Justice & the Sanctity of Life - Applied

Events occurring and how they relate/affect Anabaptist faith and culture.
Dan Z
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Justice & the Sanctity of Life - Applied

Postby Dan Z » Thu Feb 09, 2017 1:54 pm

mike wrote:
Dan Z wrote:Perhaps my dualism is fraying a bit around the edges...and I'm still wrestling with where those edges are (we've worked together at this topic in a previous thread)...but I am beginning to feel stronger about the fact that being salt & light in God's world means being willing to speak up when we see injustice - particularly when it comes to the sacred value of life and human dignity. Whether it be at the individual or societal level, we Christ followers need to bear witness to a better way. Might that include keeping our eyes open for when Caesar is being unjust?


Unjust by whose standards? What is this "basic justice" you speak of? If you're speaking of justice as defined by God in the Old Testament, your difference with theonomy is not a matter of substance but of interpretation or degree. If you're speaking of justice according to the teachings of Jesus, I think joshuabgood is much closer to the mark than you are. If you're speaking of justice according to the Constitution, that's another matter still. Or maybe it's justice according to natural law, or some other basic human rule? So which is it?


These are great questions Mike - and a good opportunity to talk about the a Kingdom-based application and limitations of the Sanctity of Life ethic. In fact, let's start a new thread where we can work this through.
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Bootstrap
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Re: Justice & the Sanctity of Life - Applied

Postby Bootstrap » Thu Feb 09, 2017 2:03 pm

Excellent thread. I agree with the need to focus on being the Kingdom instead of being a political movement. At the same time, I suspect there are times to speak out.

Four questions:

  • What would you speak out on? Would you speak out against abortion, murder, genocide, police brutality, government fraud, gay marriage, refugees, etc, which are all clearly political issues as well as moral issues?
  • Who would you speak out to? Is speaking to each other here as brethren different from writing press releases or lobbying congress or protest marches?
  • Is prophetic action different from speech? Is it OK to help Syrian refugees, adopt unwanted children, and do similar actions which will also be interpreted by many as statements? While doing these actions, as it becomes personal, should you resist the temptation to also say something?
  • Are there particular forms of speaking - by words or action - that are best suited to our Kingdom?
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lesterb
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Re: Justice & the Sanctity of Life - Applied

Postby lesterb » Thu Feb 09, 2017 2:24 pm

I am particularly biased against actions which will probably be misinterpreted, such as protest marches or any kind of civil disobedience or disturbance.

I think the Christians part is to visit the fatherless and widows, etc. In other words, be there to support the victims.

We can lift up Martin Luther King, etc. But mostly activists just create disturbances where innocent people are injured.

I have, several times, written letters to the editor.
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MaxPC
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Re: Justice & the Sanctity of Life - Applied

Postby MaxPC » Thu Feb 09, 2017 4:28 pm

lesterb wrote:I am particularly biased against actions which will probably be misinterpreted, such as protest marches or any kind of civil disobedience or disturbance.

I think the Christians part is to visit the fatherless and widows, etc. In other words, be there to support the victims.

We can lift up Martin Luther King, etc. But mostly activists just create disturbances where innocent people are injured.

I have, several times, written letters to the editor.

I'm not big on civil disturbances either where violence and property destruction are more akin to temper tantrums and lawlessness than authentic exercise of free speech.

On the other hand, I'm glad to see young people in the Marches for Life in the cities. They don't destroy or commit violence. They march, they sing and they pray, not unlike the street singing done by some Mennonite groups. It's a form of evangelism and raises awareness of the need to protect life in it's most vulnerable state, be it in the womb or the disabled or elderly.

In my opinion, the most effective means of preaching the sanctity of life is by helping those in dire situations with encouragement and with tangible assistance. The homes for pregnant women in need of help are outstanding. They provide food, a roof, medical assistance and training for motherhood and also in skills for jobs.
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Dan Z
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Re: Justice & the Sanctity of Life - Applied

Postby Dan Z » Thu Feb 09, 2017 5:01 pm

Mike wrote:Unjust by whose standards? What is this "basic justice" you speak of?


OK...I want to unpack this a bit, so let's start with definitions of the terms "ethics" & "justice," the "basic justice" I speak of is the Christian ethic of "the Sanctity of all Human Life,"since these ideas are central to the discussion:

    Ethics: The moral principles that govern a person's behavior. In other words, applied morality - morality lived out. As Christians, the teachings and example of Christ, the witness of Scripture, and the leading of the Spirit frame our ethics.

    Justice: This term implies that there is a morally upright standard by which all people ought to be treated. Again, as a Christians we find these standards primarily in the teachings and example of Christ, the witness of Scripture, and the leading of the Spirit.

    The Sanctity of all Human Life: Scripture treats human life as a divine gift and something for which humans are responsible. It is thus to be valued and respected. This is a foundation Biblical principle, and a consistent theme throughout scripture, both OT & NT, based on the understanding that:
      - All life proceeds from God (Gen 2:7, John 1: 3-4, Acts 17:25),
      - People are precious to God (Gen 1:27, Matt 6: 25-26),
      - God is both the giver and taker of life (Job 1:21)
      - The Lord cares about how people are treated (Matt 22:36-40, Lev 19:9-18)
Are we on the same page thus far? I suspect our differences are mostly in application, but I'd like to make sure we are all talking the same language first.
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Bootstrap
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Re: Justice & the Sanctity of Life - Applied

Postby Bootstrap » Thu Feb 09, 2017 5:50 pm

Dan Z wrote:I'm pressing this forward in the other thread, but my answer is that the basis for justice is found in the Judeo-Christian ethic of the sanctity of all human life. That, at all levels of interaction, from societies to interpersonal, God as the giver of life cares about how his children are treated.

At the interpersonal level, if I see a person being deprived or abused, I have an ethical obligation as a follower of Christ to act ("Greater love has no man..."). And while I am not "ordained" to govern, it seems that my silence in the face of societal/governmental injustice and abuse would represent an ethical dereliction of duty (e.g. abortion, genocide, discrimination, etc.).

It's not so much telling government how to govern (that's where I got off track in my original post), but calling foul when government steps out of bounds - the role of a referee rather than a coach.


So part of this is asking whether we can be a city on the hill without being the salt that has lost its savor. And I sure hope so. But whenever we engage the government, there's always a danger that we will get distracted from the things that matter most to our own Kingdom.
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joshuabgood
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Re: Justice & the Sanctity of Life - Applied

Postby joshuabgood » Thu Feb 09, 2017 7:25 pm

Though I would support "marches" and "protests" and "civil disobedience" etc - so long as they were peaceful...it could/should be noted that there is very little evidence that any Christians did much (any) of this for the first 1800 years or so...despite having lived in plenty of oppressive regimes.
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mike
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Re: Justice & the Sanctity of Life - Applied

Postby mike » Thu Feb 09, 2017 9:49 pm

Discussion moved here from this thread.

Bootstrap wrote:
mike wrote:It depends. It seems unjust based on what I think is the ultimate standard for justice -- God's, and that of the teachings of Jesus. But is that the standard that we expect our government to align itself with? If so, then not only is Trump's executive order unjust, but, as joshuabgood said, having borders at all is unjust by the standards of Jesus.

If the standard of justice we are using is the U.S. Constitution and U.S. law, I think it is debatable whether these unfortunate situations were examples of injustice. I guess that is what the courts are fighting over right now.

And that is my question - what is the basis for this justice you speak of? Your answering with questions did not answer the question. :mrgreen:


Do you believe that a law can be unjust?

This is probably worthy of its own thread. Perhaps it would be good to launch the thread when there is less going on, but here's the broader question: does a country have any moral obligation except to the letter of its laws? You seem to imply that it might not, I think that it does. One indication of that is that God judged nations - not just Israel - for failing on certain moral obligations. Another indication is that most moral people would agree on certain basics that are not required by the laws of most countries we consider relatively moral. Sometimes a country is good beyond what is legally required, and sometimes morality requires that.

As Christians in a diverse society, we contribute our opinion to the understandings of common good that come to be reflected in our laws. That's part of being salt and light. And it's different from grasping power like a theonomist.


I'm getting a little unsure which thread this discussion belongs in, so I'm pasting it in Dan's new thread.

Yes, of course a law can be unjust, but I'm attempting to get to the root of justice: justice according to what/whom? This is my question. You mentioned above:

"moral obligation"
"certain moral obligations"
"most moral people would agree on certain basics"
"morality"

What basic code of morality are you referring to when you speak of this moral basis for justice?
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mike
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Re: Justice & the Sanctity of Life - Applied

Postby mike » Thu Feb 09, 2017 10:03 pm

DanZ wrote:I'm pressing this forward in the other thread, but my answer is that the basis for justice is found in the Judeo-Christian ethic of the sanctity of all human life. That, at all levels of interaction, from societies to interpersonal, God as the giver of life cares about how his children are treated.

At the interpersonal level, if I see a person being deprived or abused, I have an ethical obligation as a follower of Christ to act ("Greater love has no man..."). And while I am not "ordained" to govern, it seems that my silence in the face of societal/governmental injustice and abuse would represent an ethical dereliction of duty (e.g. abortion, genocide, discrimination, etc.).

It's not so much telling government how to govern (that's where I got off track in my original post), but calling foul when government steps out of bounds - the role of a referee rather than a coach.


OK, I appreciate how you're attempting to hammer this out. So if I understand you correctly, your basis for calling the government out of bounds is based on "the Judeo-Christian ethic of the sanctity of all human life." If you are Anabaptist, you would agree that not only abortion but all killing is out of bounds in terms of the Judeo-Christian ethic.

So would you call the government out of bounds on a routine military mission in which the life of enemy combatants are taken, as opposed to only calling them out for collateral damage where innocent lives are taken?

Would you call the government out of bounds for having border guards and vetting of immigrants in general, or only when the vetting is (in your opinion) too extreme or when excessively discriminatory vetting practices are used?

See, what I'm getting at is, as a Christian living by the ethic of the Sermon on the Mount as our guide for what is "just," how can we choose the point at which to start protesting injustice when the government uses the force of arms in any capacity?

If the Judeo-Christian ethic of the sanctity of all life is the ethic that we can safely judge and protest the justice/injustice of our nation by, then by all means apply it consistently and across the board, not just here and there, or when the injustice reaches a certain "tipping point." Call out the government on having borders and guards with helicopters and machine guns. Are you willing to do that?
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Remember the prisoners, as though you were in prison with them, and the mistreated, as though you yourselves were suffering bodily. -Heb. 13:3

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Re: Justice & the Sanctity of Life - Applied

Postby Josh » Fri Feb 10, 2017 5:14 am

I'm challenged to understand what a "Judeo-Christian" ethic has to do with kingdom Christians, particularly when that ethic has a giant loophole that allows killing of other people.
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