remember when you were a kid and your parents told you to do something? Usually, it was to do something we didn’t want to do, or to stop doing something we like: don’t eat your boogers! buckle your seatbelt! stop kicking my chair! be quiet! don’t play video games right now! do your homework!
As children, we’re inclined (I opine) to respond to these commands with “why?”
Now, there’s usually a good reason (that’s gross; it’s safer; I don’t want you to; you’re being too loud; you’ve played too many video games; you need to make good grades) but often times a parent (at least mine) could silence my questions with one statement:
Because I said so.
The other day, I found myself sharing an article which I totally agreed with – the heart of the article was that, of all the causes we could fight for in our society today, of all of the things we could put our energy towards, we choose to fight battles about things like our sexual freedom, how much skin is acceptable to show off, who (and what gender) we’re allowed to sleep with, etc. Society wants to shame people who shame others (if I tell you that I think you’re in the wrong for sleeping with your girlfriend when you’re not married, then I’m shaming you, and I should therefore be ashamed of myself.) In trying to eliminate shame, we create another space for it.
Anyway, that article isn’t exactly what I’m writing about. I’m writing because I almost didn’t share it – I didn’t really want to deal with the repercussions of the people who disagreed with it. I didn’t want to get in an argument over something that agreed with my convictions almost 100%.
But – and this is where this gets tough in our permissive society – when did we start caring who agrees? Forgive me if I come across as a little absolutist (which I am,) a little fundamentalist (which I sort of am,) and in that, a little arrogant (which I probably am) here, but when did that start to matter?
So at risk of sounding like I’m trying to point out specks, let me start by telling you things I don’t like about the Bible.
-I don’t like that Jesus says if I look at a woman with lust in my heart, it’s the same as adultery. (Matthew 5:28) When I’m feeling really prideful, I like to think I can “look but not touch.” But according to Jesus’ standards, looking is touching.
-I HATE the idea that other people watch my actions, and I can be a stumbling block, therefore I should watch what I say and what I do (read Romans 14.) That drives me NUTS.
-I don’t like how heavily evangelism weighs on my heart. I wish that Christianity was just me living a normal life, never thinking, “who, if anyone, am I making a disciple?”
-I don’t like the Biblical mandate to bear one another’s burdens. It flies in the face of my capitalist mindset that says, “you have your problems and I have mine, I have enough to worry about without worrying about you.” (Galatians 6:2.)
I could find more, I’m sure – but you get the point (at least I hope.)
I think that God – through the Gospel – reveals things about Himself and about us that are difficult to swallow. We do a disservice to ourselves and to others if we pretend like the Gospel is palatable, marketable, and attractive.
It’s anything but. It tells me I’m wretched, it tells me that I’m not perfect, it tells me that my wisdom and intelligence is infinitely short of God’s. It tells me I’m sinful, and it tells me that I’ll never measure up to what God’s standards are.
But that’s where this whole thing gets really amazing – I don’t have to.
if I’m willing to believe all of this – that I’m wicked, that I’m full of it, that I mess up, that God is so much greater than I am, etc. then there’s this other wonderful reality: Jesus died in my place, because my sin was so offensive and it did so much to separate me from God that I deserved death (because we don’t ignorantly disobey, consider that) that either I was going to die and live eternally separated from the very God who lovingly crafted me and created me, to use me for His own glory, or someone else had to step in – Jesus.
Jesus took on the punishment I deserved, drank the cup of wrath I deserved, died the death I deserved all to give me the holiness, righteousness, life, and sonship that He deserves.
That’s the agreeable part.
The disagreeable stuff is the hard stuff – the fact that God now asks things of us. He asks of us our lives, He asks for my obedience, for my death to my own desires. That’s what I hate. That’s the hard part of Christianity. Sometimes it’s more overt and seems more obvious and less tempting – like don’t steal money from your friends or your workplace, don’t kill people, don’t break the law. Easy enough.
But then there’s stuff that’s more covert and harder to accept: like God’s design for sex and marriage (one man, one woman, sex is to take place within marriage,) going the extra mile at your job when it seems like nobody else takes it very seriously, respecting leaders that you think are messing up, watching your actions around people who are more susceptible to certain types of sin, honoring the convictions of people whose convictions you do not share, etc.
But the thing is, I don’t think that God necessarily asks us to agree with Him. I think that God – if anyone! – has the right to say, “because I said so.”
If (or, I would rather say, since) God is real, it makes sense that He is so good, so holy, so other, so beyond comprehension, that His design for the world is to be respected and implemented to the best of our flawed, human, ability, because a perfect creator has a perfect design, and it deserves our respect and submission, especially since, as flawed people, even our interpretations of morality are skewed.
As one of my favorite songs says, “I think our god isn’t God if it fits inside our heads.”
I think part of what makes faith faith is that we have to accept some things we don’t understand, that maybe we don’t agree with.
I think this is a big issue facing our society today, our society that wants to do whatever the hell it wants to do – like who you like, act on your attractions no matter what they are, do you want, no matter how bad it is for you (you may not see that part at first) damning any and all traditions (which, might I add, are in place for what may be a very good reason.)
I don’t want to pretend I’m a prophet, but I’m of the mind that God might be saying more and more loudly to the church today: “you don’t have to agree with everything I say, but you do have to obey it.”
let’s see what that looks like.