This little gem, although well known, is hidden away in the writings of Paul; and is still timely today in the second decade of this new Century.
Galatians 3:23-29 (NIV)
This epistle, written by Paul is probably his second letter to the early Christian Church, and the only book of his undisputed authorship, that is not written to a particular community. The churches at Galatia, made up of several small communities, had fallen into a controversy and Paul was attempting to address it. Some authors have called this citation the forgotten creed.
In Stephen Patterson’s book by that title, “The Forgotten Creed, Christianity’s Original Struggle against Bigotry, Slavery, and Sexism”, pub, 2018, the author deals with these very topics and brings the conversation forward to the present day.
In perhaps different words, foreigners, slaves and women, the implications are the same. It is about us and them. If you look like us, talk like us or practice religion as we do, then you are right and acceptable. Fall out of line in any of these areas and you are now suspect and become the grounds for ridicule, hostility, and a target for violence.
Our present-day controversies about immigration are dealt with in this text. The issues of racial background and ancestry are brought to the fore in this text. Gender, and I would include gender identity, are also addressed here.
A local Boise pastor has gone on record with his thoughts on “gays”. In his thinking, they are not fit to be allowed to live and suggests that God agrees with him and sanctions the murder of such people.
We live in a country where speech is protected but I would argue that hate needs to be pointed up, to both the speaker and the hearer,for what it is.
Stephen Patterson concludes his book with this, “There is no Jew or Greek, no slave or free, no male or female” was not about overcoming difference for the sake of sameness. Nor was it a celebration of difference and cultural diversity. It was about overcoming the distinctions that commonly underwrite the human tendency to denigrate the other, disempower, disenfranchise, dehumanize, and even enslave another person on the flimsy grounds that he or she is different. It was about denying a caste system.
I would conclude that the biblical imperatives of this text call on us to discover the hate in ourselves, root them out, and act in love with one another. We must set aside the “other” in others and recognize that we are all children of God.
Heavenly Lord, we believe that you are in all things of creation, help us to see you in the people who are placed in our lives each day. Amen.