(This is the synchroblog for this month.) Click 'full post' for text.
Every society has purity taboos - these days they often masquerade under the description of ‘hygiene’ – but even if a situation is hygienically sound, we may still have all sorts of qualms. Any society will have these taboos, and they will be used to regulate that society, to determine who is 'in' and who is 'out' - and those who are out will be precisely not touched.
This kills. Consider - a baby that is well fed but otherwise not touched will die. A baby raised in continuum fashion will thrive, even if perpetually hungry.
And the lethality of the taboo is what engages Jesus in his life and teaching. For Jesus is the one who overcomes the taboo; who deliberately transgresses the boundaries; he is the one who gives life.
This has direct political consequences. It is a large part of why Jesus is executed. A socially constructed polity must have the scapegoat - and the purity law dictates who is to be the one marked off.
It is part of the Christian ethic, part of the task for each generation of disciples, to overcome the taboos generated by their society and touch those on the outside.
It is also a part of the Christian ethic to overcome the taboos that have been established within, and to be touched on the inside.
In each case, this is where the grace of Christ operates; this is where redemption occurs; and this is where the church can be really the church.
To be a Christian is to touch and be touched. To be untouchable is to be in hell.
"The Peace of the Lord be always with you!"
To the lost Christ shows his face;
To the unloved he gives his embrace;
To those who cry in pain or disgrace,
Christ makes, with his friends , a touching place.
Other people talking about this today:
Mike Bursell muses about Christianity at the Movies
David Fisher on Touching the Pharisees - My Untouchable People Group
Jeremiah at Models of church leadership and decision-making as
they apply to outreach
John Smulo talks about Christian Untouchables
Sally Coleman shares on The Untouchables
Steve Hayes on Dalits and Hindutva
Sonja Andrews visits the subject here
Phil Wyman throws out the Loose Lips - A "SinkroBlog"