We hate monsters, but we love OUR monsters.
Eric Rudolph was a serial killer who murdered innocent people with bombs. His mama still loved him.
Stalin was genocidal, but Andrew Jackson was a strong leader?
Jeffrey Dahmer killed and ate people. His parents still loved him.
Think of Thomas Jefferson the slave owner and Nat Turner the rebel slave. Hear in your own head how you condemn one and make excuses for the other, the one with whom you identify?
Liberal-leaning commentators attack Ivanka Trump because they despise her father’s policies and personality. But before and since Daddy Trump was elected, Ivanka championed several liberal causes. Now, they call on Ivanka to denounce her father and distance herself from his administration. Comedian and talk-show host Samantha Bee recently called Ivanka a “feckless c**t” because she refused to turn on Donald.
That’s not going to happen.
You’re not asking a woman to denounce a misogynistic man. You’re asking a little girl to abandon her daddy. You’re not asking a professed liberal to stand against a conservative administration, you’re asking a daughter to turn against her father in the moment of his greates accomplishment.
President Trump may be a racist, self-worshipping monster; but he is Ivanka’s racist, self-worshipping monster.
This, scripture affirms that the sin of partiality is the root of our tendency to injustice and hypocrisy. We hate the sins we hate, but we love the sinners we love.
Joseph, son of Israel, exploited a national tragedy to bankrupt and enslave the entire working class population of Egypt while protecting and enriching the Egyptian elites and his biological family. Of those three groups, the only one who had not betrayed and abused Joseph was the working class population of Egypt (Genesis 47: 13-26).
Jepthah the Gileadite (Judges 11-12) was one of the great Judges of Israel. He saved Israel from the oppression of Ammonite raiders. He also committed the ultimate religious heresy: he murdered his own daughter as a human sacrifice to God despite all the explicit commands in the Bible not to ever perform human sacrifices.
Samson (Judges 13-16) had the powers of a superhero, powers which he used to impress Philistine women and win bets against Philistine men. The deliverance he gave to his own people was the accidental result of his (literal) dying request for blind vengeance.
David (2 Samuel 11) betrayed the most honorable and loyal warrior in his most elite division. His highest ranking general knew it. His royal ministers, the members of Uriah’s household, and most of Jerusalem knew it. (Come on now. Factor in the time to discover Bathsheba was pregnant, send word for Uriah, get Uriah back from the front lines, send him back to the front lines, kill him there, get word back, have a mourning period, and hold the wedding, which traditionally lasted a week. Bathsheba was showing before the honeymoon.)
Absalom, David’s favorite child, killed his own brother; burned down his David’s best friend’s field (2 Samuel 14), overthrew his father in a coup, slept with/ raped his father’s wives, and tried repeatedly to have his dad murdered (2 Samuel 15-18). David never condemned Absalom, and he forbade his forces to harm him despite his crimes. When General Joab, David’s oldest friend defied that order, David held a grudge so deep that on his deathbed he ordered Joab's assassination (1 Kings 2:5-6).
Aaron, Moses’ older brother, made the golden calf and led the children of Israel in its idolatrous worship, all while Moses was on the mountain receiving the 10 Commandments (Exodus 32). When Moses came down, he ordered the Levites to “kill his brother, every man his companion, and every man his neighbor,” but Moses didn’t let anyone touch Aaron. Aaron got to keep his life and his status; less than a year later he was consecrated as high priest.
Joseph, Jephtah, Samson, David, Aaron, and others who did worse are revered as heroes of the faith. Except for David, there’s no record that any of these men every repented or even felt convicted over their atrocities.
They did great good in their lives, but they also committed great evil, but we ignore their monstrous sins because of the good they did for their faith, for OUR faith.
We hate monsters, but we love OUR monsters, and that is the kudzu root of all kinds of evil.
We cannot have justice until we can judge our friends and our enemies with the exact same measure of wrath and mercy.
You shall have the same law for the stranger and for one from your own country; for I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 24:22).
We will not be a just nation or a righteous church until we commend our political rivals and condemn our social allies in equal measure based on what they did, not what (we think) they stand for.
You shall do no injustice in judgment. You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty. In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor (Leviticus 19: 15).
We can’t honestly call ourselves ethical, or good, or godly until we treat all monsters the same.
For there is no partiality with God (Romans 2:11).
History and Scripture agree that such has never been the case in human civilization. We may not see real justice until Jesus personally comes back, but society’s historic failings don’t exempt you and I as God’s people from the commands to do justice and love mercy equally for all alleged sinners.
Look around and look within and be honest about the kinds of monsters you love, the affiliations and self-designations that get a pass from you and the ones that receive immediate condemnation. Work on that. Wrestle with yourself. I’ll do the same. That’s the only way to overcome the most vicious monster in the room, the monster we love more than all others: the one who looks back at each of us from the mirror.
--Anderson T. Graves II is a writer, community organizer and consultant for education, ministry, and rural leadership development.
Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is pastor of Miles Chapel CME Church in Fairfield, Alabama. He writes a blog called A Word to the Wise at www.andersontgraves.blogspot.com
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