Retake the Moral High Ground

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Retake the Moral High Ground
Regardless of the political rhetoric, we do not have to accept as absolutes the advocacies of those who insist that such and such is precisely what Jesus would do or precisely what Jesus wants or wanted.

The judgmental Letter of the Law, essentially Old Testament thinking that had evolved into the lethal judgmental society of Jesus time (and accurately portrayed in the Gibson film) was not and is not something that Jesus supported or advocated in any way provable by the extreme Christian Right.

We read that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and others are of the view that Old Testament Law would and will be quite viable as a foundation for a remodeled American legal system if our political process, influenced by the Christian Right, is used to bring about a revolution in how this country is governed, how it perceives itself and how it relates to the rest of the world. Scalia has written that government as an instrument of capital punishment is something ordained of God.

That’s nonsense.

Jesus in Matthew says “Think not that I am come to destroy the Law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.”

At what moment did he fulfill the Law? Was it sometime during the final 12 hours – The Passion of the Christ? I suppose there are those who insist that in his dying, he did so.

However, is it not possible that when confronted with the woman caught in adultery, when he would have been justified – even required – by “The Law” to join in the stoning, Jesus, as the Son of God, brought the Law to fulfillment by introducing the idea of sinlessness and innocence as a requirement of those who judge and execute.

At that moment did he not repudiate the Law of rigid and inflexible imperative and replace it with a new testament of governance that requires wisdom, consideration and compassion?
Must the moral high ground be a place of condemnation first, judgment second and then culminating with punishment?

Does the Sermon on the Mount preach that idea?
Do the parables of The Good Samaritan and Prodigal Son preach that idea?

Can we honestly declare that Jesus was a Conservative Capitalist who favored the rich at the expense of the poor and whose life incidents and teachings inform the radical objectives of the extreme Religious Right?

Wallis continued, “For too many Democrats, faith is private and has no implications for political life. But what kind of faith is that? Where would America be if the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had kept his faith to himself?”

Honest people realize the implications of their own convictions. Dishonest people pursue what they want by compromising their convictions at the expense of their own integrity and end up attempting to manipulate others by withholding truth. Political parties and candidates can weaken themselves by denying the source of those internal convictions that inform their highest aspirations.

Did we really, in 2000, elect and then re-elect someone as president who has done and will do what Jesus would do? Are we remaining quiet and non-participating while the political forces around us are turning this land of the free and home of the brave into a land of the deceived and the home of the brave new cowards?

I believe that those of us with a liberal Christian viewpoint can and ought to connect with and encourage those who have been called “freestyle evangelicals,” a term coined by Steven Waldman, editor of the interfaith website Beliefnet. These are those who have defied my own conventional wisdom about fundamentalist Christians. Folks like these responded in 1976, I believe, in support of Jimmy Carter whom, regardless of his success as a one-term president, more personifies what a “Christian” President of the United States ought to look like.

It has been said that freestyle evangelicals are offended by the self-righteous antics of the leaders of the so-called religious right. They are legitimately concerned about gay marriage and abortion but may find themselves having to choose between a Christian candidate whose supporters have a strict, inflexible and extreme ideological agenda and another candidate too concerned with suppressing his own religious beliefs that he appears to be ashamed of it.

We must take that moral high ground from those who think they own it and that they can dictate to the rest of us. That includes those who have, as a blend of political and religious understanding, an expectation that we can abuse and disenfranchise each other, ignore our poor in the name of profit and greed and attempt dominion of our planet by mindless exploitation as much as we want - simply because in a coming time there will be a supernatural intervention that will clean up the mess we are making.

In that regard, if we as Christian liberals do not charge the moral high ground we will be Left Out, not Left Behind.

The Rise of the Religious Right in the Republican Party
Sojourners: Christians for Justice and Peace
The Right Christians
Liberals Like Christ

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