This is a modern interpretation of Matthew 23, written as if someone were speaking to people in the Christian churches rather than "Teachers of the law and Pharasees" at the time of Jesus. It is intended as an intellectual exercise which helps compare the problems with old and modern religious authorities. No disrespect is intended to the original Bible verses or any specific Christians and, while keeping in the general spirit of the verses was the intention, no claim is made that this modern interpretation is accurate. The reader can find their own meaning or lack of meaning. It is just an exercise in comparison to inspire thought and conversation:
A Warning Against Hypocrisy
"The teachers of the Bible and leaders of the Church have great power. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you if you don't want to be singled out. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them."
“Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their Crucifixes big and their outfits shiny; they love the place of honor at political events and the most important seats at the dinners and charity events; they love to be greeted with respect in the streets and to be called "Reverend" or "Father" by others."
“But you are not to be called ‘Reverend,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Spirit of the lord who helps you see the truth justice and mercy in all things. The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted."
The 7 Woes
“Woe to you, bible thumpers, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.
“Woe to you, Pushy Evangelical Christians, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.
“Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone wishes to help the poor and sick through the government, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by church charity is righteous’ You blind fools! Which is greater: the charity, or the intentions that make the charity sacred? You would slow down good works in the world just so you can have private monopoly over them?
You also say, ‘If anyone lives their life like Jesus, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the church dogma and bible is bound by it.’ You blind men! Which is greater: the institution and the book, or the spirit led life that makes the institution and book sacred? Therefore, anyone who sincerely strives to walk the path of Jesus IS the Church and the Bible and the spirit is their reverend. Anyone who swears by the Church only swears by the man with with a Bible who dwells in it, not the spirit that founded it. And anyone who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it.
“Woe to you, worshippers of the Bible, you hypocrites! You quote chapter and verse like fetish to condemn your neighbors and cast judgement on them because you are "good Christians." But you have neglected the more important matters of Christianity: justice, mercy and faithfulness. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
“Woe to you, Bible thumping capitalist Christians, hypocrites! They clean their language and they wear their best clothes and they say "bless me bless you", but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Christian! First clean the poison from your mind, and only then will your outside also be clean.
“Woe to you, authorities of the Bible and bureaucrats of the church empire, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness and lust.
“Woe to you, Rich American Christians, you hypocrites! You build fancy kingdoms, massive performance stages with state of the art equipment, TV networks and ornate palaces to worship and live inside of. You say it is all "for God" but the only effect is luxury for certain humans over others. You mourn the savior. And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the savior.’ yet if he came again to challenge your flawed ideas you would crucify him all over again. With no access to him, you crucify his gospels instead by turning them them into a twisted version of human law to be used as a tool of political gain, judgement and condemnation. Go ahead, then, and complete what your ancestors started!
“You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? Jesus has sent you prophets and sages and teachers. Some of them you burned and crucified; others you flogged and burned in your church courtyards and pursued from town to town. Others still you condemn and harass this very day. And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Truly I tell you, all this will come on this generation.
“Christianity, Christianity, you who kill and condemn the righteous when they disagree with your dogma, you who burn or bury those sent to put you on a better path and turn a blind eye as children are molested, how often Jesus has longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see Jesus again until you say, 'Blessed is he who lives the name of the Lord rather than talking about it. For the rest, that cross around their next will be a weight that pulls them beneath the water not the wings that take them to heaven'"