Ron Cole has written another good post, I Fought the Law…And the Law Won. (The title references a song from Ron’s and my youth. that the Clash and later, Green Day covered…in case you were wondering.) In the post, Ron quotes Thomas Merton on legalism and love,
Legalism in practice makes law and discipline more important than love itself. For the legalist, law is more worthy of love than the persons for whose benefit the law was instituted. Discipline is more important than the good of souls to whom discipline is given, not as an end in itself but as a means to their growth in Christ.
The authoritarian Christian does not love his brother so much as he loves the cause or the policy which he wants his brother to follow. For him, love of the brother consists, not in helping his brother to grow and mature in love as an individual person loved by Christ, but in making him “toe the line” and fulfill exterior obligations, without any regard for the interior need of his soul for love, understanding and communion. All too often, for the legalist, love of his brother means punishing his brother, in order to force him to become “what he ought to be.” Then, when this is achieved, perhaps the brother can be loved. But until then he is not really “worthy of love.”
This is in reality a fatal perversion of the Christian spirit. Such “love” is the enemy of the Cross if Christ because it flatly contradicts the teaching and the mercy of Christ. It treats man as if he were made for the sabbath. It loves concepts and despises persons. It is the kind of love that says corban (see Mark 7:9-13) and makes void the commandment of God “in order to keep the traditions of men”. ( Thomas Merton; Disputed Questions ) [emphasis from Ron]
Please read Ron’s entire post. (I know I said I wouldn’t be posting ’til Monday, but I’m up earlier than anticipated before heading north to the cottage for the final weekend there – this Canadian Thanksgiving weekend.)
UPDATE: Read the iMonk @ BHT on his Mertonian experience(s) – How Tommy Merton Broke My Heart.