Monday, September 17, 2012

The Great Moralization

Here's another old one. In this case, a really old one. But I think writing this one so many years ago really helped begin shaping my understanding of my life of faith. So, in essence, this one's one of my formative ones.

A man walks into a doctor's office with a knife stuck in his back. Of course the receptionist sends him straight in, and the doctor leaves his other patient to check the wound. But... When the doctor reaches to remove the knife, the patient protests, "You don't understand doctor. I just wanted some medicine for the pain. You can leave the knife where it is."

"Can I has aspirin?"
Most all of us would say that this idiot is crazy. If he'd just let the doctor remove the knife the wound would heal, and the pain would eventually go away for good. It's a classic case of deciding whether to cure the symptoms or the disease, get rid of the cause or the effects.

What a stupid story, you may say. But did you know that Christians do that very thing? If abortion was made 100 percent illegal, vague prayer allowed in schools, and homosexuality pushed back into the closet, would Christian groups be satisfied? I think that by and large, they would, and that is a sad commentary on modern Christianity.

Are we attempting to help the world be redeemed or are we simply trying to moralize society? Sadly, the time spent in "moral" activities vastly outweighs the amount of time in "redemptive" activities.

It would seem that we are more interested in subjecting a world of various beliefs and non-beliefs to our own Christian common sense of decency and morality than in helping people find God. Just as the pain was a symptom of a knife in the back, all those things we fight against in culture are only symptoms of a greater problem -- sin, including and particularly our own! It would have been foolish for our doctor to focus only on the pain and not on the knife. It is equally foolish for us to focus only on the symptoms and not on the sin that causes them.

A moral society does not equal a redeemed society. A redeemed society will become a moral society, however. But the order is reversed. See the difference?

Perhaps the problem lies in the Christian's escape from the real world. As Christians, somewhere along the timeline, we saw that the world was going "bad." So we retreated into the ordered Christian subculture where we could have as little contact with the big, bad world as possible. But then the big, bad world started to encroach into our territory, so we fought back by organizing political groups and launching publicity campaigns. Even though the world was going to hell in a handbasket, it didn't bother us until it rained on our parade.

© 1994 Sean Taylor

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