I have been thinking a lot lately of theology. With our administration using bastardized New Testament scripture as justification for their horrific and inhumane policies, I hurt. I hurt not only as a moral human being but as a Jew.
Theology has been the justification for countless atrocities throughout the world’s history. The scripture that Jeff Sessions quoted to justify his family separation policies at the Texas border is scripture that has been quoted to justify remaining loyal to the king during the Revolutionary War, the Fugitive Slave Act during the Civil War, and the Nazi establishment in Germany.
Sessions said: “I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order,” Sessions said. “Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves and protect the weak and lawful.”
Which brings me to my point: all theology is interpretation. Theology itself is interpretation. And our interpretations can have serious consequences that we must be responsible for and take ownership of. We get to choose which theologies we find valid and truthful, which interpretations and actions based on those interpretations we find moral.
But differing interpretations are not the problem here. As a Jew, my interpretations of religious texts lead me down one path towards justice, love, and morality. My Christian brethren take a different path but to a similar, if not the same, destination. Every person takes a different path. I like to believe it’s towards the same place. This is beautiful. I believe this is holy.
Until you decide that your path is the only path and your paving over mine with it and it’s leading us away from the good things. Then it’s time to pull over.
This is not just a commentary on certain Christian theology either. The Orthodox Union just honored Jeff Sessions with a plaque that read, “Justice, justice, shall you pursue” in Hebrew, not weeks before his zero-tolerance policy became mainstream news. They were then noticeably absent from signing a letter to Sessions, co-signed by 26 other Jewish organizations. Eventually, the OU came around and signed when they realized the PR hit would be too great.
But only choosing to act a certain way for optics is terrible theology. And choosing to align yourself with people whose path is bitter and unjust for the potential of being thrown political favors in the future is abhorrent. More than that, it’s shameful theology.
We are all responsible for our own theology. We are responsible for the consequences of our own theology. And sometimes, that means taking the time to reflect and perhaps seek different interpretations of what we believe. This should become standard practice.
I look forward to walking on our respective paths together, in solidarity and in peace, towards the good.