This is a bit of random rant. Just warning you: put on the thick skin for it.
For all of our talk about helping the poor, sometimes we forget that the bible often uses poverty as a pejorative and wealth as evidence of honor. This happens frequently in Proverbs, where the sluggard, or the slothful individual is considered poor—because he is in straits which he himself has created. Thus, the converse becomes a man of honor or dignity.
Wealth brings many new friends,
but a poor man is deserted by his friend.
(Proverbs 19:4 ESV)
This is not about to be doubly corrected with some sort of “but…” in the next verse, either. This is what it says, and, since we can’t just read this snippet of wisdom literature without comparing Scripture with Scripture, we must conclude that wealth is inherently, morally good, and poverty is inherently, morally wrong. The writer of Proverbs is simply stating a fact.
But what else can be apprehended by passages like this one?
I think it’s a good case for human dignity. The kind of dignity that would form the Oxford dictionary sample phrase, “a man of dignity and unbending principle”. The type of dignity where principles are important to men.
I bring this up because I see an utter contempt and rebellion towards dignity in most men these days. Ironically, they want the title of “man”, or even the title of “man of dignity” or “man of integrity”, but do nothing to earn this title, nor do they do anything to keep this title even if it were arbitrarily given.
What does it mean to have unbending principles? I suppose you can quickly infer from my other posts that there a numerous principles on which I choose not to bend. This typically gets me titles more like cold, pious, arrogant, critical, negative, unloving, and the like, rather than “a man of dignity and unbending principle”. Perhaps I’m still learning how to work those out… But I would also submit that society’s present temperament disallows any unbending principles except the one, “there should be no unbending principles”.
More to the point, men are full of idyllic sentimentalism these days: we are typically myopic milquetoasts that romanticize our laziness and disgracefulness, believing it to be some sort of badge of honor that deserves ogling and over which others should be swooning. If asked, a man of dignity from half a century ago would be appalled at the suggestion of advertising his ineptitudes.
Where does this play out? Well unfortunately, doctor, it’s systemic.
Take education… Our handwriting is terrible. Our spelling is atrocious. Our ability to communicate in written or typed form is without excuse. Our skill in reading anything that would pass for academic material from prior to 1900 is nil. Our comprehension of our own language is abominable. Our comprehension of other languages—or even our ability to learn them—is reprehensible. Our knowledge of history—even history from less than a century ago—is limited to, in most generous cases, less than 5 minutes ago.
But that’s not all!
Take theology… Most Protestants have no idea what propitiation is, even though it’s debatably the single most important concept in Protestant Christianity. This is to say nothing of our theological vapidity regarding any other subject. When asked, the average professing Christian doesn’t even know the difference between major denominations like Presbyterian and Baptist.
How about work ethic? I encounter this a lot now that I’m in a rural area. There are hard-working people out here—VERY hard-working people. Farmers get up at times that most Americans only recognize as that time when you go to the diner to get a cup of coffee and get sober. They go to bed dirty and tired—having to repeat the same work day again and again—all the while praying to make pennies more this year than last, provided God cooperates with the weather. Instead of this attitude, though, I know folks from 30 to 60 who are proudly collecting unemployment because it’s more monetarily beneficial to take welfare from the government and sit around than it is to get a job and earn a wage.
Not more than 100 years ago—or even in your nearest third world country!—people would bend over backward to receive the educations available to all of us now. What would they say to those of us who can’t even remember how to conjugate a verb in our required foreign language? What would they say to those of us who don’t know the differences between common misused homophones (e.g., to/too/two, or their/there/they’re, or your/you’re)?
How about the theologians who came before us? They would be appalled at our compromises and vacuous “statements of belief”. And I’m not even going to consider what some of them—especially those who died to bring us a bible in the vernacular—might do to us if they knew what we assumed. neglected, or simply disregarded.
Finally, what do you really think about the government—or even yourself—if you’re just sitting at home while reading this, collecting unemployment/welfare or (like my wife recently witnessed in a grocery store), buying four grocery bags of Easter candy along with her WIC items? Do you really think you’re setting an example for the future generations (some of whom may be under your care) by working as little as possible for your money? Is that really going to help to set up their future so that they will know what it means to “work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24 ESV)
Okay. Rant over.