Summary: Jesus called us to love God with all our MINDS... when we fall for mushy thinking about God, morals and religion, we’re not exercising mental discipline. Jesus called people to earnest seeking and intellectual honesty.
THE D WORD
1. Mental Discipline
Many of us, when we think of the “D” word, we think about physical discipline and what comes to mind is the epidemic of flabby bodies today. But the truth is there’s another flabbiness epidemic in our day – but it’s of the MIND.
Flabbiness is being driven by one value which dominates our thinking today:
Now, before I explain, let me give this disclaimer: tolerance is a good idea! John Locke in the 1600’s was one of the first to teach us that the way to have a PEACEFUL society was to value and uphold tolerance, especially in matters of religion. His ideas lead to the US and our freedom of religion and separation of church and state.
Up until that time it was mostly assumed by Europeans that the way you have a PEACEFUL society was not to value tolerance, but to enforce conformity of belief on everyone. If everyone thinks the same, they won’t bicker. There’s some sense to that. But the conformity idea has fatal flaws:
- A) It always leads to unleashing the Thought Police which usually encourages rebels to dissent against orthodoxy.
- B) Oh, ya, it leads to all kinds of trampling on people’s rights, Death Camps, Inquisitions, Siberian Gulags, Gestapo’s that kind of thing
You might find this interesting – the first instance of Legislated Tolerance was from a Christian: Emperor Constantine, who signed the “Edict of Milan”, which guaranteed religious freedom in the Roman Empire.
However, tolerance no longer means to us what it meant to Constantine or to John Locke.
- To us, it doesn’t just mean that we put up with all sorts of people with all sorts of different ideas on God and Religion and Philosophy. Nope.
- To us, Tolerance has devolved to mean, that I must accept every idea as EQUALLY true.
And THAT is what has lead to flabby thinking. It’s caused us to turn off our brains. And it’s caused a whole lot worse:
Think about the logical conclusion that people draw when they’re told that tolerance is the only moral that matters, and tolerance means accepting all ideas as equally truth. When people are told that over time, they just start to look at life as if there is no objective standard outside of us to judge our behaviors against. And that means anything can be justified as me just living out “my truth”.
Now, men and women, this isn’t some ivory tower issue that doesn’t relate to us regular blue color folk in Marysville. Mental discipline matters to all of us. Because here’s what happens when we demand robust thinking in science, but demand flabby thinking in ethics and in religion:
- 70% us both outside AND inside the church not longer believe absolute truth exists. Which means: no standard of ethics, no higher law than what’s expedient to me in the moment.
- More than 50% of us say that the only thing that can be known is what you experience.
It gets worse:
- Most students (75%) will not reserve sexual activity for marriage
- 750,000 will get pregnant this year.
- 33% have cheated in school in the last 3 month
- Over 20% have physically hurt someone in the same period.
- 1 in 100 American adults is in prison – the highest rate ever.
9 years ago, in New Jersey a pregnant 17 year old and her boyfriend, from progressive, well to do homes, took off across the state line and rented a motel room. In this room, the girl delivered her baby, and then strangled him to death. Then they put the dead baby in a dumpster which police later found.
What’s disturbing about this trend isn’t the crime. It’s the thinking behind it. Journalist Rowland Nethaway comments on this:
“This is different. There have always been kids who would go off the track. But they knew where the track was and what was wrong. Many of today’s youth don’t seem to know right from wrong. Children are robbing, maiming, and killing on whims and with no pity or remorse.”
It crops up everywhere… obese brains that have never been disciplined to think.
- It crops up at home: How many of you parents aren’t concerned just a little, about your child’s inner moral compass?
- It crops up at church. As a pastor I see people who will accept all the ideas of Christianity. But they take them as privately held beliefs, there’s practically no distinction between them and the world around them – see no problem!
- It crops up in society. We soon won’t have enough tax money to pay for the prisons – or risk turning violent offenders back out to the streets.
The result of having no mental discipline are far reaching. You’re going to send your kids to college they will be told in no uncertain terms: God, family, ethics, are all subjective feelings. A biological trick. There is no TRUE truth, just impressions. Cultural biases. You tell me how long will they hang on to Christianity in a place like that? Not long unless we teach them and show them a robust intellectually satisfying Faith.