This Memorial Day weekend, I have been thinking about the 11th commandment.
Jesus said, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35).
That was hard to do. Most of us have no idea what it is like to be discriminated against because we are of a certain race or religion, even though women know that very well. So, perhaps I should qualify that, and say that women have always felt discrimination, and so have blacks, and other ethnic groups. This discrimination is often by Christians, both men and women, who claim that they love everybody.
I am reading a series of novels about World War 11, as told by Jewish families who were persecuted, and also by those fighting this horrific war. What would I have done? It is easy to sit in my armchair with my Kindle and think I would have risked my and my family’s lives to help someone else, but it is much harder when actually faced with such a decision.
It is easy to judge the country doing the persecuting and ask how these people who claimed to be Christians could do such horrendous things to others. It is also easy to forget that Jesus said these words to the Jews who lived each day with persecution from the Romans.
This is a blog about women’s equality, so let’s look at that. Just as I am offended when I read of the injustices and abuses and horrific acts against Jews during WWII, I admit that I don’t know what I would have actually done to help those who were suffering. I like comfort. I like safety. I am not brave and would be terrified to disobey the law even if I were helping someone who the law was persecuting.
I believe that many who read this blog and other egalitarian blog posts, feel the same way. It is hard to stand up in your church and speak out against injustice against the women in your church. It is hard for pastors to speak out in their denomination about this misuse and abuse of denying women equal opportunity to worship and serve their Lord.
But what if nobody did?
This brings us to today – Memorial Day weekend. I suppose we can justify Jesus’ words by thinking that Jesus meant for them to love each other “who dress like we do, who eat the same foods we do, who worships in the same place we do, who observes the same rules we do and who speaks the same language as we do.” But somehow, I don’t think that is what Jesus meant. This weekend we observe Memorial Day – a day of honoring those who lost their lives serving in wars brought on by not loving the neighbors.
It is 2016. Does loving your neighbor mean standing up and speaking up whenever you see women denied equal opportunity in your church?