Tag Archives: standards of conduct

Grace and Truth or Good and Evil?

The Tree of Life

As I am reading through the Old Testament again, I continually wonder why God tells this story of a feckless Israel and one that puts Him in a bad light, seemingly. Even as I write that I think of what I am writing for my grandkids and their children after them, and theirs after them, and so on. I want to be honest and not sugar coat things, but I also am selecting the stories that come to mind and that capture the essence of what shaped me to be who I am today. Is that not what God is doing with the story of the Old Testament?

The Gospels and Epistles make it clear that Jesus Christ is the true representation of God, the revelation sufficient for us in this world’s realm. There are some who interpret our journey as God’s journey of development as well. He started out without a legal code, then gave the legal code to Moses, then realized it was never going to work so sent Himself in the incarnation of Jesus Christ to satisfy that code once and for all and has spent the last 2000+ years encouraging us to accept His gift of mercy and grace in Himself to us.

I am leaning more toward God giving us what we wanted and chose in Adam and Eve, the knowledge of good and evil, rather than eating from the tree of life. Since that was our choice He responded in kind, knowing it would never work, always calling us to relationship with Him outside of that construct, yet always dealing with us within the construct we had chosen; good and evil, right and wrong, Law and consequences.

We still, by nature, choose that way. With or without acknowledging Him we tend toward drawing circles of defined behavior and then go about choosing who is in and who is outside of that circle. Once the circle is drawn judgment is required according to the identified rules of the circle. That can be the current vogue of wokeness and is just as clearly represented in the total rejection of the standards of the “woke” by many conservatives. It always states itself in moral terms; right and wrong, good and evil. In the public discourse in the United States of America these days almost all disagreement is cast in the form of the “other” being disagreeable beyond being merely in disagreement. “They” are wrong and we are right.

God’s revelation of Himself in Jesus Christ is a radically different approach to our partnership together with Him. In Jesus Christ mercy and truth have kissed. Mercy without truth would be meaningless and truth without mercy is too harsh for us to bear. The Old Testament describes for us the clear choice that is still before us every day. Will we choose a quid pro quo existence with God, one in which we are constantly the loser and failing? Or will we choose to live in a relationship with Him that depends on His mercy while He coaches us toward His truth? Honestly, my instinct is toward the former, but my choice is the latter. May the Lord help us all to live in His grace and by so doing offer His grace and mercy to our family, friends and all with whom our lives intersect.

Some thoughts about Hemal Jhaveri OpEd

One our fellow travelers sent this request.

Listening to Understand: Discovery or Intelligence Gathering?

Bill, would you be willing to read this article and discuss what, if anything, can or should be said in response to such attacks. 

First, I would make a distinction between a private conversation, which this isn’t, and a public one. If I were to engage Ms. Jhaveri in a private conversation I would try to quickly determine whether or not she was open to a discovery conversation and, if not, simply stop the conversation. Argument only feeds the spirit of animosity demonstrated in the article.

In a written response, really in a person-to-person response as well, a central challenge is not getting into the same attitude and spirit as the article. I do appreciate that she provided links to the source of the policies and statements with which she is concerned. All too often things are alluded to and subject to significant distortion. We have probably all been bitten by a quote taken out of context. So, kudos to her for doing that. Her first three paragraphs are well written and set the stage for what she wants to say in a way that draws the reader in. Then it pretty much goes downhill from there.

The labeling in the article is throughout beginning with the phrase, “…the university’s deeply bigoted anti-LGBTQ+ policies…” Actually that phrase is in itself bigoted. I did a quick internet dictionary search on bigoted and it is defined as, “Utterly intolerant of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one’s own.” It appears that Ms. Jhaveri is intolerant of the beliefs of the Oral Roberts staff and students. I clicked on the links she provided and included in those Standards of Behavior and Code of Conduct is an intolerance of violence against any person for any reason.

She then goes on to describe the school as founded by “televangelist Oral Roberts.” Completely true but the term “televangelist” has deeply negative connotations in our culture today as well as in large sections of the Church. Of itself that could be overlooked but she adds another label, “fundamentalist” and again shows her dismissal of any who might be a part of that part of the Christian community by calling it a relic of the past. That is an idea worthy of discussion and exploration but not of simple dismissal without that conversation. This is closely followed by the label “archaic,” and then lists two behavioral standards as indicators of her term closing that paragraph with two more powerful cultural labels; “discriminatory” and “hateful.” Again, I would like to ask Ms Jhaveri if she is not bigoted in quickly dismissing ORU without any consideration. We could get into a good discussion about being discriminatory for we all are. We discriminate in what we wear, who we socialize with and a host of other issues in every day life. When our discrimination (which used to be somewhat synonymous with discerning) dismisses other people as of less value it is destructive and should be avoided. But discrimination of itself is neither good nor bad. However, to assume that holding a behavior as harmful results automatically in the hatred of the one exhibiting such behavior is a leap way too far. Even if one disagrees with ORU’s standard regarding homosexual behavior one cannot assume that all who hold that standard “hate” those who behave different from the standard.

In the next paragraph the author focuses on the prohibition against homosexual behavior being “in the same breath” as the prohibition of the occult. I would ask her if she sees occult behavior as something that is bad and thus using it to prove guilt by association. That probably opens up a very broad community of practitioners that would want to have their say as well. In fact, the breath is a statement forbidding all sexual promiscuity and homosexual behavior is one of three in the stated ban. Notice the ban is against the behavior and not the person just as the ban is against premarital sex and not the persons engaged in such activity. Because the behavior is against the standards of conduct does not mean or even imply that the persons engaged in the behavior are hated.

She then writes that the school has the right to impose whatever standards of behavior they see fit and then makes another broad and sweeping statement, “…even though those standards are wildly out of line with modern society and the basic values of human decency.” They may be wildly out of line with Ms. Jhaveri’s friends and their values of human decency but she takes the point way too far once again. As I engage these kinds of issues I want to walk in humility and speak of my own values and view points. I can’t presume to represent anyone else unless they specifically tell me they are in alignment with what I am saying. There is such a broad range of opinion about so many things even among Christ followers that I could never claim to speak for “Christians” as a whole. Neither does Ms. Jhaveri have that privilege to represent the values of human decency.

She finishes her broadside with a couple of more labels; “toxic notions of fundamentalism,” and “fetishize chastity,” both of which show an utter intolerance for vast numbers of people in our country.

It seems to me that inclusion and diversity in the NCAA has a wonderful opportunity to be inclusive and diverse by celebrating ORU’s Cinderella story showing the world that all are welcome in the banner. If ORU was indeed guilty of fostering hate and violence against those with whom they disagree then we have a real issue. But that is not the case here. Instead Ms. Jhaveri and those who agree with what she wrote are are showing a profound intolerance for those who see life, values and decency through a different lens.