Would you pause a moment to read this post with an open heart and mind; without rendering a final judgment right away?
I’m not sure exactly what brought you here, but I don’t think it was by accident. Please allow me to share a bit of my story.
While in college, I considered myself to be open-minded and free thinking. I lauded the idea of open-mindedness to all viewpoints as a supremely noble human quality. I write “considered myself to be”, rather than “was” because if I had been pressed on my viewpoints I think my hypocrisy would have been revealed.
Embracing the popular mindset on campus without much consideration for opposing viewpoints, I felt smug in claiming to be tolerant and applauded those living “alternative lifestyles”. I considered myself to be living an alternative lifestyle as well, dressing in dark clothing, listening to dark music that was never played on the radio, spending a lot of time inhaling nicotine in bars and driving while drunk.
This mindset, or world view, that I mention can basically be boiled down to the following statement:
Everyone should be able to do what is right in his own eyes, without judgement; whatever makes him happy.
Seems good, yes? In other words, if acting on a desire makes you happy, then it’s right for you and no one should judge you. Allow me to clarify what I mean by certain words that I am using, to eliminate confusion or misunderstanding. By “right” I mean something that is good, lawful, moral, and suitable. By “happy” I mean a feeling of exuberance. And, by “judge” or “judgment” I really mean “condemn” or “condemnation”. (Although one can judge either innocent or guilty, the connotation is generally negative when speaking of a judgment of personal values, and that’s the sense in which I use the word here).
Included in my alternative lifestyle and pursuit of happiness were romances with the same sex. What made me happy during these years was giving in to just about any sexual inclination that I had. If someone had dared to criticize my lifestyle, or plead with me to live another way, my rationale was that I was happy and that I wasn’t hurting anyone. I reasoned that anyone who would critique my actions must have sinister motives and/or must be deluded by old-fashioned ideas or religion.
If something feels good and no one is getting hurt, then why complain? Why judge? It’s not hurting anyone.
Consider with me for a moment the statement that “It isn’t hurting anyone”. How have we failed to realize that by making such a claim, one is stating that he has all knowledge of all consequences of all actions. Rather than an open-minded value, might such a claim be arrogant and misguided? How can one know with certainty that his actions are not negatively affecting others? It seems that my claim of being tolerant and a lover of freedom can be shown to be hypocrisy since I was also claiming that everyone who disagreed with me was a misguided idiot at the same time.
It’s easy to feel comfortable about claiming that a person is a fool who speaks against homosexuality when the antics of groups like Westboro Baptist church are considered; however, just because some group is displaying vitriol and hate alongside their opposition of homosexuality, is it fair to assume that all who oppose practicing homosexuality must have the same hearts of hate? I would contend that such a characterization is not only unfair, but intolerant and close-minded. Back then I didn’t ponder the possibility that one could speak against homosexuality out of a motive of love. And I certainly didn’t consider my views to be a cover for selfishness and rebellion.
Somewhere along the way, the possibility that I could be wrong presented itself. Folks who were pleading with me to turn from my lifestyle made a claim of following a higher authority. And further along the way, I realized that if there is an authority who sees more than I see and who knows more than I know, then perhaps such an authority should be acknowledged. At some point the thought surfaced that perhaps actions that temporarily feel good could not only be causing others pain but damaging myself as well. Consider the following verses with fresh eyes:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV)
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. (Romans 1: 18-19)
If there is such a higher authority, then I wasn’t only wrong, I was in danger. My conscience screamed of this certainty. I had three choices: suppress my conscience by either ignoring or actively denying the existence of such an authority; admit that such an authority existed but believe that my lifestyle was not in conflict with the authority; embrace the will of the authority and give up my rebellion.
What about you? Could you be mistaken about your beliefs? Could you be deceived or be practicing self deception to soothe an aching conscience?
Consider that the child feels the parent’s restraining hand to be oppressive, but once matured, he sees with fresh eyes that the parent acted with pure motives and with his own welfare in mind.
Would you consider this day your own beliefs?