Radical equality (RE) and Christian mercy (CM) are different, although both recognize our responsibility for the rest of the human race. While RE disdains distinctions based on race, nationality and even family in favor of a radical human collective, emphasizing the oneness of all humanity, CM requires that mercy begins with and radiates outward from personal, faith and familial relationships. A husband’s primary duty is to his wife and then his children. The son’s primary responsibility is to his parents, to honor and care for them. To provide for other senior citizens, at the expense of one’s own ailing parents, is unacceptable.
I occasionally would counsel others. Sometimes, we find this more gratifying than counseling or comforting our own spouses. However, whenever I would counsel, I would almost hear a voice reminding me not to neglect my own wife. To do so would be hypocritical.
Is this chauvinistic and narrow? I don’t think so. Love for those closest to us – parents, spouses, children, and even neighbors – is a measure of the genuineness of our love. This is a saying that merits some attention: “If you want to know about the character of a person, just ask his maid.”
This speaks volumes. It warns us that there are many who speak magnificent words about helping humanity, but their home life reveals something very different about them.
If charity is real, it must begin at home. Charity that is only exercised at a distance - for those who are not our relations - is not charity at all but a self-centered show of piety. If charity and mercy are real, they must be demonstrated where rubber and road make contact – at home.
Love must start at home and with our spouse. If we love our spouse, we are doing the best thing for our children, providing for them a joyful and loving family life. A neglected wife tends to become a clinging or perhaps bitter mother.
Love is meant to radiate out like a warm bonfire. Loving our children is perhaps the best way to love our neighbor’s children. When we bully our children, they will bully other children. Instead, when we love them, they will pass this love on to other children.
Of course, this is an over-simplification, but I think that it does point out that love and mercy are best produced and expressed through relationship and not through social programs promoting RE. If we want to start a charcoal fire, we do not light the edges. Instead, we concentrate in the center, and once the center catches fire, it will spread to the periphery.
It is also the same among Christians. If Christ is the fire, then He will ignite it in the center - among us. It will then spread to the periphery where others will be attracted to its warmth. Christ suggested that the love – our oneness – we share will positively impact others:
- “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17:20-21)
When I write against the present genocide against Christians, even Christians recoil. They claim that instead, we have to be concerned about the persecution of all people. Although this is true, it must start at home, among us. If it doesn’t, we make any claims of love suspect and vacuous.