This is a continuing series of my quest to read the entire bible.
I skip around on which books I’m reading based on relevant conversations I’m having with people online and in-person. Today I’m writing about First Corinthians, because an online acquaintance of mine is going through a crisis with his family. He recently came out (or was possibly outed) as atheist.
He’s a young man and was still living at home with mom and dad. His parents first alienated him by not eating meals together, or being in the same room as their son. Then his father used financial strain by removing car and computer privileges. Finally, they gave him 30 days to move out. A few days later, his parents changed their minds and told him he had a week to move out. Heartbreaking story, and I’m sure everyone was/is very emotionally conflicted. His story is still unfolding, and he is currently being helped by fellow atheists.
Anyway, the parents cited First Corinthians as a scriptural basis for their treatment of their son.
Now, normally I write something more formal in my “cliff notes” (see how I structured Genesis), but once I started reading First Corinthians and I just couldn’t believe my eyes. It’s fucking hilarious!! This letter was ripe for a modern retelling.
Those of you that know me, recognize that the “voice” of this letter is extremely out of character. If you are easily offended, go pound salt, you sissy.
Literary Stye: Letter
Date: 53–57 A.D.
Dear Church of Corinth,
It’s me, Paul. How you doing?
You guys are so great. You really know your gospel, and you’re good at preaching it too! Truly gifted.
Hey, the reason I’m writing though, is I heard that there’s been some trouble going on over there. Chloe’s mom told me that you’ve been fighting over who you’re following, like “I follow Paul” or “Apollos” or “Cephas” or finally, “I follow Christ”. Like, what the fuck, people? Is Christ divided? Was I crucified for you? Fuck no. Get your shit together. Thank God I didn’t baptize any of you motherfuckers. Except for Crispus and Gaius. They’re all right. Besides, Christ didn’t send me to baptize anyway, just to preach. Though, I’m really bad at it. Shit.
Ok, so check this out. To those that are dying in spirit, the “message of the cross” is going to sound like complete bullshit. There are some really, really smart people that are going to be so annoyed with you. People in other religions might say, “Okay, if your god is so real, tell him to do a trick for me right now”. Or, those really smart people will ask for evidence—but that’s okay. All you need to do is preach at them. Trust me, it’ll work. Even God at his dumbest is still smarter than all those retards put together.
I mean, think back to before you were a believer. You guys were dumb as shit. You were also a nobody. But that’s okay. Because god likes stupid nobodies preaching his message. It sure makes those smart people look dumb. They must be so ashamed of themselves. They won’t be laughing so hard in hell.
(Ch 2.) Oh sorry, I didn’t mean to insult you. I’m actually a really humble guy, I’m just so bad at preaching. I don’t know anything except stuff about God and Jesus. Nothing. You know who deserves all the credit for my teaching? God’s spirit. Don’t worry, your faith is in good hands because my teaching is coming straight from God. You bet.
We’re really special because we get to know the secrets of God. Not even the President of the United States gets to know these secrets!! (He’s totally going to hell, by the way.) How will you know these secrets, you ask? Get this: your brain knows what you’re thinking. In the same way, God’s brain knows what he’s thinking too. But God has this like, ability to telepathically tell you all his secrets straight from his brain to yours. People without this telepathic connection can’t hear him. It’s too bad for them–they’re totally fucked. You can judge them for it too, it’s ok. Don’t forget to correct them; they might change, who knows.
(Ch 3.) So that brings me to my next point. You know that telepathic connection I was telling you about? You don’t have it. You’re all a bunch of fucking babies. Wahhh! Wahhh! I have to do everything for you. The most theological substance you can manage is wimpy milk. You’re not ready for solids. (And I totally know what I’m talking about even though I’ve never been a parent.)
[skipped section: seeds, watering & fields metaphor]
Thank God I was smart enough to lay a good foundation–oops, I mean Christ. Christ laid that foundation, not me. You guys can’t lay any more foundations. You can only build on what’s started. This metaphorical temple can have a variety of materials like gold, silver, stone, wood or hay. You pick whatever you want, but take care, because God’s going to come along and burn your motherfucking temple down. If your building survives, YAYYY you! If not, you’ll still be saved I guess… but barely. Make your temple a nice one because that’s where God lives. He doesn’t want to live in a shit-hole.
(Ch 4.) Since you don’t have the telepathic connection to God yet, I just wanted you to know that I do, so you can trust what I’m saying. I don’t care if you judge me; you’re a mere human, and I know my conscience is clear. It’s the Lord’s job to do all the judging, so quit being all judgy–just wait until the right time. Later, God will come bring to light what is hidden in the darkness. Isn’t that cryptic as fuck?
You guys are sooooo great. You have everything! You’re rich! You’re so smart! You’re so strong! You’re top dog! And you did it alllll by yourself too. Boy, I sure do wish I could be top dog up there with you. I’m out here slaving away, being beaten, wearing crappy clothes, homeless–I’m the garbage of the earth, being all martyred for Christ and you’re over there, sitting all high and mighty. Take it down a notch.
Sorry sorry, I’m not trying to make you feel guilty or anything, I’m just trying to warn you. I’m basically like your father because I know everything, therefore you should imitate me (not that Christ guy, or anything).
Anyway, if you don’t shape up, I’m going to come down there whip all your collective asses like the babies you are.
(Ch. 5.) Okay, let’s not mince words. I have heard some reports of some really fucked up shit going on in the church of Corinth. Guys, this is so bad that not even pagans do it. There’s a guy in your congregation having sex with his mom? What. The. Fuck. I leave you guys alone for two minutes… and not some lesser sin like lying or stealing, there’s a dude FUCKING HIS MOM. And what’s worse, you all seem to be proud of it! You all need to hand that guy over to Satan. He’s the only one that can save him now.
[skipped section: new yeast, new bread metaphor]
You all need to distance yourself from sexual stuff like this. I don’t mean you need to distance yourself from ALL immoral people, because let’s face it: you’d have to off yourself, or live like a hermit for the rest of your life. I’m not an unreasonable guy. But dudes, if there’s someone in your church that claims to be a believer and pulls this kind of shit, you have my full permission to judge shit out him. (I know, I know. I told you to hold off on judging people in the last section, but this time it’s warranted.) Expel that asshat.
(Ch. 6.) As if the incest scandal wasn’t enough, you’re suing each other in your local courts. Those judges are all godless bastards! And you’re making us look like a bunch of fucking idiots. You ought to be ashamed of yourselves! Look, when Jesus comes again, all of the Lord’s best buddies (that could be you!) are going to be doing the judging. What I’m saying is, that makes you totally competent to sort out your legal disputes amongst yourselves.
Actually, you know what? No. The very fact that you’re suing one another, makes you all completely fucking hopeless. I’d sooner take it up the ass by a member of the congregation than sue them. Don’t you cretins know that acting immorally is going to make God super angry? I guess you were washed in the name of Jesus though, that makes all your bullshit okay.
Let’s go back to this sex stuff real quick. First off, a couple of ground rules. Dudes doing other dudes in the butt is not okay. Neither is having sex with another person’s spouse. Actually, screwing any woman out of wedlock is not okay either. You know what really pisses me off about sex sins? Think of it this way, the church is like your body, and Christ is the your head. (You with me so far?) What if I were to take this church body and have sex with a prostitute? That means you would be guilty of taking our homeboy Jesus to a prostitute. You’d be better off committing non-sex sins like lying or stealing than paying for sex.
(Ch. 7.) But you know what? I’m a reasonable guy. I know it’s impossible to go you whole life without sex, so if you insist on having sex, you need to get married first. Wives and husbands, here are the rules: you have a duty to each other. You have to give your bodies to each other on a regular basis. And if you guys decide to take a little break from all that sex, you can’t deprive each other for too long, and you can’t use deprivation as punishment either. (This is actually me (Paul) talking, not God. You’re welcome. Giggity. 😉 )
Unmarried people are technically better off unmarried, if you can stand not ever having sex. But it’s better for you to get married than it is to burn in hell for having sex out of wedlock. So get married, kids.
(Ch. 8-15) Actually, hang on, brb. I gotta go take a nap from all this writing it’s making me tired. Just in case I forget to come back though, let me sign this off real quick:
(Ch. 16.) Guys, I need money to do the Lord’s work. I’ll be swinging by Corinth later, so should all be setting aside a little bit of your income every week. That way, when I get there I won’t have to come collect money from everyone. Also, pick two people that you approve of to take your donations to Jerusalem. Hell, I might just go with them!
After my tour in Macedonia, I’ll come back through Corinth again. I might stay there while this time, perhaps through the winter. I know you guys totally love helping me out! If God wills me to stay all winter, we can spend some real quality time together. After that I’m going to go to Ephesus until Pentecost (hehe, people there want to kick my ass, they hate me so much).
[skipped section: Timothy, Apollos, Stephanas]
Peace, love, and rock ‘n’ roll, bitches.
P.S. The churches in Asia say “hi.”
Paul really lays into those Corinthians, man. Whew.
Haha, so that was a little uncomfortable for me, but I had great fun writing it. Cross-reference it with a real bible, if you like. 🙂 It’s not quite finished yet, as you can see, I still have to write chapters 8-15. I’ll repost later when I finish.
Some Interesting Verses:
“Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?”
“Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: … [which is] foolishness to Gentiles.
“God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise…” (God chose the [believers] to shame the [worldly educated].)
“The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” —Paul
Author’s Note: I like to do this “madlibs” thing with the bible sometimes, and replace certain words. I’m a humanist, so sometimes I see something in the bible that’s really kind of nice, and I take out words like “God” and replace them with “mankind” or “ancestors”. This way it makes a nice collection of verses for a humanist bible.
Madlibbed | You yourselves are [mankind’s] temple and [mankind’s] Spirit dwells in your midst.
“Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes.” —Paul
“Expel the wicked person from among you.” — Paul quoting Deuteronomy
“Do not even eat with such people.”
When it comes to people in the outside world, even Paul says, “what business is it of mine to judge them?”
Madlibbed | Do you not know that your bodies are temples of [mankind], whom you have received from [your ancestors]? You are not your own; you were bought at a price [evolution]. Therefore honor [your ancestors] with your bodies.
Surprisingly, Paul seems pretty lenient toward unbelieving spouses. Is he also as lenient to unbelieving children?
(to be continued)
Image Source: Pacheco