Saturday, August 7, 2010

Code Words for Socialist Sympathizers

Political conversations and considerations are causing me to look closer into the Old Testament and consider some of the teachings there regarding issues of poverty, treatment of the poor, immigration, et al. With some of that idling in the corners of my mind, verses from Exodus 22 created something of a stir for me.

V21 (RSV): “You shall neither mistreat a stranger nor oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (sounds to me like we are to treat strangers and others as we want to be treated).

V22: “You shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child. If you afflict them in any way, and they cry at all to Me, I will surely hear their cry; and My wrath will become hot . . .”

V25: “If you lend money to any of My people who are poor among you, you shall not be like a moneylender to him: you shall not charge him interest. (26) If you ever take your neighbor’s garment as a pledge, you shall return it to him before the sun goes down. (27) For that is his only covering, it is his garment for his skin. What will he sleep in? And it will be that when he cries to Me, I will hear, for I am gracious.”

Those verses started me searching further. In the center column references I found the following for immediate reference; so I pursued them.

Leviticus 19:33 and 25:35 - And if a stranger sojourns with you in your land; you shall not mistreat him ... And if one of your brethren becomes poor, and falls into poverty among you, then you shall help him, like a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with you. (36) Take no usury or interest from him; but fear your God, that your brother may live with you.”

Deuteronomy 10:19 - “Therefore love the stranger for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

Zechariah 7:10 - “Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. Let none of you plan evil in his heart against his brother.”

Malachi 3:5 - “And I will come near you for judgment; I will be a swift witness against sorcerers, against adulterers, against perjurers, against those who exploit wage earners and widows and the fatherless, and against those who turn away an alien--Because they do not fear Me,” Says the Lord of hosts.”

You expect the Bible to judge sorcery and adultery, and even lying (perjurers), but to equate them in the same sentence with those who exploit workers, widows, the fatherless et al, may surprise some religious and political pundits.

It is easy to find support for social justice in the words of Jesus, but it may surprise some of my Christian friends to learn that Jesus was only upholding the standards from throughout the Old Testament. It is true, the Old Testament said an “eye for an eye” but that was to insure justice rather than to punish.

It is also true that the Old Testament social system allowed for special provisions that covered many of the needs commonly found in our Welfare safety net today (read the story of Esther and Naomi), but space does not allow discussing that here. It is also true that Jesus lifted the bar a notch with the word love.

So, when Glen Beck and others define words like tolerance, social justice etc as mere code words for Socialists, Communists, and other nasty liberals of that ilk, I conclude that one of two things is true. Either they do not know what they are talking about, or they oppose the teachings of the Bible.

From Warner’s World, we are

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