Let’s Make Jesus Less … Offensive!

By William Kilpatrick Published on February 2, 2017

Christians across the world are trying their best to be as non-offensive as possible.  For example, one Italian priest recently cancelled a traditional nativity scene out of respect for Muslims, and another Italian priest in a different town created a nativity scene with Mary and Joseph dressed in traditional Muslim garb “in the name of dialogue among religions.”

This got me to thinking that Jesus occasionally said some fairly offensive things. Perhaps it’s time for a new edition of the New Testament that would make his words more palatable to modern tastes. Below are some examples of what Jesus said, followed by what he should have said.

A New Testament that Won’t Trigger Anyone

What Jesus said (when his disciples told him that the Pharisees “were offended” by one of his sayings):

Let them alone; they are blind guides (Mt. 15: 14).

What he should have said:

I deeply regret any misunderstandings. I guess I should have made myself clearer.

What Jesus said:

For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few (Mt. 7: 14).

What he should have said:

My Father’s house has many pathways leading to it. In fact, the Kingdom of Heaven is borderless.  You can get there from anywhere. By the way, I hope it doesn’t offend you when I say “My Father.”  It’s just a manner of speaking.

What Jesus said (when the Pharisees and Sadducees asked for a sign):

An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign shall be given it except the sign of Jonah (Mt. 16: 14).

What he should have said:

Let’s dialogue about that.

What Jesus said:

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of extortion and rapacity (Mt. 23: 25).

What he should have said:

Some say, “clean the outside of the cup;” some say “clean the inside.” Different people have different faith traditions. And that’s okay.

What Jesus said:

I am the way and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me (Jn. 14:6).

What he should have said:

Everyone has her own truth. That’s the way it should be in a pluralistic society.

What Jesus said:

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within they are full of dead men’s bones and uncleanness (Mt. 23: 27).

What he should have said:

Inwardly, they are just like all people: seekers of peace and justice. We have much to learn from their deep devotion and vibrant spirituality.

What Jesus said:

Truly I say to you, the tax collectors and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you (Mt. 21: 31)

What he should have said:

Who am I to judge?

What Jesus said:

Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves (Mt. 7: 15).

What he should have said:

I misspoke when I used the term “false prophets.” All religious traditions are equally true in their own way. And I certainly meant no disrespect to future prophets (peace be upon them).

What Jesus said:

You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?  (Mt. 23: 33).

What he should have said:

I deeply regret any divisive rhetoric I may have used in the past. We should avoid hurtful language and strive to create safe spaces for one another.  For of such is the kindergar… I mean the kingdom of heaven. I would also like to apologize to any vipers who may have taken offense. As we know, authentic vipers are opposed to every form of violence, and they have made countless contributions to our planet’s endangered ecosystem.

As you can see, the updated version of Jesus’ words is a considerable improvement over the original.  Not only is it stylistically superior, but it also does a better job of conveying the true meaning of religion — which is that all men should feel good about themselves.  Let’s hope that some enlightened publisher picks up the idea and runs with it.

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