“Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love …” Genesis 22:2
“One nation under God …” So says the “Pledge of Allegiance” we recite as we face the flag. That phrase – “Under God” – was added in 1954.
We might say that long before there was a “U. S. of A.”, there was Israel – called to be “one nation under God”. The idea of being a “nation” while simultaneously being “under God” carries with it some tension. Do we assume the laws of the land are a reflection of the will of God? Many seem to feel that way. Others point to the notion that “under God” is more of a personal than a national commitment. And yes, there are times when an individual might be compelled to oppose one law out of faithfulness to another higher law.
As we move closer to Holy Week we can reflect on those who have felt called to extreme measures as a result of their commitment to their faith in God. Was Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son a test of his faith? Was Jesus convinced that God required him to sacrifice himself out of obedience to his Father’s will?
“Ethics” have to do with what a society deems to be right or wrong behavior. A community’s “ethic” often manifests itself in the values that are held n the highest regard. When we confuse “ethics” with “faith” the lines of right behavior become murky. People like Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. have straddled those lines. And whether we are aware of it or not, we straddle those lines every day of our lives. Are we being faithful? Have we succumbed to the temptation of religious fanaticism? Have we bought into a “civil religion”? Which “God” are we sacrificing to?
Was Abraham a fanatic – and perhaps a dangerous one at that? Or was he being “faithful”? And when all was said and done, how do you suppose Isaac felt? If you were in his shoes, would you ever dare trust your father again?
Just a little something to ponder. A blessed Tuesday.