RJB IV: On Chosenness and the Parable of the Wedding Banquet

Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.

… “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

“But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.

“Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

Matthew 22:1-14

Chosenness is one of the most controversial and problematic beliefs born from the Bible. One way in which religious Jews deal with the notion of chosenness is by claiming that they are choosing to be Jewish, because it is obvious that most Jews today either are atheists or live as atheists and do not choose Judaism in their daily lives. How can there be a chosen people, a people chosen by a god, if the individuals in that group persistently choose not to associate with their God?

Furthermore, few religious people stop to consider the act of violence, of spiritual colonialism, that divine chosenness represents. It is an attack on our right to choose an identity and to be individuals.

Christians take this parable, on the other hand, as a way to say that they are the new chosen … but even in the parable, the majority of those who make “the” choice may be turned away–and even tortured–if unprepared. This all seems pointless. However, there might be something in nature that is experienced as a form of chosenness. Rather than this supernatural chosenness, the closest thing to it in nature might be the various kinds of beings produced by natural selection (races, genetic types), each set “chosen” for their niche.

The parable of the wedding banquet can be read as an indictment against chosenness, as it recognizes that there are serious problems with this notion. The need for a clear post-colonial theology has been somewhat filled by the Bahá’í Faith, which teaches that any and all tribes and nations who take refuge in God are all peoples of God, however the majority of Christians, Jews, and Muslims still believe in some form of chosenness narrative, with the false pretensions of racial and/or moral superiority inherent in the belief, that tempt even the most mediocre of souls.

As opposed to this abduction into an arbitrary identity, an individual may freely choose and will to become an Epicurean or a member of any other group, via conversion (the Philodeman oath said: “I am a follower of Epicurean philosophy, according to which it has been my CHOICE to live“). An act of conversion might facilitate inner reconciliation and moral reform, a conscious transformation of the self for the better that can be truly experienced and lived. Most importantly, it would be authentic, not imposed. People should, therefore, reject notions of chosenness and become choosing, conscious, free and willing proponents and creators of their own identities.

About hiramcrespo

Hiram Crespo is the author of 'Tending the Epicurean Garden' and founder of societyofepicurus.com. He's also written for The Humanist, Eidolon, Occupy, The New Humanism, The Secular Web, Europa Laica, AteístasPR, and many other outlets.
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