by ProfDave, ©2021
(Apr. 15, 2021) — What would a “Right” World look like? I’m representing a “Christian” worldview. [Disclaimer: I should say Judeo-Christian, because the roots and the trunk of a Biblical worldview are really Jewish.] Christianity – ethical monotheism in general – is supposed to have a problem with the problem of evil. Compared with atheism and post-modern secularism, Christianity is the only worldview that deals with the problem of evil. They have a problem with the problem of good! They have no way of defining what is good and right except in categories they plagiarize from the Christian culture around them! Whatever would an atheist do without God? Think about it!
Christians have been saying all along that the human condition is broken in a broken world. Humanity is made in the image of God, with god-like moral autonomy and freedom. Humanity is broken because we broke it. We severed the link with our Maker that made us whole, setting ourselves and our world adrift. We don’t understand all the consequences and how they cascade to earthquakes and tornadoes, nor why He allowed us this terrible freedom. Could it be that the freely given love of at least some of us is worth more to him than the robot obedience of the whole cosmos? There’s a lot we don’t know. But the reality of evil – particularly the evil within us – is the most empirically verified fact of history and of life. We are broken. So broken we can scarcely imagine what it would be like to be un-broken. So wrong that we can’t comprehend what it would be like to be right. Right? So broken and wrong seems normal and right. Right?
In a Right World, people would tell the truth. And not just in political ads. Products would look like they do on TV and do what they do in the commercial. You wouldn’t have to read the fine print. Both the big print and the fine print would tell the truth plainly. And it wouldn’t take a lawyer to get a refund. Can you imagine a world like that? If you can, it is because you were made for such a world. But don’t expect it any day soon (unless Messiah comes!).
What would a “Right” World look like? There would be no left-handed people. Naah! Just kidding. In a Right World, people would keep their marriage vows, for better or for worse. They wouldn’t cut and run when things get tough – and they do – or when the sizzle fizzles. Which it does some days. That’s when we need each other the most. Right? Then our children would be raised by their own Mom and Dad, committed to them and to each other till death do them part. Right?
In a Right World we would all be thankful for what we have been given. Right? Reading American colonial history this week reminds me of Deuteronomy 8. We live in a land flowing with milk and honey – literally. I eat my fill three times a day. My house would be the envy of most of the world. “When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful . . . when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down . . . and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God who brought you . . . out of the land of slavery. . . . You may say to yourself, ‘my power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.” Our ancestors really believed that. In a Right World we would remember. Right?
In a Right World we would take the time for what really counts: our relationships. I’m in recovery for that, among other things. I get so wrapped up in projects – including this one – that people go floating by unnoticed. Sometimes you occupy the space into which I’m staring, but am I really looking at you? Really listening? Or am I a million miles and a hundred years away? When I’m there for my family am I really there? Am I really there for God? Or am I just mouthing words, singing parts, reading print – sitting on the premises instead of “standing on the promises?” To love God is to love his children, Right? Gotta pay attention – even if I have to take out a loan. Right?
What would a “Right” World look like? In a Right World, we wouldn’t set up phony gods. We would keep our values in the proper order, and not put our stomachs (or other body parts?) over all the earth. And people wouldn’t make themselves gods, or make up their own gods, or make up messages from God out of their own heads (impersonating God?) There would be a lot less religion and a lot more truth. We would know the Maker of heaven and earth. And we’d let God be God, Right? [1st Commandment] Right!
In a Right World, we wouldn’t put stuff in the place of God and people in the place of stuff. We wouldn’t love stuff and use people. We wouldn’t use God to get our own way either – or try to. Things would not rule over us. Possessions would not possess us. In a Right World we wouldn’t worship the creature in place of the Creator. Nor would we confuse God with a way to God – all caught up in the steeple and the cult and the ceremony, forgetting the WHO. Or the wedding in place of the marriage? Right? [2nd Commandment] Right!
In a Right World we wouldn’t misrepresent God. We wouldn’t use his name to accomplish our own twisted purposes. We wouldn’t act like the devil in the name of the Lord. Or disrespect the Almighty by our words and deeds. We wouldn’t use God to get our own way – or try to. Nor take credit for what he has done in us. Right? [3rd Commandment] Right!
In a Right World, we would take one day off a week to step out of the rat race, rest, worship and reset our priorities. There is something fundamentally wrong with a life that is flat-out, multi-tasking, 24-7, 365 days a year. Sleep fast, we need the pillows. I do it too. Family time while reading history and watching TV. When am I supposed to think? I am truly blessed, I guess. My father drilled into me the compulsive habit of a “quiet time” with the Lord before breakfast and a full-blown Puritan Sabbath – I mean, we didn’t do anything on Sundays (I’ve slipped a little, but haven’t given up). The “Blue Laws” were a good thing. We need to slow down. The busier we are, the behinder we get. The more information we have, the less we know. The more we do the less gets done! Right? [4th Commandment] Right! Take a time out this weekend!
In a Right World, we would listen to our parents and profit from the hard-won wisdom of our elders – instead of making the same mistakes generation after generation. We might even learn something from history! Children would obey parents, respect authority, and listen to their teachers! Can you imagine how smart fifth graders would be? How few policemen we would need? How much better our world would be? Right? [5th Commandment] Right!
In a Right World, we would not hate anyone for any reason. We would love our enemies, as Jesus commanded – and demonstrated on the cross. In a Right world, we would hold human life sacred. We wouldn’t “waste” anyone: unborn, handicapped, alien, disgusting, ourselves, whatever. In a Right world there would be no war, no violence, no domestic abuse, no exploitation, no human trafficking. In a Right world, we would love our neighbor as ourselves. Right? [6th Commandment] Right!
In a Right World, we would keep our wedding vows – no ifs, ands, or buts. Children would always have a mother and father who loved each other and them. We would wait for the appropriate time (build the nest before we lay the eggs) and back away from inappropriate desires, urges, and relationships. In a Right World, our sexuality would be under control – subject to our sober judgment, morality, and commitment. It would not control us, driving us to risky behavior, destroying our lives and the lives of our children (or would-be children) to the 4th generation. In a Right World there wouldn’t be whole industries that exploit us – particularly women and children – to arouse inappropriate desires and addictions that can never be satisfied. We would no longer allow ourselves to be entertained by what is degrading to us and to the opposite sex. In a Right World sex would not be used to sell, to manipulate or to dominate. It wouldn’t be dirty anymore. And we could respect each other in bed because we respect the marriage bed. Right? [7th Commandment] Right!
In a Right World, we would tell the truth. We wouldn’t falsely accuse anyone, and we wouldn’t need oaths or bonds to guarantee our word. In a Right World, we wouldn’t tell lies to ourselves, to God, and to others. It doesn’t make much sense to tell lies to God – someone who knows everything already – but we do it anyway. But in a Right World we really would be “honest to God.” We would come out of denial and get real about our brokenness. And we would find healing! In a Right World we wouldn’t fake it, we wouldn’t live double lives, and it would save us a lot of trouble. We wouldn’t have to keep track of our lies. In a Right World there would be no deception, cooking the books, or fudging the data. We would be better governed, save money, and know more. We would not be wasting our time on fraudulent dead-ends. Life would be a lot simpler and more efficient. Right? [9th Commandment] Right!
In a Right World, we wouldn’t go drooling over what isn’t for us. Keeping up with the Joneses (not you, Gary & Juanita) is a trap. We wouldn’t covet what belongs to someone else: the Jones’s house, the Jones’s car, the Jones’s job, the Jones’s bodies (take that any way you want to), the Jones’s life. You get the idea? In a Right World, we would be content with what we have – and thankful! It might slow the economy down a little bit, but we would be a lot happier. Right? [10th commandment] Right!
To be continued.
David W. Heughins (“ProfDave”) is Adjunct Professor of History at Nazarene Bible College. He holds a BA from Eastern Nazarene College and a PhD in history from the University of Minnesota. He is the author of Holiness in 12 Steps (2020). He is a Vietnam veteran and is retired, living with his daughter and three grandchildren in Connecticut.