Wednesday, July 25, 2007

faith v. works

Once again, I highly recommend Mahablog's musings on faith as it pertains to our political life. The entire series has been outstanding, but she touches briefly on one aspect that especially troubles me as a Christian.

The Ten Commandments.

Specifically. the mania some people have for putting the Ten Commandments in public places.

We used to have the Ten Commandments (the TC) visible in many locations. You know where the TC used to be found? Courthouses. In the South. Where white men who claimed to live by those words were found "not guilty" of lynching and rape that everyone knew they had committed. Sometimes they were found "not guilty" because everyone knew what they had done. The entire TC foofraw can be summed up by Stephen Colbert's segment with Rep. Lynn Westmoreland. You've seen it, haven't you? When Rep. Westmoreland, who apparently believes that a faux-stone copy of the TC in every foyer will cure our country of its ills, could not name even three of them.

The Ten Commandments are not a fetish. They are actually too important to be reduced to the status of trinket and charm. They are commandments, directions on how to actually live your life, you know, act better and stuff. Want to see what will happen if the Ten Commandments crowd has their way? Go find your Bible. I'll wait. Now, turn to 1 Samuel 4:1-10. You can read it here if you don't have a Bible handy.

When the Israelites treated God's law like it was a lucky charm, they got their asses kicked. It's tempting to think that we can come up with a simple solution to our personal problems. Otherwise, we have to admit that fixing ourselves will be hard work. It's the same with society. Sure, we have things that are broken that need to be made right, but it won't be done by a waving a magic wand, and the current campaign to install the Ten Commandments is exactly that, a magic wand. It's demeaning to treat God's revelation to man like that. You think the TC are important? Good on ya. Now stop trying to hang them in everyone's bathroom. Go out and live them.

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