The preponderance of those in America today referring to themselves as conservative Christians press for what they call family values.
When the so-called conservative Christians use the expression family values, they are not talking about the family in the spirit. They are talking about closest flesh-and-blood, genetic relatives. The values they are espousing with this expression are about what is meant primarily by the term "nuclear family." However, the true Christian understands, having been born again, that the real familial relationship for the Christian is spiritual and behavioral.
While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. Then one said unto him, Behold, they mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? And who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother. (Matthew 12:46-50).
Therefore, true family values concern the spiritual family, the people doing righteousness only.
This runs contrary to, or parallel with, the Ebionite tradition of the early church in Jerusalem, as related in later church writings since it is reported that we have no writings of the Ebionites. The Ebionites are reported to have put great stock in what is called the Desposyni. The Desposyni were at least the nuclear family members of Jesus ("his mother and his brethren [who] stood without, desiring to speak with him") and may have extended to successive generations and perhaps cousins. The earliest communities of the followers of Jesus, for instance, supposedly were headed by members of Jesus's nuclear family rather than Jesus's original disciples. James the Just (Jesus's brother) was the head of the first church in Jerusalem. He may be likened to the first bishop.
Also, the Ebionites apparently did not subscribe to the divinity of Jesus.
It is a question the degree to which those around Jesus and who later converted truly grasped his revelation or confused the issue or were correct within their given contexts but speaking and writing past one another some times at cross purposes losing sight of feeding the lambs and sheep ("the will of my [Jesus's and our] Father which is in heaven"). The Ebionites and Paul ran at odds at times. Others, such as Peter, were being pulled in both directions. What are we to learn from it all?
The values of the spiritual family are best expressed by the emphasis Jesus placed upon taking care of the sheep and lambs who are those who hear his voice, with particular emphasis upon the neediest amongst them. He said, "Feed my lambs…Feed my sheep…Feed my sheep." (John 21:15-17). He also said, "Do good to them that hate you." (Matthew 6:44).
Now, the family values of the conservatives do not emphasize the feeding of the spiritual family members and doing good to them that hate them. Their values center rather upon taking care first and foremost of their own closest flesh-and-blood family. They use the Old Testament meaning of brethren. The family values of the conservatives eschew the division of that nuclear family despite that Jesus said he came to cause such division, breaking up the flesh-and-blood families into those of the spirit and those not.
Of course, the flesh-and-blood family that is also the spiritual family, undivided, is a flesh-and-blood family that will put the needy above the unnecessary desires of nuclear family members. The whole flesh-and-blood family in that case would gladly participate in sacrificing for the sake of the less fortunate. Ultimately, though, it is no sacrifice. It is love, and God will take care of the souls of those who show it. The idea here is not to be nitpicking things to death either.
Judas, not Jesus, disingenuously begrudged using the very expensive spikenard on Jesus's feet.
Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. (John 12:3).
It is good and proper that the flesh-and-blood family members teach each other the straight and narrow and not begrudge each glorification shown by others for all glory is to God. Mary was glorifying God through Jesus. It is consistent with the perfection that was the message of Jesus.
Jesus, of course, did not hold with being filthy rich in the face of the poverty of others. The flesh-and-blood family ought not lead each other astray but rather aid each other in keeping to the path of righteousness that feeds the poor and also glorifies God in other ways as well.
Full-time love-hate relationship: Unconditional and conditional
We must always remember the following that Jesus said:
If a man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26).
And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. (Matthew 10:36).
There is, therefore, a full-time love-hate relationship concerning all such relationships. There is the hate of any family member's iniquity and the wickedness within oneself while there is also the simultaneous love of one's enemies (foes), even in this case within one's household. Hate the iniquity while always loving in order to potentiate enlightenment, thereby, selling nobody short (not judging them—just witnessing to the truth).
Combine this with the understanding that one is what one does, and you begin to understand the range of beingness conflated as Godliness. This is not the typical conceptualization of unconditional love. It s a combination of conditional and unconditional love. The conditional is relative and the unconditional is not. Both are part of the divine reality, the language of the revelation.
Hating iniquity is right. One is what one does, so hating the iniquitous is also right. That said, it must be tempered by loving the redeemable and understanding that we don't know who is and who is not redeemable. Therefore, we hold to a standard for others which standard also allows for the forgiveness of our own sins. We avoid the hypocrisy of judging and condemning since look at how long it took us to turn toward the strait gate and how far we have yet to go on the narrow way.
Now, to counter this preaching of Jesus, the conservatives will mistakenly point to 1 Timothy 5:8 as follows:
But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
But Paul can never be used by a Christian to trump Jesus. The extent to which Paul is right is after whatever Jesus had to say is put first and Paul is consistent. If anything in your mind that Paul ever wrote seems to conflict with what Jesus said, you must go with what Jesus said to clarify Paul's meaning: What it is allowed to encompass under Christianity. Therefore, taking care of immediate flesh-and-blood is always done as a simultaneous responsibility of taking care of the family in spirit. Immediate flesh-and-blood relatives are, after all, your neighbors in the sense of the commandments. Also, Jesus said, "If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?" (Luke 11:11). This does not mean though that one is never to travel for the word knowing in faith that one's immediate flesh-and-blood relatives are provided for. Also, if your flesh-and-blood relatives reject you, you are always obligated to your spiritual family, which is your true family. Jesus, after all, shook the dust from his feet leaving the towns of those of his fellow Hebrews who were false. The only time your close flesh-and-blood relatives are equal to your family in spirit is when they are also of the spirit, when they are bringing forth the good fruit. They are though always to be treated with the love that you are supposed to show even to those who hate you and call you enemy, as many flesh-and-blood relatives often set themselves up as each other's bitter foes.
Antonin Scalia and the death penalty
A prime example of not qualifying Paul in this way of putting the teachings of Jesus first is given by US Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia in his argument in favor of the death penalty (See: Footnote) as follows:
Few doubted the morality of the death penalty in the age that believed in the divine right of kings. Or even in earlier times. St. Paul had this to say (I am quoting, as you might expect, the King James Version):
Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. (Romans 13:1-5).
This is not the Old Testament, I emphasize, but St. Paul. One can understand his words as referring only to lawfully constituted authority, or even only to lawfully constituted authority that rules justly. But the core of his message is that government—however you want to limit that concept—derives its moral authority from God. It is the 'minister of God' with powers to 'revenge,' to 'execute wrath,' including even wrath by the sword (which is unmistakably a reference to the death penalty). Paul of course did not believe that the individual possessed any such powers. Only a few lines before this passage, he wrote, 'Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.' And in this world the Lord repaid—did justice—through His minister, the state.
Oh, what a problem this thinking is. Paul pointed out a mundane paradox. Where is the conscience? Where is the compassion? Where is the mercy called for by God and Jesus? Jesus suffered the death penalty at the hands of the state. Make sure you are absorbing that. Here it is again. Jesus Christ suffered capital punishment on the cross at the hands of the state. The reason that happened was because the state of heaven was not the state of man and it still isn't.
Furthermore, Paul by his own words had been the state's instrument for wrath against the Christians before he converted.
As for Saul [Saint Paul], he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. (Acts 8:3).
That state was either legitimate or not. A higher spiritual power had put that state in place, and that state did not give way to Jesus Christ who was the rightful shepherd by virtue of the perfect message he brought to light the world. Yet, Jesus did not judge the men who ran that Empire and its vassal states, such as Israel. Yet, he called them vipers, which are creatures that do not look after their young. The common people who followed Jesus grasped much of this while the elite powers were utterly confounded and confuted.
Friends, Paul erred by not qualifying sufficiently or by misunderstanding wrath. Frankly, he is taken out of the fuller-Gospel context. He was right that we ought not to avenge ourselves; however, that message is for all human kind including the state. That is so important to grasp. The message of Jesus is not for the righteous but for sinners both ruled and rulers.
The rulers ought not to avenge. The state ought not to avenge. Otherwise, Jesus would have said stone the adulterous as the law of Moses required by mistake. No human being and no state ought to avenge. When no human being is the instrument of wrath, wrath will be gone. Vengeance belongs to God, but God is not vengeful. God is the spirit of peace. God calls all human beings (rulers and states) to overcome wrath. That is why Jesus said God judges no man.
For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son. (John 5:22).
I judge no man. And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me. (John 8:16).
Wrap your mind around this before you proceed, for you do not get to the highest heaven without absorbing it and making it the law written in your heart.
Satan is vengeful and accuses, judges, condemns, sentences, and punishes everyone. Give place to negative consequences, but don't fall into a mundane paradox concerning the absolute peaceful spirit of God that is untouchable by the essence of that satanic spirit.
"Give place to" at best can mean don't be vengeful against the misguided state that itself is wrathful, but don't confuse that worldly state with the ultimate desire of God for human souls or God's true emotional state, meaning don't confuse wrath of the worldly state with how God wants us to behave toward one another.
Wrath is an evil. The power of the worldly state is at best the lesser of evils. From the perspective or relative position of one being rescued from a greater evil by a lesser-evil state, the actions of the state can appear good. However, that lesser evil is not the ultimate solution. It is at best a stopgap measure. This is not to say that we ignore the plight of people being tortured by fiends acting alone or in discordant concert with the state. It is to say that fiends are created by evil perpetuating itself and compounding itself in selfishness. We must change the hearts, minds, and souls of the fiendish-minded away from wrath and vengeance and greed and other depravities and iniquities. Those who refuse must be left to negative consequences beyond the coercion of human beings.
Jesus taught of, and warned of, the consequences that would befall those who could not sort out half-truths from the whole truth. He taught in parable form, because their law was confused about parables and truisms.
The parable can be an art form for truth-telling. Poetry and the prose of so-called fiction can be the same. Then there is so-called non-fiction, which is as unmistakably direct as one is moved to make it. The Bible is full of all of these.
Every time Jesus alluded to power, he was not always talking about the spirit of God to the exclusion of the power of human beings. The willful leader has a temporal power, even if he or she is ignorant that all power comes by way of God. This is paradoxical for the human mind until it realizes to reconcile God's great plan or design.
God knows all the details to the infinite degree. God knows everything that has happened and will happen. Our freewill is within that infinitude. Can the human mind grasp this? The human mind can conceptualize it. The only way to see if from God's perspective is to be God with nothing in reserve or held back.
Reconcile relativism and absolutism
It must always be remembered that even Jesus said that he, Jesus, didn't know everything that God our Father in heaven knows. He said that while also saying that he was one in spirit with God who knows those things which Jesus had the humility to state that he, Jesus, didn't know. This is reconcilable when relativism and absolutism are considered simultaneously.
The key is to view concepts simultaneously rather than chopped up as the various denominations and religions reflect. They glom onto one concept and exclude the infinite other that exists with it. Rather than working on the concepts in a cooperative, mutually enlightening spirit, they have historically drawn swords and lit fires over their respective heresies. It has been a history of myopia.
Jesus was teaching the awakening to the real perfect peace of godliness. Jesus was retaking heaven not by force or violence but by reclaiming the hearts and souls of human beings in peace, mercy, love, unselfishness, and truth.
Jesus was both man and God in this way. He was the Son of man and the Son of God without paradox. He is where we all ought to be heading, which is the conflation of man with God: Love, not wrath. It is the spirit of man turned away from God that is the embodiment of the spirit of wrath. Man in the state of wrath is still the subject of a lesser spirit than God's. He is still the subject of the satanic spirit, wrong emotion. It is this thinking that the self-styled noble liars do not want you to grasp, because it clearly and plainly implies that no matter what they do to your flesh, they cannot devour your soul that will be nestled with God without pushing anyone weaker out of the nest, for love makes the weakest the strongest. It is God's law.
Understand that everything else is relative to these two diametrically opposed and irreconcilable spirits in their ultimate essences. Yes, the satanic, misled spirit will rush in and seemingly save in violence for the short term for selfish emotionally confused reasons, often quite understandable given all the preceding misguidance those under the spell of violence have received. That understanding but not condoning is the basis for forgiving all of us, and the ignorant about wrath versus love, after all. It is God's grace to understand these matters to the infinite degree.
We are interested though in the end-salvation. We are interested in the ultimate and not just what is closest relatively speaking. We want to be perfectly right. This means transforming into the spirit of God. There is no way around it. The human will must become the will of God. Anything less is perpetual error, since only God is perfectly right and good.
The Bible is a history of consciousness awakening. It is a history of consciences debating these conceptualizations. It is a history of the emotion-language manifesting here and now the higher state of being-consciousness. It is a history of dealing with mundane paradoxes of right and wrong. It is a history of the search for God who is infinite goodness in the face of minds that would not and could not rise to that thinking. This is why Jesus said that we harvest what others before us have sown.
Herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. (John 4:37).
The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. (Matthew 13:39).
I added that second verse to show that it is easy to make the mistake of thinking that everything sown before Jesus was clear of sin or error. For instance, Moses didn't know what Jesus knew and Moses made mistakes Jesus didn't make. The same applies to Paul. However, Moses brought much upon which those to follow could build in sorting partial truth from the entire truth we rightfully seek. Moses is neither judged nor condemned by God. Moses came before Jesus in mundane history. Unlike others, Moses did not have the benefit of being able to first consider the teachings of Jesus. Moses was right for his time and place and its hardheartedness that was its spiritual deafness. Moses is alive and in heaven and agrees fully with Jesus. Think about this carefully, for it has a direct bearing upon the future choices you will make and what you will sow and reap in the end.
Was Jesus a terror to good works? No. Were they the terrors-to-good-works who conspired to murder him and did get him murdered? Obviously, the answer is yes.
Jesus suffered the death penalty wrongfully even by the low standards of the Roman Empire at the time. He suffered it attempting to teach the likes of the Scalia-minded of the world not to throw stones that is use punishment, capital or otherwise.
Oh, judge Antonin Scalia has worked out for himself a place in the Empire where he does his best to balance the original intent of those who passed a given law with the weight of legal precedent (the findings and rulings of US judges) and with the weight of Antonin's current understanding of reasonableness. If one buys into the concept that the two great commandments, golden rule, and new commandment of Jesus Christ are not the highest law of human kind, then Antonin's approach to partaking in the Empire, facilitating it, etc., is certainly mundanely logical. If on the other hand, one's religious belief, supposedly protected under ...continues... Click next page number below. [If you would like to see the full text on one page (helps with searching for text on the page), use the "No-Graphics Print Version".]
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And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. (Matthew 17:24-26)