Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Dehumanizing People

A post from a blog that I read often got me thinking. The Anchoress posted about those that couldn't say anything about our President without being negative and dehumanizing of him. She quoted one of my favorite lines from the last comic strip of Pogo that I remember, “we have met the enemy, and he are us?” This is so true in the area of dehumanizing others we want to hate. We dehumanize another person to make them less worthy of our respect and love; this allows us to label them as our enemy and justifies our evil treatment of them. It reminds me that Christ taught us that we should love one another as we would love ourself. In dehumanizing them we make ourself the enemy in God's eyes; we become what we hate.

Lu 6:27 But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,
Lu 6:28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.
Lu 6:32 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.

As a believing disciple of Christ, I am taught by Christ to never consider another human as an enemy. Regardless of their actions towards me I must treat all people with love and respect no matter their status in life or any supposed threat I may perceive they represent to me; i.e. tribe (nationality), skin color, religion, custom, culture, lifestyle, worldview (philosophy), etc., etc.

Joh 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
Joh 13:35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

Jas 2:1 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.
Jas 2:4 Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?
Jas 2:8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:
Jas 2:9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.
Jas 2:13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.

Let's face the fact that in order to hate and kill another, we don't hesitate to find reasons to lower, dehumanize, the individual(s) that oppose us in some way. In her post, the Anchoress was referring to those that could not say anything positive about our current President. If we can dehumanize one of our own, then dehumanizing and demonizing those not of our own is no real problem, it becomes a matter of "us" or "them". But then, we are commanded to love our neighbor as we do ourself; loving family and spiritual brethren is expected, but we can fail there as well.

The underlying focus in dehumanizing other people, at least as I see it, is obviously to see to it that (I) we as a (person) people survive, (I) we deem it more important that (I) we live and others die, or that (I) we (am) are protected from them in some manner of isolating them. This is tribalism at its basic level; natural survival in a hostile world. It is the way of the world, and as a Christian I am called to not be conformed to the world, meaning that I may not live in accordance to all the conventional wisdom of the world or its patterns, but look to Christ for my orders while giving respect to the rulers over me in the areas that are not a conflict with my King's commands, and loving and returning good to all that choose to harm, persecute, or defraud me in anyway.

Ro 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Joh 17:14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

Ro 12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.
21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

As one that rejects how Christendom operated in the past since Constantine's involvement with Christianity, I read the New Testament record about the gospel of the kingdom of God and it is apparent to me that this world is not my home, nor is any particular earthly kingdom due my total allegiance, but only the kingdom of God gains that submission from me. I am to respect the earthly rulers of the nation where I live; give tribute, custom, fear, and honor to them as God's representatives of order in society (Romans 13), but my absolute obedience, allegiance if you will, is to be given only to my King, Jesus Christ, and to follow Him as directed in His teachings in the New Testament writings. This means that I will have to respectfully decline to obey the earthly rulers over me who require of me that which I may not do according to my King, and submit to any penalties that the rulers may require of me.

Ac 5:29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

Lu 6:46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
Joh 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
Mt 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

I plan, Lord willing, to continue to address this concept of living in but not of the world as a citizen of the kingdom of God in future posts. Meanwhile, I list several books that have helped me understand the reality of the kingdom of God and discipleship to Christ, along with encouragement to read the Gospel accounts in the New Testament which is of higher importance; I believe the teachings of Christ prompted these books to be written by their respective authors.

"The Kingdom That Turned the World Up Side Down" by David W. Bercot
"The Up Side Down Kingdom" by Donald B. Kraybill
"Mere Discipleship" by Lee C. Camp
"True Discipleship" by William MacDonald
"Myth of a Christian Nation" by Gregory A. Boyd

Edited to add this link to more thoughts by the Anchoress on dehumanizing.