"We Should Pray for the Woman" September 29 2018

(Part of BCF’S blog series: “Society, Selflessness, and the Scriptures")

I was not planning to write about the Judge Kavanaugh hearings, since as I’ve said before, this is not a political blog. The hearings have been more contentious than any I ever remember; and I am old enough to remember the Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas hearings.  But for the moment, let’s set aside the questions of political justice and which side is right, and instead ponder how the Scriptures are relevant even in a situation as dramatic and difficult as this.

Sadly, I am aware of tragic circumstances that have gone in both directions: women who have been sexually assaulted or raped, and men who have been falsely accused. Both are horrible, difficult circumstances for all concerned. A former pastor of ours had a pastor friend who was accused of molestation by a young lady. It went all the way to trial, where it came out that she had completely made up the story. By that time, of course, the damage had been done to the reputation of the pastor and his family. On the other hand, all of us have seen high-profile examples of where the accusations were true, both outside the church and, I hate to say it, within. And we likely hear about only a fraction of the actual events. This is why we are all careful about who we entrust our children to in Sunday School and in other activities involving young people.

No matter how the Kavanaugh nomination turns out, the biggest lesson for me, and the most important reminder, is what Judge Kavanaugh related about the perspective of one of his daughters. Here’s the quote:

“I intend no ill will to Dr. Ford and her family. The other night, Ashley and my daughter Liza said their prayers. And little Liza, all of 10 years old said to Ashley, ‘We should pray for the woman.’ That’s a lot of wisdom from a 10 year old. We mean no ill will.”

Little Liza had apparently seen through the turmoil and passions of the moment to the importance of individual lives, including that of Dr. Ford. How many of us would have thought of that, if we were part of that family?  I don’t expect that Dr. Ford was enjoying the moment any more than the judge was, and it was a compassionate response on behalf of the Kavanaugh daughter.

We will likely never know exactly what happened, and we have seen a vivid example of how the pursuit of political victory does not bring out the best in humanity. But little Liza’s comment does bring out reminders about the power of the Scriptures when we face tense, difficult situations or persecution.

Both the accuser and the accused have appeared sincere, but this is not a commentary on the Kavanaugh proceedings. It is more a reminder to those of us not in the public spotlight, but who likewise can confront difficult challenges we were not expecting and did not think we “signed up for.” In fact, God reminds us in I Peter 4:12, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you.” In other words, these things are to be expected as part of life, undesirable though they may be.

While we may not be in the national spotlight like Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh, there are plenty of situations where we may think we have been unfairly treated or falsely accused; or perhaps have been an actual victim of a crime.  On one hand, earthly justice is warranted for the perpetrators, but God’s Word reminds us of how we are to respond when we are on the receiving end of these events. Here is a sample:

Matthew 5:11 – “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Matthew 5:44 – “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?

Romans 12:14-15 – “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.

This is not easy, no question about it. But it is what sets believers apart from the common responses of the world, Jesus Himself being the ultimate example. And it illustrates how we do not need to be controlled by whatever happens to us, even if it seems to be unfair.

I don’t know how many in each political party think of the other party as an enemy, but it is probably safe to say that the percentage has increased in recent years, and the vitriol seems to have boiled over in the Kavanaugh hearings. While each side may passionately believe that its approach to governing is the best for our future, as citizens we would hope that the discourse and debates could be much more civil than we have seen in recent weeks. It’s a good time to remind ourselves that our hope is ultimately in the Lord, not government, even as we may work to help government make the right decisions. Let’s face it; whenever humans are in the mix, governments are going to have their problems.

This made me remember that years ago, in public school, we had the Golden Rule on a big sign hanging on the wall: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Luke 6:31). It would be nice if politics could be governed by this simple but powerful statement from Jesus Himself. Many would say that this is not how you win elections, and sadly, this is probably true in the current environment.  But while the Golden Rule is a good code of conduct for all people, we who are believers in Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit, should be especially good followers of Jesus’ teachings about love, compassion, and selflessness.

The Golden Rule is so simple that a child can understand it, but so profound that it can transform society and the individuals within it. Just think of how you would like to be treated in a particular situation, and treat others that same way. How simple is that? But how short society falls in behaving this way. Perhaps the Golden Rule should be emblazoned on the wall in the front of the U.S. Senate chambers.

At the same time, how easy it is for us to forget the Golden Rule ourselves, as non-politicians, in the heat of the moment. It is so easy to let the flesh take control of our lives. While it is hard right now to imagine a revolution in politics back to biblical principles, we can have our own mini-revolution of selfless love in our families, in our churches, in our schools, in our neighborhoods, among strangers, and even toward those who oppose us. Thank you, little Liza, for reminding us how precious every relationship is, and how much in need of prayer we are.

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Steve Smith