A Gospel for Liberals
Considering the historical     Jesus in light of today’s most controversial social Issues

Jesus Was a Draft Dodger

The most common event cited to justify violence, however, regards Jesus’ outburst in the Temple when he turned over the tables of a few merchants.  Admittedly, this occasion, which led to his arrest and execution, was more explosive than was usual for Jesus, but it can hardly be construed as violent.  Nobody was hurt.  It was a harmless, albeit untypical, act of disgust directed toward a corrupt system that had allowed this holy place to become a center of greed and exploitation.  Dr. King once defended the violence of the summer riots of 1967 in this same way. “This blood-lust interpretation ignores one of the most striking features of the city riots,” he explained, “…the violence, to a certain degree, was focused against property rather than against people.” He goes on to explain that most the injuries that did occur were caused by police and military officials trying to protect private property.  In the same way, the only person who was injured by Jesus’ action was himself.  Like the rioters of 1967, he was lashing out against a society that used much of its resources to protect the private property of relatively few people, while so many others were left hung out to dry by an unjust and exploitative system.

Somewhere along the line the ideas about nonviolence so dominant in Jesus’ teachings also took a recess.  But that doesn’t mean they’re not still around, waiting to become dominant, to absorb the entire world.  Jesus was among those rare individuals who manifested this recessive instinct for the power of life.  Although his talents as a wonder worker, like everything else about him, were greatly exaggerated over time, the Gospels portray him as a peaceful man who used his gifts to heal and restore life.  It’s not always easy he admitted, “For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Still, he believed in the principle of life, not death—in nonviolence, not war—and he tried to better the lives of all he encountered by embracing them, encouraging them, and striving to establish a society that would offer abundant life for all.