News from the Tennessee Valley Religion

James L. Evans

Sermon on Mount: U.S. style

The Sermon on the Mount is regarded by most Christians as the heart of Jesusí teaching. Unfortunately, what Jesus has to say there has not been overwhelmingly embraced by much of the Christian community in the U.S. Perhaps it is time to update the sermon so it is more in line with American culture. Maybe something like this:

You have heard that you shall not kill. But sometimes you just have to. And donít worry too much about anger or demeaning language. In order to win a war you must demonize your enemy, otherwise people wonít hate them.

You have heard it said you shall not commit adultery. But letís face it, movies and television would be so dull without it. And forget about trying to suppress lust. You do that and no one will ever be able to sell a car or bar of soap anywhere.

And donít get too worked up about divorce. Everyone knows it is easier to end a marriage than it is to sustain one.

You have heard it said you shall not swear falsely, but common sense tells us if we are going to do business in the real world sometimes the truth must be ignored. If this gets too complicated, you may need to consult an attorney.

You have heard it said an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. I donít know how I can improve on that. The same for love your neighbors and hate your enemies. Some things just should not be changed.

Let me talk to you about prayer. What good is it if you go off and pray in secret where no one can see or hear you? Get out there in public, on television, at football games, during school days — pray out loud. What good is prayer if God is the only one who hears it?

And the same thing is true about charitable giving. Try to schedule a press conference so the media will see your good works. You might also think about printing an annual report of your good deeds so there will be a permanent record. After all, what good is charity if no one knows youíve done anything?

Here is the bottom line: If you donít take care of yourself, no one else will. Dress for success. Eat only the best foods at the finest restaurants. Keep that body healthy. No one wants to look at your flabby thighs. I say unto you — no one with flabby thighs will enter the kingdom, or any of the finer clubs for that matter.

Set high standards and donít let anyone off the hook. If you cut someone a break, all they will do is go out and make the same mistake again. Youíve got to watch people all the time. They cannot be trusted. If they get half a chance, they will get you and yours.

Always seek to be first in line. The last one in line is going to be the last one in. Strive to always associate with strong, wealthy people. Those are the people who help you get ahead. Donít think about death or suffering. Thoughts like that are for losers. And no matter what, do not give to people who beg from you. That only encourages more begging and less work. Remember the secret to life rests in this one golden principle: Do unto others before they do unto you.

After Jesus had finished these sayings, he got into his private jet and flew off for a relaxing week in the Bahamas where he could check on his offshore tax shelters while enjoying duty-free shopping. And many people in American said, Amen.

James L. Evans, a syndicated columnist, also serves as pastor of Auburn First Baptist Church. He can be reached at

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