Justice & the Sanctity of Life - Applied

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

Postby Dan Z » Fri Feb 10, 2017 12:58 pm

mike wrote:What basic code of morality are you referring to when you speak of this moral basis for justice?


Mike, you've asked this question a number of times...sorry for the delayed response from me.

I would say that this would be the guiding code of morality here:

    The Sanctity of 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)

If we are guided by this moral principle, then when we encounter situations at any level [individual or societal] where life is threatened or taken (e.g. abortion, lynching, genocide), or where a person is being grossly devalued or disrespected (e.g. slavery, sexual exploitation, domestic or child abuse), we are ethically obligated to act.

How we act, when we act, what we do or say - these are all situationally determined. But the moral code, and the ethical basis for action remains foundational.
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Bootstrap
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Re: Justice & the Sanctity of Life - Applied

Postby Bootstrap » Fri Feb 10, 2017 1:13 pm

mike wrote:I hear you, and my question is, what moral code are we using to determine what constitutes unjust overstepping of their ordained boundaries? You have said, the Judeo-Christian ethic of the sanctity of all life. But, I counter with, doesn't the Judeo-Christian ethic (according to us as Anabaptists) embrace the sanctity of ALL life including the life of our enemies, precluding not only unjust war but also just war? And not only unjust border policy but also just border policy? And not only unjust incarceration policy but also just incarceration policy? Et cetera.


I disagree with Dan here. I don't think that we have a shared moral code with all Americans. Plenty of Americans who think we have a shared Judeo-Christian ethic also support warfare, and plenty used to support racial discrimination and slavery. I think we have one moral code, and we work from that, but other people also have moral codes that differ from ours.

If you google for "morality public square", you'll find a lot of discussion about this question. Imagine a village that has several churches, a synagogue, a mosque, a Hindu temple, a military base, and an ACLU office.

This village has to agree on laws, so we all gather together in the public square in the middle of the town. There's no written code that says what we all agree on, so we have to negotiate. As we negotiate, we each work from our own moral code.

We probably won't all agree to be pacifists or vegetarians or pray 5 times a day or embrace universal military service. In the public square, we will probably agree that murder is wrong. We might or might not be able to persuade others that abortion is wrong. If we can't, maybe we can persuade others that we should help pregnant women in difficult situations so they won't need abortions if they don't want them. We look at the things that are most important values for us, try to understand the most important values of the others, and pick our battles wisely, because we are in this game for the long haul. If we win a vote but also alienate everyone else so they won't listen to us next time, we're probably losing in the long run.

So it's our moral code, seen through the lens of what we can negotiate in the public square. The moral code of the public square is written and rewritten based on what we can negotiate with everyone else. They are working from their own moral codes. And if we want to be able to freely live out our faith and moral practice, we'd better not threaten theirs. In the long run, that backfires in the public square. If they see us loving and genuinely serving other people and God, and are impressed by the fruit in our lives, we may be able to win them over instead.
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MaxPC
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Re: Justice & the Sanctity of Life - Applied

Postby MaxPC » Fri Feb 10, 2017 1:19 pm

Amen and amen! :clap: :up:
mike wrote:To what extent should a Christian ask the powers that be not to do what God has ordained them to do?

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

Postby Dan Z » Fri Feb 10, 2017 1:41 pm

Max - the issue we're discussing is how to respond when people or groups unjustly act outside of their ordained role.

Wield the sword circumspectly to counter terrorism = Ordained
Cluster-bombing Vietnamese villages = Unjust

No one wields the sword with impunity.
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mike
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Re: Justice & the Sanctity of Life - Applied

Postby mike » Fri Feb 10, 2017 1:58 pm

Bootstrap wrote:
mike wrote:I hear you, and my question is, what moral code are we using to determine what constitutes unjust overstepping of their ordained boundaries? You have said, the Judeo-Christian ethic of the sanctity of all life. But, I counter with, doesn't the Judeo-Christian ethic (according to us as Anabaptists) embrace the sanctity of ALL life including the life of our enemies, precluding not only unjust war but also just war? And not only unjust border policy but also just border policy? And not only unjust incarceration policy but also just incarceration policy? Et cetera.


I disagree with Dan here. I don't think that we have a shared moral code with all Americans. Plenty of Americans who think we have a shared Judeo-Christian ethic also support warfare, and plenty used to support racial discrimination and slavery. I think we have one moral code, and we work from that, but other people also have moral codes that differ from ours.

If you google for "morality public square", you'll find a lot of discussion about this question. Imagine a village that has several churches, a synagogue, a mosque, a Hindu temple, a military base, and an ACLU office.

This village has to agree on laws, so we all gather together in the public square in the middle of the town. There's no written code that says what we all agree on, so we have to negotiate. As we negotiate, we each work from our own moral code.

We probably won't all agree to be pacifists or vegetarians or pray 5 times a day or embrace universal military service. In the public square, we will probably agree that murder is wrong. We might or might not be able to persuade others that abortion is wrong. If we can't, maybe we can persuade others that we should help pregnant women in difficult situations so they won't need abortions if they don't want them. We look at the things that are most important values for us, try to understand the most important values of the others, and pick our battles wisely, because we are in this game for the long haul. If we win a vote but also alienate everyone else so they won't listen to us next time, we're probably losing in the long run.

So it's our moral code, seen through the lens of what we can negotiate in the public square. The moral code of the public square is written and rewritten based on what we can negotiate with everyone else. They are working from their own moral codes. And if we want to be able to freely live out our faith and moral practice, we'd better not threaten theirs. In the long run, that backfires in the public square. If they see us loving and genuinely serving other people and God, and are impressed by the fruit in our lives, we may be able to win them over instead.


And that is a most excellent description of the muddled mess of politics in the kingdoms of this world, which is based on a fluid moral code influenced by pop culture, winds of change, and political expediency. It is no place for those of us who want to live by the moral code of Jesus. Politics will corrupt us. We will become supporters of the ungodly Trumps, Clintons, Sanders, and Cruzes of this age, and we will forget our true mission.
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MaxPC
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Re: Justice & the Sanctity of Life - Applied

Postby MaxPC » Fri Feb 10, 2017 2:06 pm

Dan Z wrote:Max - the issue we're discussing is how to respond when people or groups unjustly act outside of their ordained role.

Wield the sword circumspectly to counter terrorism = Ordained
Cluster-bombing Vietnamese villages = Unjust

No one wields the sword with impunity.

I fully understand the discussion, Dan. I still applaud Mike's post. We cannot ignore the Romans 13 Scripture as it clearly defines God's role of primacy in these matters.
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mike
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Re: Justice & the Sanctity of Life - Applied

Postby mike » Fri Feb 10, 2017 2:17 pm

Dan Z wrote:
mike wrote:What basic code of morality are you referring to when you speak of this moral basis for justice?


Mike, you've asked this question a number of times...sorry for the delayed response from me.

I would say that this would be the guiding code of morality here:

    The Sanctity of 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)

If we are guided by this moral principle, then when we encounter situations at any level [individual or societal] where life is threatened or taken (e.g. abortion, lynching, genocide), or where a person is being grossly devalued or disrespected (e.g. slavery, sexual exploitation, domestic or child abuse), we are ethically obligated to act.

How we act, when we act, what we do or say - these are all situationally determined. But the moral code, and the ethical basis for action remains foundational.


I certainly agree with this statement on the sanctity of life, although it seems to me that is is only one tenet of many in our guiding code of morality as Christians. If we were to pick one foundational principle I think Jesus said it would be love of God first, then neighbor second.

But, moving forward. By the way, I am enjoying this discussion very much and appreciated the thoughtful posts from yourself and Bootstrap.

How is it that you move logically from this general principle to to the position that we must not speak out when our government guards its borders with guards, machine guns, dogs, and helicopters, but we must speak out when they exercise discrimination among the immigrants and visitors they will allow to enter? To me, the principle that life proceeds from God and that he alone is the giver and taker of life militates as much against one as the other.

The principle that the Lord cares about how people are treated seems to be as incompatible (to us Anabaptists anyway) with electrocuting a man for a crime he committed as it does with doing the same to a man for a crime he did not commit.

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?
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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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mike
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Re: Justice & the Sanctity of Life - Applied

Postby mike » Fri Feb 10, 2017 2:24 pm

Dan Z wrote:Max - the issue we're discussing is how to respond when people or groups unjustly act outside of their ordained role.

Wield the sword circumspectly to counter terrorism = Ordained
Cluster-bombing Vietnamese villages = Unjust

No one wields the sword with impunity.


Here's another thing, Dan. Who does the ordaining? God does. Do we always know exactly what God has ordained them to do? At times, God has clearly ordained evil powers to commit evil deeds - the nations who took Israel and Judah captive, and Pharaoh, for example. Who are we to say that God did not ordain an evil man or nation which commits an evil act? He most certainly did use/ordain/appoint evil nations. I see you you did not say bombing the village was not ordained; rather, that it was unjust. We tremble in the face of such horrific evils but we must know that God has allowed it to be so.
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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

RZehr
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Re: Justice & the Sanctity of Life - Applied

Postby RZehr » Fri Feb 10, 2017 2:57 pm

I'm in agreement with where Mike is coming from and what he is saying.
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appleman2006
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Re: Justice & the Sanctity of Life - Applied

Postby appleman2006 » Fri Feb 10, 2017 3:31 pm

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.
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