Demoralized or De-moralized?

By: Karen Hoover

Ephesians 6:10-16

Like many, I’ve been working hard to maintain my equilibrium in the face of all the change that is hemorrhaging out of our nation’s capital.

But then came the horrifying news that children—even babies—were being ripped from the arms of their loving parents and incarcerated in cages as they crossed our nation’s border in a desperate attempt to seek asylum. And not by “coyotes” or other villains—but in our name by our own government. And at this writing the children (and their parents, for the most part) are still incarcerated and not yet reunited.

How does one respond to such an atrocity when already feeling so demoralized and powerless? How does one deal with the feeling of utter and complete shame that this immoral criminal act is being perpetrated, let alone in the name of each and every one of us? Yes, we marched. And yes, we made phone calls. And yes, we made donations to fund the legal battles. And yes, we sought—and found—the healing word from our Sunday worship.

From his own imprisonment, the apostle Paul wrote the Letter to the Ephesians who were struggling to live their faith under the oppressive and violent yoke of the Roman Empire. And what was his counsel? “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness….Take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”

The Christian ethicist and theologian William Stringfellow puts it this way: we may feel discouraged and dispirited, angry and disoriented—in essence, demoralized. But we cannot allow ourselves to become de-moralized. That is, we cannot abandon or even soften our morals, or doubt our moral compass. We will experience the pressure to do so, and we may even be tempted to buckle in a misguided effort to alleviate our own pain. But our power lies in maintaining our own moral clarity—and speaking that truth to power.

Dear God: You are our armor. Fill us with the strength to wear your armor as we seek to defend the powerless and to welcome the stranger.

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