Now that our nation is emerging from nearly four years of what many believe to have been crass, perhaps even malevolent, political manipulation, setting a dangerous example for our children as well as ourselves in our everyday dealings, I think that it behooves clergy and lay ministers to:
• Identify and name the sins.
• Test rigorously the ethical mettle of opposition to the identified sins, relative to the prescriptive and proscriptive demands of Holy Scripture, whether covenantal or categorical in nature
• Determine to not tolerate or emulate those sins in the future.
• Make sure that all around us recognize how important the foregoing identification, assessment, and atonement truly are.
With the foregoing in mind, I have asked congregants with whom I will interact in worship in the Virgin Islands this weekend to join me in reflections along the lines of the above by discussing our lessons learned instead of simply watching and listening to me exercise.
I will summarize the discussion in From the Pulpit next week.
A hint to get started: What lesson have we learned about persistent, malevolent prevarication — ongoing, intentionally wicked or grossly habitual lying? See the Ten Commandments’ prohibitions regarding falsehood under oath and bearing false witness against one another. And how about Leviticus’ Holiness Code provisions along the same lines, especially in Leviticus chapter 19.
Another hint: Consider the Apostle Paul’s repeated insistence that the Church is intended for its members to encourage and build up one another?
Consider, too, the admonition at 1 Corinthians 10:24: “None of you should be looking out for your own interests, but for the interests of others.”
And have delusional taunts in our recent political campaigns brought to mind the scorn and taunts of Goliath, (1 Samuel 17: 41-44), obviously disfavored by the Almighty. (The celebrated dénouement is set out at 1 Samuel 17: 45-54.)
The hints might also appropriately include matters of moral turpitude, like the Old and New Testament prohibitions against adultery and against unfair business dealings, as well as the biblical condemnation of an inordinate love of money, and against the holding out of material riches as ends in themselves instead of beneficent means.
Indeed, wouldn’t it be appropriate to cite failure to do justice, to walk humbly with God, and to love one another? I look forward to the conversation.
— The Rev. Dr. Wesley S. Williams Jr., J.D., LL.D., D. Min., K.St.J, is Washington National Cathedral Priest Scholar and Chaplain, and he previously served churches in the Episcopal Diocese of the Virgin Islands.