New Labels and the Morality Merchants
I'm told that a builder in Ohio has his eye on a piece of land bordering a gorgeous park which he intends to purchase for a condominium complex. However, there is one small obstacle to his plans: a housing development happens to sit on that particular tract of land. For some strange reason it seems that the current residents consider the place home and don't want to leave. Imagine that. Undaunted by this obstacle - and the ensuing resistance - it appears the developer may get his way. How so? By appealing to the enforcers of righteous living standards and codes, the morality-merchants.
It turns out that those houses are substandard, and have been officially declared - or labeled - condemned. Now before you visualize some kind of rat-infested, dilapidated community, you might be surprised by the two violations cited: the dwellings are not 3-bedroom, 2-bath, and the garages are unattached. Ironically, the mayor, who supports the new condominium project, doesn't live in a 3-bed, 2-bath house with an attached garage, either.
Why the double-standard? Probably a combination of factors. Surely, the fact that the new project will provide increased tax revenue for the city plays an important role, and no doubt certain folks will make out very well by its approval. On the other hand, let's not overlook the big picture most likely presented to those making the decisions, as there must be some good reasons behind such a plan. After all, I'm sure many beautiful architectural drawings have created anticipation, making the current, older development appear quite undesirable in contrast, and that generous offers have been made to those residents. On top of that, there will be more benefit to many more people. Ah, the labels we attach to underhanded sneakiness, eh?
So, why am I telling you this story? No, it's not to rally anyone to the cause, as I don't even know the particulars. Instead, I relate this to you simply because it is just one more example of the morality we learned in this world, a morality that forms those very same perceptions we keep trying to insert into the realm of new life in Christ. Somehow, we vainly imagine that it will help us better understand the things of God. And this only keeps reinforcing that blasted religious perception that short-circuits our understanding of true freedom in Christ.
You see, I KNOW why you are confused, because the same things that confuse you confuse me! I also know there are some who imagine that my better understanding must somehow protect me from the confusion that dogs their every step ... but this is total ca-ca. The truth of the matter is that I am so well-acquainted with confusion that I avoid it simply because it is too damned confusing ... for it is that same old road to nowhere I have traveled too many times.
Now, as I was coursing through my usual "I hope those SOB's don't get away with it!" routine, I realized how easy it would be to line up on either side. The truth is that we HAVE BEEN on either side of countless such situations over the span of our lives, most for which we came to assume upon a one-sided argument. For example, as an American, I had been given good reason to be proud - and then much later to be ashamed - of the very same heritage. What I was struck with - once again - while considering these ramifications is that the basis of all such morality presents a delicate balance between justifying what we approve and condemning what we despise so that we are able to co-exist with our own convictions and conclusions (I wonder if we have any idea how much time and energy we have spent in this futile pursuit? It sure doesn't make any sense in light of the fact that Christ has justified us by having been condemned himself, does it?).
Okay then, what about those morality-merchants I refer to? They are those who validate one's positions or preferences above another's. They are those who give to one at another's expense. They are those who cannot measure up to their own demands. And above all, their own position and/or prosperity is secured by another's belief in them or subjection to them.
Now I am indeed including religious morality preachers, but it would be a big mistake to assume that such people define the concept I would have you realize -- for that would only reinforce the bogus secular vs. sacred barrier that seems to validate religious, even Christian, morality above other forms of morality. The fact is that the morality-merchant is ubiquitous, in other words, present everywhere. For wherever you turn there is someone whose very identity hangs upon the morality they heap upon you. In truth, we have all played the part, and it is only in the miraculous new life of Christ we have found freedom from it. Even then - in our insanity - we quickly jump back into the role.
True life in the resurrected Christ ... there is simply no replacement for it. :)
Still more to come ...