What Would Daniel And His Three Friends Do Today?


Daniel003I’ve always loved the story of Daniel and the lions’ den, in which Daniel gets set up by a bunch of nefarious government officials, sticks to his religious principles, is found guilty of breaking Babylonian law, and thrown into the den of lions, only to have the angel of God shut the mouths of the beasts.

Perhaps the only other story I love as well is that of Daniel’s three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. They weren’t so much set up but ratted out because they also stuck to their religious principles, refusing to worship the statue of the Babylonian king. His Highness was so enraged he doubled the penalty—they were thrown into a furnace of fire, heated twice as hot as normal. But as the king looked on, he saw four men walking about, none tied up as the three offenders had been, and none burnt up. Eventually he had Daniel’s friends released, and their clothes weren’t even singed and there was no smell of smoke on them.

I love these stories of godly people who held to their beliefs without wavering. But then, I know the end of the story. I know they escaped.

Stephen’s story of martyrdom isn’t quite as much of a favorite. I know the way that one ended too. While I admire his fervor and his unwillingness to deny Jesus Christ or to stop preaching the truth, I don’t like the fact that it cost him his life or that his death ushered in a period of persecution the young Church had to endure.

So you could say I favor the victorious endings, the ones that have the king declare,

“Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, who has sent His angel and delivered His servants who put their trust in Him, violating the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies so as not to serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation or tongue that speaks anything offensive against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego shall be torn limb from limb and their houses reduced to a rubbish heap, inasmuch as there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way.” (Dan. 3:28b-29)

Well, OK, maybe the tearing from limb to limb and houses reduced to rubbish is a bit over the top. I’d rather see some sort of rehabilitation or sensitivity training, perhaps, but I suppose that’s just me being a part of the culture in which I find myself.

But there’s the issue. I’m struggling to figure out how I fit into this culture that allows for and approves the killing of infants in their mother’s womb, that redefines the Biblical understanding of marriage, that uses the protection clause of the First Amendment against religion instead of for it, that supports the suppression of free speech on college campuses.

As to the latter, perhaps this video will show you where I’m coming from:

On one hand, I’d like to be Daniel. I admire Kim Davis, County Clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky, who is in prison for contempt of court because she wouldn’t go back on the religious principles of her new-found faith. (For those who think she should just have quit, perhaps this Washington Post article, “When does your religion legally excuse you from doing part of your job?” will show that our Constitution provides protection from forcing people out of their jobs because of their religious views.)

At the same time, I’m afraid of being Stephen. I don’t know if I have the passion for Christ that he had or the love for his persecutors that enabled him to ask for their forgiveness as he was dying. (See Acts 7:58-60)

Of course, I’m sure others will think I’m jumping to dire conclusions from the case of one County Clerk, and making a mountain out of a series of Planned Parenthood videos. We’re not living in Nazi Germany, many will say. How dare anyone compare Kim Davis to Rosa Parks, others will say.

But I wonder about this. Who knew that Rosa Parks would become Rosa Parks that day in 1955 when she was arrested for disobeying the law that required her to go to the back of the bus. Of course, her situation offered a rallying point for those who were already being oppressed by an unjust law.

Jews in Hitler’s Germany were oppressed by a change in the culture—an out-of-the-closet prejudice against them that first made it harder for them to get jobs or do business. Who was the Jew that was first arrested for being a Jew or for complaining against his unfair treatment? There had to be a first.

Was there a County Clerk who refused to register Jews and consequently went to prison? It wouldn’t be surprising if there were.

But we don’t think of Germany in its transformation from the Wiemar Republic to Hitler’s Nazi rule. We see the extremes of the Third Reich and say, Horrific, never considering how they got there. What rights were first trampled upon? What compromises did good citizens first make? What injustice did people not speak against?

Of course, we have no record of Daniel speaking against the Babylonian law that sent him to the lions den. We have no record of his friends trying to persuade others not to bow to the kings idol. On the other hand, those governments were not democracies, either.

When we the people are the power behind the government, are we not responsible for what that government does? I’d love to know what Daniel would do in Kim Davis’s place. I’d love to know what Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego would do if they saw those Planned Parenthood videos.

I’m pretty sure none of them would be concerned for their image or for negative press. Would they simply go about their business until the day the authorities came to arrest them? I wonder.

A Godless Universe


big-bang-theory-rainbow-gravityOne of the latest scientific theories, or more accurately, an idea some scientists have postulated, suggests the universe did not have an origin, that there was no Big Bang. This concept, known coincidentally as Rainbow Gravity, is an attempt to resolve incompatibilities between quantum mechanics and general relativity.

In short, this idea that’s been around for about a decade, and which isn’t widely accepted by physicists, is based on gravity’s affect on different wavelengths of light, which can be seen in the colors of the rainbow (and thus the name).

Now scientists at Cern in Switzerland believe they might find miniature black holes which would reveal the existence of a parallel universe.

And if the holes are found at a certain energy, it could prove the controversial theory of ‘rainbow gravity’ which suggests that the universe stretches back into time infinitely with no singular point where it started, and no Big Bang.

The theory was postulated to reconcile Einstein’s theory of general relativity – which deals with very large objects, and quantum mechanics – which looks at the tiniest building blocks of the universe. (“Big bang could be debunked”)

I gather from my reading that the String Theory came into being to answer the same paradoxes.

We need a new theory allowing general relativity and quantum mechanics to coexist peacefully. This theory could attempt to solve the problems of each to bring them together. Or it might start afresh and establish completely new ideas of reality.

String theory is an example of such a theory. (“Why String Theory”)

At issue is our understanding of such things as black holes, parallel existence in multiverses, nonexistence, and the Big Bang. And God.

Of course none of the articles I read mentioned God. Because clearly He isn’t being considered as a possible answer to the paradoxes. Rather, these scientists are looking for the Theory of Everything (ToE).

In fact, as one commenter noted, they aren’t following the observe-describe pattern of actual science. Instead, they have reversed the order to be describe-observe. They see a conundrum and have developed an idea to resolve it. Now they’re looking to see if they can find evidence for their ideas. But the scientists don’t agree on what this unifying theory actually looks like.

I’m certain each of these intelligent, scholarly people has reason behind their ideas. What they don’t have is any particular evidence to believe Rainbow Gravity over String Theory or the ToE. And they also have no evidence to discount God as the Creator and Sustainer of all.

They see problems—this truth not meshing with that truth, or these paradoxes impossibly existing together—and they can’t find a unifying principle.

And there stands God, declaring that what He created shows us who He is:

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. (Rom. 1:20)

The net result of humankind turning our back on God is what we have been witnessing more and more with each passing year: the rise of terrorism, the redefinition of marriage, corruption in high places, racial and ethnic divides, gender confusion, and more. Scripture says it plainly:

they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.

And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them. (Rom. 1:25-32, emphases mine)

I suggest every time we say it’s the woman’s right to choose, and we mean she can therefore kill her unborn baby, we are worshiping the creature instead of the Creator. I would also say that every time we say a person can choose the gender they feel they are instead of the one “assigned to them at birth,” we are worshiping the creature instead of the Creator. And I suggest when we say two people of the same gender can marry, we are worshiping the creature instead of the Creator.

As scientists struggle to understand the universe without God, so all of us struggle to understand morality without God. What is right and what is wrong?

It can’t be whatever I feel to be right, or the hateful man who shot nine Christians in their church would be morally right—it’s what he felt was right. So too with the radical Muslim terrorists who killed over sixty people last week in their suicide bombings.

There must be a different standard, a universal code of conduct that governs life beyond our feelings, because our feelings don’t always mesh with other people’s feelings. There is as much paradox between one person’s view of the world and another’s, as there is between quantum mechanics and general relativity.

We need a Theory of Everything.

Of course, some suggest tolerance is that something. Others have more recently put forth empathy. But neither of those work unless everyone agrees.

Again, God stands above us declaring that His grace is sufficient, that His love—His empathy—is the solution to our moral struggles. That which we can’t fix, He’s already put together and made available. And it’s a gift.

But in a godless universe, what God has revealed falls on deaf ears.

Guns And Plastic Bags


HandgunsConservatives, a group many evangelical Christians find themselves tied to, have been criticized for having pet topics—most notably, abortion and gay marriage. I’ve heard these topics are growing tiresome and Christians ought to accept that we’re in the minority on these issues and get over it!

Surprise, surprise. Liberals have their pet issues too—notably gun control and global warming/climate change. I find these issues as tedious as I’m sure liberals find topics I’m concerned about.

Gun control in the US has a major barrier: the Second Amendment to the US Constitution which states citizens have the right to bear arms. Of course our world is a very different place than when the founders of our government put that right in place.

All of us decry the misuse of guns—from gang drive-bys to school shootings and political assassinations or the attempts. But the debate rages whether or not passing new restrictions on gun ownership or purchase will change the climate of violence.

In other words, we all acknowledge the problem, but we don’t agree that gun control is the solution or even a solution.

So we seem to be at a sort of stalemate . . . until the state of Georgia comes along and passes a law which allows their citizens to wear sidearms in public, possibly even in churches or schools, and in parts of the airport. These are people without a police record and without reported mental illness for the last five years.

OK, that last point disturbs me. When was the last time someone was “cured” of mental illness? Isn’t it more likely that various mental disorders are being treated or medicated, not cured? And haven’t a number of those perpetrating mass murders been discovered to have a history of mental illness?

But apparently this wasn’t a concern in Georgia. Oh, well. What I’m wondering is this—will the Georgia gun law have the same effect as the marijuana laws have had? In other words, will they catch on? Will other states think passing state laws is a good way to get around the Federal government, no matter what they have on the books or how they might try to restrict long held freedoms?

I find all these attempts at regulation or deregulation quite interesting. The gay rights efforts are an attempt to deregulate the long held beliefs about marriage. Ever since the US became a country, marriage has meant a union between one man and one woman. The deregulation efforts could turn marriage into a free-for-all.

Abortion is also a law that deregulates. Once there was a moral understanding that life is sacred, but now that view has been deregulated and life is not sacred if a woman doesn’t choose to permit life to grow in her womb.

On the other hand, new regulations are being added beyond the gun control. For example, the city council for Huntington Beach, CA, has joined San Francisco in banning plastic bags. While all plastic is frowned upon, it is bags that have received the environmentalists’ ire.

I forget all the evils that plastic bags are responsible for—all related to sea life, I believe. I just find it . . . incredible that we are so concerned for the health and well-being of fish and dolphins and seals and whales and crabs, but so unconcerned for the health and well-being of pre-born humans.

But I misspoke. There is great concern for the health and well-being of the pre-born as long as the mother decides to keep the baby. In that instance, a violent crime against a pregnant woman that results in her baby dying, can bring charges of murder against the perpetrator. And a woman who smokes when she is pregnant? She’s marked with the scarlet N for negligent.

Ocean_wavesIt’s a crazy world anymore. But it’s not really a surprise. Once we detached from our religious moral underpinnings which had been influenced by Scripture, we’ve been adrift. Now we’re moving so far from shore, we’re losing sight of solid ground. We’re following the peaks or dips of each wave, depending on who’s at the rudder and how hard we’re rowing.

I recently read this in an article posted at The Federalist:

“The censorial climate of academia extends beyond tenured professors and touches the students, both in undergraduate and graduate school. They are being taught what is and is not an ‘acceptable’ way of thinking rather than being encouraged to think through difficult questions on their own.” (“The Closing of the Academic Mind,” emphasis mine)

No wonder we have so many inconsistencies. No wonder we have key talking points and favorite liberal or conservative issues. What we actually need is a return to that moral compass that can help us find solid ground again. Maybe then we could reason out what to do about immigration and energy resources and crime and yes, the big favorites of both sides of the divide.

There really are Biblical principles that could apply to these issues, if we would accept the authority of Scripture. But the only way that will happen is one person at a time, each person reading the Bible, believing it, and choosing to live according to its dictates.

Morality In Fiction


Prager-ZachariasIn my recent brief series, Theology Versus Morality, (Parts 1, 2, and 3), I essentially took a stand for theology in Christian fiction while calling into question the validity of judging a novel by its morality. For example, in part 2 I said,

I tend to think too many Christians put the cart of morality before the horse of theology. In fact we advocate certain behavior without the foundational belief system that can rightly shape a person’s actions.

Later I added

When it comes to fiction, I think there’s a segment of Christian readers who want their brand of morality mirrored in the stories they read. In fact, for some, the morality might be more important than the theology.

I think that position is bad for fiction and bad for Christianity.

Does that mean that morality has no place in fiction? Should we write the story of adultery with nothing but a suggestion that a way of escape exists? That would be truthful to the way the world is and truthful to theology.

But is it sufficient for the needs of society?

I look at western society, and I see a growing cesspool of immorality. We have TV programs with titles like Scandal and Revenge and Betrayal. Others focus on the criminal mind and blood splatters and entries wound, with the intent to show the process of catching those who perpetrate psychotic and cruel behavior.

We have TV news magazines discussing yet another school shooting, one many people forget because “only” three children died.

Last night’s news carried stories of an old man struck down with intent by a hit-and-run driver in a gas station as he walked toward the office to pay for his gas and of a twelve-year-old and his mother living next door to a state senator (i.e., not your usual violent-crime neighbor) who were bound and gagged while a crew of four robbed their home on a Sunday afternoon.

Further, an NBA athlete was celebrated this week as the first openly gay player in any of the four major sports in the US.

Then on Facebook today, one topic of discussion revolves around an article about the growing advocacy for “polyamory” especially by the media. Clearly, if marriage is no longer allowed to be defined as a relationship between a man and a woman, why should it be limited to a single person with another single person, instead of multiples?

There’s more, from the LGBT community successfully advocating here in SoCal for children to pick the bathroom, locker room, gender sports team, based on how they feel, not on their biology, to the new idea for losing weight based on Yoga meditation and fasting during certain phases of the moon.

The muck and mire of the world is thick and growing thicker.

So do Christian novelists simply tag along, showing society as it is, without addressing morality in our stories? Do we write to the edge, and when the edge shifts further from us, scurry along behind in an effort to catch up? Quite honestly, I think that description fits too much Christian fiction.

Many of the strictures that writers complained about are gone. Christian fiction has characters that are divorced, have affairs, drink, see ghosts, see demons–all things that once were considered taboo. But as general market fiction played at the edges, Christian writers begged to be allowed the same latitude.

The problem, as I see it, is that this move toward a reversal of moral constriction is built on the same error as that which established the legalistic mores in the first place–theology does not undergird the view of morality.

Interestingly, apologist Ravi Zacharias, in a discussion Saturday with radio personality Dennis Prager, identified three levels in which philosophy is passed on: (1) argumentation–reason; (2) art–the imagination; (3) “kitchen table conversation”–the daily statements of belief. To influence society, then, Zacharias says we must argue from reason, illustrate in our art, and live out our beliefs. The problem he says, is that we try to do number three without number one and number two.

Exacerbating the problem, I believe is something G. K. Chesterton identified:

Nothing sublimely artistic has ever arisen out of mere art … There must always be a rich moral soil for any artistic growth.

So if society has lost its “rich moral soil,” how is art to illustrate the theology (philosophy) that underpins our beliefs?

In other words, we are in a downward spiral–a morally vacuous society that cannot produce art which will show us how to live morally.

There but for the grace of God are we all.

But God does give a greater grace. He is “opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble,” Scripture says.

So, what if Christian novelists determined to know nothing but Christ, and Him crucified? What if we painted theology into every corner of our art–and won awards doing so? What if we stopped fighting to get cuss words into our stories or stopped counting the number of times the characters break the Ten Commandments, and started writing to show what God is like, to show His Son, to the best of our ability? What if we gave stories that illustrated the power of forgiveness or love for an enemy, neighbor, or stranger, or for God? What if our stories show what we say we believe?

Wouldn’t that be a step in the process of influencing our society to get out of the morass we are making?

So Who’s Right?


Which is right?As I was editing yesterday’s post about “The Lady or the Tiger?” I realized the story posed an ethical question. It’s a test of values really, challenging us to ask what we would do if we were faced with the dilemma the young princess in the story faced.

No matter what she chose, she was not going to be with her young man. But did she love him enough to let him go, enabling him to find happiness even if she could not? In other words, did she love him enough that she would sacrifice for him or would she demand that he sacrificed for her?

Is there a right answer? Clearly, yes. Someone who loves, gives sacrificially.

The Bible actually sets up a two-tier standard of right. Tier one–love God with all our being. Tier two–love other people in the same way we love ourselves.

Jesus said that’s the whole law in a nutshell.

But what happens when there’s a collision of values, when loving God and loving people seem to be mutually exclusive? I think, for example, of the story Corrie ten Boom told about one of her sisters during a Nazi raid of their home.

They were hiding a handful of young men in a space accessed through a trapdoor under their table so that they wouldn’t be conscripted into the Nazi military. When the soldiers stormed into the room, they asked, Where are the young men? Corrie’s sister had a firm conviction about not lying. Put on the spot like this, she nervously laughed, and said, “They’re under the table.” When the soldiers looked under the table and saw no one, they thought she was making fun of them and stormed off rather than searching the house.

Interestingly, others in the house didn’t think she’d done the right thing. They felt she’d put the men in jeopardy by telling the truth.

In a similar circumstance, with two Israelite spies hiding on her roof, Rahab lied to the men looking for them. Nowhere in Scripture is she reprimanded for the lie. In fact, in the book of James she’s commended for hiding the spies and sending them out another way.

The midwives in Egypt similarly lied, it would seem, when they explained to Pharaoh why they weren’t killing the Israelite baby boys.

Jonathan lied to his dad in order to help David escape Saul by saying that David wasn’t eating at the king’s table because he’d asked permission to go visit his family.

These three examples from Scripture seem to suggest that the higher law of protecting life supersedes that of telling the truth. This would be consistent with what Jesus said to the Pharisees about His healing people on the Sabbath. Quoting Scripture, He made a case that it was right to do good even if it meant breaking the Sabbath.

The most shocking example of all is when Jesus cites David’s lie to the priests about needing food because he was on an urgent errand for the king. The truth was, he was running for his life away from the king. The priest gave him the bread set out as part of their worship ceremony–bread only the priests were to eat according to Levitical Law established during the exodus–in other words, the law God gave them.

Jesus acknowledged the law but that David’s need trumped it. The shocking part is that as a result of his lie, the priest helped him. Saul then used that fact to accuse all the priests of siding with David in rebellion against him, and had them killed.

We’re talking seventy men. Killed because of David’s lie. And Jesus said the priests were right to help him, to give him what was not lawful to give.

You can see the dilemmas. In some instances, the lie seemed to save people. In the Ten Boom sister’s case, the truth saved people. And in David’s case the lie cost people their lives, though he and his men were saved.

What’s the right thing to do? Lie to save lives? Trust God as Corrie’s sister did and tell the truth? Is there a moral right? Or is there only a moral “it depends”?

I don’t think there’s any doubt that there’s a moral right. The problem is in the execution. We are to love God, then love people. When the two seem to be in contradiction, we are to do good.

But what does “good” mean? Sometimes “good” is discipline, as in the case of a naughty child who sneaks into the kitchen and steals cookies right before dinner. Good requires that the child learns, though undoubtedly she thinks good means letting her have cookies any time of the day or night, whenever she wants them.

All this philosophical pondering actually has an impact on how we view our government and our part in it. If there is a moral right, then we should be advocates for it in our democracy.

No system of government will establish God’s rule on earth. Only Jesus returning as King to take His throne will establish God’s governmental rule on earth.

Nevertheless, if “we the people” are behind the government, then it seems to me we, the people of God, should be making our choices as citizens based on moral right. We may be outvoted, but that doesn’t change our responsibility to advocate for moral right and to choose it whenever we can.

Published in: on July 18, 2013 at 5:43 pm  Comments Off on So Who’s Right?  
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Cleaning the Cup


1194095_wine_glass_dark_fieldIn recent years a fairly popular criticism of Christians in Western society is that those in traditional churches are playing the part today of the “religious leaders,” also called the Pharisees, who clashed with Jesus in the first century.

I maintain that this position compares avocados and watermelons. The Pharisees were trying to work their way into God’s good graces, even as they rejected Jesus. Christians–if they are actual followers of Christ–have understood that our best efforts fall short of God’s glory and have instead accepted the work of Jesus at the cross.

Does the fact that Christians follow Jesus mean that we can then live as we please and do as we wish? Certainly not. The instruction in the New Testament is for Christians, which I think we sometimes lose sight of, at least here in America. Rather than concerning ourselves with all that the Bible says, we work to bring all of society into a godly lifestyle.

To an extent, this is not a bad thing. Christ’s teaching is life-changing, but the truth is, it’s possible to clean up the outside of the cup and leave the inside disgustingly dirty.

Jesus didn’t advocate scouring the inside and leaving the outside filthy, though. He said, essentially, clean the inside and the outside will take care of itself: “You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also” (Matt. 23:26).

Here’s what Jesus was really getting to:

“So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matt. 24:28)

In other words, these words are directed at pretend Christians, or at religious people in other faiths that think doing a bunch of good deeds will put them in right standing with god or the universe or whatever it is they worship.

The outside can look all spiffy and clean. One reason Christians team up with Mormons in political matters, I believe, is that Mormons are so very moral. They are pro-life and pro-marriage, don’t drink or smoke or gamble, go to church, give to charities, and generally present a face of kindness.

Clean cups, at least on the outside.

Honestly, moderate Muslims are right there beside them. The women dress modestly, all are law-abiding, they worship regularly, they oppose homosexuality, drinking, and abortion.

I could say the same about any number of people of religion–they do many, many right things because in their belief system, they have to. The doing is their ticket to “God’s” good graces–whether that means enlightenment, nirvana, heaven, or another planet where they will rule.

Shockingly, atheists fall into this category, too. Their list of “right things” will differ from Mormons, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and pretend Christians, but they still have their list. Be tolerant of people who hold a different belief system than traditional Western culture, take care of the environment, avoid even the appearance of prejudice, speak only in a politically correct way, support gender equality, gay marriage, and labor unions.

The gods that the atheists are trying to please, of course, are themselves. They talk much about doing something meaningful for society and leaving a legacy.

Jesus said he didn’t come for the people who have these spiffed up outsides. Those folk see no need for Him because they believe it’s up to them. Either God expects them to measure up or they have to measure up to the standard they’ve set for themselves. So they busy themselves cleaning the outside of the cup, and when drink splatters, which it always does, they hurriedly wipe it away. When greasy fingers leave a smear, they wash and polish, until the outside shines.

All the while, germs roam free on the inside. They can hate and lust and covet to their heart’s content. They can doubt God and rail at Him, they can be disappointed and think He’s let them down or doesn’t really care or isn’t really there. Just so long as on the outside, no one knows.

Jesus said He came to heal, but only sick people need healing. The well send the physician away. Services not needed here–only healthy people on site.

But that attitude is indicative of the spiritually blind. All people have fallen short of God’s glory–His righteous standard, and the only standard that matters.

Children run races and win trophies, but how silly if they strutted around claiming to be the fastest runner in the world. They have measured themselves against themselves and decided they are the best. But if they were to measure themselves against the world record holder they would clearly, consistently, and always fall short.

So too with Man’s efforts, as soon as we measure ourselves against God’s holiness. We might shine the outside of our cup in an effort to fool ourselves and others that it is clean, but to kill the germs crawling around inside takes the touch of the Master, the work of Jesus, the healing of the One who came to save.

Published in: on June 14, 2013 at 6:29 pm  Comments Off on Cleaning the Cup  
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Super Nanny And Moral Instruction


One way the Christian worldview differs from many other perspectives is in the area of human nature. In today’s humanistic Western culture, Mankind is viewed as good. It is society that teaches individuals to do wrong things. As a corollary, we say children are innocent and their reactions, pure.

On another site, in a tangential discussion to yesterday’s post, “Thoughts On President Obama’s Evolving View Of Marriage,” one commenter, in support of this idea, made the point that small children have a natural aversion to seeing a dog mistreated.

I’m not convinced. I’ve seen too many children pull a dog’s tail, sit on his back, bounce up and down, and grab hold of his ears.

There isn’t something innate that tells a child when he’s hurting someone or something. He does what he wants because he wants it. We are born with a selfish nature that puts us over God. We are prideful. We want to rule and we want to take.

God has ordained parents to teach children His moral standard.

You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deut. 6:7-9)

Throughout Scripture — in books of the Law, poetry, and the epistles — parents are admonished to teach their children the way of the Lord. Here’s a sampling:

For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice (Genesis 18:19a)

We will not conceal them from their children,
But tell to the generation to come the praises of the Lord,
And His strength and His wondrous works that He has done. (Psalm 78:4)

Train up a child in the way he should go,
Even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Pro. 22:6)

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Eph. 6:4)

How far Western culture has come from this idea that parents are to teach, train, instruct their children.

A few years ago there was a TV program called Super Nanny. A British woman who served as a nanny would go into homes with unruly children and teach the mom and dad parenting skills. I have to admit, it was fascinating and horrifying.

Horrifying because of the way some parents let their children rule their home. They would throw things, hit each other, sometimes hit and curse at their parents, and too often they received no correction. Sometimes the correction was inconsistent, sometimes accompanied with empty threats. And the children learned little by little that they were in charge.

The fascinating part of the show was to watch the transformation, first of the parents, then of the children. Some of the adults really struggled with the idea that they could and should tell their children what to do rather than letting them have free rein (or is that reign? 😉 ). Some felt as if it wasn’t loving to tell them what to do. Some feared their children’s anger and were sure they would lose their love forever.

How shocked they were when the techniques Super Nanny taught actually began to bring a change in behavior — the children became happier, more loving, and obedient people, all because someone instructed them and corrected them.

The writer to the Hebrews elaborates on the discipline of parents as a way for us to understand the discipline of God.

God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. (Hebrews 12:7b-10)

Parental discipline as an extension of love is almost treated as a given in this passage. Today’s phenomenon of letting children figure out their own moral standards would have been unheard of in that day.

The ironic thing is that in our culture children most often want to follow after others outside the home in making their moral choices — the very thing today’s philosophy believes is tainted (children are good; society is the problem). You don’t hear kids saying, I thought about this and have come to the conclusion that this is right. No, their argument to their parent is still, But Mom, everyone else is doing it.

I was fortunate to have parents that answered that argument with the proverbial, If everyone was jumping off a bridge, would you follow?

Today we have parents who answer, Well, if everyone is doing it, then I certainly don’t want you to feel left out, so sure, I’ll change my attitude. I’ll let my moral beliefs evolve. After all, there is no authoritative right and wrong.

I can picture God’s response: Really?

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