No, I’m not talking about altitude. I’m talking about priorities, principles, and preferences. I’m all for them by the way. You know, priorities, principles and preferences. However, recently I’ve been pondering their effect on our lives… and visa versa. You see, it isn’t difficult to allow our priorities to be trampled. What we thought was essential to our lives is often trampled by the needs of the moment, our laziness, and a myriad of other reasons. Principles are often tossed aside in a moment because we don’t know how to implement them or worse, don’t want the trouble of doing so.
However, I’m noticing another trend. Elevation of priorities, principles, and preferences above the place they’ve been given in scripture. I’m trying to be careful here. I don’t ever want to protest that someone or something is “too scriptural”. How ludicrous is that! I do believe that we can and do elevate things above their intended spot in scripture.
For a riduculous example… the principle of doing unto others. The point is, treat others as well as we want to be treated. This is an excellent thing. If, however, we make this more important than simple salvation, we’ve elevated it to an unscriptural level. All of the right treatement in the world will not cleans a heart blackened by sin. I think this might be one of the things Paul meant when he said, “All things in moderation.” Not that he meant we should strive for mediocrity but that in proper proportion, things will hold their rightful places in our lives.
I believe that children are a gift from the Lord. I believe that they are a blessing that Christians should desire. I believe that children reared for God’s glory are spiritual weapons against Satan and his power in this world. I believe that children are undervalued in our culture and often reduced to little more than trophies, toys, and pets. I also believe that in a knee jerk reaction to the world, some godly Christian women idolize their children and the possibility of future arrows in their quiver. Priorities and principles are elevated to an unhealthy level where the beauty of motherhood becomes an unhealthy and often gluttonous desire for more more more. This isn’t Biblical. The principle is. The principle of rearing children to God’s glory is most certainly Biblical and right. The inappropriate elevation of it above the plans God made for it are not.
I tried to show this to a woman that I loved, admired, and respected. She was my Titus 2 mentor for years. I miss her. The one area we disagreed most strongly on was my choice to trust that the Lord would choose the most optimal timing for the birthing of my children. It bothered her each time I called to tell her I was pregnant again so I started calling and saying, “I have some great news and I’m really excited. So I’m going to tell you my news and then hang up. Please don’t call until you can be happy for me. I’m pregnant.”
She mistakenly assumed that I had become this woman who elevates pregnancy to an unhealthy level. She truly did not understand that I could have never had another child after my third, fourth, fifth…. etc and been totally content. I truly do not believe I would have been bothered. This is just my personality. So, I tried to show her. When Ethan was three or four, I called one day and said, “I have some great news and I’m really excited. So I’m going to tell you my news and then hang up. Please don’t call until you can be happy for me. I’m not pregnant!”
It backfired. Hugely. A month or two later she commented when I mentioned being happy to accept more that she remembered when I wasn’t so excited about the idea. But, her viewpoint was so skewed in this direction she couldn’t see what I was trying to say. I think that was when I gave up hoping she’d ever understand us in that area. However, it’s a good illustration in how we can have unBiblically elevated principles and priorities. (And perceived ones too!)
This happens in so many areas. Academics vs. limited academics. Some parents try to combat the exponential failure of the government school systems by insisting on the highest academic standards of anyone. Education is unwittingly elevated to a god. Or, in a knee-jerk reaction to that kind of thing, education is something schluffed off to the side and ignored. Children barely read, hardly write, and are fortunate to know basic math facts before their parents finally “graduate” them and are thrilled that amid it all, the children can recite huge chunks of scripture and know an entire hymnal by heart. While those are excellent things to know, they have devalued education to what, in my opinion, is an unhealthy degree.
Modesty, entertainment, vocations… all can be elevated beyond a scriptural standard. Scripture doesn’t demand that everyone cover their necks, wrists, and ankles. It isn’t a sin to do so but it is a sin to madate what scripture has not. Entertainment is in the realm of Christian Liberty but if we make it more important than the Word or scriptural standards, we’re elevating it to a God-likeness which is idolatry. There are people who will say that Christians do not belong in the military, medical, emergency, police, and similar fields. The reasoning is that they will be innundated with a godless culture.
For example, a policeman may learn more about child pornography than any human being should ever have to know. This is abhorrent and it should be! Some would elevate “setting no evil thing before my eyes” above the protection of children. Is this scriptural? I would love to say this isn’t true but I’ve seen it and heard it myself. (And no HK ladies, this has nothing to do with the mudroom thread!)
Women are scripturally to be under the protection of men. I believe this. I think I can support this easily with scripture. However, if we elevate this principle to an unhealthy degree, we find ourselves making mandates that scripture doesn’t. If a wife is under her husband’s protection, then can she leave his presence? What about when he goes to work? Is she still under that protection since she’s under his roof? What about shopping? What about a trip to the next city for a conference? What about listening to CD’s by various ministries? What if the teacher pricks her heart with something the husband wouldn’t want? Did he protect her? Is she out from under his protection by listening?
Taking it one step further, can said wife leave their town, fly to another state, and visit friends without the protection of her husband? Is she out from under his protection if she is away from his presence? Her parents are dying, he can’t take off work, so she lets them die alone because to leave is to be out from under his protection? How is this Biblical? Yet I’ve seen similar things taught.
Anyone who knows me at all, KNOWS that I don’t like exception clauses. Give me the scriptural principle and let’s just live it. Let’s not get hung up in the what ifs and the but maybes. I think those are usually excuses for ignoring the hard truths that we must obey. Submission by me isn’t dependent upon proper treatment by Kevin. Obedience by my children isn’t dependent upon my perfection. I wouldn’t encourage that kind of thinking at all.
I just wonder how much we’re taking our principles and elevating them above God’s intentions. Scripture is clear what the principles should be. They’re actually quite simple. But if we make these principles in our lives more important than other principles because they make us feel or look good… shame on us. The Christian life isn’t a formula. We don’t take a bunch of principles, apply them like a to-do list, and then kick back and reap rewards of perfect lives. Scripture never promised us that. There is a general truth of that. In the grand scheme of things, we do reap what we sow. But there is more to it than walking along and diligently dropping a seed in each meticulous hole and then leaving the field and waiting for harvest.
But that’s for another blog.