What I’m Reading Today: Matthew 21:23-22:46
I’ve never been a fan of talk radio. I suppose I dislike it because of its generally bombastic nature. Most of the hosts seem more focused on creating ratings for their shows rather than educating /helping their listeners. Those are a couple reasons why I don’t listen to talk radio.
Because of my decision to avoid talk radio, I missed a big controversy that arose out of one such show last Tuesday. The host of the program – Dr. Laura – took a call from a woman named Jade who wanted advice on how to deal with racist comments made by her husband’s family and friends. Jade was African-American and Jade’s husband was European-American.
In the process of responding to Jade’s question, Dr. Laura went off on a tangent. She got fixated on what she perceived to be a double standard. She couldn’t understand why it is okay for those within the African-American community to use the n-word with one another while it is unacceptable for folks from outside the African-American community to use the word. In the process of trying to make her point, Dr. Laura used the n-word 11 times.
I know that in coming days there will be those who will lose sight of the inappropriateness of Dr. Laura’s language and become fixated on having another conversation: whether or not a double standard exists between racial/ethnic groups. That’s too bad. And a portion of today’s passage helps me understand why such a secondary conversation is totally missing the point.
You see, in today’s passage Jesus lays out one of the foundational principles of his ministry: the Great Commandments. Jesus said: “’Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs: everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”
Here’s where that principle comes in.
When you interact with others, the Great Commands suggest you don’t just put yourself first. You put love of God and others first. Therefore, when you say or do something – you don’t first consider whether or not you have a right to say it. You consider the impact of what you might say. If it causes unnecessary pain to others, don’t say it. It’s that simple. End of controversy.
While you and I can’t control whether or not radio talk show hosts can embrace the spirit of the Great Commands and act/speak accordingly, we can control whether or not we embrace those commands. I would encourage you to carry those two commands with you today (and every day!) and use them to guide your words and deeds.
Til next time …
PS - For those of you who live in/near Woodland Hills, you are invited to join me for a 3:00 PM showing of “Eat, Pray, Love” at the AMC Promenade 16 today. Afterwards, those of us gathered will go out for coffee and discuss the film.