Saturday, December 21, 2013

Farewell to Propriety, As I've Known It

When I was in Grade School, there was a Report Card grade in an interesting column, which I haven't heard much about, lately. It was titled "Deportment".

Merriam-Webster says:

DEPORTMENT: the way that a person behaves, stands, and moves especially in a formal situation;  the manner in which one conducts oneself :  behavior

With reference to the entire Phil Robertson dust-up that's been hogging the media, and blogdom, lately, I have a couple observations. Herewith:

  • I believe in free speech. I believe in our freedom to tell someone who's overweight that they're fat. I believe in our freedom to tell someone who is stupid that they're stupid. I believe in our right to tell our host or hostess that the meal they prepared tastes awful. I believe in our freedom to tell anyone, even publicly, what's on our mind ... as long as scripture does not forbid us to do so, and it's not slanderous, etc. 
  • This freedom does not necessarily mean it is wise to do so. One example of that is, for me, discussing Spiritual matters with the secular press, on the record. I will, of course, tell others of my faith, what I believe, but I do not believe I am free to cast pearls before swine. And I'll leave you to interpret what that means.
  • Phil Robertson did an admirable thing in sharing what Scripture states concerning homosexuality and the other sins he mentioned. We need to hear the Biblical condemnation of aberrant sexual behavior, and to hear God describe how that portion of people's lives should be.
  • What Mr. Robertson did not do is to exercise any sense or propriety, good taste, good manners (in what he said) ... in other words, good Deportment. 

His description of homosexual sex was crude, tasteless, and rude ... think about having a group of church friends over and hearing or seeing what he said, quoted in the media. 

If Mr. Robertson had somehow wandered into our Sunday School Class, and said any of the things he said in his interview with GQ, I would have stopped him and asked him to leave. And with all the stink about his suspension from A&E, and the Duck Dynasty Program, I imagine I'll be mentioning this to my class, tomorrow morning. 

I heard a long time ago, when TV began to become more explicit, that one of the most beautiful love stories ever was Romeo and Juliet. Yet there's no bedroom scene, no mention of sex, and no reference to anyone's private parts. 

Were I the producer of Duck Dynasty, I'd have done the same thing he did. Not over his views on homosexuality, but rather on the crudeness and lack of good taste, which he modeled. 

Now .. the surprising thing about this is that I have not seen anyone complain about the crudeness and inappropriateness of what he said about certain sexual practices. I have to believe that's a reflection on society, itself, and tragically, I have heard only silence on that topic from among Christian bloggers, laity and clergy alike.

I wrote about what I believe Christian behavior should be, some time ago, here.

I believe we're not only to teach the Bible, but we're to model good Christian behavior, Godliness, Christ-likeness, and values which make it evident in our works that we are to be like that lamp on a lampstand. To me, Phil's off-topic remarks were objectionable in the extreme.

I suppose the really telling thing about this was that, when I shared my ideas with Peg over lunch, she said "But that's just society today".

Another thing sticks in my mind is that thought about leaky tanks (gas tank, air tank, water tank, etc). If the pressure inside is greater than the pressure outside, then whatever's inside is going to leak out. Contrarily, if the pressure outside is higher than the pressure within, then what's outside is going to leak into the tank. The same can be said for Christianity, too. If the Spiritual pressure within the believer, or the church, is less than the pressure of the world, then the world is going to seep into the person, or into the church. If, however, the Spiritual pressure inside the church, or the believer, is higher than the pressure of the world, then our faith is going to leak out and expose those around us to Christian faith.

There's no doubt the pressures of the world, of society, have been increasing lately. And I'm afraid that we are, collectively, not keeping pace. Enough so that, when Phil Robertson speaks a Biblical truth about homosexuality, it'll get him thrown off the air, but when he speaks with unnecessarily crudity and tastelessness, no one seems to care.

No one.
  

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The "Days of Noah", Round Two.

Speaking of the end times, Jesus Himself said:

"As the days of Noah were, so the coming of the Son of Man will be. For in those days before the flood, there were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah boarded the ark. They didn't know until the flood came and swept them all away. So this is the way the coming of the Son of Man will be."

It's indisputable that we're closer to the end than we've ever been .. particularly if you subscribe to pre-trib, pre-mil theology. But even if not, consider the following:

The situation that was found on earth just before the great flood was the result of sinful man engaging in the things sinful man does, absent the control of the Holy Spirit in the lives of unbelievers. And, I think it's true that's going on now, moderated somewhat by the effects of a remnant of believers and the influence they've had on society. While I think that may have had a moderating effect on the rate of "progress", it's obvious now that the natural evil that's in all men, absent the presence of the Holy Spirit in the individual, is becoming more and more prominent.

While it may have been true that the church ... the Ekklesia ... has been intolerant of sinful activity inside or outside the church, campaigning against liquor licenses, lotteries, homosexuals, X-rated movies, dancing, ____________ (insert favorite pet peeve), it's recently been true that evil is now overtly intolerant of righteousness.

One simple example: say what the Bible says about homosexuality, and you get branded a homophobe .. someone who fears homosexuality and/or homosexuals ... or as intolerant people ... or as haters. None of which are true! Suddenly those engaged in things God calls evil, are calling those with a call to righteousness evil, themselves!

Sounds like the days of Noah, to me.

The recent blowup over Phil Robertson's personal airing of Biblical truths on a secular magazine, shows us just how deep-seated this phenomenon is, in today's society. The Arts & Entertainment TV Network .. A&E ... has put the star of Duck Dynasty, which is their most popular show, and I imagine their most profitable, on suspension because he publicly agreed with what God said about homosexuality. And anybody with a lick of sense would figure the family isn't going to take that, and the show is apt to come to a screeching halt in short order.

A&E's most profitable show, at that!

Doesn't that sound just like what would have been the case at the time of Noah, if they'd had electricity and TV networks and reality shows, all those years ago?

God didn't promise that lifting up great music or care groups or quiet times or slick marketing or Christian TV ... in and of itself ... or lecturing on the evils of homosexuality, drunkenness, et al, would draw people to the church. God said if we'd lift up Jesus, God Himself would handle the drawing.

Make no mistake about it: the evil in the world is the result of sin. Blaming it on the church, and its shortcomings, is like blaming diseases on well people.  But the one and only thing God said was the Power of God for salvation, is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And repentance over sin, and not just societally rejecting one sin or another.

Regardless of TV's de facto censorship.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

It's a HOLIDAY SEASON, OK?

I had occasion to see my Audiologist yesterday; the one who sold me my hearing aids a couple years ago. During the course of the conversation, she mentioned that her previous client, the one leaving as I came in, was a referral from a friend.

It seems that the friend had visited this store some time ago, and after conducting all her tests, the audiologist said she really didn't have anything that would have helped his hearing loss, so she didn't sell him anything. This man told his friend about it, remarking that anybody that honest was the sort of person you'd want to do business with, if you ever did need hearing aids.

My audiologist explained that she'd told him "I'm an audiologist, but I'm a born-again audiologist". That prompted her to explain that the company had no rule against "Christmas", or "Christian". But she said "I wouldn't want to offend anybody".

Wow. There's the money quote. She doesn't want to even run a risk of offending someone she's talking to. So if someone of the Jewish or Islamic or Hindu or Buddhist faith were in a discussion with her about her business, she wouldn't want to offend them.

Hmm. What a unique idea. Not demanding our own rights to say whatever we want to someone else.

I also hasten to add that, when she's in a discussion about faith, this is one devoted and solid Christian. And if one of those adherents to another faith .. or no faith at all .. broach the subject, she'd be a witnessing machine.

I doubt that she has a "Keep Christ in Christmas" sticker on her car. You don't have to adorn your possessions in order to do that!

Which brings me to the Holiday Season itself. There's no doubt that this is a Holiday Season for everybody. Everybody decorates, gives gifts, has open houses, makes candy, and does all the other things we do, this time of year. That spans across all faiths ... I've had Jewish friends send me Christmas cards, including even a couple from Tel Aviv, Israel that I happened to meet on a train between NYC and Philadelphia ... and isn't just "our" celebration.

And I'd never be so naive as to think that everyone who says "Merry Christmas" or puts up a tree, or buys presents, or puts lights on the outside of their houses, is a born-again follower of Jesus, anyway.

As to keeping Christ in Christmas, that's not Walmart's or Costco's or Publix' or Hallmark's business. Their business is providing goods and services needed by the people, to the people. It' MY responsibility and YOUR responsibility to keep Jesus in the season, and I'd imagine we'd do that by wishing well to all people during this time of year.

It goes way beyond what we call the season.

Check the picture up above. Let's keep Christ first and foremost in "Christian", and we'd do well to emulate the kindness He showed to people. He is supposed to have taken up residence in us, you know.

Let's show the Spirit I saw in my audiologist, OK? Unless you run into a Pharisee actively opposing Jesus, I'd say.