What Would Jesus Do?

By Chris Dugan

 "A popular slogan these days is, 'What would Jesus do?'  This becomes the most reliable Biblical authority for Christians when it comes to hitting children.  Jesus just wouldn't do it.   Why, then, should we?"

    -Rev. Thomas E. Sagendorf - Senior Pastor, Bexley United Methodist Church (Ohio)

        In Matthew 18:6, Jesus says, "But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea."

        The New Testament, clearly shows Jesus's attitudes towards the harsh theocratic punishments prescribed by the Old Testament.  In John 8, Jesus declares that the person who was without sin  should cast the first stone at the woman taken in adultery.  Since Christian doctrine states that all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God, Christians cannot carry out these harsh scriptural relics from early Judaism.  The only person in the room who could arguably have cast the first stone on the basis of his own sinlessness was Jesus himself, who refused to do so.

        Hence, John 8:1-11 might just as easily run something like this:

1      Jesus went unto the mount of Olives.

2      And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.

3      And the scribes and Pharisees such as J. Richard Fugate and Gary Ezzo and Michael Pearl and Lester Roloff and Reb Bradley and Ginger Plowman and Lisa Whelchel and James Dobson and Charles Swindoll and Ted Tripp and Roy Lessin and Larry Christensen brought unto him a child taken in naughtiness;  and when they had set her in the midst,

4      They say unto him, Master, this child was willfully disobedient to her parents' word.

5      Now Solomon in the Book of Proverbs commanded us, that thou shalt beat the child with a rod and deliver his soul from Sheol: but what sayest thou?

6      This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him.  But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.

7      So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him administer the first rod stroke to her bottom.

8       And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.

9       And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the child standing in the midst.

10      When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the child, he said unto her, Child, where are those thine accusers?  Hath no adult bruised thee with a fresh cut stick?

11      She said, No adult, Lord.  And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I bruise thee: go, and misbehave no more.

        Of course, Jesus never really says anything about "the rod" anywhere in the New Testament, one way or the other.  However, the image of Jesus in the above paraphrase is far more consistent with the image of Jesus in the rest of the gospels than with any equally fictional image of Jesus breaking a screaming child's Will by beating her with a rod, or exhorting parents to do likewise.

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