Archive for March, 2012


dropOnce upon a time there were some people who grew weary of living under the ideals of other people. They decided to set up a new social order governed by different ideas. Since “ideas have consequences”, they thought it best to found this new community on written principles that they called a “Constitution.”

We the People…

We the People…

Their Constitution was premised on the belief that not all beliefs are equal. Some things are true and some things are false. Some ideas produce good results while others do not. The beliefs we arrive at and agree upon are necessarily exclusive of the ones we rejected. All people do this whether they’re writing a constitution or not. People make laws that reflect their own ideals—not someone else’s. From the “He-Man-Woman-Haters” club of Spanky and Our Gang to the Kiwanis, we make our own policies. Why would anybody do otherwise?

In our country, under our Constitution, we have what we call a Republic.  In such a marvelous system we may—rather, we should—participate in making policy. We cast votes and elect leaders whom we expect will govern as a reflection of our corporate will. The idea is, that if they do not, we the people will replace them with someone who will. So, naturally, we participate, we make our will known, we cast our votes according to our consciences to the end of enjoying a social order we have agreed upon. It’s true that such a system (great as it is) can produce something that I believe Emile Durkheim called “the tyranny of the majority.” In other words, 51% may make policy for themselves and the 49% who disagreed.

Because of this, I suppose, somewhere along the line there has arisen a peculiar idea that we should not so construct our social order. Strangely, we are seeing a time where it is expected that men and women abrogate this great privilege of participating in creating and sustaining their “social contract”. We live in a time where 98% may be tyrannized by the 2%. Though, for instance, a huge majority may wish to protect a citizen’s right to something, we want now to say that a small minority may prevent them from doing so. If an overwhelming majority believe that, for instance, the social order and its institutions be defined a certain way, we are now expected to define our morals and ethics according to a smaller minority view. That minority is free to believe what they want to believe and convey their ideas publicly, but the majority is not thereby compelled to let their will be overruled. Nevertheless, it is expected, in the name of love and tolerance, that the many step aside and let the few define and redefine our social contract however they please. This is not the freedom and responsibility our fathers toiled and died to ensure.

If we come to a point in our history where a majority want to redefine freedom of religion as “freedom from religion”; if the time comes when we the people want a marriage to be defined as three men, a cat, and a coffee table—well then that is what will happen. If we the people decide to re-write the Constitution and prohibit the owning of guns, well then, that is what we the people will do. If we agree that it would be a great world if everyone could walk around in the bus station buck naked and shout “Fire!” in a crowded  theatre, then that will be the rule of the land.  But whatever we do, it will have been defined by a substantial agreement among citizens.

While I am free and while I am an American I will vote my conscience that has been shaped and molded by a Biblical worldview. This is non other than what our fathers unapologetically did in 1776. Over 90% of them were Bible believing Christians. It has been shown that over 90% of the content of our founding documents and system of jurisprudence have been informed either directly or indirectly from the Bible. They did not consult a Koran. As one stands in the majestic Lincoln Memorial and looks up, there inscribed in granite are the words of scripture flowing from the heart and mind of a man who knew them and depended upon them. Will the day arrive that we see fit to have them removed?

I don’t want to have to sadly explain to my great-grandchildren some day that we used to be free to pray—even at school, that it used to be okay to meet and worship God, that we once defined marriage as between a man and a woman, that I used to be free to tell others about the Savior of the world without threat, that people used to be able to protect themselves and speak their mind, and participate in government. But an even greater dread I have–to be compelled to explain to them that the only reason we don’t still possess these things is that I and millions like me withdrew from the public sphere and simply let others make a new country, founded on their differing ideals and principles, wielding the power of a way-of-life abhorrent to our fathers.

 

Hmmmm

Hmmmm

dropHaving lived in Southern California I gained some experience with earth-moving events. Temblors. Earthquakes.

I find it curious what seismic scientists decided to call those places on the earth’s crust that aren’t too well put together. These are the meeting places for tectonic plates to grind on one another. They are fractures. They are cracks on the surface of a beautiful sphere. They called them faults. For all it’s many wonders, the earth is cracked. She has faults. She has episodes from time to time. She buckles, and heaves, and convulses in a very public way and her issue is not only her own. The ripples affect everyone in her sphere of influence. The experience and it’s results are alarming,…sometimes catastrophic.

This flawed earth upon which we live is populated with beings much like her. We are beautiful and wondrous. We are uniquely possessed of powers and intricate function. But we also have our faults. We too are cracked in one way or another. We too, as we live together here, are often—both within and without—apt to run up against the obstacles of others like us. The longer I have lived the more convinced I have become that no one of us is in any kind of position to get self-righteous. We are dealing with conditions that are common to all of us. For if we do not possess that particular fault, we most certainly have our own.

I submit then that we ready ourselves to give up a lot of grace. To throw around a lot of mercy. To extend patience till it hurts, expend for others like irresponsible spendthrifts, and serve the most cracked among us as those deserving the same respect and dignity we’d like to receive. To love without finding fault as we have been so loved by the one who made us. We keep needing help to remember to keep doing this. And perhaps we need the most grace and patience of all for the ones who seem totally disinterested and uncooperative in joining us in this mutually beneficial endeavor. With the gaining of a little clarity and perspective I might discover, to my dismay, that it was me who had been the uncooperative one.

We don’t celebrate the faults. We’re not happy about them. We’d like to have them fixed. But if most of us looked critically at our own issues first, we might likely take more humility to the evaluation of the issues of others. As Donald Miller has pointed out, there is very little to be gained wondering what’s wrong with those other people, until first we consider what’s wrong with that person in the mirror.