Oct 13, 2010

will this news blurb read the same way in fifty years?

I came across a news blurb that is newsworthy in itself. It got me wondering, though, if in the next fifty years its content will read and impact us any differently than it might today.

Think about it - that's five more decades of us attempting to relabel the definition of love, marriage, civil rights in relationships and so on. 

What do you think - would the following hit us any differently?
The North American Man/Boy Love Association is being scrubbed from Facebook after Fox News purportedly alerted the social networking site to the group's pages there. Fox reporter Jana Winter writes, "Despite Facebook's policy against the posting of content that supports groups engaged in child exploitation, foxnews.com easily found dozens of pages proudly proclaiming an affiliation with the North American Man/Boy Love Association. Many of those pages featured numerous photos of unnamed boys, who appeared to be around 4 years old."[foxnews.com, 9/29/10]
"Of course not," you may say. "We'll still feel the same way in fifty years that we feel about this today."

Are you sure?  After all, what once was "offensive" or "perverted" fifty years ago is now the plot line of our favorite television shows.

The reality is that the standards never changed... but unfortunately we did and therefore believe they have.


Andrew Martin said...

I'm not sure I would agree that standards don't change.

But even if we assume that, surely our experience is that our appreciation of them fluctuates over time: our perception of what is moral has not moved just in one direction over the last millennium.

For example, it's not so very long ago that mixed race marriage would have provoked the same kind of outrage that you describe here. Some would still find it offensive - but they are in a small minority. What will they or we say in 50 or 100 years' time? I can't really know...

Tony Myles said...

Fair thought, Andrew. And were we just talking about societal standards I'd agree with you. I'm looking at the bigger picture, though, so when I say standards haven't changed I acknowledge what God has established versus what man has interpreted.

Case in point, your comment on mixed race marriage isn't a biblical issue. For example, Ruth married Boaz... she a Moabite (dark skinned) and him a Jew (olive skinned). There is no objection there or in any other place in Scripture on that issue.

In the case of sexual immorality, though, there are some clear commands for heterosexuals and homosexuals, not to mention some overarching ideas in the Bible that remain consistent from one generation to the next.

Hence, the standards haven't change - we have and therefore believe they have.

Andrew Martin said...

Yes, I understand you to mean that God's standards don't change, but ours do. And yet, I'm fearful of the assumption that we can know for sure what God's standards are.

Perhaps I need a different example :). During the Reformation, apparently pious people - who wanted to understand the bible and put it into practice - went around executing heretics. Today that notion would repulse us. Are today's leading bible teachers more, or less, skilled (and Spirit-filled) in interpreting scripture than, say Calvin or Cranmer?

At various times, Christian people have endorsed torture or the death penalty as being consistent with, or even commanded by, God's word. And many, perhaps more so now than in the past, would want to argue the opposite. In particular, you'd be hard-pressed to find a European Evangelical preacher who supported the death penalty for murder, but I have the impression that plenty in the USA do.

Sorry - I don't mean to hijack your blog with my comments. It bothers me greatly that I don't have an alternative to offer: moral relativism is not a comfortable resting place, and I sure hope never to live in a society which normalizes the behaviour you first referred to. May God give us grace to seek after what is right, good, and true.

Tony Myles said...

I hear a tension in your spirit that is true in mine - namely, if I can ever say with "confidence" that I have the mind of God on an issue.

Ironically, it's that same Holy Fear that I am attempting to tap into the other way. We often think because we ask "who can ever really know the Scriptures with 100% accuracy?" that we can never be truly clear on anything.

Have the just words in the Bible been used in unjustifiable ways? Without a doubt.

But I don't believe the errors of others need to neuter our attempt to make sense of them now. Just because I have questions about some of the fine print doesn't mean I can't come to a place of confidence in the Big Picture.

I'm going to take a leap here and presume that we may be talking about at least one issue in particular. If so, what might that be?

Andrew Martin said...

The best we can do is to try to read scripture in the light of God's general revelation and the ministry of the Holy Spirit: the way we interpret the general revelation will depend on our context, for sure.

That means humbly submitting to what we find there - but also humbly accepting that we might be quite wrong in our interpretation, I think.

As for particular issues, well your country's 'current issues' are different from mine, so I don't really know what's on your mind.

Tony Myles said...

Hmm... if nothing is coming to the surface than maybe there isn't something specific. No worries.