In China, Jesus Christ comes out swinging
We're all familiar with the biblical story of Christ protecting an allegedly adulterous woman from being stoned. Jesus shows compassion for the woman, disperses the angry crowd, and tells her to leave and stop sinning. It's a story of mercy and redemption. That doesn't suit the Chinese Communist Party. In their retelling, having dispersed the crowd, Jesus single-handedly stones the woman to death, while spouting party propaganda.
This may seem hard to believe, but it's true. The rewritten passage comes from a book entitled Professional Ethics and the Law, which the Chinese government uses in its vocational training schools.
In the actual New Testament, at John 8:1-11, the scribes and Pharisees bring before him a woman they accused of adultery. They remind him that traditional Jewish law requires that she be stoned. Jesus at first ignores their questions, but then responds, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her."
The people around Jesus looked into their consciences, and each realized that he could not cast that first stone. Eventually, they all drifted away, leaving Jesus alone with the woman. He asked her where her accusers were, and she said that they had left without condemning her. To this, Jesus answered, "Neither do I condemn thee; go, and sin no more."
The Chinese government's version reads as if comes from Monty Python's Life of Brian:
The textbook instead subverts the ending to read: "When everyone left, Jesus stoned the woman to death himself, saying, 'I am also a sinner. But if the law could only be enforced by men without blemish, the law would be dead.'"
The question section under the passage asks the reader, "Through this short story, how do you view the law?"
This is the text that first revealed what the Chinese did:
明目张胆，篡改《圣经》，这种所谓教育，终究斯文扫地！ pic.twitter.com/rZyc4X0bOZ— Timothy 時亮 (@timothyshlong) September 18, 2020
This is in many ways a small story, but sometimes small things are useful to illuminate a larger issue. It is a reminder that, in a socialist state, for those living there, there is nothing but the state. Morality comes from the state and is defined by the needs of the state.
The Judeo-Christian tradition, which still holds sway in the Western world, especially in America, is different. Morality comes from an invisible, omnipotent, eternal God. Morality doesn't matter merely because you might be arrested, and it doesn't flex endlessly depending on the needs of the state or the preferences of the despots that head a totalitarian state.
Instead, Judeo-Christian morality is timeless and applies to all people in all places. It is a constant, unifying force that is infinitely greater than just another rule. If enough people believe in these permanent, divine values, the resulting country will be stable and safe.
Or you could have China, a country that commits genocide against disfavored populations, uses slave labor long after slavery ceased to be the norm in the civilized world (Judeo-Christian values finally drove it out), relies heavily on commercial espionage, and has no hesitation about unloosing a deadly disease on the world. Biden, of course, wants us to be closer to China, the country that gave his son's businesses $1.5 billion.
Here's the Life of Brian stoning scene, a foolish comedy that China seems to have taken seriously:
Image: Christ and the woman taken in adultery by Jan Rombouts. Public domain.