Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Jesus and the Refusal of the Dispossessed

Daily Jesus Quote:
Matthew 5:39-41."But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil . . . And if any man will sue thee at the law and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain."

Not resisting evil means more than just turning the other cheek; it means giving enemies or evil people more than they seek. Jesus demands that we have a constant will to self-sacrifice and views humiliations such as loss of property or demands for menial service as special tests of our willingness to sacrifice ourselves. Being humiliated in these ways tempts us to reassert our own dignity. To the contrary, Jesus demands that we not only not give into that temptation, but that we go the extra mile in our sacrifice for our opponents and enemies.

In the United States, giving to the poor, downtrodden, and marginal is a particularly difficult test of our willingness to self-sacrifice. In the RedStates and elsewhere, people give gladly for the sake of their companies, communities, families, work, and churches. However, any effort to consider poor people, blacks, gays, immigrants, women, or the disabled is viewed as a special kind of burden. It's like those of us in the white mainstream think of the dispossessed as being thieves and oppressors and are always imagining ourselves as needing to reassert our dignity in the face of their demands. Whether the benefit is recognition of basic rights, providing access to social status, recognition of employee rights, or providing any kind of material benefit like health care or public assistance, Americans often treat any consideration for the poor and marginalized as the same kind of special burden as Jesus poses in the above quote.

And there can be little doubt that we as a nation fail to meet Jesus' standard of giving the dispossessed more than what they ask for.

Much of what specifically characterizes the RedStates is a constant resentment over anything that is sacrificed for those outside the sacred circle of the mainstream. Liberals and the Blue States don't do that much better, but resentment over the prospect of sacrificing for those outside the mainstream is one of the main reasons that the right-wing has so much political success in this region. This is another way in which the RedStates reject Jesus and it is helpful to keep in mind the Christian rejection of Jesus when seeking to understand the conservatism of the RedStates.

185 days to Martin Luther King's Birthday

1 comment:

reno said...

Hello !

Best regards from Belgium !