Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Oh, Brother!!

I noted today that Alabama’s governor, Robert Bentley, was criticized for saying that only fellow Christians are his brothers and sisters. I don’t get much involved in politics, and would probably disagree with a good measure of his policies, but I have a news flash for those offended: Don’t target him especially, target Jesus.

These days there’s a lot of misreading of passages that refer to one’s “brother” (also, “sister”) – there’s a tendency to universalize that to mean “your fellow man”. It doesn’t mean that, and such a meaning would never have been conceived for it. It would have meant only two things: 1) One’s blood relations. 2) One’s ingroup. The latter is exclusive, not inclusive. And if you don’t like that – too bad. Ask Tom Jefferson if you can borrow his scissors, then.
Some of the whines emerging from this are rather amusing. Some are questioning if this means the guv can be “fair” to non-Christians. Whether he can or not, a single, isolated statement wouldn’t reveal much of that. But if he’s following Jesus’ commands, he’s also supposed to love his neighbor. Agape love means to look out for the best interests of others, and according to Jesus, we’re to make even the despised Samaritan our neighbor. So if anything, the critics should be delighted that the guv said what he did: If he’s that committed, it means he’ll go out of his way to be fair. They ought to be worried instead that he won’t follow in the intentions his words expressed.

There are other issues as well. The news says this was before a church gathering, so those who whine about him violating the First Amendment are barking up the wrong tree; they may as well complain that he was speaking at a church to begin with. The Anti-Defamation League called his remarks “shocking” and “offensive”, and it’s nice to know they took the time to analyze this heartfelt sentiment in such a shallow way when we have things like Ken Humprheys promoting Holocaust deniers.

An Islamic representative asked, "Does it mean that those who according to him are not saved are less important than those who are saved?" and also said, “Does he want those of us who do not belong to the Christian faith to adopt his faith? That should be toned down. That's not what we need.” Yes, I suppose what we really need is the sort of persecution you get in places like Iran and Saudi Arabia when you’re a Christian rather than a Muslim. Surely that doesn’t need to be toned down, does it? Some people just can’t seem to get rid of that log in their eye, can they?
Oh well. I suppose if Jesus was nearly stoned and eventually crucified for being honest, having to deal with a bunch of hypocrites and whiners isn’t that big a deal. I’ve been doing it for years, after all.

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