I Am My Brother’s Keeper

Think about the world’s first murderer.

Is he your role model?

Unfortunately, it seems that he is the role model for many people today. Instead of loving and caring for his brother, Cain killed him out of jealousy. And when God asked him about Abel’s whereabouts, Cain replied,

“Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Those who answer “No” to this question are siding with Cain.

I once suggested that contributions to retirement accounts should be limited in proportion to our love and care for the poor. In response, one person said he had a “very jaundiced eye” for any notion that “others have a moral claim on my property by virtue of their existence.”

He says the existence of a fellow human being lays no moral claim upon him. In other words, “I am not my brother’s keeper.”

On another occasion, the question of modest dress was discussed. One woman responded by saying:

“It is not the responsibility of women to keep men’s thought on their prayers in church. . . . Men need to be taught to keep their eyes to themselves and evil thoughts against women under control and not to blame the women around them for their behavior.”

She says she should be able to dress however she wants, with no concern for whether her appearance will be a stumblingblock for men. In other words, “I am not my brother’s keeper.”

Of course, I am not saying people should be legally forced to be generous to the poor. When a person shows charity, it should be voluntary.

Neither am I suggesting that women’s immodest dress lets men off the hook for lustful thoughts. Men are responsible for their actions, regardless of how a woman is dressed.

People have personal responsibility for themselves. But that does not negate the fact that I, too, bear a measure of responsibility for my brothers and sisters.

Everything I do should reflect care and love for my brother. I should not put a dollar in my savings account, or wear an article of clothing, or eat a plate of food, without first thinking of my brother. His welfare is my concern.

I am my brother’s keeper.

About Fr Joseph Gleason

I serve as a priest at Christ the King Orthodox Mission in Omaha, Illinois, and am blessed with eight children and one lovely wife. I contribute to On Behalf of All, a simple blog about Orthodox Christianity. I also blog here at The Orthodox Life.
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2 Responses to I Am My Brother’s Keeper

  1. Jo says:

    But it’s true. Women do not control men, are not accountable for what men choose to do, anymore than the reverse. And if indeed men are so weak, animalistic and helpless at the sight of an ankle or a collarbone (because they can never agree on what modest even means- it all seems more to boil down to “what I as a man personally like”), then men should absolutely not be the ones in authority, the ones making these decisions about and for women. (Which they needn’t be doing anyway, since there is zero biblical basis for them controlling everything, given Jesus’ general messages of surrendering power.) I mean, you don’t see people wagging fingers and blaming men when women stare at his shirtless, sweaty chest on the beach. Don’t hold double standards.

    • In other words, you seem to be saying, “I am not my brother’s keeper.” That is the attitude of Cain, not the attitude of Christ’s followers.

      “Love your neighbor” is a command for men and women alike. Whenever you do anything, you should always take the potential weakness of your brother (or sister) into account, and adjust your behavior accordingly.

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