Monday, June 01, 2009

Devaluing Diversity

One recent morning as I sat at the breakfast table eating half a sticky bun and drinking my coffee, my eye was caught by a pen my husband had picked up at his work, which was lying on the table. "Valuing Diversity" was printed on its side in bold purple letters. Not too far from it a cube of notepaper, also picked up at work, read "Diversity: Building an Inclusive Culture."

It got me thinking. Those ideas are everywhere, not just on pens and posters and message cubes, but spilling from the tongues of people. I've been scolded on more than a few occasions for giving the impression that I'd like everyone to think like me. That's bad, I've been told, both directly and indirectly. Very BAD. I, rebuked and dismayed, rarely stood up to the indictment, but slunk away, feeling chastised, suitably bad, and at the same time uneasy.

Because I think deep down I've always thought maybe it's not really all that bad, and especially not deviant. It's not bad to want people to agree with you. We are social creatures, made to interact and we have a certain need for people to affirm our likes and dislikes, to share our passions and interests. The reality, of course is that we all have free will and we're created with different personalities and not everyone is going to agree. The biggest divider of all, though, is our volition with respect to spiritual things and our old sin natures. And in matters spiritual, the Bible explicitly says that we are to seek to have the same mind. Not as each other, but as Christ.

What think ye of Christ? Whose son is He? That's one area where we cannot possibly be remiss in wanting everyone to think like we do about Him. The alternative is to be cast into outer darkness and spend eternity in torment.

Once you've decided that He's the son of God who died for your sins, other questions arise. What is the Christian way of life about? What is our relationship with God about? Us or Him? Us serving Him, or Him working in us, blessing us and in so doing, bringing glory to Himself.

These are core issues that govern where your priorities are, how you view life in general, your relationship with God, what you're supposed to be doing, etc. We can't make everyone agree, and aren't supposed to, since God has granted each of us the freedom to think like Him, or think like someone else (and there's really only one someone who is the source of all the faulty, false thinking that is independent of God's and that's Satan). But we're going to have a hard time walking together and encouraging each other, if we're walking on different paths.

If I believe the Christian way of life is to be walked by means of grace, that God is already pleased with me in Christ as much as He ever will be, how can I embrace and value an opinion that says we have to work hard to please Him? If I believe that the key to the Christian way of life is to stay alert to my spiritual state, rebound when I sin and make my top priority the perception and application of His word, how can I encourage or even walk with another who thinks Bible study is onerous, a waste of time, refuses to submit to a pastor and just wants to give their opinion of what they think Bible says today? As Amos says, "How can two walk together except they be agreed (about the direction they're going to go)? They can't.

We are told to "Have this mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus," and we're also told to avoid those who come to you with a different doctrine. The Jews were told not to intermarry with the Canaanite women, not to follow their religious practices and where disciplined when they did so. In fact, the Jews were told to kill and drive out the Canaanites when they first entered the land, not create an "inclusive culture". You either converted to Judaism or you went somewhere else.

Things are different now, which is what Dispensations is all about -- the recognition of the differences in how we relate to God and how He deals with us. Much of what was overt in the Old Testament is invisible in the Church age. Everything is more subtle now. The overt conflicts in the OT are equated with mental and spiritual conflicts in the New. Hating is the same as murder. Lusting is the same as adultery. We don't offer sacrifices to golden cows. But we very definitely offer the sacrifice of our time, treasure, talent and thoughts to idols. Idols like physical health and beauty, worldly success, wealth, the good opinions of others, making sure everyone is getting along.

Israel was a picture of the Church age believer's soul and as it was warned as a nation not to mix with the Canaanites, we are warned not to mix with those who serve the world. God is the one who set up the nations and the cultures and the languages as a means of dividing us. He did it on purpose because He knew that was the best way to ensure our freedom. Our natural lack of inclusivity, our natural suspicion of those who are different, isn't necessarily a bad thing, but a good thing, keeping us from the one world unity that Satan is working for.

Now, that is being eroded. Technology has brought us closer to one another than ever before. We can see things on the other side of the world as they happen. We can travel to foreign lands and have foreign people coming to our land. And we have this vaunted concept of "Valuing Diversity."

Even in America, which has long stood as a place of freedom, where the people govern themselves, where you have the freedom to believe whatever you wish without worry of being killed, harassed, etc. We were always "American" a melting pot of common ideas and goals and freedoms, not a collection of disparate enclaves each with their own culture, language, beliefs, etc. But now that's changing, and there are strong, loud voices in favor of valuing all those differences, even though historically those very differences have consistently ripped apart all the nations that incorporate them. But to say otherwise is regarded as evil. Bad. A cause of war and prejudice, and it's true that those abuses have arisen from it.

But at the same time, what is arising from the culture of inclusivity? There can be no absolute truth. God's views, God's ways are no longer allowed to be followed as the right way. We must allow all sorts of things as legal and governmentally sanctioned that He considers abominations. Ironically, it reduces our freedoms, rather than increases it. It increases pain and suffering. Because God blesses those who follow His laws for nations and life. And He curses those who do not.