Friday, September 9, 2016

Christianity has, really, only a single law

I have never understood (and I'm sure I never will understand) how America's Christian churches could support the invasion of Iraq in March 2003.  Protestant Christianity is the faith into which I was indoctrinated, and called my own for the first 45 years of my life.  There is no one who can tell me that I don't understand the core tenets of that faith, the basic belief structure.  

Yet, only a few days before the US attached tiny Iran, I sat in a small country church during the Wednesday night service and watched that "Support Our Troops" meeting turn into a frenzied hate-rally for war.  It was a tribal war dance.  It was raw blood-lust, and it was disgusting.  It was utterly shameful, and I'm very glad I had a chance to see it because, if it had been described to me by any other witness, I would not have believed it.

I saw men and women I once respected, abandon everything they professed to believe, out of fear and a hatred born of that fear. It was a demonstration, not of hypocrisy, but of weakness.  And that's how I must regard them now.  As weak.

There are times when moral courage requires a person to take a stand that opposes the "code", the authority figures of the State or Church, and even the overwhelming consensus of the tribe ... at such times, very few people will act according to their own moral code; they'll do what they feel is easiest, most expedient, always.  That's just the way things are; and it was an important lesson for me to learn, way too late in life, but better late than never, eh?  

Contrast that with the Christian martyrs of the third and fourth century, under the domination of the Roman Empire.  They were killed for refusing to do two things, 1) worship Roman gods and 2) participate in ritual sacrifices to those gods.   They chose death, perhaps unwisely, who can say, but the motive of those saints was anything but fear and self-preservation at whatever cost.  They lived their faith; they didn't abandon it the first time it was threatened.

Christianity really boils down to a single law, do all things through love.  Eschew hatred, and be the master of fear.  

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one
another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The
commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal,"
"Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed
up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm
to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
– Romans 13:8-10 (NIV)
And Jesus also said, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one
another, even as I have loved you.  By this all men will know that you are My
disciples, if you have love for one another."
– Gospel of John 13:34-35 (NIV)

And that's why I say the motives for American aggressions were wrong.  They were based on base motives, emotions engendered by fear.  A fear that is carefully stoked by those who seek to profit, mightily, from those wars.