Selected Sunday Scriptures- #140

I was reading Cane Caldo’s most recent post this week, and I immediately thought of this passage from First Timothy:

Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it legitimately. This means understanding that the law is laid down not for the innocent but for the lawless and disobedient, for the godless and sinful, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their father or mother, for murderers, 10 fornicators, sodomites, slave traders, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to the sound teaching 11 that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.

(1 Timothy 1:8-11)

The unfortunate truth is that society needs both criminal laws, as well as social sanction, to keep people in line. Those who are rebellious will not be motivated by virtue, therefore to restrain them you must appeal to their self-interest. That means using the laws of society to keep them in place.

As much as we would rather not have laws in place, or social sanctions, or whatever the particular instrument in question is, they are absolutely necessary. We are witnessing now the price that is paid when society gives those things up.

Also, I think I have found a corollary, of sorts, to the old engineer adage:

Cheap. Fast. Good…. pick two.

I suppose one could call it a social engineer’s adage:

Virtue. Freedom. Wealth/Comfort… pick two.

The obvious scripture passage to back this up involves a certain gate:

16 Then someone came to him and said, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; 19 Honor your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “I have kept all these; what do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astounded and said, “Then who can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.”

(Matthew 19:16-26)

The more wealth there is, the more care needs to be taken to limit freedom (if only in a self-imposed way). Otherwise virtue will be pushed to the back-burner.

Finally, this passage from St. James’s letter appealed to me today:

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. 15 Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. 16 For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy.

(James 3:13-17)

Well, maybe not appealed to me. Rather, convicted me. Envy is one of my long running problems, one that has been very difficult to stamp out. I’ve made progress in a lot of other areas, but this one still eludes me.  All the more reason for me not to boast, and to remember that I too depend utterly on the mercy of God.

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3 Comments

Filed under Selected Sunday Scriptures

3 responses to “Selected Sunday Scriptures- #140

  1. stmichaelkozaki

    As much as we would rather not have social sanctions they are absolutely necessary. We are witnessing now the price that is paid when society gives those things up.

    I read CC post, and found myself shaking my head. The desire for religious “control” of society today is a fantasy. This is what the Reformation was all about: the removal of any formal religious authority from the civic world. Think: “bishop” CC has an epiphany and suddenly decides he wants to bring back bastards…but were a RC bishop to decide this? He would say screw you! He might nod approvingly, but would has no obedience to anyone but himself and his own ideas. Yet he wants to suddenly wants to enforce a widespread social rule on others? Crazy.

    I also note that within families and communities, these “bastard” rules are already in place. We decide who we will associate with, who we eat with, and who we reject. And yes, my family rejects bastards, but it’s on a case-by-case basis. Which, IMO, is even better than a generic “rule” that cannot take into account the particulars.

    Virtue. Freedom. Wealth/Comfort… pick two.

    I cannot speak to this on a society level, since it seems the majority of people want freedom over righteousness & obedience. But it’s not necessary true on an individual level. In fact, this must be the finest hour in history for people who wish to learn, work together, and operate within families for the betterment of their own tribe. Never before has so much peace, wealth, and prosperity been available so long as people are willing to restrict their behavior (for example, cut sexual misbehavior, stop eating crap foods, and cut out push media). Those become non-negotiable, because people who engage in them soon splinter apart and fail. But those willing to have basic discipline at the individual, small group level? This must be the peak of human happiness. Just don’t expect it at the large group level. Those days ended circa 1500.

    I think this point is best seen in the RCC regarding their elimination of strict Lenten fasting rules; saying, “It’s on you, fast as appropriate once you meet a bare minimum level”. But just because people lack the will to own their own fasting doesn’t excuse them. So we’ve moved from the “large group” level to the small and local. All the social rules work this way now. For most, this seems too much freedom and they fail. But that’s for the bishops to decide, not me. I just gotta watch my own corner. Personally, I like it, works for me & mine and anyone else who wishes to buckle down and take personal responsibility.

  2. Novaseeker

    PSA on Eastern Orthodox Lent

    EO Lent starts Sunday, sundown, 19 Feb this year. This year I will be abstaining from internet commenting from tomorrow night through Orthodox Pascha (which is April 8), in addition to the regular, physical, fast.

    I wish you all well during this time. I will be reading from time to time during the fast, but not frequently, and will not be commenting after tomorrow evening, Sunday 19 Feb.

    I wish you all well during this time.

  3. Have a blessed Lent, Novaseeker.

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