The brood of vipers

NY Times:

Citing the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s call to civil disobedience, 145 evangelical, Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christian leaders have signed a declaration saying they will not cooperate with laws that they say could be used to compel their institutions to participate in abortions, or to bless or in any way recognize same-sex couples.

They say they also want to speak to younger Christians who have become engaged in issues like climate change and global poverty, and who are more accepting of homosexuality than their elders. They say they want to remind them that abortion, homosexuality and religious freedom are still paramount issues.

This, of course, is on the heels of the threat by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. to discontinue charitable work if the city council passes a law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Photo by jikido-san.

Christianity was founded on stories of a man who preached sacrifice of self to the needs of others, went drinking with prostitutes and other social outcasts, and was executed as a common criminal by the government. The figure of Jesus as described in the Christian scriptures is, to me, an ideal I can only hope to emulate. Yet many of the people who take his name for their moral identity — and the loudest, most vehement and visible of those who do — would evidently react with disgust if they met their Lord on the street, and condemn his teachings as un-American if they actually understood them.

I wanted to write something more scathing than that. But I’m just tired. I’m going to hand the mic over to that guy they keep claiming to follow.

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices — mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law — justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?
(Matthew, chaper 23, New International Version.)