taking the words of Jesus seriously

Almost every day it seems, another politician or public figure ‘changes’ their position on what had been, until that time, a ‘moral issue’.

The ironies abound, but the self-serving cowardice and hypocrisy are breath-taking.

What kind of person makes a public stand on a ‘moral’ issue and then changes their position when it impacts someone in their own family?

Does this mean that laws, rules and ‘moral positions’ only apply to others?

Is a ‘moral position’ really ‘moral’ or is it, sometimes, a ploy or distraction in service to a larger political issue?

I’m not a professional philosopher, if there even is such a thing, but it seems obvious that an issue either is – or is not – a moral issue.

If a moral issue impacts us – or someone close to us – it should deepen and add concrete dimensionality to what had been an abstraction.

But these ‘changes’ remind us that ‘morals’ and laws are never abstractions.

Related: Redemptive Morality, Non-traditional Marriage and Les Mis – by Mal Green

Laws and rules (and the moral values behind them) directly address and impact our attitudes and behavior.

Our laws, at their best, reflect what is valued – who and what deserve our protection. But when we make laws or pass moral judgments that only apply to others, we are being inherently (self) deceptive.

We have seen this in the USA in the 1920s when men voted on whether women should have the right to vote, and some areas in the past few elections, where white people decide where, when and under what conditions black people get to vote.

And we see it most recently when heterosexuals ‘decide’ and make laws regarding what homosexuals can and cannot do legally.

This deciding what other people can do is inherently dictatorial and abstract and is in fact a working definition of hypocrisy.

It goes against every core human value, divine commandment and democratic political philosophy.

Partiality and bias clearly impede justice.

The whole premise of justice is impartiality. Deliberate objectivity should be the driving force in any legal judgment or political position. Anything else is self-serving sloganeering.

We should not be reluctant to express or live according to our values, but our values should be authentic, universal and enduring and they should express our deepest selves and should never be held hostage to – or as a substitute for – passing political philosophies.

And for those formerly anti-gay politicians who now, ‘for personal reasons’ support gay rights and vow to love and support their family member – and say it as if it were a revelation that relationships surpass ideology – I have to say that I marvel at their vacuousness – haven’t they noticed that this is precisely what many of us have been clamoring for for centuries?

Are you really saying that if a law is draconian, discriminatory, dehumanizing and oppressive, but it applies only to others, it is acceptable, but if it affects you or anyone you know, it should be revoked?

Are you really saying that some laws should apply to me but not you?

Also by Morf: Writing in the Dirt – the Choice Between Being Right and Being Like Jesus

Do you imagine that our values are as shallow and arbitrary as yours?

We all know that even if our children use the same drugs or get in the same trouble, your children will never go to the same prisons as our children.

Our children will never go to the same schools or have the same opportunities as your children.

Your words, your stale and mechanical talking points, tell us and the world, that you never did – and never will – care for us. You only see and care about yourself. You are a blight and parasite, and your cowardice and newly found self-righteousness stink. As usual, you are not speaking out of conviction, but only self-preservation.

You are the modern version of the ancient hypocrites who made up complicated, burdensome rules and expected others to follow them (Matthew 23:4).

You don’t show any ‘change of heart’ – you are just showing us again, and again, that you don’t see us, you only see yourself and those like you.

The only way the rest of us will get any justice is if your children are ill, addicted, unemployed, disabled or exploited.

If that is what it takes, that will be our prayers for you.

Morf Morford considers himself a free-range Christian who is convinced that God expects far more of us than we can ever imagine, but somehow thinks God knows more than we do. To pay his bills, he’s been a teacher for adults (including those in his local county jail) in a variety of setting including Tribal colleges, vocational schools and at the university level in the People’s Republic of China. Within an academic context, he also writes an irreverent ESL blog and for the Burnside Writers Collective. As he’s getting older, he finds himself less tolerant of pettiness and dairy products.

Photo Credit: J. Scott Applewhite/AP

About The Author


Faith is not a formula. And I wouldn't even use the word 'relationship' - and probably not the metaphor of 'a journey'. The older I get, the more it seems that faith is a process - a determined focus on listening to the eternal, sifting out the noise and distractions and becoming closer with each breath and each word, to the fullness - and emptiness - of the pulse, hand and purpose of our Creator, which, ultimately brings us where we belong. I'm a teacher and writer, which really means that I am a listener and I share what I see and hear.

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