Basket of Figs

Published 2001-07

Bud Powell

Trinity Covenant RCUS, Colorado Springs

 

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Setting New Records

 

It was a great game of Balderdash.  I was playing with my Catechism Class.  Every once in a while I have the eight kids over to the house for a game night, and we were having a wonderful time.  For you not acquainted with the game, it mainly involves making up believable definitions of strange, unfamiliar words and trying to deceive the other players into thinking that your definition is the real one.  It is a great game that I never win.

I pulled off a coup.  I do not remember the word, but I remember the definition that I made up, “a glove worn by Russian peasants in the 17th Century.”  To my delight I hooked every one of them.  There was a massive point shift in my direction and I ended up by winning the game.  [For the first time, I might add.  Would you believe that I had some satisfaction from beating a bunch of junior/senior high kids in a board game?]

In the same way, I suspect that something in this article may hook most of my readers.  I suspect that there will be something in it that will offend everyone.  That is no small task in the present theological environment.  There are some people, I suppose, who will grant the privilege of believing anything I want, as long as I stay within bounds [bounds decided by them, of course.]   I suppose that some super-pious people will get offended because I have already talked so much about myself.

What has happened to men?  Why have men turned into such babies?  I think I know the answer.  Men have been feminized.  I think I know the latest turning point in the process.  It was when Candidate Dukakis was condemned for his reaction to a question from a reporter about a hypothetical rape of his wife.  Candidate Dukakis was crucified in the press for not showing enough “sensitivity” in his answer [I forget his exact words—something boring and dull], an hypothetical answer to an hypothetical question.  The Candidate subsequently lost the election and the incident was not lost on future candidates.  We still do not know what Candidate Dukakis would have done under a real tragedy.  He seemed to take his electoral defeat by Ronald Reagan in a manly way—meaning he did not weep, as Patsy Schroeder did in another election.  But people forgave Patsy—she was a woman, after all.  A generation ago Candidate Edmund Muskie wept and was finished as a candidate, as being perceived as weak.

I do not weep at movies—in fact, I rarely go.  It is very difficult for me to get emotional about fiction.  It seems such a sissy thing to do—why should I be un-manned?  Rosencrantz and Guildenstern did not know Hamlet’s “stops,” and people do not know mine.  People have a hard time figuring out what I think.  I like it that way.  People do not have a right to intrude into the privacy of my mind and I don’t let them in unless there is a reason for it.  Solomon had it right, “A fool utters all his mind.”  Intruders of all types will be treated badly, whether they intrude into my house, intrude into my mind, and especially if they try to rape me emotionally.

It is not that I don’t like people. I do, very much.  But I expect to be treated on my own terms, just as I expect to treat them on their own terms.  Jesus treated people with dignity and respected their privacy.

Man is a sinner, but he is created in the image of God.  Even a criminal who was condemned to be beaten with stripes was not to be despised—and his dignity required a limitation on the number of stripes. [Deut. 25:1,2].  It was forbidden to beat a man to a bloody pulp—he was not to be despised in the eyes of the people.  There is to be dignity even in death and punishment.  A man could stand tall, even in his death as a criminal.  “Take it like a man,” my uncles used to tell me.

The modern spirit is against “taking it like a man.”  I suppose revivalism had something to do with it.  Emotion and weeping replaced conversion.  It was enough that a man “walked the aisle,” wept at the “mourners” bench, and gave emotional “evidence” of repentance.   Of course, emotion has nothing to do with repentance.  Repentance is not an emotion; it is a change of life.  It is not sufficient for a man to weep while he beats his wife; he must stop beating her.  But we learned at our revivals how to sing “Oh, How I Love Jesus,” sometimes with our hands stretched to heaven and tears running down our cheeks.  It was a good escape from facing the responsibilities of obedience in the “real” world.  Revival and emotion replaced the responsibility to learn and understand doctrine—to take the Bible seriously.

More, a man should stand tall as a man, take his responsibility for his wife’s welfare and her faith, giving her someone to respect and honor.  He should start by drying his tears. 

I suppose that the counselors have had something to do with it, too.  Arrogant men thrust themselves into the place of God, presuming to know what is in the hearts of men.  They fancy themselves able to provide remedies for man’s sin and misery.  How dare they pretend such things!  God does not give men such privilege.

God has reserved for Himself the knowledge of men’s hearts.  Men do not even know their own hearts, let alone the hearts of other men.   Jeremiah 17:9,10  The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.”   Only God can penetrate the inner man and reveal motives and secret things.  Solomon had it right again:  2 Chronicles 6:30  “Then hear thou from heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and render unto every man according unto all his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for  thou only knowest the hearts of the children of men.”

There were other turning places before Candidate Dukakis, such as the legalization of homosexuality; the decadent and cowardly decision of psychiatry to label the sin normal.  [Of course, sin is man’s “normal” condition since the fall and the curse of God – but it is wicked to surrender to perversity, setting evil for good and good for evil.]

We do not want to be uncomfortable or ill-at-ease.  That’s why we find churches that “minister to our felt-needs,” saying little about our real needs.  It is good that Jesus didn’t follow that formula.  Who among men felt the need for the Son of God to die on the cross?  After all, a man should be comfortable in church, shouldn’t he?  Isn’t that what Jesus is all about? 

No wonder we have become a nation of crybabies, victims, and whiners, multiplying  suits at law.  We have no fortitude to endure tough things.  We used to be told, “That’s life,” and we knuckled down and worked harder in face of adversity.  Now we expect comfort and ease, so that not even our feelings are disturbed.  We look for someone to blame if things don’t go to our choosing.  We choose leaders, not for their policies or for their fortitude, but because they can “feel our pain.”  We have become limp-wristed and effeminate.  It is no longer a good thing to teach your boy to be a man.  It is better to teach him to be sensitive, to smother his aggression, to be girlish, as if God’s gift of testosterone is a curse.

 

 

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