Thursday, April 19, 2012

Luke 6:37 and Luke 6:29

Most of us find Luke 6:37 ("Judge not: and you shall not be judged") attractive. It seems to map nicely to our culturally dominant moral sensibility of live and let live, a philosophy always attractive since it simultaneously relieves one of the duty of caring what other people do while justifying a failure to make any moral demands on oneself. Who wouldn't be interested in a moral philosophy that turns moral laziness into a virtue?

But 6:37 only comes after Christ has already spoken 6:29: "And to him that strikes you on the one cheek, offer also the other. And him that takes away from you your cloak, forbid not to take your coat also." We don't find this verse nearly so congenial; this isn't live and let live, but die so that another may live. We may think we can take 6:37 and leave 6:29, but in fact they are logically related and it is perfectly reasonable that Christ follows the one with the other. We may think of 6:37 in the context of John 8 (the woman caught in adultery), and we are not wrong to do so. But if we are not to judge, we are not only not to judge the situation of "consenting adults", but also the unpleasant situation of someone striking us or taking our cloak. Do we take umbrage when someone strikes or insults us? Then we are judging them and not living according to 6:37. Luke 6:37 isn't really about the superficial live and let live philosophy, but something far more demanding and disturbing.

Following Luke 6:37 the way Christ intends it, as it does with everything else Christ commands, leads eventually to the Cross.