“A Woman Created in His Image” posted a comment on this blog. I started to reply. The reply grew and even began to touch on a few insights I hadn’t previously considered. I thought my reply might be interesting to the general audience for this blog, so I’m posting my reply as an “article”:
Although there are multiple definitions for “person,” I understand the term to usually signify a man or woman in relation to some other man, women, men, women, institution, etc. More, when you see one “person,” you must see two. A “person” does not exist in isolation, but always in relation to that other man, woman, institution, etc. Thus, if I’m a “person” in relation to you, then you are a “person” in relation to me. Insofar as we both participate in a certain relationship, we are both “persons” whenever we engage in that particular relationship. When we do enter into that relationship, we are expected to wear a “mask” or “persona” of the “part” that we are playing.
For example, a sergeant and a general in the Army are each a “person” in relation to each other. When one or the other leaves the Army, that relationship ends and they are no longer “persons” in relation to the Army and to each other. Of course, they might agree to a new personal relationship as friends, or employer-employee–but their relationship and resulting “personality” within the context of the Army would be ended.
If I recall correctly, the Bible declared that God and/or the Christ are not “respecters of persons”. In broad strokes, this declaration appears to mean that God does not “respect” the distinctions between persons. He doesn’t care if you are a General of a private. He doesn’t care if you are an employer or an employee. He doesn’t care if you are a husband or a wife, a master or servant, a freeman of a slave, rich or poor. We will all be judged as individual men or women based on criteria that do not recognize the superiority or inferiority of our “persons” (relationships with other men, women, institutions, fictions or even collectives).
I suspect that the words “respecter” and “persons” (as used in the Bible) need some research. If God is not a “respecter of persons,” who/what is? If God does not “respect” persons, does He even “see” “persons”?
• I’ve read in the past that all relationships are fictions. How’s your relationship with your spouse? How’s your relationship with your kids? How’s your relationship with your boss? How’s your relationship with the U.S. or the IRS? We go through life significantly fixated on our “relationships”. But, in fact, relationships have no mass, no size, no color or taste. Relationships have no physical existence. Relationships exist only in our minds and therefore are fictions. Some of our relationships are legal fictions (citizenship is probably one example) that can be enforced by law. Other relationships are imagined to exist without legal authority. True love may be an example. Trust in your neighbor or even your community may be another.
Whether we are or are not in a particular relationship would seem to be a voluntary choice. Am I, or am I not, “in love” (a relationship) with Abigail? I can’t make Abigail love me. Abigail can’t compel me to love her. To have that relationship, both parties must agree to participate in the same relationship. I love Abigail, and Abigail loves me. But if one party is sees their relationship as true love and the other sees the relationship as mere friendship (or even as merely an opportunity to exploit the other “person”), there’s going to big trouble when the truth comes out that the same “relationship” was not agreed to by both parties.
More, our commitment to relationships is always subject to change. It may be that I and Abigail were both in love last year, but this year Abigail no longer loves me. If we’re involved in a marriage relationship, we’re probably headed for a divorce—exactly the kind of “big trouble” that tends to take place whenever one “person” party to a particular relationship decides to unilaterally withdraw from that relationship. The other party, suddenly stripped of a relationship on which he had relied may be hurt or even enraged.
My point is that if a relationship is a fiction (legal or “private”), that relationship/fiction can only exist if both parties agree to the “terms” of the relationship. Both parties must consent to participate in (and be bound by) the relationship/fiction. Because relationships are fictions, you only should able to enter a relationship by voluntary act. Likewise, you should be able to unilaterally end a relationship by voluntary act.
This is not say that no relationships can be compelled. For example, the Jews might not have voluntarily consented to be treated as “untermenschen” by the Nazis, but the Nazis compelled that relationship. That involuntary relationship inspired anger, fear, guilt and could only be maintained by coercion and violence.
An involuntary relationship (like “involuntary servitude”) should not be lawful in a civil society.
• Insofar as two persons exist in “relation” to each other, and insofar as that “relationship” is a fiction, it appears that each “person” is necessarily a fiction–or at least a component of a fiction.
A fiction is a lie.
The Bible declares that Satan is the father of all lied.
Is Satan the father of all fictions? All legal fictions? All relationships? All “persons”?
When the Bible declares that God is not a “respecter” of “persons” does that mean the God does not respect or even recognize fictions because 1) they don’t actually exist in the physical universe created by God (they are not God’s creations); and 2) they are illusions and lies and thus the spawn of Satan?
• If “persons” are fictions, and God is “not a respecter of persons,” is it possible that whenever we are charged as a “person” for an offense, that the remedy may be found through some sort of “freedom of religion” defense in which we deny (as per our faith?) being a “person” living in a relationship/fiction that is a lie and therefore spawned by Satan? (How’s that for an overly long, 64-word sentence?)
In other words, if you want to try me for some crime (not an “offense” which might be only against persons/fictions), prove that I’ve caused actual damage to another physical man or woman created by God.
However, if you want to try me for the “offense” of violating the express or implied terms of my purported standing as a “person” existing “in relation” to some other person, buzz off. I deny that I have voluntarily entered into the status of “person” within the alleged relationship/fiction. I deny that I have voluntarily entered into any relationship to the alleged plaintiff. I deny that I can be compelled to enter into the status of “person” within the alleged relationship/fiction/spawn-of-Satan, without violating my freedom of religion and subjecting me to the “establishment” of the state religion for “persons” rather than “people”.
In a sense, if I refined and actually made such argument, part of that argument would be that the “person”/”relationship” were fictions and therefore lies; that I can’t lie without violating my faith; that the government can’t compel me to lie without violating my freedom of religion; that a government that attempted to persuade me to consent to a lie (legal fiction) would be suborning perjury.
• (I started to research “respecter of persons” and it turned into a mass of info that I’ll have to digest later and present when time and energy permits.)