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Monday, April 5, 2010

What I’m Reading Today: Luke 12:35-59

I found a great deal of irony when Pat Buchanon stood up at the Republican National Convention in Houston in 1992 and declared that the nation was in the midst of a cultural war. From that moment forward, it seemed, some of the more extreme elements of the movement he mobilized went to great lengths to talk about the “family values” that they were fighting to defend. Often, these efforts were gauged in religious language.

Every time I heard them use the phrase “family values”, I wanted to ask if they meant some of the values contained in the Bible. I wanted to ask, for instance, if they were proponents of reinstituting the position of concubine as found throughout the stories contained in the Hebrew Scriptures/Old Testament. I also wanted to ask if they were fans of polygamy – since that too was a practice common to the biblical patriarchs back in the day.

Even more so, I wonder if they would publically embrace the kind of verbiage that Jesus used in today’s passage from Luke. “From now on,” Jesus began, “when you find five in a house, it will be – three against two, and two against three; father against son, and son against father; mother against daughter, and daughter against mother; mother-in-law against bride, and bride against mother-in-law.” I don’t remember Mr. Buchanon quoting this piece of Scripture in the midst of his cultural war.

So what are we to make of such language attributed to Jesus?

Well, there are lots of lessons to be learned – but one of the most important is that religion is a complicated area. You should be extremely leery of those who toss around catch-phrases around as if they were self-explanatory. There is usually so much more to the story than they would like you to know.

It would be easy to use my thoughts today as a way of going after those with whom you disagree. Today, however, I’ll invite you to consider doing something else. I’ll ask you to examine your own belief system and see if there are areas in which you have been overly simplistic and perhaps a bit judgmental.

Til next time...

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