A Few Concerns Regarding Matters of Faith and Morality

“The fearful danger of the present time is that above the cry for authority, we forget that man stands alone before the ultimate authority, and that anyone who lays violent hands on man here, is infringing eternal laws, and taking upon himself superhuman authority, which will eventually crush him.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I think I feel a sermon coming on….

I am increasing appalled at the statements of Christians and those that they have allied themselves with in the political arena.  Mind you that almost all of these folks claim to be “pro-life” because they are anti-abortion. However just because someone is against abortion does not mean that they are necessarily pro-life.  They may be pro-life in the instance of abortion but if that is all then they are one dimensionally pro-life, which means that in many other areas they are pro-death.

Several examples I will note and they are so abominable, so un-Christian and so evil that they have to be called out. I am refraining from politics because this is a matter of faith and morals that have had to categorically oppose throughout our history, even when our Christian brothers and sisters are the perpetrators.

I the past couple of weeks alone we have seen bold faced immoral and distinctly un-Christian comments being made in full public view on television for all, even God to see.

First there were the cheers when Governor Rick Perry said that he never “loses sleep” over any of the 234 men and women that he has signed the death warrants of in Texas, not even worrying that some might have been innocent.  When Perry pronounced this authoritative statement “But in the state of Texas, if you come into our state and you kill one of our children, you kill a police officer, you’re involved with another crime and you kill one of our citizens, you will face the ultimate justice in the state of Texas, and that is, you will be executed.” The cheers were raucous.  This despite the fact that the witness of the Christian Church before Constantine was universally against the use of capital punishment, evidently the fact that Jesus was unjustly crucified had some play in their beliefs.   But of course one the Church became part of the establishment that began to change and well we know how that worked out, if you disagreed with the Church the crime was also against the State and those who did not recant well enough were summarily executed, often with a clergyman pronouncing eternal damnation.

You would think that someone who is pro-life would at least reserve the ultimate justice to God, and at least wrestle with the implications of each death warrant that he signs.  The death penalty may be capital punishment but it is still temporal justice, God alone has the right of deciding “ultimate justice.” For anyone not to understand that shows a callous disregard for the earliest witnesses of the Christian faith and cannot in any way be considered to be “pro-life.”  Pope John Paul II in his Papal Encyclical “Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life) said this

“Public authority must redress the violation of personal and social rights by imposing on the offender an adequate punishment for the crime, as a condition for the offender to regain the exercise of his or her freedom. In this way authority also fulfills the purpose of defending public order and ensuring people’s safety, while at the same time offering the offender an incentive and help to change his or her behaviour and be rehabilitated.

It is clear that, for these purposes to be achieved, the nature and extent of the punishment must be carefully evaluated and decided upon, and ought not go to the extreme of executing the offender except in cases of absolute necessity: in other words, when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society. Today however, as a result of steady improvements in the organization of the penal system, such cases are very rare, if not practically non-existent.

In any event, the principle set forth in the new Catechism of the Catholic Church remains valid: ‘If bloodless means are sufficient to defend human lives against an aggressor and to protect public order and the safety of persons, public authority must limit itself to such means, because they better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.'”

The Second little instance was when a question was asked of Ron Paul about what he would do if an uninsured 30 year old man suddenly slipped into a coma and needed care and people in the audience started yelling “Let him die, let him die!”  To be fair Ron Paul as a physician would treat the man, but the fact that people in the audience which was in large part drawn from Evangelicals shouted such epithets in a debate televised for the whole nation to see revealed a sentiment that was in no way pro-life or Christian.  In fact it reminded me of the shouts “crucify him, crucify him!”

The Third and last for tonight’s sermon, I do occasionally like the three point sermon, was prominent televangelist and one time Presidential Candidate Pat Robertson’s comment today on his show The 700 Club. Robertson gave this warm and cuddly advice to a man asking what to say to a friend who had started seeing someone else because his wife had Alzheimer’s Disease “I know it sounds cruel, but if he’s going to do something, he should divorce her and start all over again, but make sure she has custodial care and somebody looking after her.” Citing the Gospel of Mark, Robertson continued “If you respect that vow, you say `til death do us part, this is a kind of death.”  That statement is neither pro-life nor pro-family, nor can it find any support in the Christian tradition, nowhere.

All of these statements that I have described show no respect for the human person and betray what Hannah Arendt called “the fearsome word-and-thought-defying banality of evil” because those that utter them do not believe that they are evil words or acts. The “banality of evil” was  a term she coined about Adolf Eichmann who made sure that the wheels of the Holocaust moved smoothly forward.  Of course Eichmann said in his defense that he didn’t have anything against the Jews, he even had Jewish friends, and it was just his job and that he had done nothing wrong because he acted within the law.

These expressed thoughts and sentiments of Rick Perry, Pat Robertson and those in the debate crowds that cheered for death show a terrible dark side to our supposedly “Christian” nation.  It is easy to use scripture to condemn abortionists as well as those that are considered sexually deviant or to condemn those of foreign creeds enemies, but when the questions are the treatment of the poor, the sick, the aliens among, the prisoners, or to the children of people that we see as enemies far away who just happen to be in the same tent as their woebegone parents who might or might not be terrorists when a drone launched Hellfire missile tears their bodies to shreds we scarcely see the moral, ethical and religious principles that are violated.

Bonhoeffer was indeed correct “that above the cry for authority, we forget that man stands alone before the ultimate authority, and that anyone who lays violent hands on man here, is infringing eternal laws, and taking upon himself superhuman authority, which will eventually crush him.”

Just some things to think about….

Peace

Padre Steve+

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5 Comments

Filed under faith, History, philosophy

5 responses to “A Few Concerns Regarding Matters of Faith and Morality

  1. i am not a christian but i do see and appreciate your points very well. the problem i think lies in having double standards. as i have posted tonight, i think that we should develop a single standard of morality, which cannot be bent for convenience. thanks for posting!

  2. John Erickson

    I had heard the first two incidents, but hadn’t heard about Pat Robertson’s little comment. I’ve never really held Mr. Robertson in any high regard, but stating the Alzheimer’s sufferer is “kind of dead” is despicable even by his low standards.
    I’ve always been both amazed and amused by the “pro-lifers” who cheer on the death sentence. Not to mention that, in their eyes, my wife should be dead because a pregnancy would’ve most likely killed her – regardless of the chance of the baby’s survival.
    I guess “practice what you preach” is just a bit outside their capabilities…..

  3. Bob L

    “You would think that someone who is pro-life would at least reserve the ultimate justice to God, and at least wrestle with the implications of each death warrant that he signs.”

    That seems unlikely, for a pretty simple reason: Governors in Texas don’t have the authority to sign death warrants. Only judges can do that. The only power the governor has is the power to suspend the sentence for a maximum of 30 days.

    • padresteve

      Bob
      I actually knew the process, but when Governor’s like Perry actually ignore evidence and disband or change commissions that raise reasonable doubt, or ignore major issues in the process to include shoddy psychologists that never even meet the person that they evaluate and then brag about how Texas brings “ultimate justice” it is morally equivalent to actually signing the warrant. This man enjoys the death penalty far too much for comfort.

      Peace
      Padre Steve+

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