People of Hope Are People of Peace: 1 Timothy 2 Speaks to The Current Political Climate?

"But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith." --1 Timothy 1:5

It is unsurprising, or at least it shouldn't, to hear from the lips of peers, acquaintances, family or friends that YOU--whoever you are--are a litany of evil things you may or may have never done or even thought. Why? You may have had the misfortune of being one of most Americans who committed the great sin of voting for the wrong Hitler. "Hitler" being relative to your opponent's political persuasion. Or maybe you didn't say something precisely the way you were "supposed" to say it or accidentally said something that is really code for something else by a certain narrow ideological narrative you are not privy to or merely refuse to buy into. Worse yet, dare I say it, you DISAGREED with them.  Thus, you must be called out, emotionally blackmailed into an apology, put in your place with a barrage of insults, threatened, silenced or otherwise shut out and shut down. Being found dissimilar to your moral superiors, you are no longer deserving of basic human respect or treatment. This has become the atmosphere of a highly polarized United States.

The ambiguity concerning ideological persuasion is intentional as a rabid need to stifle free inquiry and have to answer for one's own views or treat others with respect has taken on a life of its own in both of the major parties. There are other people of all stripes who want to feel moral by shaming others into submission. Worse yet if you have engaged in this behavior yourself.

Unfortunately, you can't reason or attempt constructive dialogue with those that act as described above. They don't want to hear anything that challenges their paradigm. They simply know you are evil and must repent. It is a mistake after several attempts to have respectful dialogue to then spend hours trying to defend yourself. Do not give into their demands to turn or burn or even apologize, except when you are responsible (you are not responsible if they are offended, you are responsible if you were a jerk, unkind or legitimately miscocmunicated...etc).

In the end, you are responsible for yourself. You must take care not to get swept up into the tide of name calling, taking constant offense, being dismissive or overall: treating others the opposite of how you would like to be treated. As you strive for justice, respect and equity for all people, treat others justly with equity and respect

1 Timothy has often been used narrowly to silence women in churches. Ironically, this is the opposite of its message. Rather, it is about how believers should live in an atmosphere of partisan quarreling, retributive anger, and the self-aggrandizing, and self-appointment of ignorant teachers who reject a life characterized by peace and reject the God who desires all people to be saved (2:3-4).

In contrast, we must be people characterized by hope. Our only hope is in Christ Jesus (1:1) and his new life described in the end goal of 1 Timothy's teaching: "But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith" (1:5, C.f. 1 Cor 13:4-7). This is the goal of the Christian life and is also well summarized in 1 Timothy as leading a"tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity" (2:2). The Human One, who is the representative for all humanity (Anthropos ἄνθρωπος in both instances), offered himself for the liberation of all. We to are asked to do the same. This reference in 2:6 takes us back to an instance in Mark 10:35-45 where James and John want to be the ones in authority positions at Jesus' right hand, but are told rather not to be like those who want to be great exercising authority over others, but to seek a lowly position like a servant or slave.

This is manifested in concrete ways in 1 Timothy 2 where men are told not to be wrathful or participate in dissension but to lift their hands in prayer as the church has been told. We are told to be people of prayer. Why? Because God loves us all and if we are his, we will also. We will want the good of everyone and for this reason will pray for others, even our leaders. Women are told to clothe themselves with good works rather than costly garments aka status symbols. They are also told not to be those who assume authority and teaching over others (like the false teachers were doing in chapter 1), but to be characterized by the same quietness and submission described earlier (Titus 3 has a summarized version of this same message including being subject to all people and those in authority). We are not to be setting ourselves as moral authorities over things we are ignorant on and we are not to try and pull rank on other people.

What does this also mean? When others are cruel and ignorant to you, don't return the favor. Pray for them. Love them. Tell the truth but in loving kindness and genuine care for who they are. Realize you yourself do not know everything and assume they may have something valuable to contribute--let them prove you wrong on that (a guard against your own pride). Be a patient person that seeks a quiet life of peace and tries to give preference to others (submission). The similar passage Titus 3:3 compels us to remember: "At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another."

None of us are immune to pride and the will to power (absolute power corrupts absolutely). However, for Jesus, what others find to be of supreme importance are actually of little importance. It is the 2nd who will inherent his kingdom of justice and peace.

 

-AQ