The Ultimate Odd Couple: What It Means to Love Your “Enemies”

Matthew 5:46 “If you love only those who love you, what reward have you?

We are living in a time of intense polarization, where open expressions of hatred, to the point of not only wishing harm on others but carrying it out, is a common theme across the country, most notably at the protests within cities like Portland OR, Baltimore MD, St. Louis MO, Kenosha WI and now Louisville, KY.

At the same time, one of our most respected Supreme Court Justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, passed away last week over complications with pancreatic cancer. Her SCOTUS record is not her greatest legacy we need in our culture right now. It is her love for Antonin Greg Scalia, who passed away back in 2016.

These two, in such influential positions and such apparent “enemies”, are the best lesson for us today on what Jesus Christ was trying to get us to understand in this week’s verse from His Sermon on the Mount.

Nominated to the US Supreme Court in 1933, Justice Ginsburg served until her death on September 18, 2020. Graduating first in her class at Columbia Law School, she became one of only 20 female law professors in the United States. She was known for her passion against gender discrimination and for women’s rights, especially over abortion. At her 1993 Senate Confirmation hearing, Time Magazine reported that she took “the unprecedented step of strongly endorsing abortion rights, stating ‘It is essential to woman’s equality with man that she be the decisionmaker, that her choice be controlling. If you impose restraints that impede her choice, you are disadvantaging her because of her sex.’”

Nominated to the US Supreme Court in 1986, Justice Scalia served until his death on February 13, 2016. Graduating magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, he became the Court’s first Italian-American justice. His views that the Constitution permitted the death penalty and did not provide any rights to abortion or same-sex marriage gave him the reputation as the “intellectual anchor for the originalist and textualist position in the Court’s conservative wing.” He also viewed programs such as affirmative action, which provided special protected status to minority groups, as unconstitutional.

Yet, everyone knew they were very close, personal friends. They never spoke politics or ideology to one another because as observer said, “there would be no point.” Ginsburg said of her friend “as annoyed as you might be about his zinging dissent, he’s so utterly charming, so amusing, so sometimes outrageous, you can’t help but say, ‘I’m glad he is my friend.’” She said she sometimes had to pinch herself to not laugh when he would say something audacious in the courtroom. Their families spent New Year’s Eve together, and when Chief Justice Roberts announced the death of Ginsburg’s husband Marty, Scalia wept on the bench. When Scalia died in 2016, Ginsburg said, “we were best buddies.”

Judge Jeffrey Sutton shared a story that best exemplified these two as the Ultimate Odd Couple: “Once as I was leaving Justice Scalia’s chambers, he pointed to 2 dozen roses on his table and noted that he needed to take them down to ‘Ruth’ for her birthday. ‘Wow,’ I said, ‘I doubt I have given 24 roses to my wife in almost 30 years of marriage. What good have all those roses done for you? Name one 5-4 case of any significance when you have got Justice Ginsburg’s vote.” Scalia replied, “Some things are more important than votes.” We have lost 2 people who put differences aside for their abiding love for each other.

This is the message our Lord Jesus Christ expects all of us to understand: “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, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48). The perfect, complete law of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is meant to be our normal way of living life. We have turned it into something “odd” when we see it displayed.

As we approach the 2020 Presidential election in November, and we watch the country grow more and more hateful as people take sides, we can all pause and take a lesson from progressive liberal Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Constitutional conservative Antonin Greg Scalia. We can choose to live life as Jesus Christ tells us and the Odd Couple shows to us. We can be kind to one another. We can choose love over votes.

The Evidence of Faith’s Substance – Article #417

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