Saturday, April 7, 2007

Pharisees and Samaritans: An Extended Metaphor on Christian Theocracy

Today's post is a part of the Blogswarm Against Theocracy.

More information about importance of separation of church and state can also be found at

"Now I'm not looking for absolution,
forgiveness for the things I do,
But before you come to any conclusions,
try walking in my shoes."
Depeche Mode

I've mentioned before that my pet peeve is Biblical literalists who don't read their Bible. Or at least, they don't read it closely. So, today, I would like to point out the absurdity of Christian Theocracy. I remember being taught the Golden Rule as a small child in Sunday class. "In everything do to others as you would have them do unto you; for this is the law and prophets." Matthew 7:12 (NRSV)

I'll begin with a brief exegesis on this simple statement of Jesus. "This is the law and prophets." I read this has meaning that the concept of treating others as you yourself would wish to be treated is muy importante. J.C. wants the disciples to know that if they get nothing else out of the law and prophets they should get this message. Now, what is this message. It's simple and phrased elsewhere in the Bible as "Love your neighbor as yourself." My reading here is three-fold. First, recognize that you are fully human, loved by God, and created in God's image. Second, recognize that your neighbor, who might be a nasty Samaritan who worships God differently, is also fully human, loved by God, and created in God's image image. Next, consider your actions toward neighbor and treat your neighbor in the same manner that you would treat yourself as a child of God. Your actions should be motivated by love and guided by respect.

Theocrats, as best I can tell given that I'm not psychic, are not motivated by love, nor are they guided by respect. They are motivated by fear. Fear that their neighbor, our metaphorical nasty Samaritan who either worships God in a different way or who doesn't believe in God, will suddenly be in a position of control over them and will force them to abandon their way of worshiping God. Their response is to attempt to gain power quickly, claim that their way of worshiping God is the only way, and then force the nasty Samaritan to worship God as they worship. The theocrats are following a rule that reads like this: In everything do to others as you fear they will do unto you.

And, if they claim that the Bible guides them to act as they do, they have quite obviously missed the point. They skimmed the sections of the New Testament where J.C. tells people to treat others as they would be treated. They missed the parable of our Samaritan neighbor wherein it only the man who worships God differently who is actually doing the will of God. (Luke 10: 29-33) They forgot that Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well there will be a time when the different ways humans have concocted to worship God will mean nothing and spirit of the worship will be the only thing that matters. Instead, they have focused on the details of the law, convinced their way is the only way, and have forgotten that the Samaritan of today -- the feminist, the gay, the atheist, etc. etc. -- is also the beloved child of God. Thus, to be a Christian Theocrat is, quite simply, nonsense.

Note: I want to add that I do not believe it is absurd for a Christian to believe that the metaphorical Samaritan is sinning according to his or her beliefs, only that is absurd for the Christian to insist that he or she has the right to impose his or her beliefs on the Samaritan when he or she would not want the Samaritans beliefs imposed on him or her.

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