Respect and Neighbor

I’ve had a nugget of a thought. Maybe you guys can help me untie the knot a little. It has to do with respect and neighbor.

The long and short of it is that personally I wasn’t especially respectful as a child. I wasn’t rude, but it was almost like I didn’t know what respect was. I honored my parents, but others? Respect was only earned!

Still, when I became a parent, more than any other time beforehand, I had an intense realization of “neighbor.” My wee one was so other! Yes, of course, we were connected, but I gained a profound respect. I’m not even sure toward what: God? Procreation? Vocation? All three, and probably more!

I wonder what the relationship between respect and neighbor is. I suspect it’s pretty foundational and entirely unearned.

It occurs to me that it likely pertains to the image of God, only not in the sense of righteousness, but Genesis 9:6:

Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.

I’ve mentioned before my fascination and interest in exploring the vocation of neighbor. Maybe respect is a place to start!

I’m not even sure whether I’m sharing this as an “idea to share,” but wouldn’t this pertain to novels? Christian character-building? Portrayals of almost any form of vocation or human mercy/charity?!

It’s been a helpful realization for me, and may it be so for you, too. It’s certainly helped shape me toward the better as a parent. 🙂 Sure would be great if it could help shape me as a writer, also!

Anyone know any academic work done on the concept of respect, perhaps outside marriage books? Particularly from a theological or biblical point of view? Luther on respect or Luther on neighbors? Oh, to have time to look into it! 🙂

Happy writing, folks, and, if not writing, thinking!


1 Comment

Filed under Shared Writing Ideas, Theological reflection

One Response to Respect and Neighbor

  1. I have a pretty specific view of respect. I distinguish it from courtesy, which should be extended to all… until they have trampled on it. Respect, on the other hand, needs to be earned.

    This is easy to illustrate in a military context. I respect people of all ranks because they (1) are serving their nation, and (2) have accomplished something by surviving boot camp. I respect the “office” of those appointed over me (i.e. senior personnel whose orders I am required to obey).

    When I meet someone new, I “assume” they are due respect for these reasons and render it until they prove otherwise. If they prove to be bad people, I still respect the office, but do not pretend to respect them as people.

    As for being created in the image of God… they have his love and my prayers. However, I do not respect those whose actions are worthy only of contempt.

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