Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Religion and Love

Here is a report by the NY Daily News about a divorced couple who can't agree about when to have their children baptized.  What is the logical choice?  Take it to court, of course!

The mother of the two young children baptized the kids without the father's consent, where it is assumed that she knew he would find the action unacceptable.  (She supports early baptism, while he affirms the anabaptist ideal of waiting until the children has full knowledge of what they are committing to).  So he takes her to court, and she will possibly be put in jail for this action because she violated the courts order that the religious upbringing of the children must be made with the knowledge (if not necessarily approval) of the father.

Legally, it makes some sense.  Under Jesus' law, this is insane.  Having a secular court arbitrate in religious decisions is crazy.  Heck, having a court arbitrate in personal matters is insane.

But the legal system has nothing to do with Jesus' standards of love.  Is it loving to put the mother of your children in jail because she disagrees with you about baptism?  Absolutely not.  Does it display love for the children to have their mother put in jail because of something they did?  What does that communicate to the children?  That they have driven their parents apart again.

This is why Jesus said in Matthew 12 that our laws and religious beliefs need to be subjected to mercy.  Every time we make a judgment, it should be put to the test of love: is it loving to force David and his men to go hungry because they weren't supposed to eat that bread?  Is it loving for the disciples to be judged for plucking grain in the field on the Sabbath?

Is it loving?  Does it show mercy?  If our religion can't abide by this principle, then throw the religion out, it's worthless.

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