Wednesday, November 10, 2010

This Definition of "Enemy" Concerns Me

Love your enemies- or eat them. Up to you.

Enemy: one that is antagonistic to another; especially : one seeking to injure, overthrow, or confound an opponent

It's more than that, though, isn't it? I mean, do you, personally, feel that you have enemies? Other than abstractions, like misogyny or ablism or religion, who has enemies? I don't have enemies. I have people I dislike and people who dislike me, but I'm not even sure I actually hate anyone. Sure, there are people I wouldn't piss on if they were on fire, but hatred, enemies? No. No, I don't.

Perhaps I am unusual. Perhaps the rest of world is beset with hatred and enemies and I am the exception. Perhaps this actually makes sense:

I am sure that if you are a Christian you have either read or heard the verses above. If you are like me you might have said to yourself, “That’s really nice and all, but I could never dream of doing that!” I really need to understand in a very practical way how something even if it is in God’s word makes sense, or I find myself unable to follow it. I never even tried to love my enemies, what I did or thought I was doing is to not have any enemies. But before we can say we do or don’t have an enemy, we need to define what an enemy is.

. . .

So what is an enemy according to the Bible? Someone who persecutes you, hates you or despitefully uses you. What this statement is trying to say is that it ranges from someone who may be constantly trying to kill you to someone who simply treats you badly one time. Who treats you badly? Well a whole lot of people. The person who cuts you off while driving. The person who cuts in front of you in line. The cashier with a bad attitude. Your boss. The friend, relative or even spouse who does not have time for you and puts others before your needs. All of these are your enemies if only for a short time!

A cashier having a bad day is my enemy? My husband, when he is absorbed in recording, is my enemy? Anyone anywhere not putting my needs first is my enemy? Srsly?

That has to be the most disturbing reading of "love your enemy" I've ever seen. Leave it to a fundy to turn a Bible verse I heartily approve of into a reason to be very afraid.

This person's world is filled with endless amounts of enemies: people having bad days, people who aren't paying attention, busy people, depressed people, generally uninterested people. The majority of people he meets are enemies by that definition. It doesn't even matter how he recommends you treat your enemies, not when virtually every person he meets is a new enemy.

Actually, it does get worse. His reasoning for treating his enemies well is just as disturbing as his definition of "enemy".

The way to love your enemies is to view it as a challenge understanding there is a reward at the end. Why do people climb a mountain when it is so so hard to do. For the challenge and the reward. Now I personally don’t think in the case of the mountain that the reward justifies the action, but you can see my point. God wants what's best for us in the long term, just like our parents would. God can only reward us if we go through something. He cannot reward us just because we say we would do something like love our enemies. We have to actually do it.

You treat people well because it is the right thing to do, not because you believe you'll get a cookie at the end. That's just appalling. It's also theologically bizarre when you consider that he believes that mere belief in Jesus earns one a spot in Heaven. What, exactly, is better than Heaven? What possible reward could God provide that would make Heaven any better?

The worst part is, I'm the immoral godless one and I am left very afraid of the godly among us.


  1. Hey, I once had an annoying troll who wouldn't leave my blog well enough alone call me his enemy just so he could turn around and say he loved me and, see, he's better than me!

    So apparently the lesson is, "When you're not being persecuted, declare someone else to be your enemy so you can feel like you're being persecuted."

    Meanwhile, I, too, am disturbed by the idea that people who are having a bad day are de facto enemies. Because that means that, for all intents and purposes, I have to make the world all about MEEEE! If someone is having a bad day because they just got dumped/cut off in traffic/their dog died/etc., then my response should be to have sympathy. Or, at least, empathy. My response should absolutely not be to declare them my enemy.

    I'm sure Jesus said something about that somewhere. Something like the importance of helping the grieving. I don't have anything off the top of my head. But I do know James said that true religion is to help widows and orphans in their distress, which I believe would require empathy and sympathy, not saying, "Hey, you're getting in my way, now you're my enemy. But I love my enemy, so I love you so look how cool I am."

    How does that person even function? Really?

  2. If a "relative" who puts his/her own needs before yours is your enemy, then your infant, by definition, is your enemy. Is that one reason some of these folks can abuse or neglect their children? (Like the ones who starved their 2-year-old to death for refusing to say "Amen" before being fed.)


    atheists, we're gonna cut off your heads...


  4. i actually *DO* have an enemy. she has declared it. it's... it'd be funny, if she hadn't tried so HARD to ruin my life. and the BRAGGED about it.

    so i ignore her. her payoff is me being upset. so... ignorance *IS*, indeed, bliss :D

    the thing about Heaven... is that BELIEF in Jesus is supposed to mean ACTING the way Jesus said. it doesn't, except in those people who would act that way, anyway. THAT'S why doing something Jesus said [like loving your enemies] is supposed to garner Heaven - without doing those things, it can be argued that you DON'T believe in Jesus. bcuz if you DID, you'd be doing those things.

    it's sort of circular, actually


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