Friday, August 18, 2017

On Institutions and People

I'm no history scholar. I grew up in the American South. Tennessee, to be specific. I do not remember ever learning that the Civil War was not about slavery. That came later. That came from the mouths of friends who were concerned about the role of government in our lives and feared the encroachment of Big Brother. States' Rights seemed to be a dream of the past. One they would fight for as well.

I appreciate the view of smaller government. I do. I understand. But the problem is that in the situation surrounding the Civil War ("The War of Northern Aggression," some call it), those states' rights were protecting something the South held dear. Slavery. (I fully expect to get a history lecture from somebody telling me this isn't true. Sigh.)

It is one thing to hold an ideal surrounding an institution. It is another thing when that ideal impacts the life of a living. breathing person.

One of my passions is waking the Church (not one in particular but the Church at large) to the damage done when a church chooses to protect its own name over caring for a person within the church, such as when there is sexual misconduct or abuse within the church. Everybody scuttles around and pretties everything up in order to protect the institution and the victim gets lost in the shuffle, often being treated worse than the perpetrator. The same often happens in cases of domestic violence, when the institution of marriage is held up as so sacrosanct while the person within the marriage who has been violated is viewed as of no value whatsoever.

Even in parenting, you can have a principle that gets placed before the person you are trying to parent. Think of the parent who demands their child stop crying and when the child doesn't stop crying it is seen as disobedience and punished as such and come to find later that the child is crying because he is intense pain, be it physical or emotional. And somehow the parent was putting his allegiance to a principle (my authority) over the care of the child (why are you crying?).

Any time an institution or a principle, which is created for the human being, gets priority over the human being itself, something is wrong. Jesus said that about the Sabbath. That he made the Sabbath for man, not man for the Sabbath.

I know people love the principle of small government. I know they love the principle of states' rights. But principles should never, ever come before people, be it parenting or church or the governing of a nation.

You can't visit atrocities on an entire race of people and think it is OK just because it is legal, as was done in the American South. You can't defend the people who defended the right to visit such atrocities just because, in their eyes, that form of government was more important than an entire race of people. They really weren't heroes.

When will our heart break for every man, woman and child ripped from their home or born into slavery or sold away from their family? When will our heart break for that and not defend it in the name of states' rights? When will we mourn for our collective past instead of celebrate it? When will we weep?

Somewhere along the line we are going to have to start looking at people as people and put them first.



2 comments:

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