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Did Jesus Go Through the Terrible Twos?

jesus and joseph
Cartoon by Emily Flake

According to the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God, Jesus was just like us. Well, almost anyway. Jesus was not one hundred percent human. He was a God-man hybrid. Evangelical theologians will argue that Jesus was all man and all God. Called the hypostatic union, the humanity of Jesus was perfectly joined with his divinity. This belief, if thought about for longer than two nanoseconds leads to all sorts of questions. When Jesus performed miracles, was it God-Jesus performing them or Human Jesus? When Jesus was nailed to a Roman cross, which Jesus was crucified? If Jesus at that moment was fully human, does this mean that he was not God? And if he was not God, where did his divinity go? So many questions, for which Evangelical theologians have no satisfactory answers.

Evangelicals believe that Jesus was fully human, yet without sin. Can someone be human and not sin? If it was impossible for Jesus to sin — the impeccability of Christ — can it really be said he was fully human? Did Jesus ever lust after a woman (or a man)? Did Jesus ever masturbate? Did Jesus ever curse or lose his temper after a long day of working with his dull-headed disciples? Did Jesus want to assault or kill Judas when he found out Judas had betrayed him for thirty pieces of silver? Think of all the emotions and behaviors that are common among mere mortals. Did Jesus experience any of these things? Or was he a cyborg of sorts; a Westworld AI figure created to perform a certain function? (A separate question is whether Jesus was a created being, much like Lucifer or other angels?)

If Jesus was fully human, how was it possible for his mother to be a virgin when he was born? Science tells us that human life requires an egg from a woman and sperm from a man. If Joseph didn’t have sex with Mary before the birth of Jesus, how, exactly did Mary’s egg become fertilized? I am sure that a theologically astute Evangelical is reading this and getting ready to educate me on the finer points of virgin births, but any explanation he gives is sure to lead to more and more questions. Evangelicals believe that the third part of the Holy Trinity — the Holy Ghost/Spirit — impregnated Mary. So, the Holy Spirit was human too? If not, does this mean that God has testes? How did the Holy Spirit deliver the sperm to Mary’s womb? Did they have an out-of-body sexual encounter? Did the Holy Spirit ask Mary’s permission before inserting his perfectly sized penis in her vagina? Or did the Holy Spirit rape Mary? And since the Evangelical God is the great three-in-one, each part equal to the other, doesn’t this mean that Jesus was his own father? So many questions, for which there are no satisfactory answers.

Jesus died at the age of thirty-three. If Jesus was fully human, this meant that he went through the same growth periods as the rest of us. Did Jesus have to be potty trained? How was his aim? Did Jesus whine and cry when he didn’t get his way? Did seven-year-old Jesus ever use his God-powers to win a game or to exact revenge on the neighborhood bully? Since there never was a time while on earth that Jesus was not a God-man, it’s fair to ask if Jesus ever went through the terrible twos. Or was Jesus the perfect toddler, a child who never whined, cried, threw his toys, or hit his siblings? So many questions, for which there are no answers.

Evangelicals are expected to swallow the Jesus myth without question. They are expected to accept without question the picture painted by two thousand years of Christian church history. Don’t think, just believe. Some things are great mysteries, preachers tell their congregants. Some things are too high and too deep for us to understand. In such times, God wants us to just believe. When in doubt, brethren, run to the house of faith and all will be well. Someday, God will make all things known to us!

And so it goes. Faith continues its assault on reason, promising that if people will just believe what’s found in the Christian Bible, life in Heaven awaits them after they die. Those of us who walked away from Christianity had questions for which we found no satisfactory answers. Daring to intellectually, critically, and skeptically think about the central claims of Christianity left us with more and more questions; so much so that a hill of questions turned into an insurmountable mountain. It’s not that we didn’t want to believe — we did. However, we were unwilling to surrender our minds to a religious system that seemed increasingly at odds with what we knew about the world. It may seem to be a silly, trite question to ask, “Did Jesus go through the terrible twos?” but underneath this question lies a whole host of questions about the central claims and teachings of Christianity. 

To Evangelical apologists who are determined to evangelize atheists, agnostics, and skeptics, I suggest that you come up with better answers to our questions. The onus is on you. Provide rational answers to our questions. Pretend that you actually know and understand that we live in the twenty-first century. Stop using anti-scientific arguments and explanations. Stop expecting people to just “believe.” Promising forgiveness of sin and eternal life in Heaven will never assuage our doubts and questions. In fact, the very notions of “sin” and “Heaven” only lead to more questions. 

Evangelicals have a choice to make. Either put forth persuasive answers for the questions of moderns or throw in the towel and admit that Christianity can no longer intellectually satisfy and meet the needs of mere mortals. Maybe, just maybe, Christianity has outgrown its utilitarian usefulness. The world is engulfed in a pandemic that is causing untold personal and economic devastation. What does Evangelicalism offer the world in this time of crisis? Words. Just words. If Jesus can be born of a virgin, surely he can stop the Coronavirus. Praying and hoping for the best no longer works. For those of us who have rejected the claims of Christianity, we have turned to science. An imperfect god, to be sure, but one that physically and demonstrably delivers on what it promises. The God of Evangelicalism, on the other hand, delivers words, words, and more words, without ever delivering on his promises. Most of the Americans getting sick and dying from COVID-19 are Christians — people of faith. If the Jesus who never whined, cried, or threw a temper tantrum can’t or won’t save those who slavishly devoted their lives to him, pray tell why should atheists, agnostics, and other unbelievers give a moment’s thought to the claims of Christianity?


Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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    I had a these questions too and was basically told to shut up and believe. It was the whole explanation that Jesus was perfect and we are too stupid to understand. We did have one pastor who tried to get into biology and genetics by explaining that god used Mary’s DNA and created a fetus and implanted it into Mary. This pastor was fixated on the notion that in Judaism, being Jewish is passed down through the mother so Jesus’s father didn’t need to be Jewish for Jesus to be a Jew.

  2. Avatar
    Brian Vanderlip

    If you would just quiet your fallen gray-matter and not sound so so bitter and ungrateful, and pray some more, Jesus will take care of all your questions. (I feel convicted now for taking an extra glass of Kool-aid and leaving Bruce in this state of, well, disrepair.)

  3. Avatar

    Christians have no trouble applying this reasoning to other religions. I remember witnessing this and doing it myself when I was a Christian. Certainly religious dogma and superstition is more than worthy of derision as long as it’s not yours that’s being held up to ridicule. Bruce, I always enjoy your brutal take downs of Christian soma. Keep it up

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Bruce Gerencser