It is hard to find moments of hope in times of trouble. I think that many of us can relate to such a statement. We can share in it because of all the “share before they take it down”-s and the fear mongering on our televisions. I am convinced that normal people are allowed to grieve over their culture, or the loss of it. We should not feel shame over that.
My concern (not fear) is that we are seeing a movement toward a secularized version of morals. That by it, we lose anything that could have been called good. And as the world around us begins to look more like some sort of dystopian “new normal” I have found myself grasping a common evil straw in all we see around us.
What is that commonality? The everpresent short straw that is being pulled? It is the wonton exhibition of evil so often brought up in Scripture, the elevation of self. Not the elevation of self over community. Not the elevation of self over family. Not even the self exalting elevation of individual “needs” over the common good. No, what I am talking about is the exaltation of self above the glorious standard of God in heaven.
Whether the sad case of Ahmad Aubrey, the hoarding of toilet paper, the man in Orlando that pulled a gun on a fellow shopper, or the thousands of people who have now reported their neighbors for family gatherings, and/or not wearing masks. All of it runs from an overtly grandiose sense of self authority.
I think that word, authority hits the nail. What does authority look like in a self actualizing, self preserving, self motivating, just look within type of world? I fear that we are seeing the answer to that question in our current circumstance. There are as I see it two consequences.
First, there is a loss of safety from the traditional authority structures. I think we currently see this playing out in the continual escalation of violence between the civil authorities and the citizenry. People simply are losing respect for the social mechanisms once agreed upon. The social contract is falling apart.
I would submit to you that this deterioration is multifaceted. However, even in them there is a loss of the understanding of right and holy authority. The pastor in the pulpit, like the judge on the bench does not have authority inherently in them. No, their authority is on loan. When that understanding is lost, something new emerges and history has proven, what comes next is never good. I lament to say, I am convinced that the concept of loaned authority is fading fast in both institutions.
Second, we see people begin to take on authority that in all reality, they have the right to take. The loss of respect for those authority structures that were once entered into as a good and right social pact, causes people to revert to a state of self idolizing.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
When the bonds of freedom, founded on the principles of Christian goodness become less important than the consumption of power at all cost, even well intentioned civil disobedience is a mere exhibition of self exaltation. Our argument cannot be, I am free and have inalienable rights.
If we are Christian we should instead say, “I am bought with a price, made free from sin, by my savior.”
Yet, having said that I think we miss the primary reality herein. Both number one and number two stem from one thing; the loss of a sense of any overarching moral authority. Temporally we can look at this in our culture as a loss of constitutional authority. However, the greater loss is much deeper than this. We are losing the ability to do as Christ had said, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these”. This is the foundational point underwriting even the American constitution Or any constitution for that matter.
I understand the atheist (or better yet the secularist) would proclaim, “But, we can be moral and ethical without that.” To that there is a question. By what standard? What is the foundation of such reasoning if there is no ground floor? Darwinistic evolution? A great lot that has done for the human race.
Any society that has reverted to such a materialistic understanding of the world, has again inflicted such power over those they deem unworthy, that the case for such a stance should be seen as untenable on moral grounds. Unfortunately, that is a sliding scale when considered from the perspective of the postmodern secular evolutionist.
How can one make claims concerning what is right and moral when one cannot even make a claim that there is anything right or anything moral? The seculairst cannot even proclaim that there should be morals, or that they even exist. How can they when it is impossible to even make truth claims that transcend one's immediate circumstance or culture? The answer is they cannot.
I once had a conversation with a young lady on this very issue. Like a good secularist she proclaimed her lack of ability to tell me what was wrong in any way at any time. She adhered to the basic tenets of her world view. Gain as much utility (happiness) as possible, by all cost. As we see so often in the common language-- You do you!
Like a good secular postmodern she was unwilling to say there was anything that was universally wrong as long as it brought happiness. It was with that that I then proclaimed to her (Hypothetically) that I wanted to kill her grandmother. Killing was what (Hypothetically) made me happy. She was perplexed to say the least. Her love for her grandmother challenged her worldview. In that we find an interesting point.
There is still hope for love in our culture. There is still hope that love can conquer a lack of truth. My only concern however, is that we are currently in love with ourselves more than we are anything or anyone else. We have all been hood-winked into thinking that “happiness” will make us content. Happiness is not a state of being, it is a momentary emotion. Something won on the wind of a feeling, and lost in the moment of reality. Yet, we will apply whatever we can to the equation of happiness, merely to gain it again for the lie that it will never end. That is in the words of Michael Scott cutting off, “your nose to spider face.”
Don’t believe me? Think about one point. Our culture literally had an existential crisis over toilet paper. The prevailing mind felt that, by hoarding enough of it we could avoid a painful and heartless death at the hands of an unseen enemy. I am reminded of what God said to His people in the book of Malachi.
Behold, I will rebuke your offspring, and spread dung on your faces, the dung of your offerings, and you shall be taken away with it.
To be frank we might as well have bought all we could, only to arrange neatly our spoils into a tidy little pile, shaped like a golden calf in our bathrooms. I imagine it could have even been awe inspiring, sitting lifeless on it’s seat of honor. What happiness, it might have brought to us.
Some of you may have read the book of Judges. It is a hard book to read when contemplating the reality of mankind. One reads in those pages of child sacrifice, murder, war, destruction, and disobedience. How could things have gone so wrong for the people of God. Simply put it went wrong because everyone started doing what they thought right in their own eyes. The text makes that clear.
“In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Judges 21:25
Yet, still many will lament a desire to go back to the “good ole days” of our culture. The days of the great Christian America. Now, I will submit to you that those days may have existed at one point in some places. Yet, we cannot miss the fact that, that America produced this America. And that is not to wade into political arguments, more is it to make moral judgments from the benefits of historical perspective. If we gave into these temptations we would weaken the chance for us to have a moment of moral clarity.
When we divulge into the “share this before they take it down mentality” we miss the point. Whoever the “they” are, “they” have always been the ones taking down, or more likely talking down the truth. they have existed at all times in human history. So has their father the Devil. His desire is simple. That the sinful evil hearts of men would not see the need for the Gospel. Yet it is the Gospel that will save not just our souls, but everything that matters to them.
There have always been men desiring to burn the Bible. Yet, there have always been those willing to burn on the pyre.