Friday, April 14, 2006

On Jesus, Lawsuits and Volkswagons

Jesus said a lot of things that, honestly, I don't really understand. Last night, though, I had the thought that maybe the reason I claim not to understand much of what he said is because so much of it seems so utterly impossible for humans to accomplish.

This is especially true when Jesus gets into the dirty particulars. For example, when he says: "Forgive people." I say: "Sure...that sounds good...I think I'll do that." But when he says: "Forgive people - and by the way, when someone punches you in the face, don't punch him back and, by the way, let him hit you again." I say: "Wow, that's hard to do!"

Because we are silly law students, a couple of us were talking about this last night in reference to Matthew 5:40. There, Jesus gets into those particulars again: "if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also." Now I'm pretty sure Jesus wasn't referring to your usual "Law & Order: SVU" style lawsuit here. I'm sure things were different then. But still, it does seem like he's saying that when a person forces you at the law to give up your hard-earned cash, you should go ahead and sell your Volkswagon in order to give him even more money. Hmmm?

I suppose there are (at least) a few ways to look at this:
(1) You could take what he said literally, and whenever someone files a complaint seeking damages in the form of your North Face jacket, then you'll be sure to give the guy a cloak too (if you happen to have one).
(2) Or, you could be a little less literal and say that whenever someone asks you for money or even when they sue you for money, you should be extraordinarily generous and not begrudging about it.
(3) Finally, you could inch back into those blessed generalities and say that Jesus was just giving an example (which may or may not be relevant today) of what it means love your enemy. I mean who is more your enemy than your opponent in a lawsuit.

I'd tend to go with number (3), although I'm afraid it's only because generalized commandments give you so much wiggle room. On the other hand, if someone sues me and wins, I think my wife would give me quite the look if I decided to give the guy our car too.

Any ideas about a possible middle ground?

3 Comments:

At 4/14/2006 03:59:00 PM,

Option #2 looks like a good middle ground to me. Selling your car may be overboard; there is a line to be drawn between being generous and being a good steward and if you need that car to get to work and that job to feed and clothe your family then I doubt God would hold it against you if you kept the things which you need. 

Posted by Proud Daughter of Eve

 
At 4/14/2006 06:52:00 PM,

I like the first interpretation best. Especially the implication that we should ALL have spare cloaks, just in case we get sued for our coats. Because implicit in the commandment to give the guy your cloak, is that we are all commanded to own cloaks.

 
At 4/19/2006 06:35:00 AM,

Whenever you have wronged someone, you should make it right, and that is more than just the bare outline of the wrong you did. 

Posted by Stephen M (Ethesis)

 

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