Wright and wrong
“At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” (Justice Anthony Kennedy, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 1992)
“The way of peace they know not, and there is no justice in their path; they have made their roads crooked; no one who walks in them knows peace.” (Isaiah 59. 8)
“Wright: a maker or builder; a craftsman.” (Merriam-Webster online dictionary.)
“Chosen for life, wrought in wonder, deeply loved and meant for royal splendor, we shine like the sun.” (Joseph Stringer, Alien Nation, 2018)
“I want her.”
“Doesn’t anyone care?”
“Just what I needed to destroy him.”
“They’ll see me now.”
“I feel like a woman, a man, something in between — as long as someone wants me.”
“I need a smoke, a drink, a pill, a fix, some sex. Anything to stop the pain.”
“I feel anger, rage, despair, sorrow, hurt.”
“I feel hopeless. I want to end it all.”
“I feel alone.”
“They’re not really human.”
“The world will hear us now!”
“No, I am! You are wrong!”
We are lost in a raging storm of emotions. Without mast or rudder, we are tossed about by wind and wave until we no longer know ourselves, care about others, or recognize reality.
In the last three articles, we’ve had short visits with people who seem as lost as we are: Cal and Tonya began a destructive path of betrayal. Jim saw them and sought power by destroying them. Kaylee decided to end her misery and her life. Daquan intervened, praying that she might recognize her own value. The unnamed murderer — and the unleashed beasts of the riot — believed the only means to communicate was to destroy any semblance of holiness.
These people are all icons of the state of our culture today. This is who we have become in our emotional lives. We have abandoned God’s gift of reason, the rudder that holds us steady through the depths of the storm. We have torn down the grace of God’s Commandments, the sails which catch the wind of the Holy Spirit to guide us along life’s course. We have turned our eyes away from the light of Jesus’ guiding star that brings us homeward to ourselves.
Our politics have become one long battle, marked by alienation and division without end. Each side believes they are right and the other not only wrong, but evil and worthy of contempt. Our social discourse is filled with vitriol, hatred and attacks upon a person’s character rather than their ideas. Reason and discussion no longer help us discern right and wrong.
Today we do not live in a post-Christian society, nor a post-truth culture. We exist in a post-reality world of our own creation. Secularism, Relativism and Atheism promised us the vision of an unfettered future of progress toward perfect man. What they have delivered is a nightmare: man unconnected to any real value, chained by his own feelings, blind and deaf, and wandering through life without purpose.
In the midst of this tempest of emotions, how are we to find our way? The cultural and intellectual leaders of our secular society have taught us, as Justice Kennedy stated, “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” But if we each must define our own way, how on earth are we to live together? How do we discern right from wrong when we are told that truth does not exist?
Our current multi-cultural, relativistic society reinforces divisions without providing any path toward resolving our alienation from one another. If we embrace the central tenet of today’s culture as expressed by Justice Kennedy, there is no basis by which we can build a shared and common life. We each wander on a course of our own choosing, rejecting anyone or anything which limits our imagined and false freedom. Isaiah foretold our end if we all follow our own path: “no one who walks in them knows peace.”
The central reason we do not know peace is that we live a contradiction. We have been told that truth is not objective or real, but is different for each person. Yet, clinging to that belief, we argue and shout, “My truth is right and yours wrong.” The first chapter of C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity tells us that this peculiar idea of “right and wrong” is universal to us all. No matter what we believe, we cannot escape the fact that we all argue just that way.
Our very arguments demonstrate the lie of Relativism. Even supposed non-believers establish elaborate value systems with their own version of “sin” and “redemption.” Among the current list of sins for Relativists are intolerance, inequality, non-scientific thinking and faith itself. Is it not ironic that Relativists are the most verbal in loudly damning anyone who disagrees with them today?
How do we discover peace within ourselves? How do we discern right from wrong? The Christian’s answer lies in the meaning of “wright,” a homonym for the word “right.” Wright means: “a maker or builder; a craftsman, such as a shipwright.” Our Father has fashioned us for His purpose. As I stated in Alien Nation, we are “chosen for life, wrought in wonder …”
When we accept that we are loved by God and wrought in wonder, our lives are transformed. We find peace in knowing God’s call for our lives. We see others through the eyes of God and thus love them as He does. We share and discuss — and even argue without hating one another — because we honor the reality of God’s love for every person made in His image.
Secularism, Relativism and Atheism provide no foundation upon which we could build a systematic understanding of right and wrong. With no purpose, no set standard and no transcendent meaning in our lives, we are cast upon the seas in the raging tempest or our own emotions. This is why division, despair and hatred rule our culture today.
The Father who loves us is the shipwright of our lives. He provides the solid rudder of reason to help steer us through the tempest. His strong mast and sails catch the wind of the Holy Spirit to move us on our way. Jesus, our North Star, guides us to the horizon of our journey, where we discover the One Truth greater than our minds and emotions could imagine … and where we discover our real selves.
Our Father is working still and He calls us to work alongside Him. Take hold of the rudder, look to the North Star, find the right course and follow it Home.
Joseph Stringer writes and speaks on Christian issues in culture in the hope that we may realize transformation in our lives. Watch for his upcoming book, “God Came Down.” He prays that all who hear him or read his works might see through them to the One who has chosen us for life. Check out his blog at www.chosen4life.org.