Mark Silk on Pelosi Praying for Trump

President Donald Trump shakes hands with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as he arrives in the House chamber before giving his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress, on Feb. 5, 2019, at the Capitol in Washington. (Doug Mills/The New York Times via AP)

Mark Silk is Professor of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College and director of the college’s Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life. He is a Contributing Editor of the Religion News Service. The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily represent those of BCNN1.

Who is supposed to love their enemies and pray for them? Christians.

It’s an injunction from that most famous of Christian texts, the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew, which portrays Jesus pushing beyond the requirements of Jewish law: You’ve heard you shouldn’t murder, but I say you shouldn’t get angry. You’ve heard you shouldn’t commit adultery, but I say you shouldn’t lust in your heart. And so on, up to:

You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

While the Hebrew Bible nowhere ordains that enemies be hated, a certain allowance to gloat over them can be detected, as in Psalm 23: “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.”

That’s not the Christian way. As my RNS colleague Tom Reese points out, there’s also Jesus’ command in Luke to “[l]ove your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”

These are the texts that lie behind Pelosi’s angry response to right-wing scribbler James Rosen’s asking if she hates President Trump. “As a Catholic, I resent your using the word hate in a sentence that addresses me,” she said. I don’t hate anyone … I pray for the president all the time. So, don’t mess with me when it comes to words like that.”

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Source: Religion News Service