Must Read Monday: The Blame Game, Human Flourishing, and Gender-Neutral ClothingJanuary 22, 2018
This Must Read Monday needs a brief setup: It is my assessment that much of the drama being played out in the political, educational, social and personal arenas is due to the nationwide identity crisis in which we find ourselves. We don’t know who we are as a nation or who we are as families or who we are as individuals or how we ought to relate to one another as male and female because many people honestly don’t know who they are nor how God intends for relationships, families or nations to rightly function. People do not know they – and every other – were created on purpose and for a purpose by the God of all grace and glory. They are operating on the basis of a worldview that leads them to believe all kinds of things that are not true.
The delusion runs deep and is reflected in the systems of our day. So, as we read, let us also pray. As you read and your mind protests, “this is not the way it’s supposed to be!”, know that you are right. Know also that things will change, are changing and can change. Let us be people who apply the full force of our lives to pressing for change that moves moments and then mountains in the direction of the Gospel’s advance – first in us and then through us.
Going from the macro to the micro, let’s look at stories from government to education to the family to life itself.
Failing to reach agreement on a budget that includes some kind of fix for the individuals and families brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents, the U.S. Senate triggered a government shutdown. Instead of focusing on how to fix it, the conversation is instead consumed with assigning blame. The blame game being played out in the current government shutdown is a game that started in a garden called Eden.
Whether or not you think the Democrats, Republicans, President Trump or someone else is to blame, in the end (or, more rightly in the beginning), sin is to blame. The reality of sin is at the root of this and every other problem. That does not dismiss the responsibility born today by those who are in a position to work together to find a way forward, but it keeps us mindful that even the best solution is going to be tempered by the reality of persistent and pervasive sin. Any and every continuing resolution or budget deal is only relatively good for a relatively small number of people and for a relatively short period of time.
As you read this, stop frequently to remind yourself what God intends for marriage, children, family, education, and human flourishing. What is described as “Christian” in this story is not. What is described as family or home or homeschooling in this story are not. Chronically malnourished, these children were tortured by the people who were supposed to love them.
The parents are now in the justice system and I have no doubt will receive severe punishment. But what of the 13 children? Many of them are already adults. All of them, including the youngest, are marred. Between the Turpin’s extended family, the nationwide family of the Church and the social safety nets of our government, let us be actively considering how we allowed this to happen, how it can be prevented from happening to others and how to help these young people experience redemption for the horrors they have suffered at the hands of their own parents.
I was reminded in reading this of something C.S. Lewis said about the importance of reading primary sources instead of relying on what others have said about what someone said. This rightly applies to the Bible, Darwin and yes, Plato. C.S. Lewis wrote the preface to the first edition of “Saint Athanasius On the Incarnation.” My copy is from the Popular Patristics Series 44A, St. Vladimir’s Seminary press, 2011.
“There is a strange idea that in every subject the ancient books should be read only by the professionals, and that the amateur should content himself with the modern books. Thus I have found as a tutor in English Literature that if the average student wants to find out something about Platonism, the very last thing he thinks of doing is to take a translation of Plato off the library shelf and read the Symposium. He would rather read some dreary modern book ten times as long, all about ‘isms’ and influences and only once in twelve pages telling him what Plato actually said. The error is rather an amiable one, for it springs from humility. The student is half afraid to meet one of the great philosophers face to face. He feels himself inadequate and thinks he will not understand him. But if he only, the great man, just because of his greatness, is much more intelligible than his modern commentator. The simplest student will be able to understand, if not all, yet a very great deal of what Plato said; but hardly anyone can understand some modern books on Platonism. It has always therefore been one of my endeavors as a teacher to persuade the young that firsthand knowledge is not only more worth acquiring than secondhand knowledge, but is usually much easier and more delightful to acquire.”
What makes me me? From an ad for 23&me to ancestry.com to the delusion that one can choose their own gender, add gene-editing to the mix of confusion over what it means to be who you are. Are you just your DNA or can you choose to be that which your DNA actually says you are not?
What if into this conversation Christians sought to speak truth in love? What if we acknowledged the importance of how and by whom life is actually formed and what if we were the most advanced in terms of our ethical thinking about the implications of developing biotechnologies and techniques?
As the March for Life was just this past Friday it seems the right time to ask: Are we pro-life for all from conception to natural death or are we pro-life for those who are wanted by others at particular times and according to the ideas of the day about what’s pretty or perfect or desirable? These are conversations that Christians need to be having and in turn need to be leading in the scientific, medical, research and legal realms.
Just to be clear, the “Everybody Collection” isn’t really for everybody because the sizes don’t fit every body. Abercrombie & Fitch only makes clothes for a thin clientele, literally thin. Remember this 2013 headline “Abercrombie & Fitch refuses to make clothes for large women”? So, while the world applauds the social-forward gender-neutral line, let us remind ourselves and others that God made them male and female and that today’s culturally moral high ground is shifting sand.