Whose Rules?

Wednesday of the Third Week of Lent

Moses spoke, “Now, Israel, hear the statutes and decrees which I am teaching you to observe, that you may live, and may enter in and take possession of the land which the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you. Deuteronomy 4

The statutes Moses refers to are the ones we commonly call the Ten Commandments. The first one is not to take the Lord’s name in vain. That one I live with pretty well. The second is not to work on the Sabbath. Now. When was the last time you took a full day off? Honor fathers and mothers: most of us do that, I suppose, to some extent, although therapy sessions are filled with recovery from parental experiences. Not to kill; not to commit adultery; not to steal or bear false witness or covet your neighbor’s wife. Okay. I can live with those.

But then look at the end of the above line: “that you may live, and may enter in and take possession of the land…” In other words, the laws against killing and coveting don’t seem to include the people whose land is being usurped.

Is that’s the origin of the “God’s on our side” thinking? If God’s on our side, we can justify unjust and unkind behavior to our enemies. That’s the thinking that happens in war and why a soldier can go off the deep end and kill indiscriminately. That’s also the thinking that’s coming up in this election cycle: “man has dominion over the earth,” says Santorum. I guess that leaves women to watch and sort of mop up the messes.

We could all take some time to examine our actions, to question which statues we live by: do we live by kindness? do we live by blame or justification? By the rules we make up?

What statutes do you live by? An “I can do what I want” rule?  An “it’s my fault” rule? Are those rules effective?

Maybe all our statutes need to be replaced with “The Golden Rule.” What if you really did treat others as you would like to be treated. Would your life be different?

2 thoughts on “Whose Rules?

  1. Super questions, Janet. So many rules, yet only one–to love. What if we could only get arrested for breaking that one law–would we all be in jail?–silly question, but too often we assume the law of love is a high ideal–impossible and unenforceable.

    Thomas, our old and ailing cat had a great night Monday, but by this morning I had to touch him several times to make sure he was still alive. Mostly I just rush out the door in the mornings with a quick goodbye touch to each cat. This morning I knelt beside Thomas and prayed with him, setting aside the rule about what time I should be at work. I have no doubt that I made the right choice. I’m praying Thomas can hold on until his “sisters” get home and surround him with their love. If only we could be clear more often about our priorities–about the primacy of loving.

    1. So sorry to hear about Thomas. He is a kind and gentle soul. May his passing be gentle too. Thanks for taking the time for him and for you – and thanks so much for telliing us about it.

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