The meme beside me here was one my son showed me on Facebook. It was posted by one of his pastors. I don’t personally know the pastor, and if he came up to me on the street I’d have NO idea who he was. I tried to limit my comments to the Facebook post, but not being a social connection of his, I wasn’t able to. Then I thought hey, I haven’t blogged in a while. Let’s use this there! And so… here we are 😀
I get why this supposed to be entertaining. Or funny. Or maybe illicit deep conversation amongst fellow believers. I get that this is a way to make people think about their convictions, and so I thought to myself, sure, I’ll play along.
If I asked you “Hey reader of my blog whom I have never met, what does the color blue taste like?”, chances are, the reaction would not be a pleasant one. You might think I’m crazy. You might wonder if I had too much medication. But, you aren’t going to think “Oh wow, you are ONE BRILLIANT THINKER GUY!” And see, my problem with this is that I’m having the same reaction to this meme.
You see, I get that to the creator of this over-used Maury Povich meme, this is supposed to make people who claim to follow the teachings of Christ think about the “odd juxtaposition of their protectiveness of the unborn with their desire to see the wicked be destroyed.” In the pastor’s comments, he said something to the affect of “Well, Jesus didn’t resist arrest or fight back when He was being arrested and killed, so why should we? Now, don’t you feel bad about supporting war and capital punishment?”
No. I don’t. In. The. Least.
You are morally and ethically asking what the color blue tastes like. This entire meme, and the line of thought betrayed by it, equates our government with our own personage. I SHOULD find the death of the unborn morally repugnant. It SHOULD bother me that we can discuss idolatry as though it is a foreign concept to today’s society and is a relic of the days of “Molech and Chemosh” when the reality is, we sacrifice children every day to the god of self. Over 80% of abortions are because of reasons other than “necessity.” According to the CDC, over 25% of abortions are purely out of “this is a hindrance to my career.” So no, we don’t NEED Molech or Chemosh to sacrifice our children to. We have our own ambitions. Pathetic. 50 million children have been sacrificed to OUR idols over 40 years time. I can ASSURE you, those numbers dwarf any number you can imagine in biblical times.
On the flipside of this, I SHOULDN’T revel in the death of the guilty. And indeed, I DON’T revel in the death of the guilty. And I don’t think any Christian who loves and follows Christ WOULD. But there is a dividing line between what we feel is our own personal obligation and the obligations of our governments. What I find odd is that the pastor seems to forget Genesis 9:6:
“Whoever sheds the blood of man,
by man shall his blood be shed,
for God made man in his own image.”
Now, before we get carried away into “But that’s the Old Testament and doesn’t apply to us as believers (this is a nice way to make vomit well up in my throat, by the way), let’s realize that God’s decrees also, in a way, lay His feelings and thoughts bare for us all. God is clearly, in this instance, declaring that it is an imperative to shed the blood of those who shed the blood of others. So if this is a COMMANDMENT, which it is (it’s revisited with the Israelites in Exodus, so it’s obviously a command), then at the very least, it reveals a God whose heart is for justice. Certainly not for wanton bloodshed, but for justice. And so while He is not commanding Noah or his family to enjoy the capital punishment of the murderer, He is most definitely commanding it from a governance standpoint.
And so just in case we like to still try to escape from the burden of governance, we still have this to contend with:
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.
That’s from Paul. It’s Romans 13, for those of you playing at home. Just in CASE you missed Genesis 9 and the responsibilities of government to protect the sanctity of life, here is a little passage from Paul to remind us that the government’s responsibility is, in fact, to protect the innocent and to be an extension of God’s wrath. In seeing both this and the Genesis passage, it should be pretty simple to understand that force is, in fact, the prescriptive response to the endangerment of innocent life. So it’s sad, in fact, that a pastor would try to equate the protection of the innocent with the just application of God’s wrath on the guilty.
One of the arguments that the pastor used for his position was that Jesus did not fight back when He was being arrested. That sounds great, but there are two problems with that response. First and foremost, Jesus was MEANT to go to the cross to die, it was His MISSION, and He did so… WILLINGLY. I’m not sure that Pastor Oblivious thought this through, considering that Jesus, being an omniscient, omnipotent being, would necessarily HAVE to allow Himself to be killed. It’s like playing your five year old in a game of horse. You can lose, sure, but you have to put the effort into losing. So, quite simply put, if Jesus WERE to accomplish His unique MISSION on earth, it was, in fact, necessary for Him to not resist, and that was the point He was trying to get Peter to understand. Secondly, there is a big difference in defending YOURSELF versus defending someone who is NOT you. One is self preservation, one is not. In the case of abortion, Christians disagree with it because it is the taking of an innocent life. In the case of capital punishment, it is protection of OTHER innocent lives combined with an expression of the value of the life already lost. In the event of a Just War, it is for the protection of those innocent lives who are being oppressed by a far superior force. But in NONE of these situations are the combatants protecting themselves. So Pastor, maybe rethink that meme.
Now, my son responded to this pastor’s meme, and his response could be paraphrased as this “I wanted to take a serious situation and kind of make it a joke so that people could laugh at themselves and think their way through their positions.” You know, I’m all for people thinking. I have a good feeling that if this pastor had done the same, then perhaps this meme would not exist. But alas, that was not to be.
Here’s my take on that. You are a pastor. You are held to a higher standard than John Q. Public in regards to the body. The image of a pastor consistently presented in scripture is one who is willing to protect his sheep. Using your meme wizardry skills to thoughtless provoke your flock into a poorly thought through moral conundrum doesn’t count for that. Also, a pastor is held to a higher standard because they are a teacher:
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.
I didn’t come up with that. James, the brother of our Lord, did. It’s in his letter in the Bible, in the third chapter. Look, you can be offended all you want as a pastor by the expectation that you should be held to a higher standard. My advice is that if you don’t like, or feel that it should be some other way, find another line of work. By being irresponsible with your flock, demonstrating a lack of biblical thinking and insight, and then passing it off as “fun,” you are demonstrating to me that, while you may WANT to be a pastor, you might be in the wrong line of work. Maybe it’s a maturity issue, I don’t know, but that is certainly inappropriate for a pastor. It’s your job as a pastor to lead with dignity, and to teach the word of God in a way consistent with biblical application, not entertain the masses with your ability to copy an already overplayed Maury Povich meme.