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Even boys can become feminists - and wear a different wristband

Sunday, 22 October 2017  | John Kidson




 WWJD? > WWJHMD?

I've never been a fan of 'slogan' Christianity. The recent wrist-wearing phenomenon featuring the initialed question, 'What would Jesus do?', has never really impressed me.

To transpose the moral questions of our Lord's first century life into our 21st century is fraught with difficulty. I mean, apart from the basics, who really knows how Jesus would act in circumstances far removed from his situation and culture? Sure, we want to act in a manner that pleases him, that brings him honour, but we can't know what he would have done or how he would have acted in every situation. So I've always thought we should add two extra letters to the wrist-band: WWJHMD – what would Jesus have me do?

Every Christmas, we are bombarded with the image of a meek and mild Jesus. But is this the full picture? I shake my head at the popular Christmas carol, Away in a Manger. I simply cannot believe the sentimental line ‘no crying he makes’ – surely that was written only for the rhyme? Of course Jesus caused few (if any) childhood headaches for his parents. Even his 'wandering off' to converse with the Rabbis wasn’t a thoughtless act; rather he was seeking to do his ‘father’s business’.

But so many young people were into WWJD that I was convicted to investigate. At the same time, I was struck by my inner very negative over-reaction to a friend's wife commenting that her husband was ‘too well-trained’ to leave the toilet seat up. (I have usually, not exclusively, left it upright - men's liberation?) Then I thought, what would Jesus have me do? Leave it upright? Put it down?

On trying to apply the WWJD principle, I knew I had discovered one of its flaws. Being a middle-eastern citizen, Jesus wore robes, not pants, and probably did not usually urinate from a standing position. Besides, there were no western-style toilets then.

It’s possible that Jesus’ need to fulfill this basic human need explains his brief absence in some of the gospel narratives. However, I cannot quite see the occasional 'excuse me' and subsequent exit from the conversation for a time as being the most likely explanation here.

So I needed to extrapolate some principles from elsewhere in Jesus’ teaching, and here is what I found. What is plain to us is that Jesus' ministry introduced at least two radical cultural re-appraisals that are relevant to the question of how to leave toilet seats:

  • He championed the cause of women.
  • He taught humility as a virtue.

Before Jesus, women were by and large only second-class citizens; and humility was despised as akin to the docility of an animal tame enough to be taught tricks. I guess even the most liberated of today's women would not object upon entering a cubicle to find an already lowered toilet seat. Certainly, when at home and/or out visiting, I am now a believer in the re-lowering practice. I reckon it's something Jesus would have me do (a 'trick I perform in my docility'). Of course, I remain grateful for the invention of the urinal which leaves me with my gender's occasional advantage – of not needing to wash hands!

John Kidson, formerly Southern Cross University chaplain, now ministers in the Grafton Anglican diocese.


Comments

Gordon preece
October 24, 2017, 8:13AM
Good one John. How about HWJP - How Would Jesus Pee?
Ken Rolph
October 25, 2017, 11:02AM
It's true that the recorded life of Jesus does not mention many situations that arise today. As a long-time faithful follower I have always tried to act in a manner in which I imagined Jesus acting.

So logically it follows that what I do in any situation is what Jesus would do. So if anyone has questions about 'What Would Jesus Do?', please feel free just to ask me.

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