Justice & the Sanctity of Life - Applied

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

Postby Bootstrap » Fri Feb 10, 2017 3:47 pm

mike wrote:In a way, you're making a Just War argument, just on a different issue (immigration). Anabaptists haven't participated in the Just War debate, they just opt out of war altogether. Typically they haven't protested war, they have simply refused to participate. Is it really in keeping with the Anabaptist ethic to get up in arms (heh) about the government's immigration policy? Protest marches, constant Internet attacks on the President, etc?


Very much enjoying this discussion, Mike. Here, I disagree with you - this is an unjust war argument.

Suppose our president wanted to randomly launch nuclear bombs at our allies. Would you protest that? I would. Not as an endorsement of war, but as a statement that some things are beyond the pale by any reasonable moral standard. I am not claiming these are moral equivalents, but sometimes the extremes help identify if there's a time to step in and say something.

A lot of non-plain Mennonites did work with Martin Luther King, and I would have joined them. I didn't start working with refugees as a political statement, but it sure makes political happenings personal for me. I don't want people to think my friends are Muslim terrorists because of political fearmongering. How do we combat hatred and fear without publicly disagreeing with some politicians? I guess I find it harder to define clear boundaries between the human and the political than you do.

And in this doublespeak world, we at least need to do a reality check from time to time in order to remember that our politicians don't define what is true.
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Dan Z
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Re: Justice & the Sanctity of Life - Applied

Postby Dan Z » Fri Feb 10, 2017 5:26 pm

Yes...these discussions are why I hang around. Thanks all. :)

Most of you know that I'll be the first to argue that as non-resistant Anabaptists, we need to avoid trying to co-opt the coercive power of the state for our ends.

But this discussion is not about co-opting the just use of power - it is about speaking out in the face of the unjust use of power. It's is about knowing wrong when we see it, having a conscience, and bearing witness to a better, more compassionate way when faced with injustice. Again - it's not about being the coach, but about being the referee.

EXAMPLE: We come upon a man verbally or physically abusing his wife - and what should we do? Our instincts are that it is not our business...we're not responsible for how they choose to live their lives. But we know that we are morally obliged as a Christ-follower to speak up and even intervene to protect her - because she has value as a dearly beloved child of God. Our job is not to tell him how to go about his daily duties as a husband, or how to provide for his family - but out of conscience we are obliged to persuade him that his God-given role as a husband does not include abusing his wife. We may also offer her sanctuary in our home until we know she will be safe. But we are compelled to act - because we represent the Kingdom of love and compassion.

Now...what if it isn't an individual that is doing the abusing, but a gang of thugs? Would that make a difference in our choice to intervene? OK...what about an abusive cult? Would we speak up then? How about a corrupt/anusive mayor? Or what about an evil leader like Stalin or Hitler or Pol Pot? Are they somehow Exempt because Romans 13 grants them the right to kill and abuse with impunity?

I think we can debate under what circumstances we should intervene...maybe the US refusing refugee entry is not the place where your conscience is pricked. Perhaps torture would move you. Or legalized abortion. Or the terroristic tactics of ISIS. I think there is room for conscience here - but I honestly don't think there is a Biblical mandate for inaction in the face of injustice and wrong at any level.

Nor, for that matter, do I think that God uses evil for good - but that is another discussion.
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lesterb
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Re: Justice & the Sanctity of Life - Applied

Postby lesterb » Fri Feb 10, 2017 5:30 pm

Martin Luther King did his fair share of political posturing and manipulating. Such as putting poor black youth somewhere where they would be bound to be attacked by police, and making sure that the media was in the right spot to record it.

I don't see how that I could have been part of his movement as a Christian. Instead, I would have invited the black family next door over for supper. If enough Christian people would have worked from that perspective in the south, I think it would have done something as well.

I don't think activism is for the Christian. Showing love is. It might be more low key, but it will make more difference for the people you are trying to help.
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mike
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Re: Justice & the Sanctity of Life - Applied

Postby mike » Fri Feb 10, 2017 5:43 pm

Bootstrap wrote:Very much enjoying this discussion, Mike. Here, I disagree with you - this is an unjust war argument.

Suppose our president wanted to randomly launch nuclear bombs at our allies. Would you protest that? I would. Not as an endorsement of war, but as a statement that some things are beyond the pale by any reasonable moral standard. I am not claiming these are moral equivalents, but sometimes the extremes help identify if there's a time to step in and say something.

A lot of non-plain Mennonites did work with Martin Luther King, and I would have joined them. I didn't start working with refugees as a political statement, but it sure makes political happenings personal for me. I don't want people to think my friends are Muslim terrorists because of political fearmongering. How do we combat hatred and fear without publicly disagreeing with some politicians? I guess I find it harder to define clear boundaries between the human and the political than you do.

And in this doublespeak world, we at least need to do a reality check from time to time in order to remember that our politicians don't define what is true.


I agree that there are things that are beyond the pale according to most any moral standard. For example the Holocaust and the death camps in WW2.

I should probably put out some things I would support doing since I've been prying at you guys for your thoughts. I would support disobeying the law where it contradicts what I believe God would have me to do. I would support hiding Jews and runaway slaves. I would be comfortable with petitioning or appealing to the government in some cases. I would support aiding immigrants and refugees. I would help illegal immigrants if they were in need of food or shelter but I would not feel comfortable approving or encouraging them to disregard border and immigration laws. I wouldn't feel comfortable employing an undocumented alien.

I would support helping prisoners by visiting and writing them and by providing them with literature, Bibles, and study materials. I would not support lobbying for prison reforms or the abolition of the death penalty other than possibly by petition or appeal. I'm for helping the stranger that God places in my way, but I am wary of political demonstrations or marches, lobbying, and publicly criticizing governmental policy.

One way I divide the human from the political in a way that you wouldn't is by not voting. If a politician hears my appeal or reads my petition, or not, there is no reward or recrimination either way. What I think of or say to him or her, or what he thinks or says of me, does not earn or cost him anything politically.
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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

Dan Z
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Re: Justice & the Sanctity of Life - Applied

Postby Dan Z » Fri Feb 10, 2017 5:49 pm

lesterb wrote:I don't see how that I could have been part of his movement as a Christian. Instead, I would have invited the black family next door over for supper. If enough Christian people would have worked from that perspective in the south, I think it would have done something as well.

I don't think activism is for the Christian. Showing love is. It might be more low key, but it will make more difference for the people you are trying to help.


I like this approach Lester. When our conscience is moved, it's best to respond in love!!

I don't think voicing an opinion, even about a government decision, is activism by the way. Letting it be known to the people around me that I believe abortion is wrong, or better yet, supporting a crisis pregnancy center, seems miles away from yelling at women who enter a planned parenthood clinic. In the same way, speaking up against the government exclusion of refugees, or better yet housing a refugee family, seems infinitely more Christ-like than burning trash cans in the streets of DC.
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temporal1
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Re: Justice & the Sanctity of Life - Applied

Postby temporal1 » Fri Feb 10, 2017 5:56 pm

lesterb wrote:Martin Luther King did his fair share of political posturing and manipulating. Such as putting poor black youth somewhere where they would be bound to be attacked by police, and making sure that the media was in the right spot to record it.

I don't see how that I could have been part of his movement as a Christian.
Instead, I would have invited the black family next door over for supper. If enough Christian people would have worked from that perspective in the south, I think it would have done something as well.

I don't think activism is for the Christian. Showing love is. It might be more low key, but it will make more difference for the people you are trying to help.
interesting to read a perspective that MLK, Jr maybe should not be a sacred cow.
it's only in recent years i've learned to question, i believe, as my faith has matured. in those same years, the sacred cow status of MLK, Jr has intensified, it's been institutionalized. :(

but it defies God's ability to believe one quite-imperfect man/pastor was the "one+only" response to any problem. today, another imperfect man is leading. (but, wait! all men are imperfect.)

in history, i believe the most effective help has been shared quietly, under-the-radar, with humility. there are many examples. bandwagons are used+useful - for politics.
RZehr wrote:I'm in agreement with where Mike is coming from and what he is saying.

appleman2006 wrote:And I as well. Mike is hitting the exact points that have left me scratching my head as I look at the reaction to what is happening in your country.
agreed. these are the principles many of us come to this forum to learn about.
i, too, am reading mike's posts carefully.
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RZehr
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Re: Justice & the Sanctity of Life - Applied

Postby RZehr » Fri Feb 10, 2017 6:23 pm

mike wrote:
I agree that there are things that are beyond the pale according to most any moral standard. For example the Holocaust and the death camps in WW2.

I should probably put out some things I would support doing since I've been prying at you guys for your thoughts. I would support disobeying the law where it contradicts what I believe God would have me to do. I would support hiding Jews and runaway slaves. I would be comfortable with petitioning or appealing to the government in some cases. I would support aiding immigrants and refugees. I would help illegal immigrants if they were in need of food or shelter but I would not feel comfortable approving or encouraging them to disregard border and immigration laws. I wouldn't feel comfortable employing an undocumented alien.

I would support helping prisoners by visiting and writing them and by providing them with literature, Bibles, and study materials. I would not support lobbying for prison reforms or the abolition of the death penalty other than possibly by petition or appeal. I'm for helping the stranger that God places in my way, but I am wary of political demonstrations or marches, lobbying, and publicly criticizing governmental policy.

One way I divide the human from the political in a way that you wouldn't is by not voting. If a politician hears my appeal or reads my petition, or not, there is no reward or recrimination either way. What I think of or say to him or her, or what he thinks or says of me, does not earn or cost him anything politically.


I would also be comfortable doing and not doing everything given as examples here.
As far as extenuating circumstances are concerned, I suppose if I lived on the border and the drug cartel was chasing someone toward the border, and they were running for their life, I'd encourage them to obtain safety by disregarding the border and immigration laws in that case. This would be similar to the hiding Jews or runaway slaves.
But I think as soon as possible they should either return, or turn themselves into the border patrol.
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Bootstrap
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Re: Justice & the Sanctity of Life - Applied

Postby Bootstrap » Sat Feb 11, 2017 11:11 am

Dan Z wrote:
lesterb wrote:I don't see how that I could have been part of his movement as a Christian. Instead, I would have invited the black family next door over for supper. If enough Christian people would have worked from that perspective in the south, I think it would have done something as well.

I don't think activism is for the Christian. Showing love is. It might be more low key, but it will make more difference for the people you are trying to help.


I like this approach Lester. When our conscience is moved, it's best to respond in love!!


I agree with this. I started training to work with refugees last August because I was looking for a way to respond in love. I used to do prison ministry for similar reasons. I have not been politically involved in either, beyond signing a petition and voting.

Dan Z wrote:I don't think voicing an opinion, even about a government decision, is activism by the way. Letting it be known to the people around me that I believe abortion is wrong, or better yet, supporting a crisis pregnancy center, seems miles away from yelling at women who enter a planned parenthood clinic. In the same way, speaking up against the government exclusion of refugees, or better yet housing a refugee family, seems infinitely more Christ-like than burning trash cans in the streets of DC.


Especially among the brethren. Especially to brethren who are voicing very strong political opinions and linking them to their faith. Regardless of what we say to Caesar, how do we discuss these things among ourselves without biting and devouring each other?
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Is it biblical? Is it Christlike? Is it loving? Is it true? How can I find out?

Bootstrap
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Re: Justice & the Sanctity of Life - Applied

Postby Bootstrap » Sat Feb 11, 2017 11:47 am

mike wrote:One way I divide the human from the political in a way that you wouldn't is by not voting. If a politician hears my appeal or reads my petition, or not, there is no reward or recrimination either way. What I think of or say to him or her, or what he thinks or says of me, does not earn or cost him anything politically.


Yes, I do vote. My vote doesn't seem to cost politicians anything so far, but I vote anyway ;-> I won't join a political party, display a political sign, or contribute to a political party, movement, or candidate. That's where I currently draw the lines.

I agree that there are things that are beyond the pale according to most any moral standard. For example the Holocaust and the death camps in WW2.

mike wrote:I should probably put out some things I would support doing since I've been prying at you guys for your thoughts. I would support disobeying the law where it contradicts what I believe God would have me to do. I would support hiding Jews and runaway slaves. I would be comfortable with petitioning or appealing to the government in some cases. I would support aiding immigrants and refugees. I would help illegal immigrants if they were in need of food or shelter but I would not feel comfortable approving or encouraging them to disregard border and immigration laws. I wouldn't feel comfortable employing an undocumented alien.

I would support helping prisoners by visiting and writing them and by providing them with literature, Bibles, and study materials. I would not support lobbying for prison reforms or the abolition of the death penalty other than possibly by petition or appeal. I'm for helping the stranger that God places in my way, but I am wary of political demonstrations or marches, lobbying, and publicly criticizing governmental policy.


I miss prison ministry, and your work on this is the kind of testimony I like to see.

But sometimes I found that a prisoner had been waiting unreasonable lengths of time for addiction counseling, sometimes a prisoner was up for parole and asked me to speak to the authorities. Would you speak to the authorities in that situation?

What if you found that the prison you were working in was regularly abusing or neglecting prisoners, the food sometimes had maggots, etc? They closed down a local prison because of that. Would you have spoken to the authorities?

Besides not voting, where are your boundaries?

And how does your work in prison ministry affect the way you discuss issues like mass incarceration with the brethren?
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Dan Z
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Re: Justice & the Sanctity of Life - Applied

Postby Dan Z » Sat Feb 11, 2017 12:08 pm

To me, voting seems fraught with complexity, compromise, and the danger of getting sucked into partisanship.
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