Sunday, July 08, 2018

II. What’s wrong with what’s wrong?

[Continuing thoughts from I. What's Wrong?]

While we watch great multitudes of people chase one utopian dream after another, we might reasonably ask, what is so wrong that our current condition in life cannot satisfy? Or, to put it another way, what is so wrong with widespread estrangement from God?
One of the early results of estrangement from God is the ignoring of His commandments. A brief review of the history of the 20th century will readily reveal what happens when people and nations abandon the commandments. There was already war enough in earlier times when people still held to the commandments, at least nominally. The wars, tyrannies, and oppressions of the 20th century demonstrate what mankind is capable of when the commandments are not considered to be in force at all. Of course, all that continues to this day.
The commandments are meant to be a restraint. Note that they do not express principles or theses; they are injunctions: “Do this… Do not do that…” They are not just good advice. In a sense, they are like guardrails, in that they can prevent one from going over the moral precipice. They contain scant explanation, let alone, justification for their content, for their content rests on the authority of God. The great philosophical and religious systems of morals and ethics, which pretend to comprehend the commandments and their intent for the good order of society, are in fact derived from the commandments, rather than the other way around, and are therefore less certain. But those who are estranged from God cannot access the commandments’ foundation, and so they discard the commandments as irrelevant, antiquated, cumbersome, or meaningless.
Those who are estranged from God and discard the commandments still worship: they worship other gods. Important among these is the prosperity god, materially indistinguishable from the weather gods or fertility gods or war gods of our distant ancestors—gods that must be appeased with sacrifices or certain behaviors, so that the god will grant favorable outcomes. Even today, many practice the rituals of worship to appease a god whose only purpose is to answer prayers.
The gods that people sacrifice to, in this supposedly secular age, are too numerous to list, but they include the social approval god, the safety gods, the political gods, the health god, and the worst of all, the self-god. In fact, whatever one believes will save—from neighborhood watch to national defense, from superstition to the most elevated science, from chocolate to spiritual happiness—is a god in this sense, for it demands attention, respect, and sacrifice. These pagan gods will serve only to increase the one’s estrangement to the One True God, no matter how much they demand and disappoint.
Thus, if one may freely worship the god of one’s choosing, which Western society has elevated into a cherished freedom, then why should the other commandments retain any force? In the collective thought of Western culture, the other commandments have declined to good advice, or ancient wisdom, or murky social mores, or babble. The result is that Western society has lost its moral compass.
When we look at society through the eyes of the world, we see chaos and rivalry and are tempted to believe we must therefore attach ourselves and our energies to a party or cause that seems righteous, so that we do not entirely lose our own moral compass. But when we look upon society with the eyes of faith, we see God’s children lost to Him through estrangement. We see that any life, even the most morally upright, most successful and prosperous, lived in estrangement from God, leads inevitably to destruction. We cannot prevent this in our own strength, but God wants us to convey His message to everyone we know or encounter, so that some may be saved.


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