Whenever someone attempts to present simplistic solutions to incredibly complex problems, the best justification is naivete. The worst is absolute stupidity. But it seems when considering the conundrums confronting our society – and the world – some causes and solutions aren’t even being given factored into the equation.
Whether it’s gun violence, or poverty, or racism, I’m of the conviction that at the root of all is our determination to disregard the truths and principles God provided for us in the Bible, His inspired Word. Sorry for sounding like a simpleton, but in my view, it all boils down to a matter of choice: Doing things God’s way – or doing them the wrong way.
I rarely venture into the realm of politics in my posts (at least directly), but sometimes solutions are not so much political as they are spiritual. Let me offer some examples:
Children being raised in poverty is a legitimate problem. But studies have shown the vast majority of children in poverty are being raised in single-parent homes, most headed by females. Single moms do incredible work, and deserve great admiration and respect. But they’re attempting to do a job no single person was ever intended to do.
From the start, God designed life – and family – to be a team undertaking.“…The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.… Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man…. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife” (Genesis 2:18-24)
Elsewhere, in a broader context, the Bible speaks of the value of partnership: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work. If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has not one to help him up!” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).
Our society over the past five decades has increasingly promoted the idea of single parenthood, often including the notion that men (fathers) are unnecessary in the family scenario. I fully understand that many times single moms are not that by choice. But doesn’t it make sense that having two adults working together, rather than one struggling alone, is preferable, whether for spending time with their children, handling household responsibilities, paying bills, or making difficult decisions?
Violence – with guns or otherwise. No question, violence is a perplexing and fearful problem in our society. When it comes to gun violence, our tendency is to place the blame primarily on access to weapons. But with well over 40,000 people dying annually in motor vehicle accidents, do we blame the cars and trucks?
In the 1960s, the U.S. Supreme Court saw fit to redefine “separation of church and state,” interpreting it as the twain shall not meet between things civic and things of faith. As a result, the Bible, prayer and all references to such as the Ten Commandments have been removed from most public schools. It happens that one of those commandments is “thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13) – literally, you shall not murder. As I was growing up, I and my fellow classmates had no fear of someone coming into our school armed to create mayhem and death. But we also were reminded daily of commandments such as thou shalt not kill, or steal, or lie. Knowing those things were wrong became a no-brainer.
At the same time, our culture has dramatically ratcheted up the violence quotient of theatrical films, TV programming, computer and video games, even comic books. Billions of dollars are spent each year to produce advertising and commercials to encourage consumers to buy products ranging from groceries to restaurant food to cars to skin cream. Yet some argue to the contrary that violent programming has no effect on the human psyche. That’s ludicrous.
Racism also is a problem that has plagued not only the United States but also people throughout the world. Yet the passage of laws hasn’t succeeded in eradicating it. Changing hearts regarding prejudice and bigotry is as much a spiritual matter as a legal one.
In the gospels, Jesus dealt with racism. The parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) must have horrified many of His hearers and caused quite the scandal. The hero of the story – a Samaritan who was the only one to offer mercy and compassion on a battered traveler – was a member of a race despised by the people of Israel, especially its high and mighty religious leaders. How dare Jesus use him as an example of what it means to “love your neighbor”?
Similarly, when Jesus encountered the “woman at the well” (John 4:1-42), conversing openly with her, He was addressing both racism and sexism. The culture of the time dictated that men would not openly acknowledge women in public who were not members of their family. Not only that, but the woman was a Samaritan; even worse, she was a woman of ill repute. Yet Jesus treated her with dignity, sensitivity and understanding.
I’ve experienced in my own life how God has opened doors for building strong, caring relationships with people different from me, whether in ethnicity, background or beliefs. However, it was not my doing – it was His work in and through my life. Laws could not have forced me to do that.
So as our esteemed public officials posture and pontificate about these and other pressing concerns, I’m convinced that until we accept that the root causes are as much spiritual as they are social and political, they will not go away. They will only intensify until we recognize that unwilling to do things God’s way, knowingly or not, we’re insisting on doing them the wrong way.