It was late August, 1994 when a young, black man emerged from a mansion in Palm Springs, Florida. The man strode briskly down the four steps leading from the main door, then, preferring to drive himself, he continued past the line of white limousines and on to the valet who was meticulously positioned at the opened door of the man’s personal Range Rover.
Perhaps such an innocuous scene isn’t noteworthy; at least it wouldn’t be were it not for the history of the mansion from which the man had emerged, and the recent legal battle which had permitted such a benign emergence from such an ordinary person.
The mansion was Mar A Lago, and the man was Denzel Washington. Mr. Washington was among the first black members of a club which had previously been reserved for white non-jews (1)(2).
It would later be said that the owner of the club – notably, Donald Trump – had done nothing extraordinary by suing the city of Palm Springs to allow black members into his exclusive club; nothing extraordinary, they said, because he may have ultimately gained from the enhanced public image and increased membership dues (3).
As the Range Rover pulled onto Ocean Boulevard, a meeting was taking place in Washington at which a senator was speaking with the president hoping to gain presidential support for a bill he would introduce; a bill that would change the way law enforcement interacted with minority groups for the following three decades, and counting.
It should be noted that this meeting with then President Clinton wasn’t fortuitous or providential; in fact, it was bought with a vote.
Only months before, in December 1993, the senator had voted in favor of defense spending legislation that included a provision known as Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (4)(5)(6).
Support for that provision, prioritized by the president, might’ve been enough to afford a senator a slot for a meeting on the president’s crowded agenda. Such a coveted meeting with the president would be an ideal occasion to discuss a crime bill that was just what was needed to bring the ambitious senator’s name, Joe Biden, back into prominence.
https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-factcheck-byrd-eulogy-biden-kkk-grand/fact-checkrobert-byrdeulogized-by-joe-bidenat-funeralwas-notkkkgrandwizard-idUSKBN26S2EE – https://www.vanityfair.com/style/2016/12/how-donald-trump-beat-palm-beach-society-and-won-the-fight-for-mar-a-lago – https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-biden/bidens-lgbtq-record-draws-scrutiny-at-iowa-presidential-forum-idUSKBN1W603A – https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-biden/bidens-lgbtq-record-draws-scrutiny-at-iowa-presidential-forum-idUSKBN1W603A. – https://getoutspoken.com/fact-check/the-complete-truth-about-joe-bidens-lgbt-record
Skipping forward, history has noted that the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell provision, supported by the senator, served to forcibly remove almost 14,000 LGBT members of the military from their posts (7), and bans openly gay people from serving in our nation’s military (8); moreover, the crime bill that had been the reason for the August meeting with the president ultimately passed legislation, and upon implementation, provided necessary initiatives for arrest warrants against black people at such an alarming rate that black parents would ultimately tell stories of finding it necessary to teach their children how to not get arrested when pulled over for speeding.
Twenty-six years later, the senator and the club owner faced off as each of them campaigned for the office of US President. One campaigned to keep his seat; the other campaigned for the third time to finally win the office.
Given such a history, one might reasonably assume that allegations of racism and homophobia stunted the aspirations of one candidate; whereas, sweeping endorsements from LGBT activists and black-interest groups carried the other candidate’s campaign securely into the polls. In fact, true as these assumptions may be, their presumed order is markedly reversed (9).
https://www.history.com/news/dont-ask-dont-tell-repeal-compromise – https://archive.defense.gov/home/features/2010/0610_dadt/ – https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/biden-endorsed-u-s-s-largest-lgbtq-group-notable-anniversary-n1201116
2 Corinthians is a confusing book with a prose that is so out of tempo with my reading style that I can seldom stand to read it. I do find agreement with the book, not entirely unlike I find agreement with The Declaration of Independence; albeit I cannot find a good rhythm in the reading of either.
In 2 Corinthians, Paul writes, “Therefore, I was not vacillating when I intended to do this was I? Or that which I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, that with me there should be yes, yes and no, no at the same time?” …See what I mean?
By this, he is stating that he is able to make up his mind unlike a worldly man (of the flesh) who accepts a false dichotomy by saying yes and no simultaneously regarding the same principles or facts, otherwise known as the Both-And Principle.
It’s interesting that even so long ago, it was evident to the apostle that when we abandon God, and perceive reality or truth in the flesh, we conflate our yes’s with our no’s to such a degree that they cease to be disjoined.
Given such a state, where our yes’s and no’s have little meaning, we see people using idioms such as “subjective truth”, or “my truth”.
Such people may also say “you have your opinions; I have mine” without even considering the basis of each opposing opinion. In other words, both opinions are passively acknowledged as diametrically… true! Who would take care to seek out the truth when the truth is only subjective?
This question is important because its answer has shaped an entire post-truth culture, and that culture has become violent toward all forms of objectivity.
And so it began, however ironically, during this chaotic post-truth era that a notable behavior labeled “fact checking” emerged. Fact checkers such as Politifact and Snopes have relatively recently arrived on the scene making efforts to either categorically solidify or disavow the authority of statements which have sprung from subjective truth, and their existence and prevalence has strengthened greatly during the respective, presidential campaigns of the senator and the business man.
When fact checkers sought to clarify whether or not Mr. Trump had, in fact, received a lap dance from his fifteen year-old daughter, they labeled the story as “partially true”, acknowledging that, although aspects of the statement may have been questionable because the girl was not seen grinding into her father’s crotch, the claim was substantially true because the girl was indeed photographed sitting in her father’s lap (actually she was sitting forward on his knees) (10).
Alternately, when the same fact checkers sought to clarify the validity of claims of evidence that Joe Biden was racist because he had spoken a Eulogy for a former KKK leader’s funeral, fact checkers ultimately labeled the claim as “false”; clarifying that Biden’s eulogy was for a former KKK member, and not a KKK leader (11). Get it right!
https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/ivanka-trump-lap-sitting – https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-factcheck-byrd-eulogy-biden-kkk-grand/fact-checkrobert-byrdeulogized-by-joe-bidenat-funeralwas-notkkkgrandwizard-idUSKBN26S2EE
As a Christian, I want to dismiss the absurdity of our post-truth culture as something that was the spawn of the unchurched. Perhaps it is a revelation of the danger that lurks beyond our church walls; something that will enrapture us if we wade into the false teachings of Russell and Dawkins, or when we leave the solidarity and solidity of the church and its doctrine.
I want to believe this only because it makes me feel good, probably much like it feels good to almost everybody when we abandon inconvenient, objective truth and choose to believe a “truth” that’s convenient du jour.
Now, considering I am compelled to be truthful with myself, I’m going to offer a suggestion, here, that is uncomfortable. One that is inconvenient at best, and dangerous at its worst. I suggest that this post-truth culture was ushered in to us through the church.
There are inconvenient teachings in the church’s authoritative doctrine known as The Bible, and it has become old-hat for us to simply throw these inconveniences out! Conversely, there are many held beliefs regarding morality and ethical living that are taught in our churches, but are nowhere found in The Bible. Jesus called this, “teaching precepts of men as though it were Biblical doctrine”.
The church has, as it historically has, tried to convince a savvy generation of its solidarity with the truth, only to find itself exposed as inconsistent and flimsy. Thus the church’s beckoning to a lost and capricious culture has been decidedly, and perhaps rightly, ignored. Christians claim to hold biblical answers to our cultural deprivation, and many of these same Christians are entirely unfamiliar with the Bible that they are thumping as their source for answers!
This condition of finding one’s own truth or an illusory, better truth isn’t entirely limited to today’s Christian culture. Alas, there are many stories of god’s children presumptuously choosing something other than His truth found throughout the Bible. In most examples, Christians ostensibly worship Him while they actively pursue something other than Him! In fact, in some examples, these Christians seem to have believed that God’s truth, however good, was lacking in the entirety of goodness that would be manifested by their own masterful goodness.
Remember when God commanded David to transport the Ark of the Covenant on staves, but His servant’s idea was even better than His! The servants presumed themselves to be more righteous than God himself, thus they transported the Ark on a cart; a new cart; handcrafted.
A man died over this; he was literally killed by God when he reached out and touched the Ark. Only moments before the killing, this group who was rebelling against God was pretending to worship Him; albeit, they were really reveling in their own self-righteousness. Imagine that… that while they ostensibly worshipped God, God’s anger burned against them.
The church behaves in much the same way today as David and his people did then. We’ve judged for ourselves that The Bible teaches some things that are culturally unrealistic for us today, and thus we shut The Book. Choosing instead to rely on our own suppositions about what the Bible might have said had we read it; We don’t come out with it, but in truth, Christians in our churches have supposed that our own assumptions about morality are more righteous than God’s opining of truth found in His Word.
Consider that it is from this position that the church pleads with the culture to come to them for answers; however, the problem is that the culture is practicing exactly what it has learned from the church, which is the deconstruction of truth and thus composing an abstract and malleable truth that fits our modern lifestyle.
Now, this writing isn’t really meant to excoriate, although it may have done just that. Still, there is encouragement – not in my words; never in my words – in our Source of truth and in our Source of encouragement. As Paul wrote, “For whatever was written in God’s Word was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
Thus the following words of hope and encouragement:
Paul wrote to Timothy: “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.”
David also wrote: “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”
God appeared to Solomon and Said: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
To the church I would say, stop presuming to have answers for a lost culture until those answers are found by our reading of The Word.
If our present cultural condition did emerge through the church, then it would be ignoble to presume that the church will provide cultural healing without a paradigm shift back to God, on our knees, seeking His Truth. Remember the one time that an author of the Bible said that he was giving his own opinion rather than God’s declaration? He then proceeded to give instruction to the church which was antithetical of what had previously been written in The Word. Let’s bear that misstep in mind the next time we consider our own wisdom to bring a nation back to God. We find God in His Word; we find God’s truth in His Word where He speaks to us. Let’s get in The Word, then humble ourselves and pray for his guidance. After which there is hope that God will heal our land. After all, this was a promise that God told his people, and we can hang our hats on that.