Tag Archives: christians

fairness is in our genes

there has been a lot said about the article i am going to quote later in this post, but none of it that i’ve seen calls out the glaringly obvious point that i’m seeing in this:

Consider one more experimental example to prove the point: the ultimatum game. You are given $100 to split between yourself and your game partner. Whatever division of the money you propose, if your partner accepts it, you each get to keep your share. If, however, your partner rejects it, neither of you gets any money.

How much should you offer? Why not suggest a $90-$10 split? If your game partner is a rational, self-interested money-maximizer — the very embodiment of Homo economicus — he isn’t going to turn down a free 10 bucks, is he? He is. Research shows that proposals that offer much less than a $70-$30 split are usually rejected.

Why? Because they aren’t fair. Says who? Says the moral emotion of “reciprocal altruism,” which evolved over the Paleolithic eons to demand fairness on the part of our potential exchange partners. “I’ll scratch your back if you’ll scratch mine” only works if I know you will respond with something approaching parity. The moral sense of fairness is hard-wired into our brains and is an emotion shared by most people and primates tested for it, including people from non-Western cultures and those living close to how our Paleolithic ancestors lived.

the idea that most people react this way is something in our selves so deep that it is something we share with other primates.

when we share so much DNA with monkeys, apes, and lemurs, and yet so many people deny that we come from common ancestors, it just seems dishonest to me.

intellectually at best, and plain-old lyin’ at worst.

as i get further and further away, as the months tick by, from my old christian self, i have trouble even remembering how it is i ignored so much evidence for evolution and spent so much time researching “science” that “disproved” it.

how was i able to accept as fact then what is so clearly horse-pooey?

this article explains it, in some small sense.

Why people believe weird things about money – Los Angeles Times:

plankeye, followup

there’s been some contention as to my post on “plankeye”

i will concede that we are indeed to “make judgement” — even about people and what they are up to.

but the context of the verse you pulled out shows the difference between what jesus was referring to in john 7 and what he is teaching about in the sermon on the mount:

14 About the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and began teaching. 15 The Jews therefore marveled, saying, “How is it that this man has learning, when he has never studied?” 16 So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. 17 If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. 18 The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory, but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood. 19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why do you seek to kill me?” 20 The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who is seeking to kill you?” 21 Jesus answered them, “I did one deed, and you all marvel at it. 22 Moses gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. 23 If on the Sabbath a man receives circumcision, so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because on the Sabbath I made a man’s whole body well? 24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”

both of these passages speak to not judging —- and both infer that in order to make wise decisions about how to treat people one needs to be in a place of humility before god, and seeking the true good of the other person.

the original thought behind the plankeye post was a friend pointing out how those who claim to follow christ’s teachings are often those who are most guilty of being judgmental — and unfairly judgmental at that, often with yucky results in the life of those being judged.

i was obviously, in my first post on this topic, not saying that one is never to decide whether something is right or wrong.

clearly to follow christ is to believe there IS a right.

but judging and condemning people is the wrong way to go about getting them to change their behavior, while encouraging and asking is the right way.

in fact, to do so is to make a right judgement: to “hold back” on force-feeding your “pearls” of “rightness” to those who are not able to digest them, and instead love and encourage and simply ask them to consider a better way.

so, i stand by my statement:

judging IS the plank in our eye.

and i’ll say it again using a different word, by way of expounding:

condemning IS the plank in our eye.

romans 14:13:

Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.

condemnation and judging puts a HUGE stumbling block in the way of those who would otherwise be attracted to the kingdom.

we who claim to live in the kingdom behave in unattractive ways, in ways that make people feel rejected, not loved, and so they turn and attack us.

just like jesus says they will in the passage i quoted above.

but if we simply ask people, without condemnation, they are more apt to find our message acceptable.

plankeye

a friend of mine recently wrote:

This is the very reason I stopped attending my youth group. It was so unwelcoming.

And, there’s something else, too. It seems to me, that rejection from the church crowd holds a bigger emotional consequence than rejection from other crowds. These are, after all, the people with whom you are supposed to be sharing God, a very intimate experience. It’s like rejection from a lover, in a way. Not to mention the fact, that church crowds are so darn good at rejection, and doing it group-wide. I have found that many churches are like giant rumor mills. If you get rejected at all, you get rejected ALL THE WAY.

no disciple of jesus’ could agree that the above statement about “our people” is the way it should be.

rather, all would say it would be best not to be this way.

so, what is it that prevents us from being the grace-filled, friendly, welcoming crowd that jesus himself clearly was?

plankeye

Matthew 7:1:

Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

(most people stop quoting this little section there, but jesus didn’t stop there….)

“Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.

i see a few things in there that, by and large, are missed, through lack of sheer studying, as far as i can tell.

first: judgment IS the plank in our own eye.

as soon as we stop trying to correct other people’s behavior, we are freed, by grace, to love them.

as soon as we stop trying to force them into doing what they can’t, they’ll stop feeling (and being!) judged.

as soon as we stop trying to “force feed” our “pearls of heavenly knowledge” to pigs…

you know that pigs can’t eat pearls, right?

…they’ll stop trying to bite us.

judgment is something that only ONLY only god can do.

but, we want people to change, right?

we want them to come to the place we are, where pearls are appreciated, and treasured, not rejected?

how do we do that, if not by judging?

Matthew 7:7:

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

asking for things is the key to obtaining what you want, in the kingdom of god.

you ask the father for things, so ask his kids.

simply turning your attitude from “demanding/shoving” to “asking” will make all the difference.

of course, to get rid of this judging and contemptive attitude, really, you need to go back to the passages of the sermon on the mount that lead up to it — the things where jesus teaches us how to be of his mind:

in reverse order:

do not be anxious
lay up treasures in heaven
fasting
how to pray
giving to the needy
loving your enemies
retaliation
oaths
divorce
lust
anger

…in all these little passages are deep deep mysteries of kingdom life — and the one follows the other: he put them in order for a reason.

once you have “worked out your salvation” in this order, and have (all with christ’s help) managed to lose judging, you are then, spiritually able to move on to:

the golden rule

the golden rule simply can’t be “done” apart from living out the sermon on the mount’s teachings.

but, through the spirit, if you seek to obey christ’s teachings in the sermon on the mount, by the time you’re ready to give up judging, you’re nature has changed so much that you are more than ready and willing to start doing to people — really and truly — what you wish they would do to you.

i could talk for hours about this, but i must get going on my day’s work.

dealing with “weaker brothers”

first off: i like the ESV.

bad NIV translation has spawned the phrase “weaker brother”, which implies that the person must be somehow “under” you, by the -er suffix.

the phrase, though, is simply “one who is weak in faith” — regardless of how they’re faith “stacks up” to yours.

anyway, on with the scripture:

Romans 14:1-3

Do Not Pass Judgment on One Another

1 As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. 2 One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. 3 Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.

if someone, weak in the faith or not, is hounding you on an issue that the bible is vague (or silent) on: they are not living a life of love.

perhaps this person is weak in faith, but the instructions from paul are to be a two-way street: it is clear that we are simply to avoid judging one another on matters of opinion.

it is possible that they are otherwise quite strong in their faith, but simply have a hang-up in this one area… ?

either way, i think romans is fairly clear that you are to, as a matter of love, avoid “flaunting” your freedom.

this does not mean, in my opinion, that you are to avoid the activity in question altogether, but simply to do what seems best to avoid inflaming the issue with this person.

always in love, though, it is also clear that you are to “not allow what you regard as good be spoken of as evil.”

this may be where that terrible phrase, “agree to disagree” actually applies.

if it truly is a matter of opinion, then it is likely not a crucial matter, and you can likely serve the lord by dropping it humbly if the person is tryingto pick a fight.

if, however, they really are in need of restoration, keep this in mind:

Galations 6:1-3

Bear One Another’s Burdens

1 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.

i believe this warning to be sure you are not tempted to sin is aimed at thinking you are “better” than them, and will give them a “piece of your mind”, or whatnaught.

notice, too that the idea is to restore — NOT to correct, or punish, or condemn or judge.

restore, and gently.

if there’s any chance you will be unlikely to restore this person in total gentleness and love, it’s probably best left to a matter of prayer — let god sort them out. (he’s better at it anyway)

patriotism

patriotism, as most people understand it (regardless of what the dictionary says it “means”) is, in my opinion, not a stance a follower of jesus can take.

it means, at its most basic, that one is aligning himself with an agency on earth, rather than with god’s kingdom, where jesus instructs his followers to make their homes and to put their trust.

i think most americans believe that it is simply self-evident that “america is the the most important nation in the history of the world”, and that it is somehow “blessed by god”.

regardless of our country’s fruit, we tend to hear, and absorb, and repeat the notion that we are a godly nation, a “christian nation”, and that our “way” is the best way.

clearly, however, jesus would say that the kingdom of god’s way is the best way, and that anything else is against god.

therefore, to pledge allegiance to anything other than the kingdom of god, for a follower of christ, is to, at the least, to just inherit beliefs from surroundings (to be OF the world).

instead, what ought to do is work them out through obedience to god and study of his word.

i won’t go so far as to say that patriotism is a “sin” — for there is wiggle room, to be sure.

but that’s my take on being “a patriot”.

a thought on calvinism

i remember, back when i liked to take the label “calvinist” for myself, how i had so little understanding of what it means, really.

i imagine there are lots of people like i was.

i also know, now that i’m several years older (and hopefully wiser!), that all the discussions i had, thinking it mattered had so very little to do with what jesus taught on how to be happy, or what he taught on what it means to love god.

i remember being so angry at “armenians” who would say calvinism is just an excuse to not have to evangelize (that still, er, ticks me off, actually), and i remember thinking that anyone who isn’t a calvinist must not think god is truly sovereign.

but, somewhere along the line, i realized that i simply am not smart enough to understand god, nor his ways.

i came to the conclusion that perhaps him knowing who goes to hell ahead of time does not automagically mean he also hand-picked who goes to heaven, because his ways are above ours.

i have decided not to get into these debates, because i have never seen a mind changed, nor a life improved.