Jesus Never Said, 'Go Make Others Do Things.'

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Right and wrong at the same time

I'm torn. On one level I agree with your basic premise: there is no biblical mandate for any person of faith to make anyone else do anything. The problem is, there IS a biblical mandate for the strong to protect the weak, the rich to treat the poor fairly, etc. There is also proscribed recourse for those who violate these terms.

So that leaves us with a quandry: to what degree can/must we compel others to desist in behavior that causes damage to others? That's easy enough when it comes to stopping someone from hitting their neighbor in the head with a club, but it gets trickier when it involves, say, the way one person’s extravagant lifestyle is lived at the expense of those whose labor they exploit, or the people who live downwind of their polluting factory.

I have a deeper critique of the use of scripture primarily as a means of individual instruction however: the majority of times a word in scripture is translated as “you” it should really be “y’all”. Most scripture is addressed to groups, not to individuals. That gets lost in English because we don’t have a distinctive second person plural pronoun, but both Greek and Hebrew do. The texts we use were written to be read aloud and heard, not studied by individuals. They are eastern, not western – our “atomic” theory of self is foreign to them. Even the depictions of “final judgement” take place in the setting of groups, not individuals.

So, while there is no mandate for our scripture to be used as a basis for a group to compel individuals in the broader culture to adopt any specific set of behavior, their primary guidance is less for an individual in isolation than for a member of a group seeking to follow God together.

Todd W Scranton 7 days ago

I really liked this article.

The Bible works best when the 'you' in the sentence is understood to be I.
"Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two"

Anonymous 8 days ago

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