What would Jesus Do? I don’t really know so I have another rule that may work better.
I live my life in two worlds: religion and science. I am a committed Christian and I love science. Similar to Jesus’ two masters there is a tendency to love one and hate the other. It seems to me a lot of science writers hate religion. Among other faults, non-Christian science writers see all human behavior in terms of evolution. There was an article in the Scientific American about the evolutionary advantages gossip. According to the article, gossip is a way of punishing those who break group norms. It makes you wonder if all sin has an evolutionary advantage. Murder certainly does. Murder allows the strong to survive and reproduce. Lying allows the weak to pretend to be strong or it allows the strong to conserve resources. adultery is nothing but a bare-faced evolutionary gene grab. I think you get the idea. So if science says sin is good why is it bad?
I think the answer is in what we are trying to evolve. Haven’t you ever wondered why Gorillas don’t rule the world. They are bigger than us. Sure they are not as smart but why don’t they evolve some more smarts? Why are bears and elephants not as smart as us? They have been evolving for the same amount of time. Wouldn’t evolutionary pressures also favor the smart bears or elephants? The problem with evolution is that it is short-sighted. It only cares about survival of the fittest not the long term health and happiness of the species.
I’ve already said that I believe that the Bible is about civilization. I think it is significant that the creator placed man in a garden and ordered him to take care of it. He didn’t place man on a plain full of mammoths and tell him to hunt them to extinction and then die for lack of food. Hunter-and-gather-man is like an animal. He only cares about the immediate future and his own children. He murders and steals and lies and fornicates as much as needed to survive and pass on his seed. Civilized man cares about the far future, not just the next ten years or thousand but even into the infinity of heaven. A man who has done a lot of damage to civilization once said “in the long run we’re all dead”. That is true if you believe that we are animals. If you believe that we are something special and that God treats us different from animals then no! – in the long run we are not all dead. Of course I’m not ruling out the possibility that people who act like animals will be treated by God the same way as he treats animals. I hope that is true. Unfortunately the Bible teaches different and since God has not spoken to me directly I’m going to go with what the Bible teaches.
Speaking in broad terms about a philosophy of life that has not been thought through to the bitter end I would say it this way. Don’t think “What would Jesus Do?” but instead, think “What would a hunter gatherer do?” or even better “What would an animal do?” then do the opposite.
Try it on for size. Would an animal worship God?(no) Would an animal steal?(big yes) Would an animal take care of its aging parents?(No but there may be some exceptions) Adultery?(big yes,even among the supposedly monogamous) Animals are big sinners. Think about the seven deadly sins: Pride,Envy,Anger,Sloth, Greed,Gluttony and Lust. I’ve never thought Gluttony deserved to be on the list and I don’t really see a difference between Greed and Lust but that is just me. The point is that animals do them all because they all confer a (short term) evolutionary advantage – to an animal.
God is calling us to deny our animal nature and to become Christ like. It is the message of the Bible from Genesis 1:1 to the amen in Revelation. So instead of asking “what would Jesus do?” Ask “what would a Dog do” or even better “What do I really want to do?” then do the opposite.