Regarding Rep. Greg DeVries’ Jan. 15 column (“Show me a finer code of ethics than Christianity”): First, let us agree. Then, let us expand.
Indeed, a craving for justice is a unifying force among our peoples. In fact, a thirst for “justice” (regardless of personal definition) can become so powerful it escalates to a type of blood lust when our less spiritually inspired drives become triggered.
However, can we find another unifying force capable of leading us in the direction of true progress?
Certainly, “Biblical justice” is an excellent beginning model: a moral code that embodies love, honor and reverence for both Creator and Creation. The Christian God gives us freewill to pursue life unencumbered by any implementation of force: a fact our statutory government and even some religious folks would do well to reflect on.
Now let’s address the sword. If I’m correct, your allusion of “Biblical justice” refers to the Old Testament ethical code of judgement and justice, otherwise known to our Jewish neighbors as the Torah (literally, “The Law”). At this point, one could argue you don’t have to be Christian to share this moral code, though perhaps it’s not that simple. So let’s continue with a question: Can God’s way of relating to his people change? Are there other dogmas that embody the same principles or essence — truth even — that Christians hold as their ethical foundation?
I have heard the argument that the Judeo-Christian God is ruthless, controlling, and it’s impossible to understand his actions. In rebuttal, I have heard the argument that the people of Old Testament times were not of the same “ethical evolution” as today’s society — we see then a system geared towards a people of lesser moral maturity.
Then we progress to the New Testament. To be Christian — or at least to live an ethical life according to the teachings of a certain young man from Galilee — you are to observe two commandments: Love the Lord thy God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and Love your neighbor as you love yourself (Matt 22:34). Upon further study, we find the words “If you keep my commandments, you’ll abide in my love. This is my commandment: that you love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)
He continues to teach that we’re no longer to be called servants, because a servant does not understand the motives or actions of his lord. Rather, he taught that we’re now called “friends”! As Christians, we’re suddenly faced with a reformed doctrine: “an eye for an eye” becomes “turn the other cheek” and “pray for those who use you.” We see a code of love and forgiveness, as opposed to death and punishment.
Friends, is it possible we graduated spiritually? Must not a parent walk in step with their child as they journey into maturity, allowing for an increase in mutual understanding? Is our society beginning to come to a new understanding of morality and justice? Does God the Father walk in step with us as we spiritually mature? The nature of Truth itself must spread across global diversity: Gautama Buddha taught the importance of non-harm, to conquer the angry man by love. The philosophy of Taoism expounds non-force, acceptance (even if circumstances could be labeled “bad”), and a sense of connection among all people and events. We begin to see a Truth, a “moral essence” that unites us to one another and to God beyond the scope of institutionalized religion.
Show you a greater moral system than Christianity? Perhaps you are correct. Though I wonder how many truly comprehend what it is to follow the teachings of Christ. I urge people of any doctrine to reflect on the existence of a “Universal Truth.” Love God, love your fellow man, forgive wrongs, and seek to bring our peoples to an awakening where we desire to do right, not for fear of punishment but because we choose to abide in the love of God.
Does a hunger for justice unite? Certainly! However, I believe the force of love can even more so. — Cerina J. Kenison, Boulder