General Question

longgone's avatar

Why does it upset me when people "play the Jesus card"?

Asked by longgone (14045points) March 11th, 2018

I’m not religious. Sometimes, in debates with Christians, they state their position and then add “That’s what Jesus told us.”

It annoys me, but I can’t quite grasp why. It gets on my nerves even when I agree with the other party’s position. Why?

For what it’s worth, I try not to seem annoyed. Also, I don’t want this thread to turn into a flame war. I’m just interested in exploring my mind.

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67 Answers

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Because people are trying to have authority over you by playing the Jesus card.

Pandora's avatar

Because you don’t believe in Jesus. Or perhaps its that you feel they are saying they wouldn’t behave in such a manner solely because of their beliefs.
For instance. If someone said they give to the poor because it is what Jesus would do. It then makes it seem like they are trying to get brownie points. Instead of saying they would do it because they feel it’s the right thing or they just like doing something for others.
Of course the other idea is that you do believe in your Jesus and believe yourself to be Christian but you have views that are not in line with Christian beliefs. So when someone points out that Jesus would do the opposite of what you say, it annoys you to be called out on it.

Bill1939's avatar

When in a discussion or debate someone presents an authority as proof of their position it dismisses your position and ends the possibility of continuing the conversation. It is frustrating.

kritiper's avatar

You want a better, more logical. more realistic, down-to-earth answer. The Jesus card is a cop out.

cookieman's avatar

Because even if Jesus were divine, he’s dead now and can’t possibly have “told” them anything.

flutherother's avatar

They are effectively saying I am right and you are wrong and I’m not discussing it anymore which is bound to annoy any rational person.

elbanditoroso's avatar

It disgusts me, because it means that they have no rational arguments, so they play this amorphous fairy tale card. It means that they have given up on the issue but still want to ‘win’ so they throw something irrefutably irrational at you.

It shows them to be incapable of thought. And that is disappointing.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Because it is a cheap method to steal the high ground in a way that usually ends the conversation. That in itself is bad enough but what makes me mad mostly is it shows how shallow the person is to use religion in such a way. Honestly “playing the jesus card” is a mark of an unsophisticated sociopath. If I see someone do that it’s a cue for me to distance myself.

funkdaddy's avatar

I think I see it a little differently, I guess.

I would say maybe you feel all the normal responses to that sort of statement are out of bounds, and so it’s a frustrating end. If someone said “that’s what my teacher told me”, or “that’s what I saw on TV” you’d either question the source or simply refer them to a better one.

Questioning their holy figure seems rude, so you don’t. Referring to a better source than their #1 Best Dude Ever again isn’t going to win you any friends, so you don’t. That’s frustrating.

I’d say from the other side, they may be saying something slightly different than what you’re hearing. The say that’s what Jesus told them, but really it’s more like “that’s what I’ve been taught in my culture”.

If someone said they believed cows were holy or they don’t use electricity on Saturdays, you might not agree with that position, but you’d probably give them the benefit of the doubt. If you needed to “argue” a point there, it would while respecting the cultural differences.

It might just be that the Christians you’re talking to are close enough to you that you don’t see it as another culture, but your own. We seem to respect the very different more than the somewhat similar sometimes. It may help to navigate the conversation by thinking of it as a difference in how they were raised and taught rather than just a single belief they’ve pulled up to end this particular conversation.

If they’re not interested in discussing anything, whether they say it’s because of Jesus, or they need to wash their hair, the conversation isn’t going anywhere. But that’s not always the case. If you feel it’s an honest statement and they want to continue, then there’s ways to do that honestly and respectfully.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Bringing Jesus into conversations is so normal for us though, he’s like our guru. He came to abolish the old rules and taught us love. I’m not sure why it bothers you, but I’m willing to discuss anytime. When I discuss LGBTQ issues with other theists, Jesus is my go to, because the whole love without judgement vibe he taught. It’s a pretty big lesson more theists need to focus on imo. I’d love an example of a conversation you had and how it ended.
PS Note several rude comments in this thread are unnecessary to the question itself. Sad.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@KNOWITALL There are a few distinctions to be made. If a person plays the Jesus card in a shallow way it’s alarming. An example is that they are not really believers yet use religion in a manipulative way.
Another is when believers use “the Jesus card” against non-believers which is both condescending, rude and manipulative in its own right.
The only valid use of the “Jesus card” is between believers which is perfectly fine. I think that’s what you are referring to, the OP is not. A real Christian does not use Jesus as a tactic.

janbb's avatar

^^ Yes, I would want examples of what the conversations were about too. If they are saying, “I believe “such and such” because they are the teachings of Jesus whom I follow”, it is different than them saying “You have to believe such and such because Jesus said so.”

KNOWITALL's avatar

@AreYou Navigating a religious conversatio between a believer and a nonbeliever is not easy, even with close friends and family. For instance, “the Jesus card’ is offensive. Rather than ending a conversation, that very concept of Jesus and his teachings SHOULD create a greater compassion from a believer to the nonbeliever imo. His life as taught was all about coming for the sinners, not the saints, so it would be a disservice to his sacrifice to have that be the end of a conversation, to me anyway. I really would love context to understand how another christian ends a discussion with Jesus. Seems odd, that’s when I’d be most excited and eloquent.

chyna's avatar

Once again, referring to Jesus as a fairy tale is rude and disrespecting to the Christians on this site. If you don’t belive, fine. But please do not disrespect us or our religion.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

There is simply no good way for believers and nonbelievers to discuss said belief without sounding condescending to the other party.

“Playing” the “Jesus card” is not what you are thinking it is. It’s actually got almost nothing to do with religion, it’s just a debate tactic that people use. This is very, very different than using a sincere belief in the teachings of Jesus in a discussion. One is sincere, the other is not.

LostInParadise's avatar

@longgone , I admire your patience. In your situation, I would probably ask what specifically Jesus said that relates to what you were discussing. I would then try to use the same statement by Jesus to argue the opposite position.

In general I find it annoying when people use the Bible to back up their opinion. The Bible, condemns homosexuality, condones slavery, treats women as property and advocates a policy of spare the rod and spoil the child. People have to cherry pick what they believe in.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Lost Please can we not debate the Bible’s validity, the angel in Islam, the plates of Mormonism, etc… Surely we can all agree that parts of most religions are hard to believe.
Your valid point about Jesus relation to the conversation is inteteresting.

stanleybmanly's avatar

I too get irritated with those pimping the “Jesus” brand. It’s a funny thing because I don’t seem to mind so much if a priest, minister, nun, or any other “employee” of the “outfit” accosts me with Jesusisms, after all, it’s their living, and who am I to judge their line of work?

LostInParadise's avatar

@KNOWITALL , The point I was trying to make is that the Bible is outdated. Most people have to selectively choose which parts to accept.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Lost Correct, but what does that have to do with this Jesus question?
I have no problems with SSM and I’m a christian, it’s not our place to judge eachother, it’s not okay. There are just as many good lessons as bad, is my point.

stanleybmanly's avatar

I think the disconcerting thing about this is that those dispensing Jesusisms are invariably well meaning, and one is compelled to curb his or her tongue in response. I suppose mine is the same reaction as that of a believer should I take “the Lord’s name in vain.” Bumping into Jesusisms is a rare enough event out here that when it happens, its enough to break my train of thought. I’ve been to other regions where virtually no interaction is allowed without Jesus interjections.

cookieman's avatar

The problem is not in referencing Jesus or his teachings in a debate or discussion. The problem is in the phrasing of “that’s what Jesus told us.” It’s too difinitive as if Jesus said it directly to the person. This is impossible.

This way of winning an argument of influencing a discussion would not work with any other deceased authority in any other area.

I love Frank Lloyd Wright’s work for example. I would never say “Frank told me to approach design” a certain way. It implies I spoke with him directly, which I did not. I might say, “I find his approach to design admirable and work to emulate it.”

A Christian who says, “Well I work to model my life after Jesus’ teachings” gets no guff from me. However, if you say, “Jesus told me to act/believe this way” then I’m gonna have questions about your perception of reality.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Cookie Thats just semantics. Jesus words are written in red in most bibles so in a sense, he is telling us. A preacher who puts his own spin to those words is often different than reading it yourself and using your own brain to reason it out. Which is why I’m not into churches much, I don’t like the spin.

cookieman's avatar

@KNOWITALL: Ahhh, it’s a little more than semantics.

“Gandhi said we should…”
is different than,
“Gandhi told me we should…”

It implies an actual relationship that isn’t there. Metaphorical relationships are a different kettle of fish.

seawulf575's avatar

Might be the same feeling I get when someone plays the race card or the sex card or some other “entitlement” card.

janbb's avatar

It’s funny, I don’t like the phrase however it’s used – “playing the…card” is such a diminution of another person.

cookieman's avatar

@janbb: I agree. It dismissed that opinion out of hand.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@seawulf575 Yes, not that different. Same type of debate gimmick.

JLeslie's avatar

I’m basically with @funkdaddy on this. An atheist, or someone who practices a religion that doesn’t worship Jesus, has no good response except maybe to smile, and have the understanding the person referring to Jesus only has good intentions. It’s uncomfortable for a few reasons. It’s not part of our vernacular, or because showing some sort of agreement might feel dishonest, or because once in a while the reference to Jesus can feel like an affront or disrespectful.

I’ll explain a little more. Jesus language was like a foreign language to me the first time I heard it. I had to kind of take it in, because it was confusing. I’m not going to say, “I don’t worship Jesus,” because that would be rude. Plus, I don’t want to be perceived as someone who thinks negatively about those who do worship, because I’m just fine with it.

If someone says, “have a blessed day,” and I say back, “you too.” Do they now I think I use that sort of terminology and believe in God? If they say, “I’ll pray for you,” and I say “thank you,” do they now think I’m also a praying person? Does my being polite indirectly communicate a falsehood that I didn’t intend to portray?

The last thing I mentioned on my list was that it can feel disrespectful, an example is if someone says to me they behave, “as they were taught by Jesus,” or, they declare they are “Christian” to convey they are good, well to me as a non Christian it feels like they are saying Christians are good and other people aren’t as good. How do we respond to that? I just say, “I have Christian values too.” But, now that I responded that way does that person think I’m Christian? It’s a bit of wordsmithing really to respond. It’s uncomfirtable.

LornaLove's avatar

Only you know why you’d get annoyed by that. I think @flutherother had a good take on it though.

Dutchess_III's avatar

It annoys me too. But for me it’s because they seem mindless, like they couldn’t figure it out if it weren’t for Jesus. Mindless people annoy me.

A FB user posted some long post about the fact that God doesn’t always answer prayers means there is no god.
A female came on, and smugly said, “He does answer all prayers. Sometimes the answer is “No.”
He responded with some long something. Then I said, “If a person begs for help with some sort of addiction problem, why would God say “No.”?”
If a child begs God to make her parents stop abusing her, why would God say “No.”?”
If you have 20 kids, stranded on a roof top on a flood why would he only answer one of the kid’s prayers, and leave the other 19 to drown?

She hasn’t replied but the only answer she could give is some variation of “God works in mysterious ways.” And that annoys me.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

To be perfectly fair, as an agnostic I get this way around many hard line atheists sometimes too. Theists have an uncomfortable reality of not having hard evidence to back up theology just as Atheists have the uncomfortable reality that we are walking and talking on a planet that should not exist using their logic. We literally know nothing about why and how we exist in the first place. Period. End of story. Anything beyond that gets filed under faith, speculation and philosophy.

Sometimes atheists will go all batshit crazy if you even hint that you speculate the universe may be some sort of creation even if it is of some unknown origin. Hard liners on this have deeper problems than just being extremely opinionated about this specific issue.

Christians are not “mindless” I know plenty of highly intelligent, highly educated, physicists, engineers, physical scientists and other professionals who are deeply religious. Many hold PhDs and are highly respected in their analytical, scientific and fact based fields. I have yet to see any correlation with intelligence and adherence to religion. There is a broad spectrum of beliefs people hold and the one thing that does seem to correlate with general intelligence is respect. You don’t see that with hard liners too much so I’ll let you imagine the conclusions and internal judgements I make about someones character based on how closed they are to other possibilities. .

elbanditoroso's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me – you’re obfuscating the issue.

No one is saying that there aren’t zillions of brilliant and smart people who are Christian. That wasn’t the question that the OP posed.

The question or issue has to do with whether a person who raises the Jesus Card is rational.

Totally different thing.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I have answered that in above posts, I’m directing the last post elsewhere…..

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Jleslie Great post, poses some interesting thoughts. Frankly a local business says ‘have a blessed day’ and even as a christian it startles me. I’m just eating some Popeyes but thanks. I can see how it would seem very odd to a nontheist.

LostInParadise's avatar

What is most irksome to me about mentioning Jesus all the time is the implication that morality is formulaic. Want to know what to do about abortion or civil rights or gun control? Just check what Jesus said. Well, since these were not issues in the time of Jesus, he did not say anything about them, and anything that you point to that Jesus said could almost certainly be equally as applicable to opposing points of view.

longgone's avatar

Can’t respond to individuals right now, just dropping in to say that I appreciate all the interesting perspectives. Thank you, this thread has made me think.

PS: I’d like to apologize for my phrasing. I see now that “playing the Jesus card” sounds quite condescending, and that was not intentional. The religious people I debate with tend to be extremely smart and I’m not trying to mock any beliefs here.

cookieman's avatar

Dammit. Now I want Popeyes

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Cookie Only if you want blessed stomach lol

JLeslie's avatar

I love the beans and rice at Popeyes.

@KNOWITALL Yeah, I think if some said to you “praise Allah” when they greeted you, or when parting ways, it would be uncomfortable maybe? I think that might be an equivalent situation. What if a lot of people in your community did it?

snowberry's avatar

I am a strong and very mature Christian. Please give a real life example of a statement when a Christian has responded to you by saying, “That’s what Jesus told us.”

I don’t know if I have ever said that in response to anything, except when I was talking to other Christians. If you would give a real life example, then I could at least tell you how I would respond.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@JLeslie I wouldn’t be offended, probably return the greeting with a friendly smile.

@snowberry Same, I don’t quite understand how that’s the END of a conversation.

rojo's avatar

Just a guess but I would say that, based on the question, it is because then what they are saying then becomes a circular argument: I believe in Jesus because Jesus told me to believe in him.

How can you counter that?

Another one is

Them – “I believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God”.
You – “Why”
Them – “Because I was told it was so”.
You – “It is not”.
Them – “I don’t believe you”.
You – “Why not? I just told you something”.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@rojo Faith is a funny thing. If you consider yourself a believer, some people think we just stop questioning anything, which is definately not true for me and many other people I know.

I’m not sure that anyone said ‘believe in me’, but ‘If you believe in me, then…..’ I could be wrong, but the bible is big on choice itself, not force. ie the garden of Eden.

That’s why I think some of us are having trouble with the concept of ending a conversation as the OP says. Doesn’t feel right.

funkdaddy's avatar

I don’t want to speak for @longgone but some conversations where I’ve heard something similar…

(between Random Acquaintance and Well Intentioned)

RA: I don’t understand why the gays want to get married anyway.
WI: Because it’s a display of love and commitment.
RA: That’s fine, they can have their love and commitment, but marriage can only be between a man and a woman.
WI: Why?
RA: Because that’s what it says in the Bible.
WI: Maybe they don’t want a biblical marriage? There’s a lot more to it than a ceremony in a church.
RA: Look, I’m just saying what Jesus taught me.

And then you’re supposed to politely say… what exactly? It’s completely on Well Intentioned to navigate that if they want to discuss it further, and that’s tricky all around. For most people you’ve effectively ended the conversation. The alternative is challenging RA’s faith.

And yes, this conversation happens. Others I can personally think of where someone has referred back to Jesus or the Bible as justification would be abortion, sex education, and the always fun Happy Holidays vs Merry Christmas (“Jesus is the reason for the season!”).

I don’t want to tell anyone their faith is misplaced, there’s no reason to, and that’s not my place. I’m genuinely happy if you’ve found a set of beliefs that fits with your morals and gives you peace.

But there’s also a feeling that referring to a 2000 year-old book for your moral guide, rather than your own heartfelt reasons that you can explain, seems out of place in a discussion with anyone else.

Aethelwine's avatar

^ exactly this! I’ve had the same discussions with people and this is how they respond. There’s nothing left for me to say once they mention Jesus.

and this- “But there’s also a feeling that referring to a 2000 year-old book for your moral guide, rather than your own heartfelt reasons that you can explain, seems out of place in a discussion with anyone else.” Well said.

elbanditoroso's avatar

But @funkdaddy and @Aethelwine – it’s more than just an unsatisfying answer to a real question.

If someone answers a question “that’s what Jesus told me” – as far as I’m concerned it immediately casts a penumbra on their judgment in other things.

Perhaps the initial conversation was about gays and marriage, but by falling back to Jesus as their reasoning, it makes me wonder: do the believe the world is round or flat? Do they accept evolution as fact? DO they really think earth is only 6600 years old? Do they believe that women are supposed to stay home and not hold outside jobs? Do they feel that woman have no rights over their own bodies?

The Jesus answer, at least to me, casts a lot of doubt on whether that person and I have any shared values.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

About half the christians I know don’t hold “christian values” and are more progressive in their thinking. For them it is a cultural institution that connects their own personal spirituality to the community. Belief in the more fundamental aspects such as being against homosexuality and a young earth is not part of their “faith.” I get along quite well with that half. I get “the Jesus card” there too but it’s usually more metaphorical.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@funkdaddy Okay, I get you on that.

@AreYou I’d posit that that’s got a lot to do with the decline in organized religion and attendance at churches. I just can’t go to a church that isn’t all-inclusive, I won’t. I can read my bible at home or watch a tv service, whatever, as long as I’m living like I’m supposed to do and praying, I feel okay with my choices.

(Progressive Christian) Well the bible also says not to judge each other and love your neighbor as yourself, so how do you reconcile that contradiction with your faith?

(hard liner:) Well as long as they don’t ACT on their feelings, they can FEEL however they want and it’s not a sin. If you know it’s a sin and ACT on it, then you are choosing to sin, so they’d go to hell.

(progressive:) So God created an imperfect human being? And if it is a sin, isn’t that between them and God?

(hard liner:) God created perfect beings, but some choose to sin.
Yes it is between them and God, but if I vote for it, or condone it in any way, I’m a bad christian for going along with sinful behavior. I definately could NEVER vote for it or I’d be just as culpable.

(progressive:) So what’s the answer here? Is it living a life of denial, like a hetero, or going to a ‘pray you straight’ camp? Would a lesbian couple be invited into your church?

(hard liner) Well of course they’d be invited to church, EVERYONE is welcome in our church. But we’d have to teach them that they’re choosing a life of sin, and when they’re saved, they will know they have to choose a hetero marriage to life a christian life. We have many lovely single people in our church and would help them find a good match.

*Some of you may not believe this conversation has ever taken place, but I assure you it does in many conservative areas. We had an open fight among local churches in the next big city, about who would welcome SSM and LGBTQ’s, with different pastors speaking out for or against. It really showed me how divided the religious community is. Don’t even get me started on the non-gender specific bathrooms, that was even worse as far as a public outcry.

Here’s one article to show you what it’s like here:

My favorite response to some people is, God gave us a brain for more than a hat rack, use it.

Aethelwine's avatar

@elbanditoroso I agree. This is why the conversation stops for me.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@KNOWITALL I totally believe that the conversation you wrote takes place. I hear things like that all the time (this is Georgia, after all).

The interesting pattern in that conversation is that in each case the hard line deflects the issue and tries to force/coerce a particular behavior on others. Or threaten something.

That attitude seems to be the go-to answer for people that have other values or beliefs. I can’t accept that in a person. As @Aethelwine said, that’s where the conversation stops.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Elbandit I’ve had this conversation in various forms for at least a decade. Even with family, it’s tough, but I’m used to it, but it’s worth it. We’ve made a lot of progress actually.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Regarding my answer here.

She came back on and said “We should do something something, rather than asking unanswerable questions.”
I said, “They aren’t unanswerable.”
If it continues, I’ll ask, “OK. There are two worms crossing the street. One gets smashed by a car, the other makes it across safely. Why did that happen?”

LostInParadise's avatar

@rojo , The line of reasoning is like this.
Them: The Bible is the word of God because it says so right in the Bible, which is infallible.
You: How do we know the Bible is infallible?
Them: You haven’t been paying attention. It is infallible because it is the word of God.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Lost Is it to be taken literally or is it a moral guide? Is it history or are there applications to modern life? If Jesus came back today would he be proud or ashamed of how people apply it in his name? I’m nor certain of anything but I’m sure his message and purpose were about love above all.

Aethelwine's avatar

A school board member told me the only cure for my son was Jesus. God doesn’t make mistakes. Would Jesus approve? That’s when I blocked him on Facebook and luckily I haven’t encountered him since.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Aethelwine At least you know we don’t all feel that way. It may be the end of christianity and churches if we can’t find a loving approach to this subject for a more openminded generation.

JLeslie's avatar

@snowberry When I lived in the South people assumed I was Christian all the time. Christian, theist, republican, etc.

Dutchess_III's avatar

But there is a lot of moral guidance to be found outside of the Bible @KNOWITALL.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Dutchess Yes of course. I wouldn’t have half the heart I do without my family showing me how. No prejudice or discrimination or even judgement. I’m very grateful for that.

MooCows's avatar

Jesus is as alive today as He ever was!

kritiper's avatar

Hey, Mods! Is Fluther a church??

Aethelwine's avatar

@KNOWITALL Yes. Just about everyone in this town attends a church. Our family does have some support. I was told it’s a difference between the old testament and the new.

janbb's avatar

^^ Which being which? I don’t quite buy that. I suspect it’s the difference between welcoming churches and evangelicals. Some Jews are very accepting of transgender and some not so much; it varies. And Unitarians the most.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Here the fundamental and So Baptist are usually pretty old school. Catholics and modern are usually less concerned. Like I said earlier, the link I posted forced a line to be drawn in the sand a few years ago. We have a lot of good loving people here, it was a big deal.

Aethelwine's avatar

@janbb I honestly have no idea. This is what I was told by another school board member who told me we have his support. I’ve never read a bible so I try to avoid speaking about religion as much as possible.

I feel religion is a private matter, which goes back to the OP. It makes me uncomfortable when others use religion as a reason for their actions. Just be a good person and leave your religion out of it. I don’t want to hear it.

funkdaddy's avatar

Old Testament = before Jesus, basics shared by multiple religions
New Testament = The story of Jesus, studied by Christians

it’s overly simplified, but a quick rule

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