Shit My Bible Says: Lilies of the Field

It’s easy to dismiss the previous two episodes in this series as “Oh, but that’s the Old Testament!” So let’s pick on the New Testament for a change:

Matthew 6:25-34:

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

And also Luke 12:22-31:

22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life[a]? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

(emphasis added)

Here we have Jesus saying not to worry about what’ll happen tomorrow. Don’t worry about where your next meal is coming from or whether you can get clothes. And he’s not saying “make sure you’ve made adequate preparation for your future, but don’t give yourself an ulcer.” He’s saying not to worry about the future, because it’ll all work out somehow.

Now, if you have (or want) health insurance, or a retirement plan, or a college fund, or if the way you vote is influenced by what kind of world you want to leave your grandchildren, then you can recognize that the above is bullshit. You are worrying about the future instead of letting it work itself out on its own.

See, that’s the funny thing: the only people who can say “See? It all worked out after all” are the ones who weren’t killed by “it”.

Not worrying about retirement makes sense if you don’t think you’ll live long enough to retire: if you have a terminal disease that’ll kill you in six months, then yeah, you might as well cash out your IRA and enjoy trip to Tahiti before you die.

This is of a piece with some of Jesus’ other pronouncements, like Luke 6:29: “If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.” If the world is about to be destroyed, then yeah, this makes sense because you have better things to do than sue the guy who stole your coat. But as a long-term strategy, it’s an invitation to get beaten and robbed.

3 thoughts on “Shit My Bible Says: Lilies of the Field”

  1. You have misinterpreted Luke 6:29. The assumption of the admonition is that the person who strikes a christian does so with the back of the hand. The intention is for the next strike to be with the same hand formed into a fist. A person who must be struck with a fist must also – presumably – be taken seriously.

    1. I don’t understand. Are you saying that it really means, “If someone slaps you, let them punch you as well”? Or maybe “If someone slaps you, punch them back”? Or perhaps even “If someone slaps you, duck; they may try to punch you as well”? But that doesn’t fit well with the verse that follows, “Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.” And in any case, as they say on Wikipedia, [citation needed].

      And in any case, if this verse is so easy to misinterpret, doesn’t that mean that God is a poor writer?

Comments are closed.