I have begun reading Eve in Exile, an astounding book by Rebekah Merkel, daughter of my favorite blogger (who’s a lot more than that, but let’s not digress), Douglas Wilson. The very first chapter inspired this post. She is writing about the rejection of limits and boundaries, “Our fight is going to be with a culture that is antagonistic to the idea of trying to draw any lines at all.” I am reminded that recently, two of the most publicized “selfie deaths” took place in two of our most popular and famous national parks, Grand Canyon and Yosemite. The deceased–I refuse to call them victims–got too close to the edge while taking selfies. This in itself is kind of symbolic of the age we are living in. Though there are railings at some of the more tempting overlooks and edges in both parks, we know darn well that people can and will climb railings and ignore warning signs in pursuit of adventure, including the perfect selfie. The fact that the word selfie itself is now a part of every day lexicon bespeaks the spirit of the age, a children’s pool party. What? Imagine a group of children at the pool, with their parents sitting near by. What will be their most plaintive cry? “Look at me”, all the kids cry out, hoping to attract their parents’ approving glances as they jump in and climb out of the water. Look at me, look at me, me, me. Or is it love me?
If I can’t get your attention in a healthy way, I’ll get it in an unhealthy way. If I can’t get the attention I crave from my parents, I will get it from the world, from notoriety, from strangers in frantic couplings. I will get it from social media followers, likes on Facebook, retweets. I will get it from a cause, from being stroked by a jihadi recruiter via the web. Nothing brings more attention and raises your profile like crashing through limits, unless it’s claimed victimhood. But underneath all the bad and risky behavior, the contempt for standards and limits, and the quest for attention, lies the cry, “who will love me?” In this corporeal life, your parents should be the source, but even the most loving parents cannot fill the God-sized hole in your soul.
Limits are love, folks, because not only can they keep you safe, they give you more freedom. Paradoxical? Imagine children in a playground surrounded on every side by busy streets with countless vehicles wizzing by. If there’s no fence, the kids will tend to congregate near the center, but if a fence surrounds the playground, they will be free to play at the edges. I was a park ranger for six seasons in Yellowstone. One of the most popular attractions is the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River. The slopes are ridiculously steep and the edges are crumbling, eroding rhyolite. The thousands of tourists crowd the edges, trying to force their way to an unobstructed view. Every year, hundreds fall. No, they don’t, because the sturdy railings allow them to get right to the edge, safely. So why is our culture hostile to boundaries and limits?
I implied it above. Limits are set by someone else, which means that you aren’t the boss of your world. “No one gonna tell me nothin” becomes the petulant cry of false independence. No one gonna tell me what sex I am, who or what I can couple with, what bathroom I have to use, how to dress, what to say, what I am accountable for! If it ended there I might not even care. Those are individuals who are damaging their own lives and I will grant them that prerogative. But it never ends there because such rebels have little courage as individuals. Rather, they seek a mob to force others to shut up about their objections, then gradually to acknowledge their rights to do what they want with their “own bodies”, and finally to applaud their neuroses as desirable.
As Paul, in Romans 1, wrote, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth…..Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.” Had there been puberty blocking drugs and sex change surgery in those days, Paul might have added “their whole society became polluted with their hatred of how God made them, driving it mad.”
Am I lacking compassion? Am I being judgmental? Do I care what abuses a “consenting adult” subjects XE body to? The more relevant questions are “compassion for whom “, “judgmental by what standards” and “what even is an adult these days?” I have great compassion for the confused youth and their parents who are herded into thoughtless and destructive actions by the pressure of the mob. I always take my standards from the Bible, rather than my or your emotions. I consider an adult to be someone who is not only able but willing to fully explore and understand the implications for the future of actions taken today, and to stand up against the perverse ideas of the mob-driven fads and say “no more”. “Not my children, not our town, nor our country nor our future. Your God-sized hole cannot be filled with the love you desperately seek, by obeying your feelings and recruiting a mob to force the rest of us to approve.” Judge thyself!
Speaking of judgement, the Roman society that existed when Paul wrote the letter to the Roman believers was every bit as perverse as ours, and would have been more so if they had our level of technology. He was not warning of a coming judgment by God, he was describing the judgement that was already taking place, first in the bodies of the rebellious, then spreading to the society as a whole. We are just about there. Limits are love, no limits are judgement, those who have given in to the seduction of their feelings (more accurately, their interpretation of their feelings) have wandered to the edges of the railings, only to discover the railings are gone and the void beckons.