It Is, You

Your Choice from Pixabay.com
Your Choice from Pixabay.com

How often have you heard, “The Devil made me do it.”

Usually with tongue in cheek but instead it really should have been firmly held between our teeth whenever we feel like saying the old quip; the supernatural should probably be better left alone.  No this post isn’t about demons, evil spirits or the Devil; it is about you, and me and ‘Free Will’.  

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library. "Satan, Sin, and Death" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed April 9, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/f226f620-e8f2-0130-009f-58d385a7bbd0
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library. “Satan, Sin, and Death” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed April 9, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/f226f620-e8f2-0130-009f-58d385a7bbd0

We often do or say things that we would like to blame on all of the above; yet this is really a dark truth about human nature.  After World War II many perpetrators of Nazi atrocities  claimed they were only obeying ‘orders’ and by implication it was not they who were to blame for crimes against humanity.  Really?  Let us think carefully about this and not be so hasty shifting blame on others for the mistakes, selfish acts, crimes or cruelty we find ourselves involved with.  Sure most of us can claim, “I am not THAT, bad.”  Let us think about this statement more carefully.

 

Pick just one from Pixabay.com
Pick just one from Pixabay.com

 

 

If we are so innocent and intrinsically ‘good how is it many of us allow ourselves to  comply with situations and things we know clearly is wrong?  Cheat on taxes, pilfer, violate driving laws, cheat in games, cheat on our mate . . .  etc.  Worse?  We many even find ourselves doing these things without help from anyone else. If we do not capitulate completely we may regret, agonized and repent afterwards but, in the end we must take responsibility for our actions.

Bad Choice from Pixabay.com
Bad Choice from Pixabay.com

Who knows what evil lurks in our hearts and minds, acted on or not?

Clues from Pixabay.com
Clues from Pixabay.com
Billy Rose Theatre Division, The New York Public Library. "Magician with devils, assistant, goose and rabbit" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed April 9, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/b5cfbf49-a582-7548-e040-e00a18060aef
Billy Rose Theatre Division, The New York Public Library. “Magician with devils, assistant, goose and rabbit” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed April 9, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/b5cfbf49-a582-7548-e040-e00a18060aef

Once upon a time my view on dabbling, with the occult, the seedy side of life or, even taking excursions to the realm of what was culturally taboo; this was, “No big deal.”  Of course I was just curious, playful or just feeling recalcitrant. Little did I realize how wrong I really was.  So now with many years of life’s experience to consider and reflect on, I have a much different point of view.  I firmly believe we are always in the process of transitioning to the kind of person we will ultimately become. Yes, from birth until death the process continues: It all adds up.  The familiar computer programmer’s  phrase saying that is probably trite these days, “Garbage in; Garbage out,” is much more real for me than I would ever have thought.  And, sciences of the brain and mind appear to be confirming this through studies and experimentation even as I type this article.  In our country I think we, as a people, have allowed our new pluralistic and relativistic beliefs to drift toward the extreme because of the freedoms we enjoy.  In my opinion we have pushed our culture ever closer to the abyss by watering down the standards by which we have successfully lived since the beginning of our nation.

 

I believe our very foundations of morality and a clear understanding of right and wrong has been severely weakened.

An athlete acquires skills, mental ability and physical stamina by repeatedly practicing and striving for what is best. The scientist seeks more knowledge and evidence to advance her field.  So what are we to think when each new generation waters down even more, the social standard for morality, civility and the respect for law and order that made our Nation great?

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Art & Architecture Collection, The New York Public Library. "On Satan's mount." New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed April 9, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e2-9549-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Art & Architecture Collection, The New York Public Library. “On Satan’s mount.” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed April 9, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e2-9549-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

 

You do not have to be a religious Jew or Christian to see what had happened to the ancient Hebrews every time their civilization’s standard was weakened by disregard for The Law and disrespect for GOD. It was a series of disasters.

General Research Division, The New York Public Library. "The king in the chariot before a besieged city." New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed April 9, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47dc-46f0-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
General Research Division, The New York Public Library. “The king in the chariot before a besieged city.” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed April 9, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47dc-46f0-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

 

We did not use the phrase “One Nation Under GOD” because we were superstitious.  Our forefathers had a deep respect for GOD and GOD’s standards for our people.

In spite of some portrayals of the establishment and history of The United States of America depicting flaws and mistakes, we were a Nation under God.  I fear what will happen to us when we fully become a Nation under many gods or no God at all.

As a Christian I believe The Holy Bible has the teaching we need. We can reverse the trend toward unrealistic freedom and again we can become the moral standard for a dangerous world.  Satan and his cohorts influence and tempt but we make the choices in the end.

Excerpts as examples from the ESV* Bible:

      1. Matthew 15:19 ESV

For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.

      1. Jeremiah 17:9 ESV

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

      1. Genesis 6:11-12 ESV

Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.

  4. James 4:7 ESV

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

   5. Genesis 3:13 ESV

Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

 *Use of ESV Bible verses: https://www.crossway.org/support/esv-bible-permissions/revealing

Relationship not Religion

 

Since “The Fall” in the “Garden of Eden” humans have sought to reach God to regain the lost relationship

 

Adam and Eve Expelled Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library. "Full-page miniature of the expulsion from Paradise." New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed March 24, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47da-e6b1-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
Adam and Eve Expelled
Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library. “Full-page miniature of the expulsion from Paradise.” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed March 24, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47da-e6b1-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Many people on this planet accept, the origin of humanity as described in Genesis found in the Pentateuch, the original sin and the banishment from “The Garden of Eden.”  Yet even many people who do not know about this story seem to instinctively seek God if not a god.  There are atheists in the world and what this writing is about probably will not be of interest to them; agnostics on the other hand may be stirred, even transformed into seekers.

Humans invented religion in hope of reconnecting or connecting with God.

Couple: Religion The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. "Religion, Mural, Library of Congress, Washington, D. C." New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed March 23, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47d9-9f38-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
Couple: Religion
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. “Religion, Mural, Library of Congress, Washington, D. C.” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed March 23, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47d9-9f38-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Religion is the human way of attempting to directly connect with God: please God, appease God or appeal to God.  To that end there are and have been many variations in how people have hoped to achieve this with many forms of religion.   Yet God has not abandoned the relationship that existed since the beginning, in fact,  God has anticipated every question of importance that we the created beings can muse over, and is extant within the Holy Bible.

From Pixabay.com
From Pixabay.com

If you are among the believers who accept The Genesis story you want to be as Adam and Eve who had walked with God in the garden.  If your belief in God is via a different source or a Selected Scripture you may simply desire to establish direct contact with God.  The key in all of this is, many people seem to recognize a being above ourselves with various degrees of supernatural attributes and, we want to know and have companionship with this being.  I myself believe in God the Creator and Supreme Being found in The Holy Bible.

When humans are humbled by the knowledge of a powerful God good things happen.

Baptism Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Art and Artifacts Division, The New York Public Library. "Baptism" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed March 24, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/71fd7f60-2893-0132-9ad0-58d385a7bbd0
Baptism
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Art and Artifacts Division, The New York Public Library. “Baptism” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed March 24, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/71fd7f60-2893-0132-9ad0-58d385a7bbd0

We need guidance; we need explanations; we need purpose.  Answering to a “Higher Authority” helps us to avoid evil and seek good: we learn how not to do evil and we learn how to do good. We discover our place, have a hope of experiencing eternal good when we have a relationship with “The One True God.”

As a Christian I have Good News for you.

Yes since “The Fall” in the “Garden of Eden” humans have sought to reach God and regain the lost personal relationship with God.  Many humans invented religions in a hope of achieving this goal. The hard work is already accomplished and you can benefit from the completed work: revelation within the Holy Bible explains all we need to know all we need to do.  If we do not glean an exact answer at first, as Christians we know we have the Holy Spirit’s help.  When we accept what Jesus Christ has done for us we gain the guidance given by The Holly Spirit.  This benefit assists us in knowing God’s principles and how to apply them to all that we face in our lifetime.

Moses The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. "Moses Fountain,Washington Park, Albany, N. Y." New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed March 24, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47d9-a305-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
Moses
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. “Moses Fountain,Washington Park, Albany, N. Y.” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed March 24, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47d9-a305-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Holy Scripture reveals God to all who believe.

Yes God has provided answers to these questions for seekers and anyone who wants to know.  Please do not let cultural cliché’s turn you off.  God’s message to us is simple and clear.  When the time was correct (in God’s plan) God directly gave humans knowledge and instruction. In other instances there were times when humans were inspired by God’s Spirit to convey what we needed to know. I believe all the information we humans need is contained within The Holy Bible, and so I will end with selected verses that can help you begin your own relationship with God.

From Pixabay.com
From Pixabay.com

Selected Scripture for you:

John 10:27 ESV

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

John 1:12 ESV

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,

1 John 1:3-4 ESV

That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

Psalm 19:14 ESV

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

James 4:8 ESV

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Revelation 3:20 ESV

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

Get started with these verses:

John 5:24 ESV

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

Romans 10:13 ESV

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

John 3:16 ESV

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Speed Limits, Traffic Rules and More

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Each bending or ignoring of the rules does not seem like much when viewed in isolation.

I have read about corrupt governments, terrorist enclaves, lawless no-man’s lands and places of weak law enforcement around the World. Maybe you have too. Maybe you think or even say, “I am sure glad I live in The United States.” You may also wonder how people around the world could tolerate or even support such despicable behavior from their fellow citizens.

Do we have the best country in the world?

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Quadrilles--La Pastorelle an avant, 7th" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed February 4, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/ea485310-0256-0133-db6b-58d385a7b928
Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. “Quadrilles–La Pastorelle an avant, 7th” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed February 4, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/ea485310-0256-0133-db6b-58d385a7b928

Statistics can be manipulated, politicians can pander or spin things to suit their purposes – which are often linked to special interests – media can try to subtly sway public opinion . . . and I can go on with describing ways in which everyday citizens can be mislead or even completely fooled yet, what is one really big source of influence that can be used on us all? It is the threat of being labeled disloyal – or even treasonous – because of what we believe, say or do. This can be alluded to or even directly hurled our way when we ask too many questions, want to know how money is being used or disagree with a popular movement. In a country populated with at least 320 million people and in as large an area these United States of America exist in, a myriad of differences of opinion, views and expectations suggest life here can become very complicated if we let it. It is unrealistic to expect that all the people will agree about everything all the time. Still, as a Nation we have a remarkable history of sticking together despite our differences ( at least usually).

In The U.S.A. differences have been a source of strength.

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library. "Ausstellung Palast in New York." New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed February 4, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47d9-7d08-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library. “Ausstellung Palast in New York.” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed February 4, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47d9-7d08-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

I can say for a vast land with a large population we have a remarkable ability to remain united (for all practical considerations at least). We do have poor people in depressed areas (and some exist almost everywhere), we do have some people discriminated against and we do have some people living in areas that are below the national standard in terms of what services are there or the quality of those services (i.e. Internet connection speed). Still, we produce plenty of food, have many great roads and even offer some alternative transportation options, provide mostly good quality fresh water for people to use and decent sanitary conditions utilized a very large-scale that is probably is unmatched globally. Still in the interest of fairness and truth, there are a few negatives I should mention.

In this world we know that nothing is perfect; imperfection exists even in the U.S.A.

Injustice does happen, disrespect happens, bullying can threaten some school children, there is hunger and homelessness even in affluent areas; yes some needy people do fall through the cracks of our social safety nets. World comparisons (though often distorted by scale differences) indicate we can do better, in education, in holding the cost of health-care down and in getting more young people into post high school education or job training. We also can do better in correcting the ddiscrepancies in income levels for men versus women, for different races and different regions. We also can do better with managing beneficial government programs especially when they are undermined by special interests and corruption. I have read that each year as much as $50 Billion dollars are lost to corruption in Medicare: if we spent $2 Billion dollars on enforcement of Medicare rules and recovered half of $50 Billion dollars, the enforcement costs would be worth the expenditure. Still, none of these (and a few others not delineated) upset me more than a negative trend I recognize in the everyday experience going about my quintessential daily routines.

Trend: Increasing willingness to bend the rules even break some laws.

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. "Monkey's Sculpture at Nikko: Mizaru Kikazaru Iwazaru (See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil)" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed February 4, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47d9-c695-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. “Monkey’s Sculpture at Nikko: Mizaru Kikazaru Iwazaru (See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil)” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed February 4, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47d9-c695-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Income inequality, corruption, over or under regulation and the subterfuges hidden in business practices of large entities (private industry or in government agencies) may be a big part of the root cause of this increasing lawlessness. To me is not a valid excuse for this trend but with bad examples I suppose we must expect it; to me these acts in fact reveal selfishness and greed that is even moving toward a disregard for the sanctity of human life – or at the very least a loss of respect for one another. Phrases like, “Every body does it,” ” it is a stupid law anyway,” “How else am I going to get what is due me or get ahead?” Comments like these indicate that the hearts of the people who try to excuse or defend this trend are being worn down by lax moral teaching or strong influence from bad examples. Before I write about the more serious aspects of the decline in the rule of law and weakened practice of civility, I want to tell you about the seemingly “little things” that for the most part do not require assistance from law enforcement, but, degrade the quality of life for many of us and, may be becoming more than just a nuisance or annoyance. These behaviors if they continue to increase encourage rational for bad behavior or the disregard for our fellow citizens‘ rights.

Little white lies and minor violations.

In 1955 when I was eight years old my father started to tell me about “little white lies” but my mother promptly intervened and with a chuckle tapped my father’s shoulder and said, “Stop, he has plenty of time to learn about that.”  That was true, and later I did learn that sometimes not telling the truth about what appears to be a trivial matter could spare someone’s feelings, avoid a senseless argument or avoid admitting to a seemingly benign “something” I may have done.  In all of these situations and many similar ones the “ideal” of always telling the truth, or emulating the myth that George Washington could not tell a lie, produced an inner conflict within me: my religious training contradicted the concept of “how things really are” and what in reality was the sliding scale used to judge what good and bad actually meant.  And now I have even learned that George Washington a father of our country practiced espionage during the Revolutionary War; though for obvious good reason  but learning of this demystification of a national hero, did and does make me feel like I had been fooled when I studied history as a child.

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library. "Evil counsel" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed February 4, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/c84c4530-56bd-0130-bc4b-58d385a7bbd0
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library. “Evil counsel” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed February 4, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/c84c4530-56bd-0130-bc4b-58d385a7bbd0

Like most of my friends and family I gradually learned how much disinformation, omissions of truth and denials worked well to hide my guilt so it would be recognized. I deftly learned when to own up to something so I didn’t get deeper into trouble or deceive in order to stay out of trouble altogether.  in fact the whole culture around me as I matured became a delicate balance of truth verses “little white lies.” Then one day “Bam!” I crossed a line and flirted with doing more serious duplicity; from then on my game of “truth and lies” matured into actually breaking rules willfully, consciously bending laws and even violating a couple of the “Ten Commandments.”

I had to admit some, pay the consequences for some, confess sin sometimes and wrestle with an annoying conscience even if I thought I got away with something.  In order to function I developed a keen “streetwise” sense about daily life and, often that spared me the worst of possible consequences that I could have experienced, for whatever breach of a rule or a law I was responsible for.  I vow that this article isn’t going to become an article of true confessions, I’ll save that story for another time.  I will only say this: the norm of the milieu from which I matured within wasn’t perfect but, there were invisible lines that almost everyone knew not to cross, or unspoken limits not to pass. Comparing that to today’s norm however, almost makes the past look like the days of innocence touted in urban mythology.

The problem with saying, “Yes that is the ideal but this is the way it really is,” allows for a gradual process of ever-increasing tolerance to whatever we may consider in our own minds to be just a “little white lie” and therefore “no big deal.”  Later I will comment on the standard I believe in by which human behavior is judged and why we are incapable of achieving “perfect honesty”, but, I want to emphasize this: in the absence of striving for honesty at a high moral standard lessens the quality of life for most people.  A better trend: trying for the highest standard one can achieve thus reducing life’s negative effects that come from one another.

Now what is the trend toward more serious disregard for others?

So, we accept some degree of hypocrisy in our world and even sometimes come to practice it ourselves – even if inadvertently.  After all, “Nobody’s perfect. Right?” One big problem with that: How and where do we draw the line? Who becomes the person (or persons) who draws the line?  Is where the line sits arbitrary?  Is it immovable?  Is the line extant at all?

Well, we have a government that creates laws and various “police” entities that enforce them.  Still with so large a population as in The United States of America there are way too many people to manage easily, way too laws (sometimes elected officials pass laws as to appear like they are doing something I think) and way too many people willing to bend them.  Even way too many people willing to even break them, so as a matter of practicality the degree of enforce is at best a selective process.  Having to decide which laws to enforce happens out of necessity because of the complexity and huge undertaking it has become.  And so, ignoring some laws and definitely ignoring some immoral behavior results in a de facto allowing them to continue (perhaps with a wink and a sigh) with little or no restriction.  Isn’t this the reality of life now?  So why do I have so much trouble accepting it?

In my lifetime I have noticed the gradual increase of the kinds of lawlessness that degrade the quality of life for many people: headlights too bright (or misaligned), increased recreational drug use creating a bad atmosphere (especially for children), the disregard for speed limits (especially in highway work zones), snow allow to fly off the roof of a vehicle and smash the windshield of the vehicle behind, non physically challenged drivers parking in disability reserved parking, using extra-large tires without mud flaps to stop flinging stones, non courteous driving (non use of directional vehicle lights, no vehicle lights in low viability situations), non courteous shopping behavior in stores or sloppy services provided by technicians, and, a sense that cheating is alright as long as you don’t get caught.  In a climate of “I can pick and chose which laws or rules apply to me, a degradation of the quality of life for the people you share space with is easily achieved.  The lax attitude also makes graduating to perpetrating more serious transgressions a lot easier.

A trend like this is not a joke.

Cheating on taxes, insurance fraud (especially with Medicare) passing in no passing lanes, shoplifting, Affluenza type excuses for failures to obey laws, pilfering, theft, larceny, brutality and with the diminished value of life where even murder for absurd reasons is happening.  Murder for a piece of fruit, for shoes, for a belt or even worse, just for fun.  One more thing, I do not believe there is such a thing as a “victim-less” crime in any case.  Someone does experience physical or emotional (psychological) harm even if the negative effect is not immediately recognizable by an act or behavior.

So to those who scoff at religion, especially “The Ten Commandments” and, scoff at the people who try to obey God’s Law, shame on you; I hope your distorted view of freedom in some way teaches you a personal lesson someday and you come to realize you do need God in your life. I hope you learn that lesson before it is too late.  We all need God.

 The Christian culture and tradition is the best for all people.

First, we Christians become Christians, not because we are better than anyone else, less likely to violate a law, never have bent a rule or have always treated everyone we have encountered with perfection. We have not always been guided perfectly by honoring “The Golden Rule,” have done unto to others what we would have them do to us.  We know we are not perfect.  We know because there is nothing we can do to gain favor with God.  Therefore we accept that Jesus paid for our imperfection (our sins) with his life and from the moment we believe in Him, He covers our faulty image and we begin to change because we are grateful for His work and the ability to begin to acquire a new nature.  We are being transformed from the inside out and that increases our sensitivity to sin so we can learn to turn away from doing wrong more and more each day.  But if we stumble, then we confess, ask for forgiveness and continue on with our transformation of becoming more “Christ-Like.”  We study God’s word and apply what we learn concerning good and bad, what is right from wrong and thus live a better life a little at a time as an ongoing process.

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Art & Architecture Collection, The New York Public Library. "Botticelli, Uffizi, 566. [Nativity.]" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed February 4, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e3-6c65-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Art & Architecture Collection, The New York Public Library. “Botticelli, Uffizi, 566. [Nativity.]” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed February 4, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e3-6c65-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
Yes there are fake Christians who exploit others, mislead others or violate others but those who are sincere, bring good into a world deeply steeped in selfishness, greed and revenge.  I believe God, not because I can be certain of anything.  I accept His truth on faith using my own free will.  For that, I avoid life’s worst pit falls that would be of my own doing; I believe I have eternal life; I strive to do unto others what I would have others do unto me. Yes through Jesus I am assured salvation for eternity and out of gratitude I try to act better everyday.

Conclusion.

In a fallen world we will never experience perfection but with a relationship with God through Jesus Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit, we can do better and, at the same time bring a glimpse of heaven to a world that seems oblivious of God’s desire for all people: God wants all people to enter into His Kingdom and experience eternal salvation and become true children of God.  Free Will makes it your choice.

Excerpts from the Bible that promotes “The Greater Good.”

Jeremiah 29:11 ESV (Future)

11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare[a] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

A Or peace

Philippians 2:4 ESV (better attitude)

4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

2 Timothy 3:2 – 4 ESV (The way it has become today))

2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, Jeremiah 29:11 ESV (Future) swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,

Proverbs 21:13 ESV ESV (Ears that do not want to hear)

13 Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered.

Isaiah 5:20 ESV (Calling bad good and good bad)

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil,
who put darkness for light and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

Romans 2:8 ESV (payment for evil)

8 but for those who are self-seeking[a] and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.

a Or contentious

John 3:16 (Salvation through Jesus)

16 “For God so loved the world,that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

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The Rise of Women

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It is ridiculous to think our world can be run by one sex. In In

"Self Contained Society" Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. "Jungle village scene." New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed January 26, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/c261e829-384b-8b35-e040-e00a18061102
“Self Contained Society”
Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. “Jungle village scene.” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed January 26, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/c261e829-384b-8b35-e040-e00a18061102

OK, throughout history variations in culture and tradition make things appear that people have lived (and some may still live) within a society dominated by one sex: either male or female.  I am referring to what societies considered norms not the exceptions: there always seems to be a person (or persons) who is (are) unique and as an exception to the pattern of the society they have lived in.  How people see what is normal is dependent on the milieu they were born and nurtured in, and this may become so firmly embedded within their being that to them it is the only way it can be.  So within the world and at various times people have come to accept a variety of traditions that define roles for Men and Woman: then, what seems to be the standard is actually just the prevailing view.  What is the predominant view from within my society?  From the historical frame of reference I was taught: “it seems to have always been a male dominated world.”  Really?

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library. "Femmes Cabocles (sauvages civilisés) vivant du métier de blanchisseuses dans la ville de Rio Janeiro." New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed January 26, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47df-7934-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library. “Femmes Cabocles (sauvages civilisés) vivant du métier de blanchisseuses dans la ville de Rio Janeiro.” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed January 26, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47df-7934-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Sometimes I believe women let men believe they are in charge.  I think there is much evidence to support the view that despite differences in appearance, humans cannot function without a close partnership between the sexes.  Each has characteristics making them important to survival. When there are few people and the priority is to multiply and populate, the traditional family unit becomes vital for a group of humans to survive.  There is limited time and resources available for anything but sticking with what enhances the prospects for survival. In that circumstance what each is more suited for cast them into particular jobs in general but, that is not where the story ends.  Variation in both sexes confuses stereotypical classification; the brain power is virtually identical and physical prowess (or lack of it) is subject to individual specialization.  It may be that the only real difference is women bear our children and have the ability to nourish infants with breast milk and men cannot.  Almost all other differences are just apparent differences; this is because humans chose to believe how things should be and then act out what is assumed to be correct.  Often people are motivated predominately by what they like; each sex enjoys the differences between the sexes in some way, and so for the most part the accepted norm continues.  So what does history indicate to me, concerning the role of the sexes in society over time?

 Sometimes men seem to be in charge and sometimes women seem to be.

General Research Division, The New York Public Library. “Count Neipperg, Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma, [and ?]]” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed January 26, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e2-7d7d-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
General Research Division, The New York Public Library. “Bardos Phokas Caesar, Saraceen.” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed January 26, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47da-37f8-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

When there are few people and the priority is to multiply and populate, the traditional family unit becomes vital for a group of humans to survive.  There is limited time and resources available for anything but sticking with what enhances the prospects for survival. Obtaining food, shelter and physical security is paramount.

 

 

New opportunities arise.

Gradually as the basic needs become assured some individuals can pursue endeavors beyond mere survival: Specialization is then possible.  Political leadership, religious leadership, career warriors, health-care specialists all become possible; the group initially affords them by sharing resources willingly but as the society expands the need for taxing may then become necessary.

Some of the leadership roles can be assumed by women and they may even choose not to bear children.  This is fine as long as the group as a whole has sufficient population growth to fill vacancies as people age and become less productive: in good times even elderly members may be cared for despite their inability to contribute much in the physical sense.  The society develops a tradition concerning roles for males and females and then after a time the pattern becomes the social norm resisting further change unless dire circumstances force it.

Change can evoke fear in some people.

Humans tend to fear change and reject it when there is too much of it, when there is too wide a variation, or if change happens with too rapid a pace.   This aversion to alteration usually persists long after survival needs had been met, and when patterns mature to become in grain they acquire a sense that “we have always done it that way, so why change?” Social innovation may be slow in coming without strong influences pressing for it.

And so today we are living in a multi cultural world with extensive global trade, extreme specialization and rapid social change challenging almost all the people on the planet.  The pace and amount of change varies in different degrees but the influences of easy travel, social networking and technological advances is irresistible .  What was normal is challenged; what is normal is challenged ; what could become normal is challenged,.  All these challenges force humans to adopt and adapt now, if they have not done so already – this is done in spite of the risk of “growing pains”.

Examples of woman rising up to meet a challenge are not so rare.

Throughout history regardless of when or where women have arisen to leadership –  even within a male dominated tradition – some have led, defended, defined or discovered in important ways.  I see only more opportunity in the times ahead for women to expand their influence and their roles.  To gain an understanding of what women are capable of doing just examine the list via the link below and read the stories of notable women from throughout history:

See  “100 Important Women of History”  http://www.angelfire.com/anime2/100import/

General Research Division, The New York Public Library. "Fig. 18. Amonmai [Meritamon] ; Fig. 19. Iside [Isis]; Fig. 20. Tascia [Takhat]; Fig. 21. Titi ; Fig. 22. [questa fig. ??]; Fig. 23. Rêninofre [Nefrure]; Fig. 24. Tsutenninofre [Bitneferu]." New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed January 26, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47d9-485f-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
General Research Division, The New York Public Library. “Fig. 18. Amonmai [Meritamon] ; Fig. 19. Iside [Isis]; Fig. 20. Tascia [Takhat]; Fig. 21. Titi ; Fig. 22. [questa fig. ??]; Fig. 23. Rêninofre [Nefrure]; Fig. 24. Tsutenninofre [Bitneferu].” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed January 26, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47d9-485f-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
Siam Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. "Hill tribes, Northern Siam." New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed January 26, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/c2631e3d-fa70-f0be-e040-e00a180615d2
Siam
Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. “Hill tribes, Northern Siam.” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed January 26, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/c2631e3d-fa70-f0be-e040-e00a180615d2

When survival becomes a dim memory non-traditional roles abound: Does it matter? What aspects of human progress do we depend on most?

What is familiar gives us comfort and furnishes a sense of identity, a place called home, a recognizable society and a reassuring cultural (a lens for understanding).  Brave new worlds are challenging for most people, upset many people , generate fear and prompt insecurity in some people.  So overall while some people welcome change many do not (at least not easily). Perhaps a slow pace of change can allow more people to adopt, and adapt because rapid change often is unsettling and reaction to it prompts a counter productive risk.  And yet change still can occur anyway.  Having said that, I recognize change is an ongoing process that cannot be stopped; it cannot be stopped because it is part of a natural progression that is the way reality works on our planet (and probably for all of the cosmos).  Since the echoes from the distant past often still reverberate within us, this legacy helps us make sense of it all; how we come to judge what works and what does not is recognized by the realized outcomes of past change?  What is now, is compared to what once was, and the process never stops.

Observing more women in roles that were traditionally taken by men should not automatically be rejected or instill fear in our culture.  The socioeconomic structure can handle it (in fact it may be necessary: i.e. during World War II women replaced men in factories for example). Humanity has much less need for what was established during a period when population growth was paramount, and what roles were adopted when they were essential for survival.  Still, I must interject that the foundation layer of the human experience really has not changed and, still is important though not so much to increase the population, but as an emotional foundation for well-balanced individuals who will join the society.

My bottom line:

Yes there is another side to this progression of change in my opinion: though we can see the merits of change and embrace some of it quite well, I believe we still need to cling to the traditional family unit – no vision of Aldous Huxley for me or for many other people I suspect is acceptable.  We should cling to the family unit because children benefit and therefore society benefits: people are less emotionally challenged, learn right from wrong early, have a sense of identity and a place to call home. This is in my opinion of course, but if I had time I probably could produce some evidence for the positive effects derived for those nurtured within traditional families and the benefits for society. 

People nurtured from within a traditional family unit are less likely to violate social rules or be abusive; more likely to be law-abiding, civil and productive.  Families that are fostered in love, promote caring and peace that often spreads well beyond the family unit itself. Families grounded in true Christian principals experience much comfort and are the example for what the good side of humanity can demonstrate.  It proves that our existence within this dispensation can improve because we have the knowledge, means and motivation for doing so.

So, how are women rising?

 Rare Book Division, The New York Public Library. "DINNER [held by] HAMBURG-AMERIKA LINIE [at] EN ROUTE ABOARD FURST BISMARCK (SS;)" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed January 26, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47db-6815-a3d9-e040-e00a1806

Rare Book Division, The New York Public Library. “DINNER [held by] HAMBURG-AMERIKA LINIE [at] EN ROUTE ABOARD FURST BISMARCK (SS;)” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed January 26, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47db-6815-a3d9-e040-e00a1806

Woman are rising because with more specialization, understanding and the recognition that the female mind is as competent as the male mind, more woman can contribute to society in more ways than what some traditions limit them to. So not only should they be considered equal contributors to men, they should be paid at the same rate as men are paid, for the same job when they do the same work.  Women have always been as vital as men for the survival of humans and it is time to see in what ways they are similar and in what ways they are different for real. This knowledge will allow us to get the maximum good from both sexes: symbiotic and complementary scenarios together ensure people get the best of what life has to offer. Yes similarities and differences both can be harnessed for the advantage of our total and complete society.

Achieving our goals is more enjoyable when the partnership of the family unit (a man a woman and their children engaged in a social partnership) are extended to other aspects of society in my opinion.  So not only do the children raised in a traditional family unit have a better chance for a better outcome, so do the men and women embedded within a secure personal relationship as well.  Exceptions are expected but I am convinced the benefits go far beyond the individuals and it offers “the good” to all people.

What guidance do Christians obtain from God’s Word about this?

What Christians are taught amounts to “realistic common sense“; division of labor that makes use of the advantages each sex brings into the relationship and the recognition of different emotional and physical requirements for each: man and woman become one unit.  The relationship is to be governed by the spirit of unconditional love and dwell within a permanent loyal commitment to each other.  The fruits of the man-woman relationship do change over time but these changing needs associated with age can be met within the traditional framework quite well.  Yes, each can meet the needs of their partner throughout their entire life from child rearing years on through to the years of old age. Nothing can replace the joy and fulfillment of a close relationship that has accommodated these changes over a lifetime.

In conclusion, all this love and the relationship’s beauty, demonstrates to all and, interacts with the people who live it and the people who come in contact with it.

Excerpts from scripture that define roles for Men and Woman:

Galatians 3:28 ESV (Equality)

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.and

 InEphesians 5:21,22,25 ESV (Relationships)

21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. . . . 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, . . . 

Judges 4:4 ESV (Leadership)

4 Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time.

Genesis 1:27 ESV (In God’s image)

27 So God created man (I see this as “people”)* in his own image, in the image of God he created him (“them”); male and female he created them.  (*my words in italics)

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Stewardship: Manage and Preserve

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Wise use of Earth’s resources insures our progeny can use them too.

"Oil is a Fossil Fuel" Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. "Earth oil wells--Yenanchoung." New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed January 21, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/c2633a1c-93ec-7539-e040-e00a180617a1 forest
“Oil is a Fossil Fuel”
Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. “Earth oil wells–Yenanchoung.” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed January 21, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/c2633a1c-93ec-7539-e040-e00a180617a1
forest

I believe the famous Greek scholar Aristotle advocated the use and consumption of things in moderation.  This is good advice: apply the concept of “The Happy Medium” to what you use as much as possible.  If people were to do just that more “good things” would be available for many more people.  Even if we were to discover a dozen new Earths tomorrow astronomical distances are so great we would not be able to obtain natural resources from them nor, can we easily obtain any natural resource we may discover on the Moon, Mars or on asteroids.

Many of Earth’s resources have a limit and some cannot be recycled.

"Coal a Fossil Fuel" The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. "A trainload of coal from Pittsburgh fields for Lake Superior consumption, Conneaut, Ohio." New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed January 21, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e0-9944-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
“Coal a Fossil Fuel” The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. “A trainload of coal from Pittsburgh fields for Lake Superior consumption, Conneaut, Ohio.” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed January 21, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e0-9944-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Coal, natural gas and oil could run out there is a finite amount here on our planet.  Metals, papers and plastic can be recycled but I think recycling 100% is not realistic.  Ships are lost at sea so deep it isn’t practical to retrieve them.  Cloth and paper gradually turn to dust and get blown away by the wind. Yes items manufactured from plants (trees, grains) are called renewable but as the population of Earth increases land used to grow them for things may have to be used to grow food.  The oceans once seemed to be able to yield unlimited food but there now are indications that the seas could be with large intricate Eco systems faltering.   With the danger of oceanic demise comes the risk of widespread loss of our food chain; not counting the damage of climate change altering vital global climate stabilizing sea currents.

The Oceans once seemed to offer unlimited food and wealth.

"Fishing an Ancient Occupation" The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. "Pulling the nets, fishing in the Bay of Honolulu, Hawaiian Islands." New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed January 21, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e0-599a-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
“Fishing an Ancient Occupation”
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. “Pulling the nets, fishing in the Bay of Honolulu, Hawaiian Islands.” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed January 21, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e0-599a-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

It may be obvious to many people who stewardship of Earth’s resources goes beyond the use of fossil fuels, food sources and recycling plastics.  Humans have effected the oceans and the atmosphere with waste material which in turn seems to have initiated artificial climate change and harm on a global scale.  People have demonstrated high levels of intelligence and ingenuity when motivated by the opportunity for profit.  Opportunity to reap vast personal wealth from the process of invention and production of useful or desirable things.  Yes, innovation has improved the lives of countless humans and made some wealthy, yet the unintended consequences are now manifesting negative side effects; air and water pollution;  tainted land; degraded natural beauty.  Although greed and expediency may be significant causes of the ill effects, they are not the only reason for them: mismanagement and waste do harm also.

Farming is an ancient occupation that is now in change.

"Farmers Go Way Back in History" The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. "In the great corn fields of eastern Kansas, U.S.A." New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed January 21, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e0-6318-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
“Farmers Go Way Back in History”
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. “In the great corn fields of eastern Kansas, U.S.A.” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed January 21, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e0-6318-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

For much of human history farms were a family, clan or co-operative endeavor but now consolidation is transforming the way humans produce their food.  Large corporations and companies are consolidating small and medium farms and ranches into large mega entities; the family culture is being supplanted by efficient science based industrial operations.  Yes they increase efficiency but I worry about the potential for profit to be the priority over preservation and conscientious use. Short term gain may be more prevalent in our times which sacrifices long-term security but, does it have to be that way?.  Our children and our children’s children will also need to eat; need shelter; clothing; energy for heating and cooling.  I hope those who are considerate of long-term issues win over those who seek only immediate gain.

          My song about vanishing farms.

Christians can seem to be on the wrong side of these issues sometimes too. 

In my study of Biblical principles I have learned about God’s goodness and through His Word it is written that God wants humans to use what Earth and its resources for good. This includes plants, animals and materials.  Using and making use of, does not include excessive or abusive  behavior as I understand it the message: good stewardship benefits all and is part of what makes life good.  The behaviors associated with negative practices are greed, selfishness and neglect of the needs of others.  I am a Christian and it is my desire that all should obtain eternal life by acceptance of Jesus Christ but, I also believe the needs of people should be considered (and we should help them when we can) as we spread “The Good News” about our God’s plan for Salvation.

What the Bible says about good stewardship and competent management.

Genesis 2:15 ESV

The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work and keep it.

Proverbs 12:10 ESV

Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast but the mercy of the wicked is cruel.

Proverbs 27:18 ESV

Whoever tends a fig tree will eat its fruit,
and he who guards his master will be honored.

as well.Numbers 35:33 ESV

You shall not pollute the land in which you live, for blood pollutes the land, and no atonement can be made for the land for the blood that is shed in it, except by the blood of the one who shed it.

John 6:12 ESV

When they had all, had enough to eat, he said to His disciples, “Gather the pieces that are leftover. Let nothing be wasted.”

Leviticus 19:9-10 ESV

When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to the edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God.

 

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Solid Marriage; Happy Family; Strong Nation

Marriage Basic Human Unit

Since the beginning human life has centered on the family unit. For example the Bible begins with Adam, Eve, Cane, Able and Seth in Genesis. Sadly the human race had only just begun when Cane murders Able out of envy because God accepted Abel’s offering and not his. I am not going to write about the myriad of human failures that permeate history however; I am going to discus one of the great success stories instead: Marriage.

Zyg Fam001   First Hand Experience

My experience begins in the mid 1950’s when despite human shortcomings the family unit functioned pretty well. My immediate family was not one of them though because my father ran off and eventually divorced my mother. Their story is a story movies are made from as he eventually returned and remarried her and then lived out his days with her, but, that is a story for another day.

Family 1957

Yes my immediate family was unique, for in those days most people stuck to their marriage even when from a human perspective it seemed not to be working. My brothers and I suffered some negative societal effects because of this since for the most part everyday people did not divorce. Being from a family with divorced parents at that time (called a broken home) gave people reason to shun and even ostracize you; not just the men and women involved but also their children. Yet back then, the vast majority of children I knew enjoyed a complete family with well-defined roles for fathers and mothers and many seemed to have a happy home.

Yes the society in the 1950’s that I became aware of was working very well, the Great Depression and World War II were in the past and the hostilities of the Korean Conflict were in remission. Dad’s had good jobs and Mom’s stayed home and cared for house, home-life and the children. We as children were taught how to act in public within our homes so even before we became students we had manners and understood right from wrong. What was some of this social knowledge that we had as we left our home? We should respect others, we should be polite we should not steal or fight and we knew very well that when we strayed from this norm, some form of punishment was due us when we got home – when our parents found out that is. No it was not a perfect society but it was better than what I perceive society to be now in many ways.

Through history marriage and the family unit survived times of war and catastrophes often by forming blended family units out of the survivors. Even when survival fostered these new marriage situations love developed from the commitment to make it work.  This tradition reestablished order within damaged family units and therefore they improved the recovering societies they lived in. Again, It was not perfect, but the striving for something better overcame the damage (sadly often human self-inflicted damage) that humans endured. Yes when the basic family unit was reestablished, order and stability followed and the people who had suffered calamity returned to a life as close to normal as possible.

New and Old Influences in the U.S.A.

Old foes of marriage? Relaxed standards for curbing lustful desires, mistrust for a spouse, financial stress, drug abuse, alcohol abuse and often spouses asserting very different philosophies and expectations for the marriage relationship. Yet negatives can be (and often were) overcome by a commitment to honor vows, and allow love to grow.

New foes of marriage? Exaggerated self-importance, conditional commitments, mistrust, too many opportunities of temptation leading to unfaithfulness , misconceptions of love and confusion between love and lust. In some cases even a good thing like an increased average life span can allow negative influences the time required to break down our best efforts to remain faithful.

Yet the greatest danger to healthy enduring marriages may be trends in popular culture that glorify the negatives and thus encourage people to live for their own personal pleasure and satisfaction.

Post-Modern Society

The backlash from societal failures to avert old human calamities such as war fostered a very seductive form of persuasion on society: individual fulfillment is paramount, truth is relative and morality is not absolute but functions on a sliding scale. Some verbal indicators: “We are not wrong, we just are different.” “You have just changed too much” or “I have changed my mind about you.” “No one wins until we all win.” “You are inhibiting my freedom to be me.” “Circumstances warrant the bending of rules or ignoring a law in my opinion.” These comments not only shed light on threats to our traditional view of the foundational family unit in my opinion but, have had, and continues to have, a negative effect on marriage.

It Once was Bad now it is Good

Jokes about a spouse and marriage in general are very much a part of popular humor today: in cartoons, in cinema, on television and especially exploited by comedians. Tabloids spew the sordid details of celebrity weddings, their break ups and even their sexual escapades. Having a child out-of-wedlock seems to be perfectly fine today, even when a single parent must raise the child. Cohabitation, then having children, and, then getting married is fast becoming the norm in my part of the world. Progressive thinkers applaud these changes, yet in my assessment the weakening of the aspects that have made our Western Culture so strong, especially within the United States, are having a negative affect and usurping one of our great strengths: The American Family.

The lack of stable quintessential family units robs us of a bright future. Stable family units that provide us with a new well-balanced generation, that has a clear sense of right and wrong, that demonstrates respect for others, has a keen sense of purpose and behaves with civility would continue what has been so good about our way of life. Isolated examples of a child doing good that has emerged from foster care or he or she came from a dysfunctional family fuel supporters of these new ways; they point out that this indicates fragmented and altered family units do no harm. I believe a closer look at what goes on in our schools tells a different story.

My Perspective Changed

In August 1984 I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. From this vantage point of my age it was about the mid-point of my life. The way I lived before that moment was characterized by a hedonistic drive: I dabbled with drugs in my teens, ultimately became an alcoholic who kept the most negative effects less apparent to those around me, I was liberal concerning sex, I even had two marriages fail and was at a loss to explain my lack of success.  A lack of success even though I was told I had talent and a good mind and would be very successful. After 1984 much had improved though life was not perfect: consequences for my per-Christian life lingered (even challenged me at times) , but, since 1985 when my wife and I married (she also is a Christian) we have weathered many a storm together and God has blessed us in just the right measure to fend of the worst life has hurled at us. We were, and still are blessed in so many ways. It is clear to me which way of life is best for my wife and I and our family. I am quiet sure when people turn to The Lord their lives will change for the better and this improves our society as well.

Yes I am a Bible Believing Christian fully convinced that humans can never live up to the standard God has provided, but an earnest desire to strive for His standard yields the best for all humanity not just for us here in These United States of America.

 

What the Bible Indicates

Hebrews 13: 4 – 5 (ESV)

4 Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. 5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

 

Proverbs 11:29 (NIV)

Whoever brings ruin on their family will inherit only wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise.

 

Mark 10: 6 – 9

6 But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ 7 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. 9 What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”

 

Exodus 20:12 (NLT)

“Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”