Saturday, April 04, 2015


Bible Study

Since it's Easter tomorrow, I thought I'd do a little exegesis of a bible verse I have come to think is very profound on a great many levels. The verse is well known, it's Matthew 7:3 (but the same thing is said at Luke 6:41 with a distant echo at Romans 2:1) Matthew's version says (International Standard Version):

Why do you see the speck in your brother's eye but fail to notice the beam in your own eye?

Most people understand immediately that this is a 'judge not lest you be judged' warning (as we humans are all sinners, all fallen); but it's so much more. Most people get that it's a condemnation of hypocrisy. You notice another's peccadillos but you are blind to your own major flaws (sins). It is also simple triage, as is clear in the next verse:
You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.
But the part I'm most interested in is its condemnation of a misallocation of outrage.

They big piece of wood sticking in your eye is a big deal. The speck in your brother's eye is trivial. Stop kvetching about the trivial and save your limited resources of anger and outrage for the things that actually deserve that anger and outrage.

I've been involved in a heated (but written) argument with a friend from college, who I know is smarter than I am, about his support of condemnation of the recent state versions of the federal Restoration of Religious Freedom Act (RFRA), particularly the Indiana version. There are a great many things to be outraged about in our world; more things, I think, than we have the stamina to exert and maintain our outrage. So it would be wise to allocate our limited outrage resources to the most egregious things deserving outrage. In the world condition of homosexuals, the fact that devout Christians in America might be able to refuse to participate in any way in same sex marriage ceremonies and not face fines or the loss of their business though government action is a very slight harm to homosexuals. Being thrown off a tall building, or hanged or crushed by stones, as is happening in various Muslim nations under ISIS control (or under mainstream Sharia control) is a huge harm to homosexuals, the greatest harm one can do to another human. Speck versus beam.

But when I point this out to my college friend, he can't understand why I can't feel outraged about possible "inconvenience" discrimination here in America based on real religious belief despite the bad things happening elsewhere. This too is a speck beam problem. He can't see it accurately. That's the beam.

It's a good verse.


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