Let’s Be Honest about Paul for a Second

Paul is an asshole. He was an asshole when he was Saul and he was an asshole after the incident on the road to Damascus. He’s the only Christian whose martyrdom was probably a result of having annoyed the shit out of everyone standing within 100 yards of him, and not his religion. It’s nice of people to pretend he was crucified upside down, but I personally believe the beheading version, because who would want to listen to him gripe for the hours it takes to die by crucifixion?

Anyway, this doesn’t mean that Paul wasn’t an effective leader–effective leaders tend to be giant assholes. In fact, if I were speculating on why Paul was given the job of setting up and setting on their ways so many early churches, I would bet it was this particular personality quirk that made him stand out as an effective leader. In other words, he excelled at what he did because he was a giant asshole with a singular vision for how to set up and run the organization necessary to perpetuate a belief system.

I don’t remind you that Paul was an asshole in order to discredit the good he did. But I do remind you that, before you say, “Well, it says in the Bible…” that many books in the New Testament were written by a giant asshole and that, whenever the giant asshole says something, it needs to be weighed against the words in red. If they go along with what the words in red say, run with it. If they contradict the words in red or seem to contradict the spirit of the words in red, then just blow it off.

Or start calling your religion Paulianity, just so everyone knows where you stand.


8 thoughts on “Let’s Be Honest about Paul for a Second

  1. “He’s the only Christian whose martyrdom was probably a result of having annoyed the shit out of everyone standing within 100 yards of him, and not his religion.”


    There is an exchange of letters between Pliny the Younger and the Emperor Trajan from the early 2nd Century in which Pliny seeks the Emperor’s preferences about whether or not to execute Christians. Trajan’s answer, as I remember was along the lines of ‘don’t execute them for being Christians unless they persist in doing things to force you to execute them.’

    Apparently no small number of early Christians did annoy the authorities in order to be martyred. No wonder the Romans found the earliest Christians bizarre.

  2. If you’re interested in reading further, I think “Paul Among the People: The Apostle Reinterpreted and Reimagined in His Own Time” by Sarah Ruden is a really interesting re-thinking of Paul. I don’t agree with the whole book, but it certainly made me reconsider things…

  3. Paul sucks. Peter rocks! Paul is always right. Peter is usually wrong…at first, but he gets forgiven and does better next time. Jesus called him the rock upon which the church is built. (Very punny guy, that Jesus. You know about the joke in Aramaic about the Pharisees straining at a gnat [galma] and swallowing a camel [gamla], right?) Peter is also the only person in the Bible, besides Jesus and Elijah, to raise the dead. He also opened the faith to gentiles, based on a vision from God. Not bad for a screw-up who denied Jesus three times on the night of his arrest and torture. And I believe the tradition of being crucified upside down is a story about Peter – who reportedly said he was not worthy to die like Jesus and asked for the upside-down treatment.

  4. Paul was the king of ass-holes. One obvious thread throughout his epistles is that he was a woman-loathing jerk who was deserted by his wife because he was too obnoxious to be around. His views on sex and marriage strongly suggest that he was, shall we say, small in the pants. I strongly tend to believe that his writings were not inspired as they are at times in conflict with Peter, James and John. This dumbass advocated slavery, and blind obedience to civil government, stating the slaves need obey their masters and not seek their freedomn or that governments are for the good of all.

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