Tomorrow is Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. Were he still alive he’d be 95, and we’d be singing “Happy Birthday.”
But he’d not be happy. He’d not be happy with a lot of things. He’d especially not be happy with evangelical “Christians” who glibly cite Bible verses to justify Israel’s slaughter of Palestinians.
King cited the Bible too. Often. But not those kinds of verses. King was not an evangelical.
Evangelicals idolize the Bible. They say it’s THE WORD OF GOD.
It’s human. Flawed and fallible. A bony fish.
Feed the hungry. Heal the sick. Welcome the outcast. Love your neighbor as you love yourself. Love your enemy. Now abideth faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of these is love. Study war no more.
Wives submit to your husbands. Slaves obey your masters. Homosexuality is an abomination. Kill the Amalekites.
Three thousand years ago Israel’s first king was ordered to kill the Amalekites because they had attacked the Israelites on their way to conquering and occupying Canaan (aka Palestine).
Samuel said to Saul, “The Lord sent me to anoint you king over Israel. Thus says the Lord: I will punish the Amalekites for what they did in opposing the Israelites when they came up out of Egypt. Now go and attack the land of Amalek and utterly destroy all that they have. Do not spare them. Kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.” (I Samuel 15.1–3)
(That’s called “collective punishment.”)
Saul attacked but spared a few. He left some survivors. God was pissed.
I’m sorry I ever anointed Saul king!
In a press conference last October, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that his people were united in their fight against an enemy of incomparable cruelty. “Israel is committed to completely eliminating this evil from the world. Our Holy Bible says: You must remember what Amalek has done to you. And we do remember.”
That’s weird. Still, evangelicals applauded.
King would not have.
He would applaud this.
You shall not wrong or oppress a stranger, for you were once strangers in the land of Egypt.
What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God.
Let justice roll down like water and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
Happy birthday, Martin.