I’ll preface this, so you can stand it, with the following disclaimer:
Thank God, you can’t redefine “love.” Love is love and hate is hate, and you can’t have one and have the other at the same time. In spite of my own personal preferences, other people have different preferences and I can, and will, love them regardless of our differences of opinion or preference. Dear reader, the following is my opinion about the direction of our society. There is some good and progressive, progress. But I fear that some of what’s being called progress, really isn’t. We all want to hear what we want to hear, but what if what we want to hear isn’t right?
We are so fucking smart, aren’t we? I love Dr. Seuss’ “Oh the Places You’ll Go.” It affirms the individual reader as smart and tells them to proceed confidently through life, making confident and smart decisions. That presumes we’re not psychopaths without conscience, amoral Nietzsches working out maximum profitability and damning the cost in denying the soul, or immoral little Hitlers telling everyone the big lies that everyone likes hearing so much they’ll do anything for us, or believe anything we say, and I mean anything.
But maybe we aren’t innocent children with reactive consciences who thrive on confession. Maybe we are psychopaths who make decisions on the basis of how they affect us in the now, or without thinking about anything including the natural consequences of those choices. Or the supernatural ones. Maybe we’re puppets being steered on our courses by the puppeteers and we don’t have a free will. Maybe we are just animals who do whatever animals feel like doing, or we act based on the voices in our head, which may or may not steer us correctly.
What if we are too smart for our own good?
With the invention of the telescope we determined for ourselves how far away one object is from another, we determined for ourselves how fast light can move, and we decided for ourselves that these are immutable laws of physics. We decided, since it was poetry, that we could ignore the poetry in multiple places, including Psalm 104:2 that defines a superior principle, but presumes the existence of God and His omnipotence, and thereby ignore God himself. Because how can something poetic be scientific at the same time?
With the invention of the microscope we discovered the presence of harmful microorganisms in and on our food and in our blood, ignoring the sound advice of the Source who wrote to the Israelites not to eat uncooked food (we still ignore this one) or food with the blood still in it, and to avoid certain behaviours, both as to avoid certain diseases, because we were able to discover them for ourselves, therefore no need for God to tell us about them. And no need for us to avoid them.
The Israeli fashion statements about clothes and facial hair certainly make the followers of Judaism stand out as different. The 613 laws given to Israel would make them look weird, but are they any different than the thousands of laws we’re supposed to obey handed down by our government? I think we’d stand out if we knew how to really love other people, which was Jesus’ second important commandment of the two he held as truly important. And that might be enough. But I digress. Back to topic:
En Ars Percunctor Fidemus (I’m sure I’ve mangled “we trust in scientific method”) replaces En Deo Fidemus (“In God we trust”), but Fidemus, or “trust,” is the same as “faith.” We make a religion out of science, without a complete understanding of it. We make a religion of a lot of things, but our investigations of them prove our investigation and understanding are not perfect, they’re not God, and neither are we. We deny one religion as foolishness, and swallow (that is to say, put our faith in) another religion without allowing ourselves to call it “religion.” There’s even faith in Atheism, which requires quite a bit of faith, in my estimation.
Do you not think it requires a great deal of faith to believe it’s all just a cosmic accident? Life evolved on its’ own, and food evolved to match it, just by coincedence. Ecosystems just happened to happen. DNA just happened to link itself together, in just the right order. The atmosphere, the earth, the moon, the tides, just happened to happen. The spark of life just happened to happen.
The whole Bible that, if we’re supposed to believe it, explains the whole thing and gives us a reason for being and a hope for eternity, is just a myth of strung together stories and instructions that worked for people in the past. But we’re not primitives, we don’t need that any more for ourselves. And Jesus, well he might have existed and if he did he was a good guy and had wisdom, or parlor tricks, or maybe he was an alien being from another planet, but if not, he was just a good guy and then they crucified him and that was that. And if he was an alien that’s a whole different faith. But if he was just a smart guy, all the rest is just one mythology vs another. If I sin in holding strongly to my faith, perhaps your faith is just as much a sin. Which is more rational? Which gives eternal hope and real purpose?
We are far too advanced to accept the normative standards of our ancestors. Deuteronomy 4 and 5 tell us not to add or subtract anything from God’s Laws, and then tell us God’s basic laws. But… We are psychologically more aware, and we have adapted, or evolved if you will, beyond that primitive understanding. Or, are we so fucking smart it has made us brilliant idiots?
We have lawyers to equivocate and redefine the meanings of our vocabulary. They support and defend us and tell us what we pay them to say. And is this not the same as we being students with itching ears craving to hear what we want to be told? (see II Timothy 4:3 again) But our lawyers are not primitive, nor are we, therefore, we have an advanced understanding of things like murder and adultery, and if we understand those so well we don’t believe in them, why should we believe the other thou shalts and shalt nots are believable?
I’ve already weighed in on murder. Our lawyers make up all kinds of excuses for us, so we’re not locked up for just deciding to end someone else in cold blood. I understand it’s not always cut and dried, but a lot of times it is, and people still get off the charge, or get a reduced charge, when it was just killing. Some of our religious leaders equivocate and redefine too- the qualification for killing vs not killing in one religion is the definition of the words “by right.” “And do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden except by right. This has He instructed you that you may use reason.” – Quran 6:151 The question is, whose “reason” are we to follow? What “right” makes it right?
And we have our lawyers redefine “adultery,” too, in fact we’re so progressive, we can just ignore the prohibitive commandment altogether, but to make those primitives who won’t or can’t ignore it find it more palatable, we’ll write legal documents to make some of what used to be called “adultery” legal, by redefining some other words to make the new progressive ways acceptable, and we’ll popularize what we want in the media until the next generation sees what we want as normal. Affairs used to be normal, but back then, so was syphilis, until they found out what caused it. It didn’t make affairs right, only less imminently fatal, unless the spouse found out. I honestly pray that we figure out a cure for all communicable disease, including STDs.
I honestly wish my adultery wasn’t the same as yours, but it is. That sucks. But it’s the truth. It’s just sin. It’s not a popular viewpoint, my old conservative, traditional way of thinking. But I’m not God, and I can’t redefine things as easily as a slick lawyer can. Maybe someone can redefine my sins so I don’t have to have a guilty conscience about them. When God said in Genesis to Adam that if he ate of the fruit of the tree, he would die, he didn’t exactly say how fast. Is Adam still alive? No? It records he died at age 930. Therefore, God’s promise was faithful, because he died.
You’re bristling, I feel it. So stop. I’m borrowing from an old Dr. Pepper commercial, and twisting a bit: “You’re a sinner, I’m a sinner we’re all sinners, wouldn’t you like to be a sinner too?” Sadly, it’s true. We’re all sinners, and there’s no real way of taking away the sin, the guilt, or the consequence except by faith in Jesus. Some cultures would just stone a person, or chop their head off, and their culture is preserved and declared innocent by “reason.” Other cultures would ask the person to not follow their urges, but the urges are still there and the person is powerless not to go after them. Those systems don’t provide a shred of hope.
I accept as a basic premise that a sinner is going to sin. I accept, according to The Text, that I am, that we all are, sinners. There isn’t a shred of a claim I could make that I’m somehow superior to anyone. I’m not. But I believe differently than many of you. And I accept that too, but I can express my beliefs just as freely as you can express yours. If I can’t, it’s not equal, and that’s not any more fair than if I said I was better somehow. And if I don’t, where is the hope of my “good news?” My “good news” is that God loves us all in spite of ourselves, and wants what Dr. Seuss wants- for us to do, and be, and become, our best, and to rise to our own greatest potentials.
If I love you it doesn’t mean I condone or celebrate your sin, any more than I can just accept my own sin and feel no guilt about it. It just means I love you as best as one human can love another human. It means I want you to become the best you that you can, and I’ll celebrate the good. It means if someone wants to hurt you, or hurts you, I don’t want that to continue, in fact I’d prefer it never start in the first place. We need to be nice to each other. If I love you, it means I want the nonsense of Dr. Seuss to be realized in your own life. And I do. You can do great things. So be great. Just do the best you can, and rationally, sensibly, logically, work it out.
I’d love to say I’ve got it all together but I’m a complete wreck most of the time. But I do know this: Isaiah 5 is too clear to me. When I start saying good is bad and bad is good, it just confuses everything. I’m not smart enough to equivocate, to pass the blame, to change the basic definitions of what is what. I’m not going to say your sin is worse than mine, because it’s not. I’m no better than anyone, in fact I’m worse than many. Even Paul the Apostle decided over the course of his letters that he was first, the least of the saints, and last, the chief of the sinners. But I am going to say, my sin is sin, and your sin is sin, because sin is sin. And we need to not sin MORE, rather we need to strive to NOT sin at all.
Since we’re all, compared to God, equally evil, it’s clear we all need to extend each other a little grace, a little forgiveness, and a little love. I hope you’ll find truth, not a lie you’ve been taught was the truth, but the real truth. I hope you’ll extend me some grace and forgiveness, and I’ll understand if it doesn’t get all the way to “love.” I hope you’ll make good decisions and the best choices, and I hope everything works out well for you. And of course, I hope the same for me.
And again, thank God we can’t redefine “love.” I strongly identify with the simple nature of the character “Forrest Gump,” in the movie by the same name. As the title character famously said, “I’m not a smart man, but I know what love is.”