Loving Our Neighbors
I pray for our elected leaders every day. Leaders are called on to make difficult decisions, and I always hope that their decisions are guided by love. I am reticent to wade into political debates, but when our leaders begin to quote the Bible to defend civil laws, I believe the Church is called to respond.
Recently, some leaders have sought to defend policies that separate children from their parents by quoting St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, where he wrote, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God (Rom 13:1).” This passage has been used many times in our history to support policies of the state, such as defending the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. This passage was also used by our American founders when debating the merits of revolting against England, arguing that they should obey only just rulers, and that just rulers supported liberty and freedom.
I find hope in the words of scripture to guide my life, as others do every day. The whole of the Bible, indeed the whole of God’s message was summed up in Jesus’s words: Love God, and love your neighbor as yourself. Any conclusion we presume to make about God that does not begin with love, is not of God. And when we begin to think that we can use finite passages of scripture to defend civil laws, we tread into dangerous territory.
The interpretation of scripture, a story about the triumph of love, has created some of the worst arguments and perpetuated horrible violence many times in our past, and persists today. When we debate issues of our civil law, those debates always have human repercussions. I caution us all not to conflate what is legal with what is Christian. When anyone breaks the law, their actions are illegal. But how we, as followers of Christ, treat them after those laws are broken, says more about us than about them. God loves us first, and our call is to love others in return. No exceptions.
Tags: Rector's Blog