>Justice and Care

>from Friday’s reading:

Isaiah 14:24-27

The LORD Almighty has sworn, “Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will stand….I will trample him down. His yoke will be taken from my people, and his burden removed from their shoulders. This is the plan determined for the whole world; this is the hand stretched out over all nations. For the LORD Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?”

Besides being a direct answer to the questions our pastor posed Thursday night about God’s plans (isn’t it great when God does that?!), it was a good preface for what I learned on Saturday. Even though I skipped my Bible reading that morning, it ended up making a lot more sense in light of what I read during the day for my adolescent development class. In the chapter on moral development, my text presented two perspectives on morality: justice and care. The justice perspective is concerned more with individual rights and decisions about what is right and wrong, while the care perspective (proposed by Carol Gilligan) is all about relationships, attachment, and concern for others. I stewed on that all day, wondering which is a more advanced perception of morality, to which one I adhere more, etc.

Later that night, as I read the Beatitudes in Matthew 5, I realized that God is, as always, busting up dichotomies and is concerned with both views. Observe:

Matthew 5:6-9
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God.

Matthew 5:13-16
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
And finally:Matthew 5:19
Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Brilliant, non? And I realized today that if we live out a care perspective, concerning ourselves with minimizing hurt and building attachments with everyone, the right and wrong of the justice perspective will take care of itself–we don’t have to worry about having the right answers for everything. And if we truly understand what it means to do good things, there is no way we can escape taking care of others. The most immediate application, of course, is the disaster in Haiti, but you don’t have to look across the ocean for hurting people either. They’re our friends, our enemies, neighbors and strangers, at the office, on the street, in our classrooms

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