Taking Shots at the “Virtue” of Loyalty

“Loyalty is always evil”

This was allegedly said by Bertrand Russell. I don’t know the context, nor can I find anything more on the quote on the internet. I read it in a book that quoted the quote. It is clearly using overstatement to inspire thought.

Most people assume loyalty is a good thing. Any time a Cub fan opens their mouth, they will blather on about their loyalty to one of the most dysfunctional, moronic human institutions ever invented in such a high-horsed way as to make you feel horrible for not being as loyal as they are.

Loyalty, to many, is a virtue. Yet you will not find verses in the Bible talking about loyalty. “Faithfulness,” yes, but not loyalty.

What’s the difference? Faithfulness is being trustworthy. You do what you say. It is also used in the Bible as doing what God says–one who has faith–one who listens to God.

Loyalty is sticking with someone no matter what.

One exception to the rule: loyalty to God is good. God, who is always right, is trustworthy, and we are told to love Him with all our heart, soul, and mind. That sounds like loyalty to me. Russell is wrong on at least one count.

What Russell, as far as I can tell, was addressing, was loyalty to people. Loyalty, when placed above all else, is evil.

Nazi Germany is a fine example. Loyalty without question lead many to follow orders that should not have been followed.

The book which drew me to Russell’s quote went on to say this:

“One can therefore say fairly that whenever the virtue of loyalty is quoted as a prime motive or basis for action, one has the strongest reasons for suspecting that support is being sought for a bad cause.”

Even today, while holding up loyalty, we think it is a virtue to swim against the current, not to follow all the lemmings over the cliff, take the road less traveled, etc. One of many inconsistencies in modern human thought.

Loyalty to a man or an institution is a surefire way to ruin your faith. Yet many church leaders and churches make loyalty their basis of motivation.

–do this or we kick you out of our group
–do this because this is “God’s man” speaking for God
–do not question our statements
–march in lockstep to our drum (although many of these churches don’t allow drums. . .)

Perhaps that’s why many people gag on these words of Jesus:

If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

This makes no sense to our loyalty celebrating culture. Yet loyalty to Christ means no loyalty to any other man or human institution. He even cancels out loyalty to your own self!

This is where politics gets people in trouble. They get loyal to their party, which means loyalty to the party line. There is no party line that is loyal to Christ. Therefore, party loyalty will make you believe things that are inconsistent with Christ.

This is where denominational allegiance gets people in trouble. No denomination, no matter how often they claim it, has a monopoly on the truth. Loyalty to a denominational statement will make you believe things that are inconsistent with Christ.

This is where family loyalties can get people in trouble. No family is perfect. Adhering to your family’s beliefs, traditions, cynicisms, and opinions will make you adhere to things inconsistent with Christ.

This is where loyalty to self gets you in trouble. As soon as you have a reputation to protect, your adherence to Christ will go out the window. If you think you’ve arrived, you have all the answers, you know everything, you will then on the road to becoming a moron.

Loyalty to anyone or anything other than Christ will get you in trouble. Certain things in your life need to be dropped when it is shown to be inconsistent with Christ. Will your loyalty to your political party, your church, your family, yourself, or anyone else end up shipwrecking your faith?

Stick with Christ.