rape and the sermon on the mount

the importance of moral discussion

by Robert Brow   (web site - www.brow.on.ca)

I stood by in the park
as a woman was mugged
gagged raped left bleeding

the next day I visited
my old mother in hospital
and the woman next to her 
complained you watched me
being raped why didn't you
fight the man and save me

My Christian faith requires
that I love my enemies
and turn the other cheek
The human animal discusses questions of right and wrong. "How can you let a woman be raped and do nothing?" In all countries of the world people of all races engage in this typically human activity.

 Anthropologists tell us that anthropoids with a bone structure like ours roamed the world for a million years. They had a pecking order. You could terrify the weaker animals. Might was right and nobody sat down to discuss "I shared my bread with you yesterday, why didn't you help me today?"

 So I will arbitrarily define humans as the species that engages in moral discussion, and can talk to God about it if they choose. When the first true humans began doing that is not important. What is important for our present peace and happiness is that we learn to do it well.

 In the Bible the first humans signaled their arrival with a typical moral discussion. Was there anything wrong with eating the wonderful fruits of the garden? The woman claimed it was God who said there was just one tree you shouldn't eat from, or even touch. The argument that persuaded her to do so was that her eyes would be opened. You can't know the way God knows till you have your first scalp, or sex, or rape, or heroin, or make your first million. There could be nothing sweeter than mugging a woman without being caught, or better still murdering her, or even better getting her child and burying it in the woods.

 The man's argument was that God was to blame for giving him the woman, and she gave him the fruit. What they should have figured out together was that God knows good and evil, but doesn't need to do evil to know it. And when you choose to do wrong there is no point in blaming someone else for doing it (the original discussion is in Genesis 3).

 This is especially true in acts that we call inhuman. "He behaved like a brute." That describes an act like rape, which is forcing another to have sex without respecting her right to engage in moral discussion. The boor says "There is nothing to discuss, my mind is made up already. I don't care what you think." The religious crank is no better. "The Church (or the Bible) says it is wrong, and you have no business questioning that." If Jesus said we must love our enemies and turn the other cheek, it would have been wrong not to protect the woman by violence if necessary.

 To prevent such boorishness, bigotry, and insensitivity children need an atmosphere that encourages easily talking about right and wrong. And no moral issue should be taboo. The family table is the first and most important place for learning the art. Later in life lovers and friends who want genuine intimacy must learn to open themselves to moral questions together.

 Admittedly the person who has to drag moral argument into every conversation is a pain. It is my besetting sin. Nor should any topic be pursued beyond the point of mutual enjoyment. My wife says that is another of my besetting sins.

 But it still seems certain that if there is any moral commitment we are not open to explore and discuss with others, we could easily turn out to be as stupid when the crunch comes as the fellow who watched the woman being raped in the park.

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