Blessed are …

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

What would “Christian values” as reflected in government actually look like?


22 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Not a hard question

    “For preventing disorders, arising in several places within this jurisdiction by reason of some still observing such festivals as were superstitiously kept in other communities, to the great dishonor of God and offense of others: it is therefore ordered by this [Great & General] court and the authority thereof that whosoever shall be found observing any such day as Christmas or the like, either by forbearing of labor, feasting, or any other way, upon any such account as aforesaid, every such person so offending shall pay for every such offence five shilling as a fine to the county.”

    Happy days.

  2. I'm pretty sure he's stuck in Deuteronomy

    And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor show mercy unto them.

    This is why the Christian book is a poor guide to civil governance.

    • That passage is mostly about idolatry

      On the surface, Deuteronomy 7 is an extortion to the Israelites not to make peace with the inhabitants of Canaan, not to intermarry with them and not to adopt their religion. Most scholars believe that Deuteronomy was written well after the invasion of Canaan, probably during the reign King Josiah, essentially in support of Judean nationalism. So the real message of the passage is roughly:
      - This is our land, given by to us by God. We should not be vassals to the Assyrian Empire, (which was weak and declining at this time).
      - We should reaffirm our commitment to our own religion and not follow the practices of our neighbors. (Religion, at that time, was still focused on ritual observance rather than morality, so it was often tempting to perform rituals to other deities, since they might be able to help you with something that the biblical God couldn’t provide…)

      • The real message

        I appreciate you providing a cultural context, but “the real message” of any passage in the Bible is exactly what the person using it wants it to be. Scholarship only matters to those who agree with its conclusion. This is why I posit that the Bible is a poor guide to civil governance – it has as many interpreters as people who read it.

        • Rather like the US Constitution in that respect

          isn’t it?

          • not really

            The Constitution isn’t profoundly self-contradictory like the Bible is. And it isn’t based on translated copies of lost originals of unknown origin – a fact guaranteeing disagreement about even what the words are that (are supposed to) make it up. And most importantly, we have the US Supreme Court to iron out contradictions where they exist, and an avenue to alter the document as desired. Not so for the Bible.

            • Quite the opposite

              And most importantly, we have the US Supreme Court to iron out contradictions where they exist, and an avenue to alter the document as desired. Not so for the Bible.

              Although the SCJ has many lower court judges to help with interpreting the Constitution, there are many more authorities available to interpret the Bible.
              Besides the Pope, Harold Camping, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Swaggart, Oral Roberts, Ted Haggard, several of my Facebook friends, and bigots everywhere.

              • my point was

                that there is no universally recognized final arbiter of biblical meaning. With the constitution, there is. Sorry, I could have stated that more clearly above.

          • Not at ALL

            The US Constitution was written specifically as a guide to civil governance. The Bible is a library of narratives, several of which explicitly separate themselves from civil governance (“Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s” — Matt 22:21).

            In my view, the misguided attempt to understand the US Constitution as a religious text and the Bible as a guide to civil governance exemplifies the horrifying results of lowering the wall of separation between church and state. Please don’t perpetuate this dangerously mistaken conflation.

  3. Whither the Teletubbies?

    Rumors that the Perry campaign has stooped to photoshopping.

    This is apparently the original:


  4. Sounds like

    Sharia law to me.

  5. Not quite like the US Constitution, CMD

    First, the Constitution is quite a bit more recent and has contextual documentation to use as a guide. The Bible has some context which serious scholars can use, but it does take more digging.

    Second, the SCOTUS is the legally recognized authority on the Constitution, which is the Supreme Law of the Land, a status that the Bible doesn’t have.

    That being said, I very much agree that the US would be a much different, and mostly better, place if we adhered to real Biblical values of love and justice as opposed to “culture war” favorites.

    • The most bitter issues of our day

      involve questions of interpretations of the Constitution. Originialism? Strict constructionism? The living constitution? Textualism? Contextualism?

      Did lawmakers of 1865 intend to protect gay rights? Women? A right to abortion? Does it matter what lawmakers of 1865 intended? Do the words cover these things? Do the words just convey concepts that must be adapted to the times, or are they fixed, holy writ, as it were?

      The legal debates about these things are not so very dissimilar from biblical debates. And the notion that the Constitution has a “legally recognized authority” must explain why there is such unanimous and unquestioning agreement that the document protects the right to abortion, and the right of unlimited free speech by corporations.

      In reality, the USSC has all of the authority of the Vatican: it is the recognized authority because people recognize it, and if they cease doing so, it will cease being so.

  6. Prefer Luke to Matthew

    Blessed are you poor, For yours is the kingdom of God.
    Blessed are you who hunger now, For you shall be filled.
    Blessed are you who weep now, For you shall laugh.
    Blessed are you when men hate you, And when they exclude you,
    And revile you, and cast out your name as evil, For the Son of Man’s sake.
    Rejoice in that day and leap for joy!
    For indeed your reward is great in heaven,
    For in like manner their fathers did to the prophets.

    But woe to you who are rich, For you have received your consolation.
    Woe to you who are full, For you shall hunger.
    Woe to you who laugh now, For you shall mourn and weep.
    Woe to you when all men speak well of you, For so did their fathers to the false prophets.
    But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either.
    Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back.
    And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.
    But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.
    And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.

  7. Rick Perry is not a Christian

    At least not in my book. Nor is Pat Robertson, Tony Perkins (the activist, not the late actor), the late Jerry Falwell, or any of the other so-called “Christian” right wingers.

    Nothing could be more diametrically opposed to the teachings of Jesus than the values of the Republican party today, that strives to give ever more wealth and power to the top fraction of 1%. How can anyone who subscribes to these values call themselves Christian?

    Real Christians include James Carroll, the Berrigan brothers, Dorothy Day, Father Drinan, and Martin Luther King.

    They do not include me, because I am an agnostic, but I cherish many Christian teachings, such as renunciation of vengeance and caring for the less fortunate.

    • I would also add....

      that the Christian message is a message of love; not hatred, bigotry, and intolerance, as the “Religious” Right and “Christian” Conservatives would have us believe (as also would many Inquisitors, and hunters of heretics throughout history).

  8. Here is what Christianity SHOULD look like...

    …and in more cases than we ever get from the media actually DOES look like.

    Here is a 16-minute video of a sermon delivered about a year and a half ago to the annual meeting of the Mass. Conference of the United Church of Christ (my denomination) which focuses on inclusion and love of those who often don’t receive such treatment. The preacher talks about three individuals in his church who are different, though I think he was going for irony with his third example, an irony I trust BMGers will appreciate!

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Fri 28 Apr 2:31 AM