Because my scripture studies this past week focused on the final days of Christ's life and the things He taught before He was crucified, it has caused me to pay particular attention to what was happening in 1963.
The parallel is this: The segregation laws in Birmingham were unjust for they claimed to be what was best for the community as a whole "to keep the peace" but were really enforced to justify sin. In his letter Martin Luther King makes the distinction, "How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law." Wasn't that why the Sadducees and Pharisees hated Christ? The Savior's teachings were an open threat to their immoral way of life and exposed their hypocritical laws. These were men who liked to boast of their great knowledge of scripture, they stood on the street corners teaching in a form of righteousness to "appear holy" with the intent to obtain monetary, religious, or social acceptance yet inside, they were "full of dead men's bones".
Martin Luther King wrote, "I have tried to make clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or perhaps even more so to use moral means [obedience to law] to preserve immoral ends... As T.S. Eliot has said: 'The last temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right deed for the wrong reason.'"
This is a penetrating statement, a compelling thought, that causes me to evaluate my own deeds. I have to ask as myself in every action or re-action, "What is my intent?" One of the steps in Dr. King's campaign was "self-purification." This is the same call our Savior gives us, to first "cleanse the inner vessel."
There is so much to think about. All that I give, all that I share, all that I say, and all that I do will be fruitless, meaningless, and hollow if my intentions are not in the right place and if I don't maintain a spirit of love for my enemies.
I'm grateful for inspired writings of truth wherever they are found, writings that cause me to reflect, to have a change of perspective, and invite me to evaluate my own choices... for I have so much to learn. :)