Let’s see what happens when we replace “scribe” with “Republican,” and “Pharisee” with “Christian.”
I’ve had it with you! You’re hopeless, you Republicans, you Christians! Frauds! Your lives are roadblocks to God’s kingdom. You refuse to enter, and won’t let anyone else in either.
You’re hopeless! What arrogant stupidity! You say, “If someone makes a promise with his fingers crossed, that’s nothing; but if he swears with his hand on the bible, that’s serious.” What ignorance! Does the leather on the bible carry more weight than the skin on your hands? And what about this piece of trivia: “If you shake hands on a promise, that’s nothing; but if you raise your hand that God is your witness, that’s serious”? What ridiculous hairsplitting! What difference does it make whether you shake hands or raise hands? A promise is a promise. What difference does it make if you make your promise inside or outside a house of worship? A promise is a promise. God is present, watching and holding you to account regardless.
You’re hopeless, you Republicans and Christians! Frauds! You keep meticulous account books, tithing on every nickel and dime you get, but on the meat of God’s Law, things like fairness and compassion and commitment—the absolute basics!—you carelessly take it or leave it. Careful bookkeeping is commendable, but the basics are required. Do you have any idea how silly you look, writing a life story that’s wrong from start to finish, nitpicking over commas and semicolons?
You’re hopeless, you Republicans and Christians! Frauds! You burnish the surface of your cups and bowls so they sparkle in the sun, while the insides are maggoty with your greed and gluttony. Stupid Christian! Scour the insides, and then the gleaming surface will mean something.
You’re hopeless, you Republicans and Christians! Frauds! You’re like manicured grave plots, grass clipped and the flowers bright, but six feet down it’s all rotting bones and worm-eaten flesh. People look at you and think you’re saints, but beneath the skin you’re total frauds.
You’re hopeless, you Republicans and Christians! Frauds! You build granite tombs for your prophets and marble monuments for your saints. And you say that if you had lived in the days of your ancestors, no blood would have been on your hands. You protest too much! You’re cut from the same cloth as those murderers, and daily add to the death count.
Snakes! Reptilian sneaks! Do you think you can worm your way out of this? Never have to pay the piper? It’s on account of people like you that I send prophets and wise guides and scholars generation after generation—and generation after generation you treat them like dirt, greeting them with lynch mobs, hounding them with abuse.
—Jesus, Matthew 23.13-32, the Message
Lest you think I’m letting the Democrats off too easy, I am: I’m only requiring they reread this and imagine “Democrats” where it says “Republicans.” Meanwhile they’ll have bit of fun at the Republicans’ expense—until they read this and realize they’ve got to analyze themselves, not just pick on the opposition.
Be honest with yourself and ask whether the shoe fits. Not whether it fits the other party. Of course it’s will, if you’ve demonized them enough. Now look at yourself. Is it coming close at all? Then do something about it. Is it not even close? Really? Then good.
How am I doing? Well, I could stand to be a little further away.