Something I really appreciate about my husband, he’s taught me a whole lot about the crazy world of right and wrong. Hubby comes from a huge family, he really gets the whole Alice in Wonderland concept that says, it’s okay, we’re all mad here. Welcome to the asylum.
Once early in our marriage in the midst of an argument he said, “what do you mean I’m being irrational? I’m not even trying to be rational!” He was really surprised that anyone would believe that logic should govern human behavior. It was a really ground breaking moment for me. I actually am very reason based, very logical, or I once was. How do you tell right from wrong? Truth from falsehood? Reason, logic, and common sense, of course. Except some part of me has always understood that’s not quite right…..
If you take into consideration my history, my parents were scientists. My dad was a physicist, my mom went to pre med, my step dad was a biologist. Every last one of them was a very reason based, logical, science-only atheist. I was actually taught that facts and evidence are “truth.” How do you know you’re right? Reason….
The same human capacity for reason that just randomly sprung forth from nothingness in a meaningless universe that serves no purpose? Yes. So basically, “the truth” is in the hands of some grey matter, a speck of biological goo resting between the ears of a mutant ape?
That is not only disconcerting, it is downright nutty. Also, dare I say it, totally irrational.
Many people don’t realize it but atheism actually IS an ideology, a religion of it’s very own, plagued by its own specific kind of legalism. Some of us who grew up within the cult of atheism and have now found freedom in Christ, know these things well. If you doubt what I’m saying about atheistic legalism, betcha half a dozen evangelizing atheists pop in to try to enforce the atheistic legalism that also ironically…..allegedly does not exist.
So let me just say it one more time, atheists ARE vehement legalists.
Hubby, bless is heart, has gently challenged my way of thinking the whole time we’ve been married. Just the other day he said, “I know this isn’t logical, but it’s the right thing to do.” I really love those words and the courage he has to speak them. He was totally right, too. The truth behind the man’s words were well, truthful. That is his heart on display. That’s one reason why I married him. He has a good heart and a keen awareness that doing the right thing isn’t always logical, practical, or reasonable.
In fact, sometimes doing the right thing just defies all reason. Take for example, the nature of sacrificial love. It rarely benefits you in any tangible, self-evident way. In fact, most likely it’s going to cost you something. It is counterintuitive and there is no obvious reward in it. In truth, “no good deed goes unpunished.” In the world, odds are kind of good that doing the right thing is sure to create some major suffering or at the very least, some inconvenience on your end.
I of course, did not realize what a rare gem hubby is, until a few years into it. But I rejoice in the mystery there, in the way God often partners you up with the missing link. Not the Neanderthal kind of missing link, but the part of your self that was missing. That’s part of the reason why I like complementary approaches to marriage, because as peas in a pod we can be very, very different, but we complement one another.
I mention this because sometimes I encounter Christians who are all about reason, logic and facts, too. Christian apologetics are often rooted in logic and reason. I don’t wish to disparage that or to down play it in any way. Reason serves a vital and necessary purpose in the world. I’m not suggesting we scratch it entirely. I’m just saying, intelligence is still not morality. Logic does not govern right and wrong. Morality does not live in our intellectual heads. We do not do the right thing, because we are super smart…..or highly evolved apes.
Sometimes it seems as if there are two kinds of Christian in the world, one kind that just follows their heart, because you know, the fall in the garden only afflicted our brains and common sense, but not our feelings, emotions, or heart. Conversely the other kind of Christian often seems to believe the fall only afflicted our hearts and emotions. The heart is wicked right? Feelings are bad. It’s a bit like salvation by reason alone.
Both views are wrong and I think the bible reinforces this. Yes, “the heart is wicked, who can know it,” but you also “shouldn’t lean into your own understanding,” because that is often flawed, too. It can feel a bit scary, because if you can’t trust your feelings or trust your own reasoning, who can you trust? And that is exactly the point! You can trust in the Lord!
The Lord is where our morality and our understanding of things comes from. He exists outside of ourselves. Hopefully He exists inside of ourselves too, but what I mean is that Absolute Truth is not contained within us and does not live in our own capacity for logic, nor are feelings just some aspect of fleshly sin. Like sorry, but if your feelings are tainted, than your brain is tainted too. Our brain is also actually a part of our flesh and our flesh is not necessarily bad! In fact, God said it was good. It kind of all depends on what you are doing with it all. Regardless, we are a whole body and more then a body too..
My point being, faith is a matter of the heart. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Atheism is a matter of the heart. Doing the right thing or the wrong thing is a matter of the heart. Who we are is shaped by the condition of our hearts. That’s in the bible. It is biblical. It’s also reaffirmed by science, politics, and by a huge advertising industry that exploits the human condition, a condition that often deludes us into falsely believing we are ruled by logic, reason, and human intelligence. In truth we are actually governed by our hearts and that is one reason why Who lives in our hearts becomes so vitally important to who we are as people.
We people can rationalize anything. Someone smart once called it “rational-lies.” We can bend facts to confirm our own reason. And we can bend facts to confirm our own feelings. Heck, we can even just invent facts that will fit our narrative. Or dismiss the facts entirely. The “facts” are really not relevant when it comes to the truth, an idea which often causes people to recoil away from me. I mean it however, because what the truth really is, is just an interpretation of the facts, a perception, an opinion based on what you think you know.
What is important is what gives the facts their meaning, how they are interpreted, how they are received and applied. You can have all the facts right and still be totally wrong. You can also have none of the facts and be totally right. Right and wrong are not governed by facts and neither is Truth.
Moral relativism is a real problem within our post modern culture. However we really need to be every careful about our reactionary nature, because some of our faith really is relative. Like whether you believe you are a sinner saved by grace or you believe you are not, you are totally right. Think about that one. The Truth is not only subjective, it may one day become your glaringly apparent reality.
Also, “Jesus is the way and the truth and the life.” If you ever get lost in Wonderland, and we all will someday, reach for the personhood of Jesus, because He tells us flat-out, I am the truth…. and the truth shall set you free.