5. Choosing God.
Choosing God is not always easy. It involves making life choices, having firm beliefs, staying strong, and standing up for the rights of others (naturally, this latter point is fraught with controversy). In doing so, you may be insulted, excluded, chased, or killed. This was the fate of Christ. This was the fate of the prophets. This is generally the fate of all who aspire to godliness while remaining peaceful. They are sheep to the slaughter, for the powerful are at war with God for supremacy, and at war with Truth for ideology. Those who are godless reject religion and persecute those who believe. Even those leaders who profess godliness rule with unrighteousness, poisoned by ambition, greed, paranoia, or megalomania. Thus, the godly must always be aware for the safety of their families, and for the state of their nation, even as they pray for the wisdom of their leaders, that is, for the fear of God which should overrule human nature.
From the preceding, it would appear that choosing God has no upside. Yet, Torah tells us specifically what to expect when we take or reject the Mark of God (Deuteronomy 11:22-28):
For if ye shall diligently keep all these commandments which I command you, to do them, to love the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, and to cleave unto him; Then will the LORD drive out all these nations from before you, and ye shall possess greater nations and mightier than yourselves. Every place whereon the soles of your feet shall tread shall be yours: from the wilderness and Lebanon, from the river, the river Euphrates, even unto the uttermost sea shall your coast be. There shall no man be able to stand before you: for the LORD your God shall lay the fear of you and the dread of you upon all the land that ye shall tread upon, as he hath said unto you. Behold, I set before you this day blessing and a curse; A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day: And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.
It might be argued that no one can say who will actually prosper and who will suffer. This argument has validity but there is a danger to it. For if we suppose that our actions have unguided consequences, we have not chosen God but have embraced savagery, especially if we decide for ourselves the extent of those consequences. On the other hand, if we believe that consequences are guided, then we acknowledge a power greater than ourselves (humility) and a responsibility to walk the path of greatest good rather than that of least resistance. In essence, choosing God is admitting that we would (naturally) rather be treated well than badly, and that the price for such compassion and latitude is reciprocity, that is, to follow the Golden Rule. God's Law teaches us this compassion and latitude, from the commandment to allow life ("thou shalt not murder") to the least nicety (but let us take notice that there is a limit to 613 commandments, which not only spells out our duty but disallows tyrants from creating new duties).
Thus, choosing God has many benefits. First, it increases the chance for reciprocity, which can only serve to improve daily interaction with others. Second, it places our leaders in the position to decide between right behavior and wrong behavior, and, when the people are righteous and alert they will not elect one who is unrighteous. When this happens, the people are happy and free. In America, even those who don't believe such things are free to indulge themselves. Only in an unrighteous land is there outright tyranny.
But there is more to choosing God than merely dealing with fellow-men. There is also a duty to God. This is where many part ways. For though we clearly see the advantage in treating others as we should like to be treated, there is often little or no visceral evidence that obeying God for the sake of obedience has any benefit. In fact, such behavior is often viewed as superstitious, superfluous, or damaging. If, for example, we do not keep the Sabbath, who is hurt and who is the wiser? Or, if someone is homosexual, why is that anybody's business?
We need to approach such things wisely. On one hand, there is no denying that if disobedience to commandments causes no one harm then those who disobey such commandments will cry foul, wondering why they are being persecuted. This causes us concern as creatures, since we fear anything that smells like tyranny. This also provokes our human compassion for the plight of another. However, it's not so simple. For on the other hand is the danger that if certain of God's commandments are discarded for any reason there will be no reason to believe that anything comes from God. The final step in such a journey would be to declare that men do not receive unalienable rights from God, only privileges from royalty and elite. Thus, today's freedom may become tomorrow's enslavement. It would therefore seem to be imperative to secure the rights of all rather than the comfort of a few.
Nevertheless, many who readily admit that the Golden Rule ("love thy neighbor") is necessary for civil rights, peace, liberty, and happiness do not also subscribe to the same practice between themselves and God. This they do for two reasons:
First, to remove from themselves any shackles of slavery which they perceive to be over and above that placed on them by the overwhelming morality of the Golden Rule. It is enough for them to refrain from the evils which they know to be abhorrent if roles were reversed. The idea is that they do what is necessary and no more. But this is incorrect, for they do far more. In their minds, they are animals in a wild world, but in actuality they do not act so much from instinct as from logical reasoning, which is our separation from the animals. For though the lower creatures follow the Golden Rule when it makes them safe or happy, they do not act with human practicality, only from a sensation of pain or pleasure which causes in them certain habitual behavior. The rest is instinct. The elephant, ant, salmon, black widow, and albatross are creatures which follow genetic codes for societal structure and individual behavior. Rare is the individual animal that deviates from the norm, and these are called abnormal. But man is a creature both of habit and creativeness. We can not only build, but we can also dream of new architectures, even bucking the naysayers who would remove progress (this does not, however, mean that all architecture or progress is godly). We are not forbidden by our Creator from thinking beyond the Golden Rule, or acting above the common good, though many things are to our peril. A new or different idea can be a blessing from the Creator. Some even call this "revelation," of which animals seem to have few, if any. My conclusion is that those who view the extent of their duty to mankind, self, and/or Creator limited to the Golden Rule are living a type of arrogant contradiction, for they believe their limitation to be a higher form of human expression than the freedom afforded from expansive thought. This would be true if the result of all free thinking (including freedom to worship and obey God) were only human misery, but we know that obedience to God brings freedom and happiness also. By contrast, no society which hinges on the whim of men can sustain for long.
Second, to remove from mankind that which they perceive to be societal shackles. For though they agree that the Golden Rule is a necessary device to keep themselves free from theft and harm, they do not agree that the Golden Rule is a creation of God. Since they are able to love their neighbor without loving God (or so they think), they have decided that the Golden Rule is a creation of man, and that God is also a creation of man, perhaps a higher power invented to enforce the basic rules of society. By extension, they view any commandment which is not explicitly for the benefit of humans (humanist) to be unnecessary. When such commandments are deemed to oppress certain peoples (for example, homosexuals), they decide that anyone who believes such commandments is a danger. These so-called atheists are not, but are instead anti-theists (against God) or anti-religionists (against those who espouse doctrines), bent on destroying the perceived destroyer. Of course, this is pure hypocrisy, and their endgame is a religion-free society, even by force (actually, there is no other way). Such things are no less than tyranny, against natural law and the Constitution of every free man. The problem, however, is that there is a kernel of truth to what they say, for some religions have been, and some religions are, oppressive.
Even those who are against obedience to certain of God's commandments are subjects of God. This, of course, does not absolve them for their disobedience, but they have a positive purpose. For if we withstand their assaults, our faith is purified. But those who fall will take the Mark of the Beast voluntarily, for they cannot handle being criticized, and they surrender to their embarrassment, compromising. They are ashamed for being "intolerant." It is, of course, irony that those who criticize so fiercely against certain religious beliefs are themselves intolerant. Let me say, however, that no religion should be tolerated if it continues in murder, sins, corruptions, and tyranny. On the other hand, every religion that refrains from such things should be tolerated, even if their beliefs hurt someone's feelings. The key is, how far should we go to protect religion? According to our Constitution, quite far. Not surprisingly, we find that many disagree, and attack the Christian religion especially. But with great double standard, those same people defend Islam's excesses. Naturally, there are good and bad in every religion, and we should differentiate, but there is a great blindness to reason in this regard, and it is due to the fact that many who believe the death of Christianity will solve their problems are quite angry, and will sacrifice the part of human freedom which stems from Christianity in order to pay off some vague debt of vengeance. The rest who argue this are Communists.
It is not important to discuss why the Bible considers, for example, homosexuality an abomination. Islam does as well. In fact, there is hardly a belief system which does not. To many, choosing God means accepting all things written. To others, it does not. This is personal choice. However, the problem comes when these choices become objects of contention, when those who believe spar with those who disbelieve, or when those who refrain clash with those who partake. Obviously, in a free society, those who believe all words should be free to do so, even as those who believe some other thing should be free as well. But when a minority is able to force the majority to acquiesce for the sake of special privilege, there is something wrong. For if laws favor the minority, then the majority becomes weak-willed to support the system. It is the majority which by numbers must be considered first. Of course, the minority and their supporters will cry loudly, but are we to sympathize only with those of less number? It has been proposed that the majority thinks itself privileged to rule, but is it not so? Who else shall it be? Do we swear into office the one with less votes? Thus, when a minority victory comes, unless it is an equalization of Constitutional rights, a special privilege is granted, a writ to despoil the majority. Then, when the tables are turned, it will become known if the oppressed becomes the oppressor. Is this provocative? Of course. But we must remain with our God-given rights rather than become exposed to the whims of cruel leaders. Now, it will be said that I do not defend the rights of the minority. Not so. When the majority is corrupt, removing the equal rights of the minority, there is no righteousness. Whether the black man is oppressed by the white man, or the Christian is oppressed by the Mohammedan, it is a shame against God.
What has this to do with choosing God? Everything. For when you choose God you will be subject to these storms, believer vs. non-believer, religion vs. religion, doctrine vs. truth. But even if you do not choose God, you cannot remove those who do.
Now, if God's promises are accepted, it should be understood that they are not kept immediately. This can be difficult when we understand that Satan's promises are founded upon instant gratification. God's commandments are not always easy nor do they always seem logical, and the quick and easy way of Satan is blinding and attractive, but there is a huge difference in the eventual payoffs. If you stick with God, the worst that can happen is that you live morally, within certain bounds. This will limit your sexuality, hedonism, greed, anger, and consumerism. Many people find these limitations to be boring, even dehumanizing. These feelings are true, but are manipulated by Satan in order to have you reject God. Now, if you go with Satan, though you be free to exploit your wildest fantasies, your eventual end will be bondage and slavery, first to your appetites, then to those leaders who feed those appetites. Abandonment of God always leads to the exploitation of the individual and the collapse of the society which does so.
Copyright © 2009 by Tom Wise and Dennis Putnam, Jr.
All rights reserved
"The Mark" is available from Lulu Books: here.