Thursday, October 20, 2016

Astonished at His teaching

In  the news this morning I read, the United Kingdom has decided to grant pardon to all the men it has on record, whether alive or dead, who were convicted of the crime of sodomy. The article didn’t use that word, but that’s what it meant. Sodomy as a word has fallen out of favor, another ‘N’ word that mustn’t be used around polite, that is, politically correct, society. In fact, I’m tired of the cliché-ridden term ‘politically correct’ and from now on I’m just going to use the word ‘polite’ to mean the same thing, except when describing the behavior of children.

At any rate, my personal views on homosexuality aside, if what was once illegal and punishable is now legal, then that means somebody has the power to reverse long-standing laws, that the laws, in fact are admittedly just something we make up as we go along, and not in the least related to any pre-human, that is, pre-existing, moral standard. If this is true, then I think that the United Kingdom should not be issuing pardons but rather apologies, and the gay men should be issuing the pardons. In fact, the whole human race should be asking gays for forgiveness.

On a less intimate note, but still in the same vein, here in Oregon the production, sale and consumption of marijuana products was, until very recently, against the law. When the law was reversed and contoured to fit within a parameter that would benefit the government, a marijuana establishment suddenly appeared, ready-made, generations deep, and ubiquitous. No one apologized on either side, not the state for prosecuting apparently innocent people, nor the marijuana-enthused for having been breaking the law all along because it was wrong.

Or was it? The law, I mean. Was the law wrong when it made marijuana use illegal, or was it just being dictatorial, autocratic, arbitrary, and just plain power-obsessed? Well, since the law is not a person, but generally, people, civic-minded people acting on behalf of society at large to enact laws for the preservation of social well-being, none of those adjectives cataloged above, applies. Society has a right to defend itself. In true monarchies, an individual is invested with the responsibility to defend it. In republics, that responsibility is shared among many.

What I have noticed about laws, human ones but also those believed to be of Divine origin, is that they are usually framed with the good of human society as their object. They may be framed with the good of the individual, or of nature, or of some other good in mind, but always with social good, that is, the health and welfare of society, as the priority. The best laws balance social good with individual happiness. I am not here going to even mention liberty and equality, as these never make people happy if those people are not genuinely seeking happiness.

But good laws establish harmony and facilitate free functioning of society in such a way that fewer laws are needed as the society matures. Fewer laws, not more, equates to less regulation, not more, and this, because good laws are made that educate the public as well as regulate them. Going back to the Bible, which is, like it or not, the ultimate source of Western jurisprudence, we can see that the laws written therein are established for the good of society, not for the good of the individual, which is pure nonsense unless by ‘good’ you mean ‘happiness.’

Modern man chafes under the notion that God has the right to legislate on such personal matters as what we do with the people whom we sleep with. Once, a very dear friend of mine laughed at me and said, ‘Nonsense, God doesn’t care whom we sleep with!’ when I naively said something that supported the idea of sexual morality. For him, sex was outside the realm of God’s prerogatives. My friend ‘believed’ in God and enjoyed talking about Him as a form of intellectual stimulation, but morality for him was what he thought right, not what God does.

But I believe there is a concrete, a very definite, standard of morality, something on which good laws depend and to which they point us. That invisible yet universally recognized standard is something that came into existence at the same moment that humanity became aware of itself and of God, that threshold immortalized in the story of the creation of Adam and Eve. I am not saying that this standard wasn’t always there, uncreated just as God was always there, Uncreated, but that part of the standard which has to do only with us is co-temporal with us.

After centuries of human progress in every other area of endeavor, as a society we now find ourselves suddenly bereft of a conscience that is in accord with that standard. Individuals still have it. Some people still recognize the voice of the human conscience—which is the same in everyone as it starts out—unaffected by the currents of imaginary ideologies that come against it, but society has once again been subverted by the tyrannical voices that know no moral standard, only their desires, and the pursuit, not of happiness, which they no longer want, but power.

Happily—yes, there are still people who want happiness—society is still part of nature, still part of God’s creation just as the individual is, and like the rest of Nature, it has built-in mechanisms to heal itself, and like any biological being, will always right itself when it goes wrong, in preference to just giving up hope and perishing. Society, as we see around us today, is again becoming self-aware. The enemies of humanity, themselves human only in form, brand those who oppose them ‘populist’ and accuse them of backwardness, but it is these others who stand on rock.

If it is backward to stand on rock rather than sand, let me be backward. I know that I have no happiness unless the society I live in is happy. The same goes for everything else in life. We are truly individuals only by being part of society, so let’s put ourselves back on the road that leads to health and happiness.

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.

And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at His teaching, for He was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.
Matthew 7:21-29 ESV

No comments: