Monday, March 02, 2009

Asking For One Thing, Pursuing Another

I often ask myself what it is that people really want.

I first noticed a disparity between what people say they want and what they actually pursue years ago when I was a single young man chasing single young women. I would inquire of women what they were looking for in a man. Most often they would give some warm fuzzy answer about an ideal man being sensitive and tender among other similar qualities. The problem was that they would invariable chase the “bad” boys. I fit the bill for what they said they wanted, but they pursued men who were almost the exact opposite.

Either they didn’t know what they wanted or they were intentionally misrepresenting their true desires because they were ashamed of their true desires… or both. For myself, I went through a period of rebellion. Before this period in my life, some girls would consider me as a candidate for their affections. This never lasted because what they thought they wanted wasn’t what they really wanted. Usually they would break it off with me with the words, “It’s not you, it’s me.”

Only after I went through my rebellious period did I become particularly attractive to women. I was a “bad boy” who was improving and still needed some work. I’m sure this was how I hooked my wife.

Most women like a do-it-yourself fixer-upper that they can train. No one – not even men – want someone who is perfect. Because down deep, we all know that we are not perfect. How can we stand to be partnered with someone who is?

We feel great value when we can make a difference in someone else’s life and that’s not possible when that person it too perfect to need someone else to make a difference in their life. It’s also endearing when someone else finds value in making a difference in your life.

The observation doesn’t stop there.

What do you suppose homosexual activists want? What purpose does it serve to codify explicit permission for homosexual relationships when people generally leave homosexuals alone these days?

What do you suppose today’s black civil rights activists want when laws today ensure equal (or better-than-equal) treatment in every civil venue?

Do either of these groups of people really only want to be left alone to be free to do whatever they want to do without harassment? They already have that and yet they aren’t satisfied.

What they want is not merely for public acceptance, but individual acceptance. They want it illegal to harbor anything against them for being homosexual or for being black. To be sure, no one who knows me would accuse me of being afraid of homosexuality or for being racist. But it’s unreasonable to force people to be so kind.

People accuse Christianity of trying to force morality on others when authentic Christianity is explicitly non-compulsory. On the other hand homosexual activists, today’s black civil rights activists, and even atheistic or secular activists seek to force not only their morality, but their beliefs on others as a matter of law.

Why?

Children act out in whatever ways promise to draw the attention they need. What I’ve learned is that although the body is grown and the intellect developed, people never lose the emotional needs they had when they were children. Unmet needs often result in a diminishment of self-worth reinforced by the fact that we are sinners and at least subconsciously realize the fact. This generates cognitive restlessness that causes the mind to develop logical conflicts to explain such internal discord.

Christianity can be non-compulsory because value is given to Christians by Christ that is not contingent on our behavior. Rather, we desire to obey God because we have been freed from the internal conflict of our own sin. But for non-Christians, there is no such imputation of value.

First, people should be free to believe what they want, like what they want, hate what they want and carry out their lives as they want. What they shouldn’t be able to do is infringe on others’ capacity for the same. Inasmuch as we are an integrated society, some of our self-harming behaviors and beliefs affect society negatively. In general, these align with basic Judeo-Christian principles of morality. So it’s easy to vilify Christians in America as trying to push our morality through legislation. But good spirituality cannot be legislated. There are people who hate other people irrationally and no one is immune to being hated. Three words of advice when dealing with such people: get over it.

Second, many of our internal conflicts are perpetuated in much ignorance. For example, there were factors surrounding the Civil War besides slavery that are rarely discussed or taught. Darkness_Weaves may correct me on this, but the North was no particular friend to slaves and the South was no particular enemy. Check out these quotes regarding slavery:

"I have no objection to its being made express and irrevocable," and, “If I could unite the nation without freeing a slave I would.” -Abraham Lincoln

“So far from engaging in a war to perpetuate slavery, I am rejoiced that Slavery is abolished. I believe it will be greatly for the interest of the South. So fully am I satisfied of this that I would have cheerfully lost all that I have lost by the war, and have suffered all that I have suffered to have this object attained.” –Robert E. Lee

That sounds backwards, but it’s not. So, it may be supposed that educating people will help them except that people cannot be forced to learn. But the effort is necessary. Here’s another example:

What do Christians really want with various preferred styles of music on Sunday morning?

Just a few days ago I was approached for the third time with someone from another church offering me a job as a music minister in a church that wants to change their music format on Sunday morning. My first question, as always, is, “Why?”

The answer I got this time is, “Contemporary music is the future.” That’s a vague answer.

Then the fellow continued, “There may be a little bit of a battle because the older folks want to stay with the older the music, but we need to get the younger folks in church and they want the newer music.”

Well, at least he was honest about what he wanted, but his approach is backward. My answer is that first there should be no battle. If the older folks know the younger folks yearn to worship in a style that is meaningful to them, then they should rejoice. But the younger folks should understand that the older folks yearn to worship in a style that’s meaningful to them.

But this begs the question that everyone would be spiritually mature enough to have these considerations. The fact is that worship starts in the Bible, not the hymnal. It is lead from the pulpit and followed in the music. It comes from the understanding that worship is not about the music or our preferences, it’s about our inclination toward God and this understanding comes by educating the congregation spiritually. You can’t make them understand, but you must give them this spiritual meat to chew on.

Otherwise, a church subjected to new music will founder in ignorance and spiritual immaturity. The difference is whether people want to have their preferences satiated or whether they want to glorify God in unity. What is their greatest desire? For, they may claim to desire to worship God, but their hearts may be on their own comfort instead.

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