Seek Good and Not Evil

Seek good and not evil,
That you may live;
So the Lord God of hosts will be with you,
As you have spoken.
Hate evil, love good;
Establish justice in the gate.
It may be that the Lord God of hosts
Will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.

—Amos 5:14-15        

Whenever I read the Bible, I never know what might stand out to me. That’s how the Word of God works. Yesterday, I opened up the website BibleGateway.com which always has a verse of the day. The above verses were what I read yesterday. In the Old Testament book of Amos, the prophet Amos spoke directly to the people of Israel about their sins. They thought they were doing fine and that God accepted their worship. Amos had a different message for them.

Chapter five of Amos is filled with thoughts and phrases that seem appropriate, especially as I think of the current state of the world, especially the United States, and the sad condition of Christianity in America—the church that is supposed to be the witness God has placed in the midst of a deceived people who follow ministers and church leadership that is often focused more on hate than the good that God commands us to do.

In Amos 5:7, the prophet said, “You who turn justice to wormwood, And lay righteousness to rest in the earth!” Amos was warning people not to turn justice into bitterness or cast righteousness to the ground. Religious leaders in America focus on verses that they take out of context so they can convince followers of their own hateful politics. Throughout history, religious leaders have used the Bible to justify many wrongdoings. They tried to justify slavery, discrimination, and murder by using the Word of God out of context.

Amos 5:10 says, “They hate the one who rebukes in the gate, And they abhor the one who speaks uprightly.” Here Amos warns against those who hate those who upholds justice in court and detest the one who tells the truth. Those who try to teach love and acceptance as the greatest virtues of God’s Word are scorned by many religious leaders because it goes against their own agenda that seeks power by discriminating against others. They abhor those who try to help the poor and downtrodden, especially when it might cost them some of their fortunes that they have gained by exploiting those less fortunate. Sometimes, truth-tellers are attacked because they refuse to go along with the conventional wisdom (or lack thereof).

Amos then provides this directive stated above: “Seek good and not evil, that you may live…Hate evil, love good; establish justice in the gate.” We have to constantly seek good and turn our backs on evil. We have to work hard to defeat evil at every turn. When Amos said, “Establish justice in the gate,” he is telling us to maintain justice in the courts, because the courts have historically been America’s gateway to freedom. Whether it was a decision like Brown v. Board of Education that stated that separate but equal was inherently not equal. It began a whole slew of Supreme Court cases that established policies to end discrimination and segregation. 

In recent years, the courts ruled in a number of cases concerning LGBTQ+ rights. In the 1996 case Romer v. Evans, the Supreme Court ruled that laws could not single out LGBTQ+ people to take away their rights. In Lawrence v. Texas, the Court eliminated sodomy laws in 2003. In 2013 the Court ruled in United States v. Windsor to eliminate the portion of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) of 1996 that defined marriage as a “legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.” This ultimately led to Obergefell v Hodges in 2015 which legalized gay marriage. Now wi5 a conservative majority on the Court, we are in jeopardy of a backsliding of LGBTQ+ rights along with many other rights, such as control over our own bodies and voting rights.

The hate filled conservative movement in the United States and in countries all over the world are following sociopathic buffoons such as our former twice-impeached President who live off of the power they feel by enforcing hate and discrimination. They are not seeking good but are instead embracing evil. We have to be diligent. We have to take Amos’s and God’s warnings against evil. Amos’s major themes were social justice, God’s omnipotence, and divine judgment. He warned against the destruction of Israel if the Israelites did not change their ways and follow God’s teachings. The same is true for us today. 

We are at a precipice where democracy is in danger. A small and very vocal group has been growing in strength. They were once in the fringes but the former buffoon of a president of ours brought them out into the open. Just over a year ago, those fringe elements were encouraged by the defeated president to attack Congress in an attempt to subvert a legal and legitimate election. Authoritarianism has been given a loud voice and we must defeat its evil with our own good, which means getting out and voting. We have to vote blue and soundly defeat the authoritarian elements in our government.

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

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