Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Taking the Lord's name in vain

People have been misled into believing that calling out God’s Son’s name when banging your finger with a hammer is what the Commandment refers to when it says, “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” It’s not.

God has bigger fish to fry. God is far more concerned about using God’s name to bolster sinful agendas. Take U.S. Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions for example. He recently stood near the border with Mexico and proclaimed what he called “The Trump era.”

It was as though he was attempting to channel Jesus as his sort commonly do. To paraphrase Mr. Sessions, “The Spirit of Trump is upon me, he has anointed me to lay down the law to the stranger; he sent me to break their hearts, to rip their families apart, and to preach deliverance to those who fear the strangers among us.”

Then he took the name of the Lord thy God in vain. “God bless all of you who do this work,” he said. “We ask God’s blessings on the success of this effort to improve the lawlessness and safety of our country.”

Who except a man once denied a federal court judgeship because of a racist past would consider asking God to bless an endeavor so contrary to scripture as the President’s crusade to round up and deport millions of what God called, according to Leviticus, “the strangers who sojourn with you.”

I understand the politics. God did as well, which explains why God was so clear about the matter. Politics is about finding a way to push people’s fear buttons. Few have been better at that than Donald Trump. He’d have us believe that the strangers among us are lurking, waiting to pounce on innocent Americans.

He told us “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

Looking back over the 2016 campaign, it might be Trump had the election in the bag with that declaration. For some it was a relief to know a presidential candidate shared their prejudices, a candidate who freed them from the “political correctness” that had bound them in chains.

Trump also freed them from Biblical correctness. As Trump and Sessions take the name of the Lord thy God in vain, they lead people to ignore the clearest hopes God expressed in the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament as well as the Christian Gospels.

While this President often leaves us confused, God was perfectly clear.

“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Leviticus 19:33-34)
In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus tells us to love our neighbor and was asked ‘And who is my neighbor?’ Jesus replied, ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion.”
If Sessions and Trump want to take political positions contrary to scriptural directive, that’s their prerogative. But when they attempt to bootstrap those positions onto a higher plain by calling on God to bless the effort, that is taking the Lord thy God’s name in vain. 

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