I think one of the things that always impressed me most was Paul Lehmann's ability to think on behalf of others. It is a characteristic I am still trying to develop. I am thinking of his final work entitled The Decalogue and a Human Future; Keeping Human Life Human. In that wonderful book he says that the Decalogue (or 10 Commandments) should be read as descriptive and not prescriptive; that is, it was never meant to be a list of rules but, rather, a source of judging oneself. The worry is not over breaking the Commandments but the Commandments reveal a brokenness inside of us which must be confronted and healed.
Truly, I don't mind breaking rules but what is difficult is to admit that I am broken in some way and my contrary behavior reveals that.
Lehmann addresses the Commandment regarding murder and he faces the question of abortion head-on. "Is abortion a sin?", he asks. "Yes, it is," he answers, "but the sin is not the mother's--it is our sin." We are guilty because we have judged and abandoned and robbed hope and comfort.
Paul Lehmann was a fire-breathing liberal; politically, socially and theologically. He gently challenged and corrected my categorical thinking. It is has been 16 years since he left us and I miss him every day.
© copyright 2011. All rights reserved.