament or the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament, for you religious types), hated a human. Although God was often seen punishing humans who committed evil deeds, not once is he described as hating anyone.

Of course, the entire escapade on the Quad was highly entertaining, particularly the student who mocked the testifiers dressed as a homosexual devil wearing nothing but a red handkerchief and a devil mask, until I spotted the little girl, who couldn’t have been more than four, carrying a sign as tall as her that said “Fear God.” There are a number of problems with this. Firstly, the little girl could not possibly know what it means to fear God; she isn’t old enough to read the sign she held, let alone understand it. Not even most adults understand the nature of God, who in the monotheistic tradition is understood as omniscient, omnipotent, entirely just, entirely good, and also impossible to describe. It is for this reason that a number of Christian denominations refuse to even baptize children until they are old enough to understand their religion. Telling a child to fear their god is not only impractical, but for college students as well, it isn’t an effective way to spread a message about love.

Another issue I had with these so-called Christian fundamentalists is their definition of sinner. One sign proclaimed a warning to groups such as “worldly people” and “rock and rollers.” Exactly how does being an “angry woman” make me a sinner? I’m still searching for a Bible verse condemning women for being angry. In fact, there are a larger number of reprimands from God toward angry men, Jonah, for instance, than you see against women, who were known to be Jesus’ first followers. Even homosexuals are not usually considered sinners until engaging in homosexual sex, as exemplified by the election of Gene Robinson as an Episcopalian bishop.

So what would Jesus do? Any students attempting to foster an intellectual argument with the Quad preachers that day were met with accusations of being heathens. If you honestly feel it is your Christian duty to make converts, don’t insult us. Do what Jesus did; talk to us, and to your children, about love.