Rosa Parks and Christian Ethics
As many have now mentioned, Rosa Parks the civil rights campaigner who refused to give up her seat for a white man has died. Let's not forget that it wasn't just some simple act of a woman simply tired with all the racism but that she certainly had her moments as radical social thinker and doer.
On Parableman these comments are made:
I just have one question. I know she's an icon, and she's really respected for standing up for something that really was a good cause, but can a Christian really condone what she did? I can't see how. God can use immoral acts for his will. This certainly isn't as bad as some of the horrendous acts God has chosen to work through for good. I just can't see how it can be morally justified given what the Bible says about how we should relate governments that persecute Christians. How should it be any different for governments that allow people to mistreat whole ethnic groups? Jesus even says to give someone your shirt if they ask for your coat and to go an extra mile when a soldier asks you to carry his gear for a mile. So why can it be morally justified to refuse to give someone your seat when he asks, given a Christian ethic? That's something I've never understood about Christians' support of this woman's actions. It seems to me to be contrary to the direct teaching of Jesus, Paul, Peter, and the general thrust of Christian ethics.
Ok, fair enough. if the odd verse from the Bible is taken then this indeed would not match up to thse verses (although her activism throughout her life might match up to other parts no doubt). But if the above approach is taken would it not suggest that it is limited to say the least in terms of constructing ethical practice for today? Indeed why should we listen to an ancient book and expect it to answer questions for today? Can people not possibly think for themselves without resorting to an ancient book to somehow apply to the modern day? Why bother?
This reminded me of that entertaining discussion on Intelligent Design, Creation and other related things raging on Benjamin Myers' blog between Benjamin and Ken Ristau. Assuming that you are a believer it seems that if you severely limit yourself if you stick with biblical statements. Put another way what do you do with passages such as Romans 1.26-32: do all those people (including disobedient to parents, boastful, gays [probably], sexual perversion) really deserve to die? Or is it really right that God should destroy those nations in Deut. 7.1-2? And the rest. If it says God is creator then it says these things too. Are all of equal relevance? It seems if Christianty wants to say something useful it may in fact need to rely on theological thinking (no certainty there I know)?