Appoint an evil man to oppose him;
let an accuser stand at his right hand,
When he is tried, let him be found guilty.
And may his prayers condemn him.
May his days be few;
may another take his place of leadership.
May his children be fatherless
And his wife a widow.
May his children be wandering beggars;
May they be driven from their ruined homes.
May a creditor seize all he has;
May strangers plunder the fruits of his labor.
May no one extend kindness to him
Or take pity on his fatherless children.
May his descendants be cut off,
Their names blotted out from the next generation.
Psalm 109: 6-13
But I tell you hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Gove to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that.
Luke 6: 27-33
The speaker of the Kansas legislature, Mike O’Neal, has circulated an e-mail in regard to President Barack Obama that uses Psalm 109:8 “May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership.” O’Neal quite correctly was quick to point out that he was employing only verse 8.
He also said in that e-mail however, “At last—I can honestly voice a biblical prayer for our president! Look it up—it is word for word! Let us all bow our head and pray. Brothers and Sisters, can I get an Amen? Amen!!!!!!”
Speaker O’Neal is a curious type of disciple of Christ. Psalm 109 is a psalm of David in which he asks God to judge a wicked man that has slandered and attacked him. Yet, the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth, who both O’Neal and his President, also a disciple of Christ, provides a different teaching on this moral question. And Jesus is God’s Son, God in one of three aspects of the Trinity. The moral teaching in Luke 6 is much more powerful as a result and should be heeded. This is the most difficult Christian teaching to follow in the entire Holy Bible. We want to hate our enemies. We want to destroy them. We want them destroyed. We may even mistakenly misuse prayer. The Scriptures do contain injunctions not to ask God for things that go against his teaching and his way or path. Note also, that even if Barack Obama, a fellow American, and a fellow Christian within the Body of Christ is Mr. O’Neal’s sworn enemy, the President deserves Mr. O’Neal’s love, yes love and not hate in return. For his prayer is a hate filled prayer even though he claims not to employ the rest of the Psalm which is an ancient version of a rap or rant of hate against someone. David hates the man he sings about in his Psalm and wants God to be the instrument of his enemy’s destruction.
The two biblical passages provide a useful contrast. It would be appropriate for us to pray for Mr. O’Neal, an otherwise good man. We must show love to him and not hate. We can say with certainty that in many other respects he is good and loving. But we do not have to approve of his conduct. We can recognize it for what it is: hateful, obnoxious, and lacking in the respect for even the office of the Presidency. If we feel this way about our friends, surely our real enemies will devour us while we tear each other apart.
The White House and Secret Service ought to take the circulation of this Psalm in Conservative Tea Party circles seriously. The rest of that Psalm is more than just a threat of violence. The Huffington Post reported this story on Saturday and noted that “last year a Florida corrections officer was suspended after highlighting the passage and referring to it as the ‘Obama Prayer.’” Evidently this prayer is making its way among conservative Evangelical Christians. In the wrong hands it may have horrendous results.
And does O’Neal propose to pray verse 6 of Psalm 109? “Appoint an evil man to oppose him:”a clear connection to the Republican Presidential nomination process if verse eight is applicable too.
The insensitivity of this to Michelle Obama and the Obama’s children is shocking. While Christians often take individual verses out of scripture and leave the rest of a passage behind, when studying scripture the context of the document studied must be seen. The verses that surround the eighth verse of Psalm 109 are chilling.
This week CNN Correspondent Dana Loesch strongly endorsed U.S. Marines who urinated on the corpses of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan. Not only does this act dishonor the Corps, it may be a low level violation of the Geneva Convention and other international standards of the treatment of the bodies of the enemy in war. If it is a good thing to do this why not hack them to pieces like John Brown did in Kansas in the 1850’s to five pro-slavery men? Why not start mutilating the bodies of all the Taliban fighters that come along? And if we do these things, can our soldier’s bodies expect better treatment? Can our soldiers captured by the enemy expect treatment in line with international law if we ourselves do not follow it? Another conservative obnoxious statement: “I’d drop Trou and do it too!” said Loesch this week. One wonders at what other moments Ms. Loesch might desire to drop her drawers.
And then there is the Fox News campaign to demonize Debbie Wasserman-Shultz, the Chairwoman of the national Democratic Party of the United States. No one, not even Ms. Wasserman-Schultz, is claiming sainthood here. But the attacks on her on Fox, are simply incredible. Again, providing a focus for hate rather than love and respect for one another is front and center. And here, the obnoxious behavior is quite juvenile. It is the kind of thing best suited for middle school bullies. It’s also the kind of stuff that leads some pre-teens to suicide. So even here we must wonder about the judgment of Fox News to constantly air a barrage of rhetoric that models exactly the wrong kind of behavior to adolescents who may be watching, and does them absolutely no credit whatever. It is primarily her hair: it is described as making her “Frizilla” and an “Angry Perm”. Another fox “so called” analyst said Ms. Wasserman –Schultz looked “like a Possum caught in the Headlights.” Rush Limbaugh speculates that the hair has Mayonnaise in it, perhaps a Freudian slip in that he was thinking her the Jew. The big question we should be asking ourselves is what Fox is trying to hide by this little divertissement? Do they have so little to recommend regarding their people and their ideas that this sort of juvenile behavior is needed? It appears so.
Conservatives love to hate. As Disciples of Christ we must love one another. That was the last piece of advice and teaching Jesus left before ascending to heaven with the Father. Abraham Lincoln himself was quoting scripture when he noted in his Second Inaugural that we should not judge lest we be judged. So no judgment or wish for harm to anyone, as we all fall short of the divinity of God and struggle with right behavior every day is made here. Love and compassion for one another is at the center of the human predicament! But recognition of the obnoxious character of present-day conservatives and their boorish behavior so constantly demonstrated can be, and is condemned here.