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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Seeing But Not Seeing

This morning I was reading a familiar story from John chapter 9. Jesus gave sight to a man who had been born blind. The reaction of his neighbors is predictable: "This man looks just like our friend the blind man! Wait, is this the blind man? No, it can't be!" The blind man was like, "Yep, I'm him!" Then he told them that Jesus had healed him, which is probably what got him into trouble. Don't ever forget: your witness for Jesus may get you into hot water from time to time. That's no reason not to do it!

Anyway, his "friends" took him to the Pharisees, a group of very influential religious leaders of the day, and the Pharisees questioned him. According to their rules (not God's rules!), Jesus was breaking religious law by essentially practicing medicine on the Sabbath. (Basically, if you've ever heard a Christian berating another Christian for having a job that has them working on a Sunday, that's the same idea.) It was clear to everyone around that someone could not perform this miracle of healing unless God sent him, but this flew in the face of the Pharisees' belief system. Instead of looking at the plain fact that Jesus' actions proved that He was from God and that their belief system was flawed, they chose to try to preserve their belief system by refusing to believe that the event had even taken place. They brought in the man's parents and asked them if this was the blind guy - they were afraid of being excommunicated, so they confirmed the facts of the situation (yes, he's our son, yes, he was blind when he was born) without ever saying whether they believed Jesus was from God. They just threw their poor son under the bus: "He's a grown-up, ask him what happened!"

They brought the man back in and questioned him again about Jesus. The man stuck to his guns - "I don't know if your rules are true, but I know I can see!" Then they asked him to tell them again how Jesus had done it, and the guy finally lost his patience. Basically, he said "I told you my story already. Why are you so interested in Jesus anyway?" Then he tossed some waterproof theology their way, and in return they threw him out of the church (the thing his parents were afraid was going to happen to them).

Now, the Pharisees knew Jesus had come from God. In John 3:1-2 one of them actually came to Jesus and told him as much. These guys weren't looking for knowledge or truth... they were looking for a way to force the truth to fit their flawed belief system.

As I was reading this, I was reminded of the controversy several years ago about "gender" - political and even scientific leadership were (and are) arguing that gender is somehow a mental or emotional state, or equivalent to the sexual activities in which one chooses to engage. When I was growing up, it was obvious to everyone that "gender" referred to the plumbing in one's body, not the state of one's mind. There were and are clearly two distinct configurations. Now, there have always been people who have the same configuration of body parts who were attracted to one another - I don't think anyone denies that fact. Many people of faith believe, based on things they read in the Bible, that sexual activity between persons with the same plumbing is contrary to Scripture, and thus sinful. But even people who thinks it is sinful do not deny that the attraction sometimes exists or that the activity happens.

The new thing in the past five years or so is that people with various sexual orientations (and well-meaning people who want them to feel included in society) are choosing to redefine the word "gender" and the noun "sex" to mean a whole host of things related to emotional states and sexual desires, leaving no word in the English language that means "I have a this and you have a that, so our bodies are different." It seems to me that this amounts to the same thing as "You can see and that would mean that Jesus is from God, but he can't be from God because he broke our rule." It seems like this attack on the English language is there to support preconceived ideas about sexuality and make it impossible to argue that certain behaviors are inherently wrong. Those that argue against it are "thrown out of the temple" by being censored or removed from social media, ridiculed by broadcast and published media, and basically shamed for their beliefs.

Now, you might argue that the people who think gender=body configuration at birth are the equivalent of the old-school Pharisees, wanting to keep things the same while a new progressive person challenges their belief system. I would argue that Jesus and His truth predated the Pharisees, who were seeking to add their own rules to God's reality - and the fact that the word "gender" historically referred to the physical state of one's body predates the idea that "gender" is how you feel at any given moment. The Pharisees were the ones trying to twist reality for their own gain; Jesus was just expressing the truth that had always been.

I don't deny anyone's right to engage in any kind of sexual activity that they want to, barring of course things that would bring harm to another. I don't even deny the right of a man to dress like a woman or a woman to dress like a man if they want to. As Americans, we believe people can do and say what they please, within the bounds of the law. But I do think it's not right to force people to change their very language to fit an ideological agenda in which they do not believe.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. We human beings are so prone to trying to justify our actions in any way possible, particularly if we are told that they are sinful - instead of humbly coming to God and saying, "We know Jesus is from You, so we're asking for Your truth in this situation. We're not trying to manipulate facts to suit an agenda. We are seeking to manipulate our agenda to conform to Your truth."