Fart Baby Turtles Tuesday

“…You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,…”

Matthew 5:43,44, NIV

What could it possibly mean to “love your enemies”? I’ve never read any books about this question, but I have no doubt plenty have been written, and I’d also bet that many of these books contradict each other. One thing I’m sure of, however, is that the harder we have to work to explain the meaning of this passage, the more proof we inadvertently generate that this passage is pure nonsense. It might just as well say “fart baby turtles Tuesday”. Most likely, this “love your enemies” stuff is just so much poetic gibberish. It doesn’t mean anything at all. Good writing is self-explanatory — it obviates exegesis.

Now, if the commandment had been, say, “try to love your enemies”, or maybe, “try to see things from the point of view of your enemies”, or maybe just “try to see your enemies as human beings” or “potential allies”, or “try not to kill your enemies”, well, any of those would make more sense to me.

But “love your enemies”? Give me a break.

 

2 Comments

  1. The entire omnibus from which that quote is taken is FULL of nonsense, but I suspect the original made sense, at least in terms of what the words meant, to the people for whom it was intended. The problem is that the entire omnibus is also full of translation glitches, because words change meaning over time, and a concept that doesn’t need explanation because “everybody knows that” in one century will eventually be forgotten or lost, and then whoever comes in and translates may not realize (for example) that “nice” didn’t mean the same thing at the time of King James the First as it does now. (Modern English versions of the Christian Bible are bad translations of the KJV, even though that’s in English, too, to say nothing of how badly THAT version translated from the Latin, Greek, and Hebrew.) It’s no wonder so much of it doesn’t make sense, even on the level of “What do these words even MEAN?” (They can’t go all the way back to the originals and translate into modern English from those, however, because then they’d end up with something that doesn’t match what they want their religion to be about.)

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  2. Thank you, Thomas. Your explanation corresponds well to my own armchair-scholarly understanding of the issues discussed. And I agree that it all matters and is interesting to the extent that one rejects supernaturalistic modes of explanation. Unfortunately, those most committed to proselytizing this kind of sacred advice also embrace the idea that “god did it”, which changes everything, or at least should, I think. If we assume for the sake of argument that “god really did did it”, then to the extent that we must nonetheless discuss and analyze and argue and publish doctoral dissertations on it, etc., then I think it’s safe to say that “god did it poorly”.

    But between you and me, then yes, what you wrote sounds about right. 🙂

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