Moral Priorities

By Rev. David Wilson Rogers |  September 17, 2016

            Last Monday morning clergy from across the state gathered on the steps of our State Capitol in Santa Fe to call for morality, justice, and equality to be restored in government. Standing in solidarity with clergy assembling at State Capitol buildings across the United States, it was a faith leader’s call to action for a moral agenda.
            Rooted in the scriptures and inspired by the prophetic leadership of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the call for a moral agenda upholds the constitutional principles that have defined this nation while firmly anchored in the faith tradition revealed in scripture. Most of all, it is a prophetic recognition that much of what passes for “Christian Morality” in contemporary culture has nothing to do with the genuinely Biblical morality to which all Christians are called.
            Isaiah 58 calls for the faithful to lead lives which reflect authentic worship, manifest true morality in the world, and serve as God’s loving and transforming agent of love and grace among humanity. Christians must remove the yoke of slavery that holds people down, eliminate the accusatory finger of shame and blame that hold people in disgrace, and stop all evil speech. We are to feed the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted. Then, and only then, can the people of God know true peace and find the ultimate blessings God has to offer.
            Most notably, Jesus himself boldly claimed the prophetic ministry of Isaiah as recorded in the 61st chapter. In Luke 4:18-19, Jesus proclaims that he is God’s fulfilment of the prophesy to bring good news to the poor, release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. Jesus, in turn, commissioned Christians to fulfill the prophetic vision he embodied by faithfully living out the prophecy in our own lives. Therefore, we are to care for the poor, release the captives, give sight to the blind, and proclaim God’s favor. It is not simply a nice scriptural principle. It is a moral imperative. This is what the call to moral action is all about.
            In accordance with the scriptures and upholding the founding principles laid out in the United States Constitution, the call to moral action cries out for restorative justice and equality along five very distinctive and vital aspects of faithful action in our world today. It is a Christian moral imperative that transcends the immoral politics and the idolatrous nationalism that permeates so much of our modern culture.
            The first is restoring morality in society so that “the least of these” have full and equal protection under the law, in society, and across the globe. It calls for an end to unjust policies of taxation and systemic discrimination that serve only to degrade the full humanity of all people. The second is calling for equality in education with a priority to fully funding educational opportunities to all people. Education is empowerment and an affirmation of the human dignity all people deserve. The third is ensuring that access to quality and affordable health care is restored as a fundamental human right and not an economic privilege or a political advantage afforded only to those deemed by society as being most deserving. The fourth moral priority is fairness in the criminal justice system which addresses the legitimate cries for equality in how some populations are policed and genuine support for those who protect and defend. Finally, the fifth call is for genuine protection of everyone’s equal rights and standing under the law.
            Although often shamelessly politicized, these moral priorities are fundamentally Christian foundations of biblical integrity. Over the next five Saturdays this column will detail how we, as a community of Christian faith, can truly live out our moral calling in Jesus Christ.