Will We Make the Right Choice?
This media commentary drew me in. The commentator with a former member of Congress who is also a historian agreed as they shared regarding their experience with a current member of the US Congress. They found when conversing with this legislator in personal conversations that he expresses different beliefs than those he expresses in public political life.
How does the pursuit of values in one’s public life different than those in that individual’s personal life—how does this scenario fit with the biblical worldview? Is this to suggest that gain—professional, financial, social, political—are of higher priority than integrity? How does this individual of national influence convince others that he is a person of integrity? Perhaps we all have commentary here.
I will offer some. The Merriam-Webster has these as definitions of integrity: “an unimpaired condition: soundness; the quality or state of being complete or undivided.”
How does one live as a ‘divided person’ in beliefs and values? How does one partition one set of values for personal, familial, community, and church life and compartmentalize others for professional life that are in opposition to the values the person says he truly espouses in the inner person? If the individual cannot be trusted to be true to himself when he speaks, how are others to know when he is speaking sincerely? Is the acclamation in one’s public life worth the price of shattered integrity and broken credibility?
Perhaps there are those who would argue that just as an actor must “get in character” when on stage, so one may pursue “true sincerity” for the particular life act they are living at any given time. Life does have its actors! And, yes, the theatre is just that. But how does this play in life as related to the building blocks of Christian character?
When basic values and the ultimate truths of life are compartmentalized in opposing sets, what are implications for:
- trueness to one’s self (conscience)?
- credibility within family, community, church?
- values transmitted to the next and coming generations?
What has happened inside a person, what continues to happen, and what are the effects and results of seeking to divide one’s “sincerity”? How does one deal with this attempted split of loyalties deep in the inner being? How does one deal with the complications that begin to accumulate from attempting a schizophrenic character? Perhaps an underlying question is: how can humanity, designed for alignment with its Creator, designed for authenticity, for integrity in all of life, come to such dividedness? (I consider “self-alienation” more in the next post.)
In their book, Salvation Means Creation Healed, Snyder and Scandrett wrote a thought-provoking treatment of the alienating effects that resulted from the human family choosing its own way instead of the Creator’s. They wrote of the alienation of humanity from God, from one another, from one’s self, and from the land. This alienation comes as the result of the “disruption between humans and God; this moral disease that entered human history because of the loss of life-giving communion with God.”
Interesting definition. I pondered.
“Disruption” of the God–human relationship; “moral disease” that resulted from “the loss of life-giving communion with God”.
Is it not the case that without “life-giving communion with God” our human family is diseased? Broken, twisted, corrupted, deficient, deceptive, weak. Moral and spiritual “unhealth”.
As I consider the message these authors share, I ponder metaphors given in the Scriptures for this brokenness of the divine-human relationship. One of the main biblical metaphors, as pointed up in the book cited above, is that of “disease”. Note the Scriptures these authors reference:
“The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness, . . . but bruises and sores and bleeding wounds” (Isa. 1:5-6). The prophet Jeremiah asks, “Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has the health of my poor people not been restored?” (Jer. 8:22). King David laments in Psalm 38, “. . . My wounds fester and are loathsome because of my sinful folly” (Ps 38:3, 5 TNIV). In the New Testament, Paul speaks of evil talk spreading “like gangrene” (2 Tim. 2:17). And we recall Jesus’ words, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners (Mark 2:17).
While I relate this biblical understanding to the condition of our entire human family, I am struck with ever progressing developments in my country of origin. As my wife and I recently considered together the society’s culture in which our grandchildren are being raised, we asked, How do parents and grandparents and spiritual mentors teach the health of integrity, of truthfulness (emphasis on fullness of truth), in a culture that now normalizes deceit, twists truth to push divisionary agendas, deceives, edits to select sound bytes that are then twisted to the agenda-driven narrative, edits photos with the intent to deceive, moves incorrigibly forward without regard for, or mention of, the standard of integrity as set forth in the holy Scriptures–all with a brazenness before God and before many who know the truth and who know the agendas being perpetrated.
What is the answer?
Is our society destined to allow those pressing the “moral revolution” to undo the foundation of civilization (integrity, credibility, truth, and “truth dealing”) that, of course, are firmly rooted in a Judeo-Christian heritage?
Is there a balm for our healing?
Is there a cure for the stage 5 cancer metastasizing through our society? Is there a turn around for such spiritual illness?
I have a proposition: invert the definition of sin as presented earlier in this post by the authors cited. Spiritual health comes only by “life-giving communion with God.” That we understand from the holy Scriptures is the only answer.
I think there’s an even more penetrating question. Does today’s society want the answer? Will it make the right choice? Will it choose the illness—to it’s own self-destruction? Since the Creator has established the moral law of the universe—sin or wholeness (holiness), the choice remains before us. Will our generation make the right choice? Will the coming generations receive wisdom? Or will they experience the ever more complex consequences of choices that keep bringing society’s sickness?
The ancient prophet of Israel wrote, “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live” (Deut. 30:19, NIV, emphasis added).
Oh! Prince of Shalom, breathe upon our darkness, upon our debilitating illness.
Help us to choose life! Now!
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 Howard A. Snyder and Joel Scandrett Salvation Means Creation Healed, The Ecology of Sin and Grace: Overcoming the Divorce Between Earth and Heaven (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2011), Kindle ed., pp. 66-78 of 226.
 Ibid., p. 66. The definition of sin as set forth by these authors.
 Ibid., 67.