Saturday, April 17, 2010

The poor will be with you, always.

Only I can't help but hear that title in Obi-Wan Kenobi's voice where he says, "The force will be with you. Always."

I've been reading some non-fiction lately. One is The Triumph of Lobbying and the Corrosion of American Government and the other is Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America

The first one did deal mostly with the rise of lobbyism, but one of the other areas it explored was when Newt Gingrich did his whole Contract with America back in the 1980s, and how Tom Delay really worked to cement Republican control of Congress. Part of the tactics used to gain that control, in terms of getting the Republicans voted in, was the use of negative ads. Before, many of the ads focused on the positive traits of the candidates running: what they stood for, what they would do, what they had accomplished. Now, the ads shifted towards negative aids involving the opponents -- and these ads weren't always truthful.

I started thinking about this in terms of the conservative Christian movement, and how drawn they were to the Republicans. I try and put that pull in context of verses such as these:

And now, my friends, all that is true, all that is noble, all that is just and pure, all that is lovable and gracious, whatever is excellent and admirable -- fill all your thoughts with these things. Philippians 4: 8-9

Live like men who are at home in the daylight, for where light is, there all goodness springs up, all justice and truth. Try to find out what would please the Lord; take no part in the barren deeds of darkness, but show them up for what they are Ephesians 5: 8-12

Then put to death those parts of you which belong to the earth -- fornication, indecency, lust, foul cravings, and the ruthless greed which is nothing less than idolatry ... but now you must yourselves lay aside all anger, passion, malice, cursing, filthy talk -- have done with them! ... Then put on the garments that suit God's chosen people, his own, his beloved: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience ... Portions of Colossians 2: 5-13.

And, of course, the ever famous fruits of the Spirit passage: Anyone can see the kind of behavior that belongs to the lower nature: fornication, impurity, and indecency; idolatry and sorcery; quarrels, a contentious temper, envy, fits of rage, selfish ambitions, dissensions, party intrigues, and jealousies; drinking bouts, orgies, and the like ... but the harvest of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, fidelity, gentleness, and self-control Galations 5: 19-21, 22-23

Based on those passages alone, I would expect that conservative Christians would've been the last to have been drawn in by the party that first used the negative ads and the lies. Especially as the use of both demonstrates a less than stellar character. Instead, the conservative Christians come across as almost attracted to the very thing that should repel them.

Now, I know there were a lot of complexities behind the marriage of Republicans and conservative Christians. I simply found the correlation interesting, as it doesn't match what -- per the Bible -- one is expected to see.

In the case of the latter book, the author mentioned in the afterward how at one college, the conservative students and state legislatures protested her book in the college curriculum, as they felt it promoted "Marxism." I'm wondering how many of those conservative protesters would claim to be devout followers of the One who inspired their Holy Book -- the same Book that emphasizes, over and over again, how exploited the poor are and how much they need help. And the Nickel and Dimed book operates on the same vein: how exploited the poor are, and the help they need to lead better lives.

41 comments:

atimetorend said...

Sometimes I wonder if the line Christianity walks between caring for the poor and setting up a theocracy is part of the OT/NT divide and the Jesus/Paul divide. And with a diversity of view like those to choose from, there is ample opportunity for people to find what the need in the bible to pick the path they prefer. Though I agree with you that it should be incomparable with the verses you cite.

I have Nickled and Dimed on my bookshelf. Really confronts the fact that those issues are real. Have you seen the PBS/Bill Moyers documentary on Tom DeLay ("Capitol Crimes")? Was very eye-opening to me, yeah, things really are as bad as we can imagine.

OneSmallStep said...

Atimetorend,

**And with a diversity of view like those to choose from, there is ample opportunity for people to find what the need in the bible to pick the path they prefer. **

There absolutely is. To some degree, I think liberal Christians are more honest about this. The conservative Christians I come across aren't, and so in a lot of ways, can never have a mindset that understands where others are coming from in terms of Biblical interpretation.

I haven't seen the PBS documentary on Tom Delay. If I want to maintain my optimism about the future, I probably shouldn't. :)

Sarge said...

The poor...especially where I live, we have plenty.

Remember what that doofus in South Carolina said about "The Poor" not long ago? That's the basic sentiment of a goodly portion of the "not-poor". Dry up and blow away, do it unobtrusively, and leave your kids to fight our wars. We don't have a stasis chamber? Damn! We'll have to FEED them!

About the only people here who aren't pretty much hand-to-mouth are communications workers, health care workers, and gov't/military pensioners like myself.

But I think it is largely bound up in an American cultural thing, success and failure. Success, no matter how many laws you broke, people you hurt, damage you do is "GOOD" hence so are the people who are successful. You can be a mean, ignorant asshole, but money/power makes it just fine. The clarion call, "But there's MONEY in it," forgives all.

Failure is "BAD", a certain taint of unworthines (sloth? foolishness? weakness?) is implied, "loser" is the given title of one in that position, and they deserve nothing but a slap upside the head at random from passersby. Certainly contemptuous hisses should be their lot.

Many an editorial in our local rag as to "Beware Of The Liberal Agenda" being foisted onto hapless congregations by "Liberal, communist" preachers.

They ain't havin' any of that be-good-to-the-poor shit. In fact, some (interestingly, some who up to now insisted that the King James Version was the inerrant, literal word of their deity) demand that the bible be ammended to get all that "socialist, commie crap" out of it.

Just think: King James, a progressive populist! Who would have guessed? Probably not Ol' Jimmy!

Very much smacks of the Calvinist, though. The conservatives always seem to go that route, plus, with the conservative bunch, they get some muscle that the "left" (or so they think) is too pussified to use.

I've noticed that around here, people's greatest fear is that the next guy may get something at a lower price or even (shudder!) free that the shudderer payed retail for. I think some would rather be skinned alive than see that.

OneSmallStep said...

Sarge,

**Very much smacks of the Calvinist, though.**

Agreed. A lot of this seems to stem from the idea that God is in complete control, and dictates what happens to you. Therefore, no one is at the mercy of fate or chance. If you try your hardest and fail, the failure means that you did something wrong, rather than sometimes people simply fail no matter how hard they genuinely try.

societyvs said...

I think this way too about this subject...and wonder those exact same things...how come Conservative Christians are drawn to a party that promotes a lot of things they dislike? Easy answer - stance on abortion and gay marriage...which tells you how simple the Conservative Christians actually are.

If the devil came out tomorrow against abortion and gay marriage - would they change tunes? Probably not. They are polarized so bad they cannot seperate their religion from their politics now.

I was once in their camp, all those years ago (some 10-12 years ago). I changed my tune as I started to learn more about society and how it functions. There are more problems than abortion that are ruining this planet - war being one of them (war being supported by Conservatives with really little to no thought).

Conservative Christians will either learn to change or bankrupt this country of any meaning it has.

ethinethin said...

societyvs
"There are more problems than abortion that are ruining this planet - war being one of them (war being supported by Conservatives with really little to no thought). "

I agree with you completely, although I'm sure a lot of the Christian support for the massacres in the middle east (don't wars typically have two sides fighting?) comes because these modern-day Crusades symbolize killing Muslims and brown people, two "outgroups" to conservative Christan Americans.

I often find myself having simple musings such as "Why do Christians love guns?" Gun ownership is probably the favorite constitutional right of conservative Christian Americans. Out of the many Christians I know personally, very few of them actually use their guns to hunt. It's all for "self-defense". Why should deadly force self-defense be so important to people taught to love their enemies and to turn the other cheek?

I guess the answer is obvious when you're on the outside looking in at the hypocrisy.

OneSmallStep said...

Societyvs,

That's just it, though. Conservative Christians don't come across as disliking anything the Republican party does. Whether it be gun rights or free market capitalism with absolutely no restrictions -- no matter how many people it hurts. Whether it be the lies or the horrendous political ads. It's almost like they're attracted to the Republican party precisely *because* of all the ugliness.

OneSmallStep said...

Ethinethin,

**Why should deadly force self-defense be so important to people taught to love their enemies and to turn the other cheek?**

Not only that, why is deadly force self-defense so necessary for a group of people who claim to be under the protection of an omnipotent, omniscient deity? Why are they relying on themselves, rather than God? And why are they so attracted to the thought of violently defending themselves? I'm wondering how much of this stems from their persecution complex ...

Xander said...

"Why should deadly force self-defense be so important to people taught to love their enemies and to turn the other cheek?"

I have never seen it taken out of context like that before. So, what is taught?

ethinethin said...

Do good to those who hate you (Luke 6:27-28), do not return evil for evil (1 Peter 3:9), overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21). I'm not a Christian, so perhaps I'm misinterpreting these (fairly straightforward) passages. I am certain there are apologetics to defend killing people, considering Christendom's violent past.

Xander said...

Luke is referring to persecution, 1 Peter is talking about retaliation, and Romans is also referring to retaliation. If people wrong you, do not go after them demanding retribution.

Being that killing is not isolated to the religious, I guess every group can defend killing.

OneSmallStep said...

Xander,

I'm not following your objection -- are you saying that deadly force in self-defense is permissible for a Christian, unless the situation specifically involves persecution or retaliation?

Xander said...

Self defense isn’t even addressed in those verses, so they are not really connected. The verses address how a Christian should respond to an attack from another. Attack here is non physical. If someone attacks their character, insults, etc. you let it go. Do not reply in the same manner.

Self-defense is not addressed negatively in the Bible. The disciples carried swords for protection and the turn the other cheek part deals with lawsuits when insulted after being slapped by the back of the hand. That was an insult and legal action could be taken.

OneSmallStep said...

Xander,

Well, the thing is, the point was why should deadly self-defense be so important to those taught to love their enemies, as well as turn the other cheek? For there is a difference between defending oneself, and defending oneself through lethal means.

1 Peter 3:9 -- the book itself, though, is admonising people on the proper behavior in front of unjust treatment -- such as the earlier section, where the slaves are to endure pain while suffering unjustly, for when Christ was abused, he didn't return abuse, and when he suffered, he didn't threaten anyone, but rather trusted God. So when it says that Christians shouldn't return evil for evil or abuse for abuse, but rather repay with a blessing ... I could see that encompassing how to respond when physically threatened. Especially given how Jesus responded when physically threatened.

Romans 12:21 -- in the whole chapter, it's Paul telling Christians about how their loving behavior should be genuine, patient in suffering, how they should never avenge themselves but leave room for God's wrath, and thus believers should feed their enemies when they're hungry, and give them something to drink when thirsty, in order to shame the enemy. Then Paul concludes with "do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." I would see this stretching across the board, and including deadly self-defense, with the leaving room for God's wrath, the be patient in suffering, and, yes, even the "don't be overcome by evil," as violence isn't seen in a positive light for a Christian believer.

Luke 6: 27-28 -- there's a similar one in Matthew 5:44, about how it's no longer acceptable to follow the "eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth." Rather, when struck, turn and offer the other cheek. No, this section isn't saying to be a doormat. But the person would've been with the back of the aggressor's fist, and being struck in such a manner was a sign that the aggressor saw the aggressee as inferior. When the aggressee offers the left cheek, it forces the aggressor to treat the agressee as an equal, because the only way to continue to strike with the backhand is to use the left hand, and the left hand is taboo in that culture. But considering that "eye for an eye" is what leads up to this, isn't using deadly self-defense also an eye for an eye?

Is there any verse where Paul or Jesus tell their followers that if the followers are physically attacked, it's acceptable to use deadly force in self-defense?

The swords -- the only reference I find is from Luke 22:36-38, and while Jesus tells them to get swords, that's used (somehow) to fulfill Isaiah 53:12. And Peter is immediately chastised for using the sword later, and Jesus heals the guard's severed ear.

Xander said...

Are people with guns attacked less because they will shoot or because they could shoot? The potential is enough of a deterrent the majority of the time.

1 Peter 3:9 - Jesus submitted to the authorities and was thus obedient. It is not the same as failing to retaliate when someone called him a name or accused Him of something. I don’t think gun owners are wanting to shoot someone for calling them a name.

Romans 12:21 – so when someone breaks in to rape your wife, go make them a sandwich? It must be the way you see enemy. It is not talking about someone who comes up and assaults you or steals from you. Evil is not talking about physical harm here.

Luke 6:27 – Let’s put this in context. Love your enemies and do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you and pray for those who abuse you. Abuse is insult or slander here. Not a case for lethal force to be used since there was no defense except emotional. An “eye for an eye” was not used to show self defense. In order for an eye for an eye to happen, one even that cause you loss had to occur then you would have to retaliate. It was not you were being assaulted and lost an eye then said hey that’s not fair I must pluck your eye out now.

“Is there any verse where Paul or Jesus tells their followers that if the followers are physically attacked, it's acceptable to use deadly force in self-defense?”
No

I can see how Jesus relates back to that verse, but not the swords. Peter was admonished for cutting the ear, but he struck out against the authority in this case. Authority is very big in the message of the gospels. Isn’t it strange that they would wear swords if they had never worn them before? Since the disciples where still in disbelief that Jesus should die, wouldn’t they have questioned this if it was out of the norm?

OneSmallStep said...

Xander,

**Are people with guns attacked less because they will shoot or because they could shoot? The potential is enough of a deterrent the majority of the time. **

But this still doesn't answer the question. Forget discussing the relevance of the three passage previously mentioned. Why do we have a group of people so gung-ho about gun rights, when we're told that this same group of people is supposed to act in a separate way than the world does? When they're supposed to be better? When they're supposed to love one's enemy as themselves?

Because it's saying a lot of things about that particular culture -- a) they're very dependent on permanent violence to defend themselves, b) it's an outlook dominated by fear and c) they must have the means to protect themselves through violent and permanent measures, as though they're the only ones who *can* protect themselves.

1 Peter 3:9 -- I'm confused here. You earlier said that this verse dealt with how to retaliate, or not retaliate. So are you saying that the verse actually deals with something different, in submitting to authorities? Because what I'm still seeing when I read what leads up to this verse is the idea that Christ did not retaliate when he was abused or suffered unjustly, and because the cross is mentioned, I'm seeing this as something that goes far beyond name-calling or accusations. The fact that it's an authority doesn't change this for me, because authorities can be wrong, or corrupt, and thus require self-defense.

Romans 12:21 -- so when how are you interpreting the "leaving vengeance to God" aspect? Or telling believers to be patient in suffering? If we're going to go with your example, we don't get much more of a vengeance scenario than wanting to stop someone who is about to cause harm to a loved one. But the thing is, if this isn't referring to physical acts, then the words used here are trivialized. Like suffering -- suffering from what, if nothing physical? Or blessing those who persecute you, but what kind of persecution, if nothing physical? Words? Slander? Yes, those are harsh, but don't they pale in comparison to constant physical attacks?

Luke 6:27 -- from what I've read, the word can refer to both physical and emotional mistreatment. And the "eye for an eye" thing was meant to show that the words leading up to this whole thing did involve physical aspects -- if someone causes you a physical loss, then you are entitled to a physical compensation of the same measure. Hence, I would see the following words with loving one's enemies also involving physical actions (or lack thereof).

Luke 22:36-38 -- the sword thing referring to Isaiah is something I've come across in a few Bible commentaries, both liberal and conservative. It's related to how Jesus said "enough, enough" when they only got two swords, for it's difficult to protect a group with just two swords, with Jesus saying "Those who live by the sword die by the sword" and his reaction when Peter cut off the guard's ear. Like I said, it somehow relates, and this was explained because the commentaries were saying that this verse couldn't actually be used to show support for self-defense.

Xander said...

Not all people who want assault rifles are Christian, so I cannot speak for all of them. As far as the Christian people who want to stockpile weapons in case of the end of the world or the government turns against them, they are wrong. From the Christian standpoint, they are living according to the desires of the flesh and fighting authority. For Christians who like guns and want to protect their family in case the authorities can’t, there is nothing biblical against that. Love you neighbor does not mean let them come in and terrorize your family. Not worried about people breaking in for food, because we are told to give to those who ask without expecting repayment. Christians are supposed to be better how? We can love our enemy. When they slander, we should love. When they attack via finances, we love. When they break in and try to kill us, we love.

People sue when they are stopped using nonviolent means. I am not saying it is right, but when did the person committing the felony become the victim? Your right, people are afraid. Violent crimes have are up and people are scared. I guess the people would rather take their chances defending themselves instead of waiting 15+ minutes for law enforcement to arrive. 15 minutes is a lot of time for someone to kill you. If you couldn’t alert law enforcement, it would take a lot longer.

1 Peter 3:9 – you had mentioned that Jesus did not fight back or struggle when being persecuted against in your portion. It was not what the verse was talking about, but I addressed as you brought it up. Yes, Christians are to submit to the authorities even if the authorities are wrong.

Romans 12:21 – someone breaks into your house when you are not home to defend and kills your child. To hunt down the person and retaliate would be vengeance. The eye for an eye clause. That is for God to handle. You can suffer in many ways other than physical trauma. Even if it is physical trauma though, you can suffer. Who was committing the attacks, random people? The authorities were persecuting. The authorities were beating and torturing. Submit and suffer.

Luke 6:27 – this is the word: epēreazō combined with ἀρειά areia (threats); to insult, slander: - use despitefully, falsely accuse.

Eye for an eye would be when someone harms you and then you go for vengeance. Not at the same time as the injury occurs. Replaced with vengeance is mine sayth the Lord.

Luke 22:36-38 not going to argue with you on this one. I would have to see to understand it.

OneSmallStep said...

Xander,

**Christians are supposed to be better how? **

Not be more enthusiastic about gun rights than a non-Christian. This goes far beyond a mere liking of ordinary guns. This is a projection of the idea that the second amendment is one of their favorites in the Constitution, of giving the idea of if they had to choose between gun freedom or an increase of government assistance to the poor, they'd flock to the gun freedoms. This is the same group that is absolutely 100% behind the idea of a military conflict to solve all problems. About violent methods to solve violent problems, and thus return violence for violence. Given how often conservative Christians claim the moral high ground, I would expect more elevating behavior.

1 Peter 3:9 -- Yes, I had mentioned Jesus not fighting back, because I see it connected to the later verse of not returning abuse for abuse, same as when Jesus didn't return abuse for abuse, even when physically threatened. Based on your responses, I'm assuming that you don't.

Romans 12: 21 -- does it matter who's committing the actions? Because if it does, then the meaning of evil isn't consistent. Paul's saying to not return evil for evil, and to not be overcome by evil. But the evil that the people are doing is the persecution, regardless whether it's physical or emotional. But if the evil is returned, it sounds like, based on what you're saying, that the evil is disobeying the authorities. Not retaliating in the same physical fashion, because the act itself is evil.

**Luke 6:27 – this is the word: epēreazō combined with ἀρειά areia (threats); to insult, slander: - use despitefully, falsely accuse.**

Yes. I"ve seen commentaries that state it refers to both types of abuse, physical and emotional.

I'm curious about something, though, and this is a side topic. Your comments are stressing that the primary drive in these verses is about submitting to authority, no matter what. Do you say that's true across the board? Such as, if the authorities suddenly decried that Christianity was illegal and all churches must disband. Are Christians allowed to protest that, or must the submit? If Christians live in a country that severely restricts the civil rights of many of the inhabitants, are Christians allowed to help or fight back? Or must they submit?

Xander said...

I agree, but they are a minority of those who call themselves Christians. They are a vocal minority, so you see more attention drawn to them. I know plenty of people of other religious affiliations that are in agreement with them, so it is not a Christian movement.

1 Peter 3:9 – look at verse 9 and 10 together:
Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For "Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit;
(1Pe 3:9-10 ESV)

The context is not in a physical confrontation.

Romans 12:21 – sadly, the meaning of any word in English is not consistent.

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." To the contrary, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
(Rom 12:12-21 ESV)

It is a way of life. Don’t start fights. If someone wrongs you, don’t go after them for retribution. Be nice to people who are mean to you. Be at peace with others, so far as it depends on you. Self defense is not wrong.
If the government was a democracy where protest was legal, then yes. Not where it is not, like Egypt or China. Can Christians help each other in china? They do. They do not rebel against the government though. Christians were not called to over throw governments. That is where the spiritual war comes into play. They would pray for the leaders and that God’s will would be done. If the police came in to persecute them, as they do, they would submit. If it was neighborhood bullies, they could resist.

Yael said...

Did Christians who supported the American Revolution sin by doing so? Are Christians who support wars that seek to overthrow other governments sinning by doing so? Do Christians who emigrate to escape tyranny commit sin by doing so?

Did Christians sin by hiding Jews during WWII, an anti-government action? Should Christians have just prayed for God to stop Hitler rather than going to war to stop him?

Are missionaries in Muslim countries who hide their real purpose in being there, sinning by being missionaries there? How about smuggling Bibles into places they're not allowed? Is that a sin? How about Christian proselytizing in Israel? Is that also a sin?

Sarge said...

The "sin" question proposed by Jael is always interesting. If (a), what about (b)?

Depends on what happens at the end of the day and who's writing about what happened. Plus there are somewhat deeper issues which muddy the waters.

A good example is the role of the chaplain.

Pretty much day to day in normal life in that setting, it's sort of like being a social worker, but mainly the job is to keep the villiennery and Jaquery from saying "screw you" to the "sirs" and walking off or acting out. Making them accept that it is a "sin" (at least a societal one) to be angry at injustice, dishonesty and mistreatment. That it is right and meet to bless the hand that slaps you, lick the boot that kicks you, and to kiss the ass that shits on you.

In time of war there are other duties, acting for the state to ensure that when the social norms are loosed and everything that the troop has been taught is right, wrong, moral, immoral, sinful, even, is now upended because the state requires it and so, (state and religion being in cahoots no matter what any constitution or law might say, power to power) and they are "rendering unto caesar" and thus it's OK. Jesus said so.

The trick is, to keep them at it no matter what. They have some amazing gymnastics to perform: it's acceptable to destroy and maim innocents and people you've never even met, let alone harmed you (not "sin"), but thoughts about not doing it, or worse, using your zap-gun to repay the injustices personally done you by someone you DO know (officer, NCO, a jerk who stole from you or caused you some harm) and we're talkin' real sin here! Complete non-justification.

Sadam Hussein is said to have used women and children as "human shields" which was reprehensible and "sinful". Chopping those people to dog meat, though, in furtherence of The Mission and The Greater Good was justified.

Sarge said...

The "poor" like their guns because they know that this is their only real security, and their real belief in christianity is the belief in believing.

Oh, they go to their churches, moan or shout their hymns, weep at the mourner's bench, feel guilty for committing the high crime of having been born human, sit with like minded folks, and cherry pick to their "scriptures" for what suits them, and yeah, they hedge their bets with baptism and "salvation".

But deep down, they know that the only help they can ever expect is what they provide for themselves, in a nutshell.

societyvs said...

Love the conversation between OSS and Xander BTW. I want to comment on it.

I think OSS is being pretty true to the passages at hand - namely the use of 'swords' by the disciples. Xander mentioned they must have carried them all the time...I doubt that. Is not Jesus in a story where he send 70 people out with 'nothing'? Nowhere in that example is there a 'sword'. In fact, throughout the whole NT the word 'sword' is only used as a literal device in the one story OSS mentions (in matt).

All that being said, the overwhelming burden of evidence seems to state the use of 'swords' by the disciples (and the early church) was non-existent - except in one small scenario where an actual disciples was reprimanded for his use even.

As for violence, why didn't Peter, James, John or Paul fight to the death if this was in their mode of thought already (ie: self defense)? We have a story in Acts about a dude named Stephen (whom Paul watched die) being killed...no sword and unbelievably - no self defense. And no one pushing others into civic duty to fight for the Roman army in the letters (not even once is this broached as a subject).

If I have to lean - then I have to lean to the obvious - war and violence (retribution) are never to be suggested as a way of life for a Christian. Conservative right - is wrong (for Christians I mean).

However, there are deviations for to the standard that can logistically be seen as 'life saving' (which I think is a good allowance for deviating from the standard). You mention saving your wife and children from an attack - agreed - that is life saving - to deviate away from the standard in such cases seems 'justifiable'. But at the end, we admit the standard is still the standard and we swear to uphold it.

my 10 cents on non-violence.

societyvs said...

"Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God..." (Romans 12)

"Self defense is not wrong." (Xander)

What is you fine line that you are towing?

You can defend yourself (if attacked) if you have the means but cannot exact revenge if attacked and you couldn't do anything at the time of the attack?

Isn't punching someone back in the face a type of 'venegance'? Is it our right to 'repay'? Does it matter if it happens in that split second or we brew on it and get revenge later?

Just wondering is all.

Xander said...

"I doubt that. Is not Jesus in a story where he send 70 people out with 'nothing'?"

So in your version, they were running around naked spreading the message that the Messiah has arrived? My version shows they went out without any additional provisions and were to rely on the generosity of others. As to the using of swords, there is no reason for Peter to even be wearing a sword unless he was used to it. Not really a fashion statement.

"We have a story in Acts about a dude named Stephen (whom Paul watched die)"

Paul was inciting the mob that was killing Stephen. That was pre-salvation days though.

""Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God..." (Romans 12)"

I guess you can avenge yourself right after being struck, but then if they avenge your avenging, it is considered a fight, as you are both striking each other with in a short period of time. If you are going to avenge yourself through legal means for example, it has to happen after the assault has finished because otherwise you are in the process of being beaten.

societyvs said...

"My version shows they went out without any additional provisions and were to rely on the generosity of others" (Xander)

correctamundo! Is a sword mentioned - since they may be entering hostile territories and might need it to ward of attackers?

"As to the using of swords, there is no reason for Peter to even be wearing a sword unless he was used to it. Not really a fashion statement." (Xander)

Not true, at least according to the story, They actually have to go and 'get' the swords (2 of them). These were not something they actually had on them in that story...but in order to fulfill prophecy they need them. You know what that prophecy is:

"And was numbered with the transgressors' (Isaiah 53C - quoted in Luke 22:37)

According to Jesus, who sends them to find 2 swords in the Luke 22 story (if we take this account as true), he did this so he could be numbered alongside 'transgressors' (of the law). Jesus saw this as a 'criminal' act.

According to Luke the use of the swords is simply for prophecy reasons alone. In Matthew the use of the sword is no 'better':

""Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword" (Matt 26:52)

Jesus seems to be telling Peter pretty staight here in a tone that would resemble more audacity for his actions than praise. If anything, Jesus seems to be telling Peter this is not 'his way' of doing things. Thus he heals the injured soldier (his way of doing things).

"Paul was inciting the mob that was killing Stephen. That was pre-salvation days though" (Xander)

Point is, Stephen - whose life was on the line here - did not defend himself...instead he looks like Jesus in his final minutes of life (except more wordy). He does nothing to defend himself, nor does anyone oppose the crowd in a battle scene. It seems clear cut the message they are sending with this story...wanna be like Jesus - it's gonna be tough to have this typeof self-discipline (even unto death).

Xander said...

"correctamundo! Is a sword mentioned - since they may be entering hostile territories and might need it to ward of attackers?"

Is the sword forbidden? There was a list of items not to take and a sword was not on that list. It is a difference in interpretation.

"Not true, at least according to the story, They actually have to go and 'get' the swords (2 of them). These were not something they actually had on them in that story...but in order to fulfill prophecy they need them. You know what that prophecy is:"

I read that one differently.

Luke 22:35-38 And he said to them, "When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?" They said, "Nothing." (36) He said to them, "But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. (37) For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: 'And he was numbered with the transgressors.' For what is written about me has its fulfillment." (38) And they said, "Look, Lord, here are two swords." And he said to them, "It is enough."

"Let the one with no sword sell his cloak and buy one. Look we have two. " I guess you could assume either they already had two or they had to go buy two. I am under the impression that they already had two as if they went to go buy swords after being told that who ever didn’t have one should get one, they would have returned with more than two.

"And was numbered with the transgressors' (Isaiah 53C - quoted in Luke 22:37)"

Isn't this talking about Jesus and not the apostles.

Isa 53:12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.

He was counted as a transgressor/offender, not because of the swords but because He claimed to be God.

"Point is, Stephen - whose life was on the line here - did not defend himself...instead he looks like Jesus in his final minutes of life (except more wordy)."

I am not saying self-defense is required. I am saying it is not forbidden.

societyvs said...

"Is the sword forbidden? There was a list of items not to take and a sword was not on that list. It is a difference in interpretation" (Xander)

No, but neither is porn - yet I think we could all agree based on the scriptures about sexual transgressions it is not something we should really have much to do with. I guess a Christian could work in the porn industry if they choose, it's not neccesarily fobidden.

If we start using that logic then I guess many things 'not mentioned' could be used by Christians in any variety of ways - from porn to guns to abortion.

Swords is never given much of a 'thumbs up' - rather the opposite seems to be true concering the NT passages on the lives of the many disciples. So, like I said before, if I have to lean in a direction - the NT is very clear on the direction to lean - and this would include the use of weapons designed to hurt other people.

"I am under the impression that they already had two as if they went to go buy swords after being told that who ever didn’t have one should get one, they would have returned with more than two." (Xander)

They just may have had 2 swords - agreed. However, through-out the while gospel stories - how many times is that sword ever used/mentioned? This seems to be the first we ever hear about someone following Jesus even having a sword. If the gospels are 'pro-weapons' they do a great job in promotion (sarcasm).

"He was counted as a transgressor/offender, not because of the swords but because He claimed to be God" (Xander)

Not in this exact passage did he claim anything but fulfillling this scripture in Isaiah 53 (Luke 22). Here is the time-line:

(a) Jesus advises them 'all' to go and arm themselves with 'swords'

(b) So that he might fill the prophecy of being 'numbered/counted amongst/with the transgressors (of the law)'

(c) They find 2 swords...one of which is used by Peter in a violent manner to maim another person

I thought you might be right on this one so I carefully read it again:

"(36) He said to them, "But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. (37) For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: 'And he was numbered with the transgressors.' For what is written about me has its fulfillment."

If one simply reads that straight across with no pre-conceived notions theologically it's quite apparent Jesus is telling his disciples to 'get swords' so he can be counted amongst the transgressors (his own disciples). Jesus clearly states the reason they need these swords - 'For what is written about me has its fulfillment' - speaking of Isaiah 53C. The thing that is happening in Isaiah 53C is being fulfilled right there at that exact moment.

"I am not saying self-defense is required. I am saying it is not forbidden." (Xander)

I am saying it is not the standard to be used by Christians. Self defense sounds good on paper - and so does war at times - but it is not the NT standard for Christians. Non-violence at any cost seems to be the standard for Christians in the fulfillment of the idea 'treat others how you want to be treated'.

Xander said...

I am going to post the comments up and we can continue over there. I don’t want to monopolize OSS's blog with theology discussions. It doesn’t seem right.

societyvs said...

Sounds good Xander.

OneSmallStep said...

Xander,

**They are a vocal minority, so you see more attention drawn to them.**

I wouldn't consider conservative Christians to be a minority. And, yes, there are other people of religious affiliations that agree with them -- but that has no bearing on my point, which is that I expect something different from Christians.


1 Peter 3:9 – look at verse 9 and 10 together:
Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For "Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit;
(1Pe 3:9-10 ESV)

The problem with two verses you're providing in 1 Peter 3:9-10 is that 1 Peter 3: 10-12 is a direct quote from Psalms 34: 12-16. That Psalms also includes those turning away from evil and doing good, having those who seek peace and pursue it, and the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and that His face is against those who do evil. That entire Psalms quote -- and the Psalms itself -- comes across as much to broad to simply refer to something non-physical.

Based on your response to how Christians should respond to governments such as those in China, I would have the same reservations that Yael has. I don't see how civil rights can be achieved in those countries. Not only that, but that means that the American Revolution flat-out went against God, and no Christian should have supported it.

Romans 12:21 – sadly, the meaning of any word in English is not consistent.

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." To the contrary, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
(Rom 12:12-21 ESV)

It is a way of life. Don’t start fights. If someone wrongs you, don’t go after them for retribution. Be nice to people who are mean to you. Be at peace with others, so far as it depends on you. Self defense is not wrong.
If the government was a democracy where protest was legal, then yes. Not where it is not, like Egypt or China. Can Christians help each other in china? They do. They do not rebel against the government though. Christians were not called to over throw governments. That is where the spiritual war comes into play. They would pray for the leaders and that God’s will would be done. If the police came in to persecute them, as they do, they would submit. If it was neighborhood bullies, they could resist.

OneSmallStep said...

Sarge,

**The trick is, to keep them at it no matter what. They have some amazing gymnastics to perform:**

What you call "amazing gymnastics," I would call "moral relativism." :)

**The "poor" like their guns because they know that this is their only real security, and their real belief in christianity is the belief in believing.**

Which is exactly how it comes across to me. Those who proclaim that God is their only safety and security contradict themselves by their vehement insistence on gun rights. So if Christians don't live as though God protects them as they claim, then why should I believe God protects, period? If His very followers don't live up to their beliefs?

Oh, they go to their churches, moan or shout their hymns, weep at the mourner's bench, feel guilty for committing the high crime of having been born human, sit with like minded folks, and cherry pick to their "scriptures" for what suits them, and yeah, they hedge their bets with baptism and "salvation".

But deep down, they know that the only help they can ever expect is what they provide for themselves, in a nutshell.

Yael said...

Sarge,
Thanks for your response to my questions. I find it quite interesting that someone like Xander will quote these extreme passages but when asked how this would play out in the real world is silent. I suppose everyone is just supposed to pray in these kinds of situations and if they are a coward and don't want to be bothered helping anyone else, God will give them justification for their inaction and if they love their guns and violence God will give them justification for that as well. Quite the deal.

OSS,
I heard a Muslim proverb that goes along the line of 'Trust God but tie up you camel'. Personally, I make no claims to trust God since I don't see what I'm supposed to trust God for in the first place.

Xander said...

"I find it quite interesting that someone like Xander will quote these extreme passages but when asked how this would play out in the real world is silent."

Sorry Yael , didn't notice you addressed anything to me. I will go back and try to address that.

Xander said...

OSS,

"I wouldn't consider conservative Christians to be a minority."

So all conservative Christians want assault rifles?

"That entire Psalms quote -- and the Psalms itself -- comes across as much to broad to simply refer to something non-physical."

Help me understand how you see evil. Some one breaks into your house and wants to assault you and your family. From the Christian stand-point, what happens next? I am confused as this was written by David, who we know was not a pacifist.

"I don't see how civil rights can be achieved in those countries. Not only that, but that means that the American Revolution flat-out went against God, and no Christian should have supported it."

Christianity is not about civil rights. It is not about bring equality to people around the world. It sounds harsh doesn’t it? But we know from court cases separating church and state that the founding fathers were not thinking that the country should be founded on Christian principles.

Xander said...

Yael,
Let's replace sin with disobedience.

Yes, Yes, No.

No, Yes and No.

No, No, No, No

Christians are not called to overthrow governments. They are not called to spread civil rights across the world. They are called to spread the Gospel of Jesus as savior for all, this includes Muslims and Jews.

OneSmallStep said...

Xander,

**So all conservative Christians want assault rifles?**

Gun rights deal with all sorts of guns -- including hand guns. Including concealed weapons. Including the regulation of said hand guns. Conservative Christians are vehement about all of those.

"That entire Psalms quote -- and the Psalms itself -- comes across as much to broad to simply refer to something non-physical."

**Help me understand how you see evil.**

My understanding of evil isn't the issue here. You said that, in context, 1 Peter 3: 9, 10 only dealt with a non-physical confrontation, which is why I brought up that there's a huge portion of the Psalms quote there that deals with more than just the non-physical. And thus, not returning abuse for abuse also delves into the physical arena.

**It sounds harsh doesn’t it?**

It sounds like an utter lack of compassion and a lack of a sense of justice. The point here isn't what Christianity is about, it's whether the moral foundation of the religion compels it's followers to work to help other people, especially against authority. Fighting for civil rights doesn't violate the separation of church and state. Nor does it have anything to do with whether or not the country was founded on Christian principles. What I am asking is whether your viewpoint permits Christians to fight for civil rights, or to fight for a just society. And it doesn't, if the authorities say that such fights are illegal.

Xander said...

“You said that, in context, 1 Peter 3: 9, 10 only dealt with a non-physical confrontation, which is why I brought up that there's a huge portion of the Psalms quote there that deals with more than just the non-physical. And thus, not returning abuse for abuse also delves into the physical arena.”

I see what you’re saying. I said it was not talking about a physical confrontation. Meaning self defense would not come into play. In a physical sense, it would be talking about retaliation. If someone broke your window, you would go break theirs. If someone beat you up, you would go beat them up.

“it's whether the moral foundation of the religion compels it's followers to work to help other people, especially against authority. Fighting for civil rights doesn't violate the separation of church and state”

Civil rights is a loaded term. Food should be sent to help the hungry. There should be clean water for people to drink. There should be medical treatment and medicine provided to those without. Clothes and housing should be provided. People should be educated. Governments should not be overthrown because we do not agree with them. You mixed in civil rights with whether or not Christians should have supported the American Revolution.

Yael said...

Xander,
Disobedience to whom? Or is it disobedience to what? Perhaps you can explain why using disobedience instead of sin changes the meaning.

You can try to spread your gospel all you want. Fortunately the vast majority of us are immune.

OneSmallStep said...

Xander,

**In a physical sense, it would be talking about retaliation.**

I read it as like for like. The person who is attacked responds in the same violent manner.

“it's whether the moral foundation of the religion compels it's followers to work to help other people, especially against authority. Fighting for civil rights doesn't violate the separation of church and state”

**Civil rights is a loaded term.**
Okay, but we've gone from Christianity is not about civil rights or bringing equality to the world, from the idea that civil rights is a loaded term. This is changing the focus. Yes, my phrasing didn't indicate that civil rights and the American Revolution fall into separate categories.

Food should be sent to help the hungry. There should be clean water for people to drink. There should be medical treatment and medicine provided to those without. Clothes and housing should be provided. People should be educated. Governments should not be overthrown because we do not agree with them. You mixed in civil rights with whether or not Christians should have supported the American Revolution. But one of your responses way up top came across as saying that if Christians live in a country where civil rights are severely restricted, they must submit to the authority, and can't fight back. That's what's required. But now the argument is that people should have food, clean water, medicines ... and that is tied into civil rights.

Xander said...

Your right, I mixed human rights with civil rights. Sorry about that. In my mind, human rights should be a priority over civil rights in any society.

** But one of your responses way up top came across as saying that if Christians live in a country where civil rights are severely restricted, they must submit to the authority, and can't fight back. **

Yes and no. The way I see it, is that we are to submit to the authorities to the point as we, Christians, do not have to compromise our beliefs. If that means death, then so be it. If I am required to follow some other religion, then I will not submit. I will not rise up against the government to try and overthrow them though.

I say civil rights is loaded term because like morality it is changing. Sexual orientation was added not too long ago. If a homosexual couple wants to get married, then so be it. I should not be forbidden to say I feel it is wrong, but you see that already in different countries. So would I support a civil right that restricts my right to freedom of speech? No. I also wouldn’t support civil rights in a country over human rights. I feel that people should not be hungry and have a place to live more than I think someone should or shouldn’t have the right to marry.

Hope that helps.