Jill’s post about the simpy interpretation of this survey of the hierarchy of values among religious people gave me agita—not anything Jill said but the fact that a self-styled smartypants can’t process the inapplication of the simplicity of surveys*. This is a roundabout way of saying people and their belief systems are too complex for a set of numbers and single words. People are shifting latticeworks, not straight lines going up or down.
I made comments on her post but the agita still festered. I think I may know why. It has something to do with the idea that everyone, everywhere exhibits obedience to something. Saying that people are obedient is as helpful as saying people eat. The questions remains: what do people eat? Or in the survey’s case: to what are people obedient to, and to what degree, and within what context?
Then came this, and I don’t trust a damned survey to provide a proper context. Obedience, obviously towards God, should in reality probably be the highest ideal for Christians, if we are going to bother talking of ideals in this way. This is especially true if we’re being honest about the type of being God is illustrated in scripture: a being characterized as an eastern-styled monarch, something of a warrior-king. We in the west think of a king as a president with fancy clothes and an accent, when in actuality the tribal king was someone unto whom complete, unwavering, unquestioning devotion was rendered. Thy word is law. It was recognized as such a relationship—equally, symmetrically—on both sides, an important element missing in liberal ruled vs. ruler dichotomies. Both parties willfully entered into the covenant, none of this Rawlsian social contract garbage that people use to justify tyranny.
So with this in mind, if we’re viewing God properly, a paradox worthy of a Chestertonian phrasal turnabout emerges. Obedience necessarily involves disobedience, disobedience to other agents, powers, authorities, inclinations, paradigms, frameworks—even religious ones. The more absolute the obedience the greater the potential disobedience to everything else that could warrant such a similar devotion. The most singularly obedient person could be the most disobedient person one could know.
Timeliness: the sermon at my church this past Sunday dealt with obedience. See the video here.
More timeliness: Ed has additional relevant thoughts here. He even used the same Galatians 2 passage from the sermon video. Dig it, dig it.
*”Obedience, in many ways, goes against curiosity and creativity,” the article says. How in the world this is logically necessary is not explained, except by implication that “curiosity” and “creativity” are synonymous with disobedience, which is categorically false. I’m not surprised since modern atheism suffers from a crippling case of logical positivism than it can’t even get to any particular fallacies.