A Meditation on MLK Jr, the Sanctity of Life, and Our Own Cowardice

A Meditation on MLK Jr, the Sanctity of Life, and Our Own Cowardice


The Lord God stands in the midst of the Divine Council and judges among the gods.
”How long will you rule unjustly, and show partiality to the wicked?
Defend the poor and fatherless, maintain the rights of the afflicted and the destitute.
Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”
(Psalm 81:1-4; this is the first Psalm we sing to proclaim the Resurrection on Holy Saturday)

One of the things that we often forget is how incredibly offensive the civil rights protests were to many Americans (not just to Southerners – there was plenty of outrage elsewhere!). But it was right and just to cause offense because the status-quo was wicked. What truths are we afraid to proclaim, not out of fear of arrest, lynching, or assassination, but out of fear of offending someone’s feelings or going against the politics of our community? Just how deep does our cowardice go? Which side are we on, exactly?

We are like the gods the Lord condemned in the midst of His council. We have failed to defend even the most vulnerable among us. Who is more vulnerable than our children? And what do we – the citizen-rulers of this country – do to protect them? One out of every five is intentionally put to death before birth (more than a million a year). Of the children we allow to see the light of day, one out of every three lives in a home without a father (24 million), and one out of five lives in poverty/“food insecurity” (16 million). [And don’t even get me started on unnecessary wars, an inconsistent justice system, creeping totalitarianism, and atheistic fervor.] All of these do injustice to the sanctity of life and the dignity of persons we are supposed to love.

These are not political issues; they are moral ones. Our apathetic indulgence of such a demonic system shows just how little we have done to become perfect as God is perfect through Jesus Christ. We are not just called to do good when it is convenient or when it matches our political convictions or personal opinions – but every second of every day. We are called to live and suffer for what is holy, right and true; even to die for it if need be. Instead, we excuse injustice with clever words (e.g. “choice”, “freedom”, “necessity”, and “economics” – both liberals and conservatives have them). Even if we have not participated in this wicked system, what have we done to oppose it? To ameliorate its terrible consequences? Have we cared for the fatherless? Supported the single mother? Healed the mother who has aborted her child? Have we taught the youth of our country (and the children in our families) the truth about chastity, marriage, and the value of human life? If not, how are we going to break this cycle?

We must repent, we must pray, and most of all, we must serve.

To quote an article by Andrew Estocin; “Martin Luther King Jr. and Archbishop Iakovos [who marched with him] both knew that the human person as the image and likeness of God was a truth worth breaking the law, fighting and (in Rev. King’s case) ultimately dying for. Orthodoxy in America needs this type of courage today more than ever.”

We may need that, but my fear is that we have become a nation of self-indulgent cowards. I would love to be proven wrong.

Posted by the Orthodox Christian Network. You can find the Orthodox Christian Network on Google+

About author

Rev. Anthony Perkins

Fr. Anthony is the rector of St. Michael Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Woonsocket, RI); an assistant dean, adjunct professor, and Vocations Director for St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Seminary; an adjunct professor at the Naval War College; the editor of goodguyswearblack.org; and the host of the OrthoAnalytika podacast and blog. He enjoys studying theology, mythology, social psychology, music, and the supernatural, and spending time with his wife and children.