You can’t, but you have to.

“The pursuit of balance can create imbalance because sometimes something is true,” – Daniel Okrent

In reading, thinking and watching and hearing a lot of different perspectives and conclusions about the politics of recent times, I came to a place where I sms’d my best friend:

“Yep, a tension. Between left and right, freedom and social conscience, bottom up and top down.”

in response to the question can we legislate morality I wrote ‘You can’t, but you have to”

You cannot legislate morality. A moral code is something that people have to choose to follow. They discuss, agree and then come into alignment with it. When some go outside of that code, the community deems certain consequences appropriate. In this picture, most of the community would abide by the code because they have all agreed to it.

In larger scale communities/societies, some aren’t given the opportunity to agree. Women until recently, blacks until recently, immigrants still, slaves still, the poor in most places, don’t really get to agree and walk the walk of those understanding and abiding by the moral code of law.

So… as the code abiders watch these non abiders choose to not abide, there has to be a point where they realize

‘wow these guys aren’t abiding, and they are ruining the trust of economy, destroying the safety for education and breaking down the family unit, we should ramp up the consequences to teach them morality’

And thus we find ourselves at a strange impasse.

Take alcohol for example. Some citizens in our societies have grown up drinking around food, around celebration, as a part of refreshment and rest or as a part of family hang outs. These people seem to rarely go over board, they rarely shirk responsibility to family and friends, they have the finances to do so, and plan to do similarly till they die (some of liver failure, but… others of natural causes)

Others, live their lives around getting as wasted as possible, either to forget about horrific circumstances of life, or because of addictions, or because of immaturity, or even because of a communal commitment to live life in drunkenness. This can end up in dealing out or inflicting abuse on others or to themselves, large amounts of debt, criminal records, or in some oddly heroic circumstances, large and successful political and other leadership careers, holding their alcoholism almost in secret.

To hold a society together in peace and comfort for as many citizens as possible, one needs to dampen the destruction of one group, whilst celebrating the culture of both, in amongst celebrating and educating the conclusions of the successful, the society builders. In amongst finding a balance between liberty and solid guidance each side of the equation seems to go a little bit insane in their extremely perverted sense of communicating justice and right.

Currently I am looking into prohibition mainly in the United States, as well as looking into the extreme politically divisive cesspools of abortion, euthanasia, gun control and immigration. Watching both sides of the political spectrum, in social arguments as well as public spotlight soap boxes, we all begin to fight for what we think is right even if our methods are total deception and misdirection.

Some of the research that comes out of the conservative arena sounds insane. The consequences of drugs and sex seem completely blown out of proportion. And to meet their mindless righteousness, the liberals (leftists, not the Australian centre-right) respond with equally as out-of-this world ideals. Like yes, alcohol CAN end up destroying families but it doesn’t force us to do anything.. It is liquid. But it is also true that we should be free to choose whatever we want, but the reality is, that not everyone in this world can handle alcohol. There is addiction, that means they struggle in a prison of social expectation and cultural discrepancy. If we ignore either of these things then societal conflict happens. Its not an either or. Its a ‘can’t, but we have to’.

I believe TRUTH exists. There is right and wrong. But, as history continues to show, you can’t force people to believe. You can’t force people to choose. Truth is most powerful when people experience and choose it. But then we are back at square one. We can’t legislate it, but we have to.

Currently a large percentage of skate kids drink a large amount of red bull and its energy drink cousins. Red bull has put an amazing amount of skill and effort into partnering high energy sports and entertainment with their logo. An attitude. They communicate a subtle blend of

‘if you want to be cool like this motor bike rider flying through the air, or this rock star with flames behind him, then you will drink this strangely bad tasting concoction.”

Cigarette smoking is on a steady decline. This could be chalked up to cultural changes, or it could be chalked up to different drugs being taken. But it also may be blamed on research into lung cancer, giant billboards of gangrenous feet and other grotesque ad campaigns on the TV convincing us of the adverse effects of smoking on our bodies.

Communication educates.

I’ve always been fascinated by the questioning statement

‘why does the devil get all the good songs?’

When Christians confess to following a God who in reality, is the greatest creator and communicator in existence, it makes no sense that His enemy should get props for making better things. God represents truth. God communicates goodness and love, and has done since he created all of this, so why are we not better at creating life giving things that promote truth. Why are we not better at truthful ad campaigns that tell just what is needed and not insanity that makes atheists become atheists because of our misrepresentation?

Christians that walk into abortion clinics with the intent to kill doctors represent God as a murderer.

Christians that throw homosexuals out of church represent God as an unloving, fearful, ignorant elitist.

Christians that write the same four chord worship song for 3o years, the same badly acted, badly directed, badly filmed movies about the same cheesy facade of life represent God as an uncreative ostrich that buries his head in the sand, thinking we are still in the 70’s.

Christians who refuse to vote, who refuse to pray or engage with our leaders, who refuse to build our societies in nations of goodness paint God as an unloving being who created us and then left us to our own devices, which is a falsity.

Gods book. You know, the bible. Is mostly a blue print for good nation building. It gives us large examples of what works, but mostly of what does not work. God wants us to be involved in nation building through love and truth and choice.

We need to get better at educating and communicating life before we attempt to protest what we consider bad governance. Violently protesting bad governance is communicating neither life nor honour, just impatience and distrust of a God who loves first.

Love first. Trust first. Build first.

Communicating truth as it is, is powerful.

More powerful then blunt graphics, or emotionally charged responses.

Communicate life.

3 thoughts on “You can’t, but you have to.

  1. Woah. So I had to pay close attention to this. What do I even think? That’s what it forced me to process, and that’s what I like about you JBR! The anointing to think! Hallelujah. God is awesome!

    I remember a conversation I had with family friends one night after watching “The Help”. It was set in 1960’s Mississippi during the Jim Crow laws, on the cusp of the civil rights movement. It was so disgusting that the maids had to use a different bathroom at the white house that they worked at. After the movie we got into talking about changing the world (I like that about Ywam community). We were talking about the trouble with democracy, how it’s the voice of the people but what if the people are wrong?

    I always thought that we needed to change laws in order to change society. But our friends showed me that in democracy, we need to change society in order to change the laws. In America (well not many places) we don’t have an absolute monarchy. The “king” (president) cannot decide that abortion is wrong, change all the laws, and abortion is done. But we seem to think that a man having absolute power might help. It would.

    But for how long? Until the next term was up. Democracy, the airport of politicians. So you see in social activist movies like “The Help” and “Amazing Grace”… as well as working on the government, they focused on the people. They wrote books. They spoke truth. They prayed. And gradually society shifted. The least the politicians could do was ratify the laws. And thousands, if not millions, of slaves were set free, unjust laws abolished and just ones made, and it goes on. Because they start with the heart and not with the law.

    So I guess all this to say, that I completely agree. “Love first. Trust first. Build First.” I was challenged by thinking about… how am I representing God… who He is… His character… but also reminded too in here that when we love first it will fall into place, just in time. Change laws. We can’t but we have to! Yes. But let’s be the ones that cry to love first, changing values and beliefs systems galore. Hallelujah. Our God reigns.

  2. confession. i always tend to read your posts with a figurative hand over one eye, the way you might do watching a man walk a tightrope. because you address big issues that need a careful communicator to handle them if they wish to be effective. or a voice worth entertaining. not a timid one by any means or a polite one or a politically correct one. but a careful one. and its exactly the sentiment you expressed in the last few paragraphs about christians essentially being bad communicators that makes it so scary to read a christian’s thoughts on these big issues. but like watching the dude on the tightrope, by the end of your post i wipe the sweat off my brow and i’m like GOOD!!! THAT WAS AWESOME!! AAAMEN!! (you are a great communicator and you’re only getting stronger and gentler and all of the above.)

    i am behind this exact way of thinking.

    i’d just like to say this was my favourite part because i relate to it the most: “Christians that write the same four chord worship song for 3o years, the same badly acted, badly directed, badly filmed movies about the same cheesy facade of life represent God as an uncreative ostrich that buries his head in the sand, thinking we are still in the 70′s.” AYOOO!!

    1. i love you. and its people like you that i would love to see creating beautiful visual stories that make people sit silently, mulling over the life-filled journey that were just punched with.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s