In the 1990s, WWJD bracelets were phat in Christian circles. Those four letters were woven in friendship-style and the bracelets came in all the colors of Noah’s rainbow. They stood for “What Would Jesus Do?” The idea was that each time you came to a decision point in your day, especially when you are faced with the temptation to sin, you’d look at your wrist and make the right choice.

It’s a form of behavior modification rather than the heart transformation Jesus desires in his followers. But asking the question “What Would Jesus Do?” is making a habit of doing the right thing for the right reason rather than because you should.

Now, in a post-LIVESRONG and Silly Bandz world where wrist-ware is only electronic, people have stopped asking WWJD and instead assert WJWD: What Jesus Would Do…

I’ve heard this specifically in conversations about immigrants and refugees as well as the infinite integration of the LGBTQ community and the acceptance and affirmation thereof.

“What Jesus Would Do is…

…love everyone.”

…accept everyone.”

…stand up for the rights of minorities.”

…vote socialist/capitalist/libertarian.”

We recently heard the same from Virginia State Delegate Elizabeth Guzman, “The Bible says to accept everyone for who they are.”

These bold assertions of what the Divine would do in our shoes don’t come from a thorough study of Scripture nor even an introspection asking WWJD. These invocations of Jesus’ would-haves necessarily come from people who have never read the Bible or at least it’s been a while. There’s no way to read the Bible completely or sincerely and come away with the above conclusions. Those ideas simply aren’t present in that holy book.

Without reading the Bible, Jesus is thought of as a preacher of platitudes who came to enact world peace and avenge the underdog, nonviolently. He is thought to have been a live-and-let-live kind of fellow who would have made a good partner in non-crime to Mother Teresa. Because Jesus is generally accepted as at the very least a wise teacher, he is invoked as the philosophical ideal of good. But this is disingenuous in light of his claims about himself and who he proved to be.

Reversely, the atrocities carried out by Hitler and his party are diluted by the phrases “Grammar Nazi” and “Soup Nazi.” Online, “Hitler” is tossed around as a synonym for evil. What the Nazis did was surely evil but to let their name or leader stand in for any sin magnifies the crime being considered and softens the Nazis, and vice versa.

When you don’t read the Bible, Jesus is whoever you’d like him to be. Ironically, others remember him as a usurper. To them, he was the coup leader the Jewish people were anticipating would save them from the Roman Empire. His one “outburst” (overturning tables in the temple) justifies violence in certain situations: because Jesus lived under an oppressive government we can do likewise.

We don’t have to resurrect the bracelet but do ask others WWJD when they assert WJWD. And then read the Bible for an answer. We can know what Jesus would do only by knowing what Jesus did do.

– Scot Belavia

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