Archive for the ‘Liberty’ Tag

Taking the Red Pill   1 comment

Before college campuses were adrift in the current morass of anti-thought, New York University social psychologist Jonathan Haidt published The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, a groundbreaking book that really ought to be read before wading into the tide of “trigger warnings”, “microaggressions”, and “safe spaces” that has become the dominate culture of college campuses. Haidt’s book is the most fascinating work on social science to come out in the last five years.  In 2012, our political landscape was already deeply polarized and that has been magnified by several times in a half decade, but Haidt offers hope and a way forward.

Image result for image of red pill blue pillHaidt starts by delving into the psychological causes behind our tribal politics. Drawing upon social psychology and 25 of original research on moral psychology, Haidt shows how evolution is responsible for shaping people’s morality that both binds and divides and how politics and religion create conflicting communities of shared morality.

According to Haidt, moral attitudes and judgments originate from intuition, not calculated logic. In his 1739 A Treatise of Human Nature, the philosopher David Hume remarked that, “Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them.” According to Haidt, the findings of modern social psychology research largely vindicate Hume.

To illustrate his point, Haidt uses the metaphor of a rider and an elephant. The rider represents the conscious mind with its rational functions and controlled processes. But the domineering elephant is everything else outside the rider’s control: automatic processes that include emotions and intuitions. Although the rider can do “several useful things” such as planning for the future and learning new skills, ultimately “the rider’s job is to serve the elephant.” As a result of this one-sided relationship, the rider mostly “fabricat[es] post hoc explanations for whatever the elephant has done, and becomes good at finding reasons to justify whatever the elephant wants to do next.” In short, “conscious reasoning functions like a lawyer or press secretary.”

How is this reflected in political discourse? When people are asked to believe something that conflicts with their intuitions, they instinctively seek an escape hatch – any reason to doubt the argument or conclusion that is vexing their deeply held beliefs.

Moral judgment is not a purely cerebral affair in which we weigh concerns about harm, rights, and justice. It’s a kind of rapid, automatic process more akin to the judgments animals make as they move through the world, feeling themselves drawn toward or away from various things. Moral judgment is mostly done by the elephant.

If you’re trying to change someone’s mind on a moral or political issue, you have to “talk to the elephant first.”  You can rarely approach someone from a reasoned stance until you have satisfied their emotional or moral foundation.

I’m not going to say I completely agree with Haidt, because my initial first step toward Christianity was actually from a book on reason – Francis Schaeffer’s “The God Who Is There”, but I found a lot of compelling information in Haidt’s book. Through his interdisciplinary research, Haidt and his colleagues uncovered six moral foundations that are shared across human cultures:

1) Care/harm: This foundation is related to our long evolution as mammals with attachment systems and an ability to feel (and dislike) the pain of others. It underlies virtues of kindness, gentleness, and nurturance.
2) Fairness/cheating: This foundation is related to the evolutionary process of reciprocal altruism. It generates ideas of justice, rights, and autonomy. [Note: In our original conception, Fairness included concerns about equality, which are more strongly endorsed by political liberals. However, as we reformulated the theory in 2011 based on new data, we emphasize proportionality, which is endorsed by everyone, but is more strongly endorsed by conservatives]
3) Loyalty/betrayal: This foundation is related to our long history as tribal creatures able to form shifting coalitions. It underlies virtues of patriotism and self-sacrifice for the group. It is active anytime people feel that it’s “one for all, and all for one.”
4) Authority/subversion: This foundation was shaped by our long primate history of hierarchical social interactions. It underlies virtues of leadership and followership, including deference to legitimate authority and respect for traditions.
5) Sanctity/degradation: This foundation was shaped by the psychology of disgust and contamination. It underlies religious notions of striving to live in an elevated, less carnal, more noble way. It underlies the widespread idea that the body is a temple which can be desecrated by immoral activities and contaminants (an idea not unique to religious traditions).

6) Liberty/oppression: This foundation is about the feelings of reactance and resentment people feel toward those who dominate them and restrict their liberty. Its intuitions are often in tension with those of the authority foundation. The hatred of bullies and dominators motivates people to come together, in solidarity, to oppose or take down the oppressor. We report some preliminary work on this potential foundation in this paper, on the psychology of libertarianism and liberty.

Haidt found left-liberals and progressives recognize primarily the first two moral foundations, Care/harm and Fairness/Cheating, but tend to reject Loyalty, Authority, and Sanctity, as proper morals. They feel these are base human traits responsible for patriarchy, racism, sexism, xenophobia, and other forms of oppression. The US/EU political left holds an outlier stand compared to most other parts of the world.

Haidt noted that in “Western, educated, industrial, rich, and democratic (WEIRD) cultures,” the moral spectrum is “unusually narrow” and largely limited to the ethics of individual autonomy.

In contrast, many non-WEIRD societies and conservatives use all five moral foundations that include embracing the ethics of divinity and community. Libertarians are a truly unique political species and are not easily placed on the Left-Right political spectrum in that they prize the last moral foundation, Liberty, above all other values.

These are extraordinary differences and would explain the growing political polarization in the United States and why liberals can’t understand conservatives (and vice versa). In today’s political discourse, partisans often seem to argue not so much against each other, but past each other.

Given that human nature is tribal, people automatically form teams with those who share similar values and morals. While morality can “bind” people together through benefits such as group cohesion and unity, it also “blinds” them to the possibilities or even the existence of other legitimate perspectives. That’s the premise of The Matrix. This kind of “moral matrix” can be so strong that it “provides a complete, unified, and emotionally compelling worldview, easily justified by observable evidence and nearly impregnable to attack by arguments from outsiders.”

As challenging as it may be to see through one’s own ideological blinders, empathy is crucial for successful outreach, acts as an “antidote to righteousness,” and has the added benefit of expanding one’s own intellectual horizons.

Why Intellectual Diversity Matters

Human reason has inherent limits, so Haidt reminds us that “we should not expect individuals to produce good, open-minded, truth-seeking reasoning, particularly when self-interest or reputational concerns are in play.”

However, under the right circumstances and conditions, people can use their reasoning powers to check the claims of others. That’s what Schaeffer’s book prompted me to do. It’s what I still do when I encounter reasoning that confounds me or makes me feel uncomfortable. When people “feel some common bond or shared fate that allows them to interact civilly, you can create a group that ends up producing good reasoning as an emergent property of the social system.” It is especially “important to have intellectual and ideological diversity within any group or institution whose goal is to find truth (such as an intelligence agency or a community of scientists) or to produce good public policy (such as a legislature or advisory board).”

Companies that wish to attract top talent in an effort to remain innovative have long embraced intellectual diversity as a paramount ideal. Universities, most of which are still committed to the mission to search for truth and push the boundaries of human knowledge, in particular must embrace complete freedom of speechopen inquiryepistemic humility, and tolerance for the most radical and eccentric. Championing viewpoint and philosophical diversity goes hand in hand with these fundamental principles that form the bedrock of a liberal education.

Haidt’s findings from moral psychology are consistent with research from other fields highlighting the value of those who “think different.”

Saras Sarasvathy at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business profiled some of the most successful entrepreneurs and found them to be spontaneous contrarians who have “confidence in their ability to recognize, respond to, and reshape opportunities as they develop” to the point that they “thrive on contingency.” Unsurprisingly, entrepreneurs relish bucking conventional wisdom whether it be following standard management practices or any other kind of defined linear process.

Adam Grant at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School has extensively researched how “originals” move the world. Startups, which by their very nature are nonconformist, have a special obligation to hire originals who can seed a resilient culture, anticipate market movements under conditions of extreme uncertainty, and repurpose dissenting ideas in alternative ways. Grant emphasizes how originals can mitigate the risks every company faces:

Conformity is dangerous – especially for an entity in formation. If you don’t hire originals, you run the risk of people disagreeing but not voicing their dissent. You want people who choose to follow because they genuinely believe in ideas, not because they’re afraid to be punished if they don’t. For startups, there’s so much pivoting that’s required that if you have a bunch of sheep, you’re in bad shape.

Eric Weiner speculates that intellectual development is stimulated when one’s world is turned upside down:

Many immigrants possess what the psychologist Nigel Barber calls “oblique perspective.” Uprooted from the familiar, they see the world at an angle, and this fresh perspective enables them to surpass the merely talented. To paraphrase the philosopher Schopenhauer: Talent hits a target no one else can hit. Genius hits a target no one else can see.

Broadly liberal attitudes towards risk-taking, unorthodox thinking, and entrepreneurship are among the reasons why the United States is still the richest country in the world. In science writer Matt Ridley’s wide-reaching book The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves, the writer traced the origins and spread of economic prosperity. He credits voluntary exchange and specialization, specifically what happens when different ideas meet, mate, and recombine to create new ideas, for being the main drivers of human economic and social progress.

Innovations often happen when you combine two or more things in unexpected ways. When you have a diverse group of people working on something, magic often happens because each person brings a different perspective and experience to the table. John Daly, University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business

Authentic diversity must go beyond identity checkboxes to fully include diversity in ideas. Viewpoint diversity drives creative tension, cross-cultural understanding, and the ability to identify and solve problems from multiple perspectives. Creativity and innovation ultimately depend on people stepping outside of comfort zones and trying new things including exposure to radical and unorthodox ways of thinking.

 

Intellectual diversity creates awareness of our own blinders. While there are obvious economic benefits in that, a marketplace of ideas is one of the key underpinnings of a free society. Truth can emerge when views are freely exchanged, challenged, and refined. People’s individual reasoning have inherent limits but through our collective intelligence, we can achieve the impossible.

Even though our intuition-based morality divides our allegiances into different tribes that seemingly cannot coexist with others, accepting and encouraging intellectual diversity creates awareness of our own blinders and provides a possible escape path out of our moral matrices.

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Rise of the Illiberal “Liberal”   Leave a comment

How do you discuss something you’re not allowed to name? The media and academia declared the Alt-Left a myth, a product of American dialectical thinking that requires a balance to the Alt-Right, but not really something to worry about. Pay no attention to the club-wielding, masked thugs in Charlottesville, Berkley and Boston. Keep your eyes trained on the “fascists” because the Alt-Left doesn’t really exist and to use the term “Alt-Left” is a pejorative” used only by the right-leaning media and the center Left to attack a legitimate people’s movement. “Smart” people know it’s all nonsense.
Image result for image of illiberalismFor those self-identified liberals who may have been seduced by this belief system with its propaganda — I know I made you mad just now. I hope you will continue reading because this is a conversation we need to have.
I would define Alt-Left as a leftist, illiberal authoritarian ideology rooted in postmodernism and neo-Marxism that supports censorship, condones violence in response to speech, is obsessed with identity politics (much like the Alt-Right), and functions like a secular religion that gives its believers a sense of moral self-worth.

Posted September 28, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Political Philosophy, Uncategorized

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Taking A Knee … or Not   Leave a comment

I stopped saluting the flag about four years ago when someone I respect pointed out that it really does look like idolatry. I thought about it a while and agreed with her, so ….

I still stand, in deference to my fellow Americans and respect for veterans like my brother. I hold my hands respectfully in front of me, but I don’t speak the oath and I don’t cover my heart. I am respectful to those who respect the flag, but I’ve drawn a line on idolatry and that includes the flag. I never really cold sing the National Anthem, as I’m sure Robert Goulette and a host of other famous singers who muffed the Star-Spangled Banner can agree. I do still sing the Alaska flag song because it’s a cool song written for people who aren’t opera stars and nobody is asking me to swear allegiance to it.

When Colin Kaepernick took a knee rather than salute the flag last year, I was irritated by it not out of any respect for the flag or disagreement with free expression, but because he was protesting “white privilege” in America while earning more per year as a professional athlete than I will earn in a lifetime. I was born in poverty and that was with a father who was so white he made Casper look tanned. We may have “wealth privilege” in this country, but poverty hits all colors of skin. And, clearly, wealth is also visited upon quite a number of people of color. Is there some sort of black privilege going on with the NFL? Ever look at the starting lineup of any team? Yeah … I’m just saying.

And, Kaepernick himself has ZERO room to complain. He was raised in an upper middle-class family and went to a good college. Clearly, being half-black didn’t hurt his prospects in life. Maybe he’s pissed off at his white adoptive parents or his white biological mom because he doesn’t feel it’s acceptable to be pissed off at the black father who abandoned his bio mom when she got pregnant, but news flash, other white people didn’t do that. And, ultimately, Kaepernick  was rewarded for being a big strong, part-black athletic male with $39 million dollars over a three-year career of declining performance. While I’m sure he’d like to blame his not being called out of free agency on racism, I suspect it has more to do with stunts like his girfriend’s tweet comparing Ray Lewis, owner of the Baltimore Ravens, to a slave owner while Kaepernick was in negotiations with the team. Slaveowners don’t give you millions of dollars to run an oddly-shaped ball up and down a field and, any sane person, when compared to Simon Legree, will chose to gift some other, less contentious athlete with those millions.

Trust me, if someone had given me $39 million when I was 25 years old, I’d not have to worry about money for the rest of my life because I know a thing or two about living in poverty. I could live a nice, comfortable, middle-class existence on $39 million dollars and probably leave more than that to my heirs.

So, Kaepernick has ZERO room to complain about “white privilege”. His kneeling is about wanting attention and nothing more, from a young man who may see racism behind every bush because he’s been taught to look for it, but who has never experienced a hard day of living in his life. Notice that he didn’t do his kneeling under the presidency of Barack Obama. It’s not about racism. It’s about politics.

Now, if he’d been protesting the killing of civilians of all colors by police, then he might have had my support … I who have been quietly not participating in flag worship for nearly a half-decade now.  But as long as he’s only upset when cops kill black people, I think he’s showing his racist knickers and I’m not going to stand … or kneel … with him.

That said, President Donald Trump needs to learn to control his comments about other people’s right to free expression. Kaepernick has a right to protest. So do other NFL players. They have the same right as Trump supporters do to put their opinions out into the public square … to be challenged or supported as the case may be. That’s how freedom of speech – a cornerstone of liberty — works. I am free, even as one who declines to worship the flag, to criticize Colin Kaepernick for his motivations. He’s welcome to an opinion, but others are welcome to point out the fallacies on which his opinions rest.

 

Posted September 25, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in culture, Uncategorized

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What is the Difference?   2 comments

Image result for image of antifaAntifa attacking others in Berkley

 

Image result for image of alt rightNeo-Nazis marching in Virginia

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t see a difference. Both are violent and both want to control the country and the national dialogue. Neither is interested in freedom for everybody, though they might demand freedom for themselves.

We forget that the Nazis of pre-war Germany rose in part because Germany had been battered by other countries, stripped of territory, strangled economically. But another part of the drive was as a reaction to the communistic socialists who were everywhere in Europe at that time.

Toward the end of the war, some Germans began to rise up against Hitler. They didn’t embrace freedom,  however. They were communists who sought a different kind of societal slavery.

So now we have two extreme ideologies – the alt-right who feel justified in their activism by a fear of communism and the alt-left (typified by Antifa) who feel threatened by “fascists” (they don’t know what the word means) and so feel justified in their activism.

And these two groups are tearing the country apart.

So, I ask — what is the difference between these two ideologies? Both are violent in their opposition of the other and if you actually listen to what they say, they would enslave all of us to their ideologies. We wouldn’t get a choice. We’d all have to do, say and think whatever that group has decided is allowed.

We call that tyranny. And, yes, it can happen here. It is happening here.

Posted September 15, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Liberty, Uncategorized

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Thought for the Day   Leave a comment

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, text

Posted August 19, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Common sense, Uncategorized

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Blinking Lights Hero Helps Save Liberty—Again! | Lawrence W. Reed   Leave a comment

Image result for image of Zofia RomaszewskaEarlier this week after days of mass protests in Poland, President Andrzej Duda vetoed two bills that would have severely compromised the independence of the country’s judiciary, particularly that of the Supreme Court. Duda’s own party had put the measures forth, making his surprising, courageous move all the sweeter for lovers of liberty in Poland. One of them who played a key role in it all is a remarkable woman I first met in 1986 named Sofia Romaszewski (Zofia Romaszewska in Polish).

Source: Blinking Lights Hero Helps Save Liberty—Again! | Lawrence W. Reed

“We asked them to blink their lights and when we then went to the window, all of Warsaw was blinking.”

All of Warsaw Was Blinking

For more than three decades I have shared with audiences around the world a story I first learned from Sofia and her late husband Zbigniew when I secretly spent an evening with them in communist Poland. The two had only recently been released from prison for having run an underground radio during martial law. Its message was anti-communist and pro-freedom. When I asked them in November 1986 how they knew if people were listening and supportive when they were broadcasting, Sofia said, “We asked them to blink their lights and when we then went to the window, all of Warsaw was blinking.”

You can read more about the famous “blinking lights” story here.

Sofia is now 76. Her husband Zbigniew became a member of the Polish parliament when the communists were swept from power in 1989 and served until his death in February 2014. Three friends and I visited them in a free Poland in 2003 and I’ll never forget the kindness they showed us at their summer cottage in the Tatra Mountains near Zakopane, seventeen years after my initial interview of them.

Eternal Vigilance

Sofia was a hero 35 years ago, and she’s a hero again today.

Referring to Sofia by name, the July 25 edition of the Wall Street Journal reported, “The laws, she said, would return Poland to an era when courts took orders from the ruling party, as they did under Communism.” She knows what she’s talking about, from personal experience. Sofia was a hero 35 years ago, and she’s a hero again today. You can see photos and video of her this week with President Duda herehere, and here.

One of several organizations in Poland that FEE collaborates with is a student group called KoLiber, and its president is a good friend, Mikolaj Pisarski. KoLiber was among the first pro-market private groups in the country to issue a statement in defense of the rule of law during the recent controversy that Sofia helped to resolve. By e-mail, Mikolaj offered this comment:

“As Aristotle famously stated in his Politics, “it is more proper that law should govern than anyone of the citizens.” Ironically the party revering “The Law” in its very name wanted to completely ignore this wise advice. The current set of bills “reforming” Common Courts, the National Council of the Judiciary of Poland and the Supreme Court would have effectively centralized all power within hands of the Minister of Justice (who in Polish case is also Prosecutor General).

He would have gained power not only to halt already running terms of office of appointed judges but also would be able to arbitrary nominate judges on all levels of the judiciary system: from Presidents of Common Courts all the way to Supreme Court judges. These proposed laws represented a serious threat to the Rule of Law.

We at KoLiber urged Parliament to reject the bills and then when they passed, we asked the President to veto them. Luckily the President, himself a lawyer and a former member of Law & Justice, mustered the courage to veto two out of the three bills, opening a path towards much needed systemic and thought-through reform of the Polish judiciary. We applaud the President’s vetoes and Zofia Romaszewska for her important role in making them happen!”

Thank you, Sofia, for your life commitment to speaking truth to power! Your courage, your heroism, remains a beacon for us all.

For other articles by Reed on Poland and Polish heroes, see:

Posted August 17, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Liberty, Uncategorized

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Don’t Let Freedom Lead You Astray   Leave a comment

Sometimes it seems as if the Christian movement is divided between two camps. On one side, you have the Frozen Chosen, who have 157 rules for how you should dress on Sunday and keep track of who is a “sinner”. On the other hand, you have the Freedom in Christ group, who smoke cannabis and have multiple sexual partners and will insist that Christ doesn’t care about any of that.

The truth, according to the apostle Paul is somewhere in the middle. The Frozen Chosen are the Pharisees of our day, but the Freedom in Christ crowd is far off the mark as well.

Everything is lawful,” but not everything is beneficial“Everything is lawful,” but not everything builds others up. 1 Corinthians 10:23

Image result for image of christian fellowship mealYou’ll notice that Paul is using some popular Christian quotes again. We discussed this in an earlier lesson. Bible scholars believe these were sayings that circulated in the churches, particularly the Corinthian church, in that 1st century and they were being used somewhat like aphorisms and to excuse immoral behavior.

Paul had just warned the Corinthians (and by extension, us) to flee idolatry. Eating food sacrificed to idols meant nothing to the Christian, because God is not knocked from His throne by the stump of a tree sculpted and painted to look like something else. As Christians, we have essential freedom in matters of morally neutral things, but … BUT … our behavior must be tempered with concern for others in the body of Christ. If our freedom is going to be expressed through Christian maturity, it must be concerned with the spiritual benefit to others.

That word “edify” means to build up or strengthen. It’s a word from the vocabulary of building construction. Paul used it in his letters to describe the strengthening of Christian character in ourselves and other people. When we’re faced with a decision about a particular practice, we must first ask ourselves if we have the right to do it. I would say if it’s not forbidden by Scripture, absolutely we have the right. We still need to take a pause and ask the next question. “Is it profitable and edifying. Will this activity build people up, both ourselves and others?” If the answer is “yes”, then we can participate with full abandon.

Do not seek your own good, but the good of the other person. Eat anything that is sold in the marketplace without questions of conscience, for the earth and its abundance are the Lord’s. If an unbeliever invites you to dinner and you want to goeat whatever is served without asking questions of conscience.  1 Corinthians 10:24-27

Our freedom is going to express itself in serving other people. Our thoughts should always be directed to other brothers and sisters in Christ. We should desire to sacrifice for others. The issue of freedom balances two extremes. Some feel the attitude should be “I don’t care what anyone says about what I do. I’ll do as I please. I operate on the principle of grace and am free to do as I please.” This attitude approaches libertinism. On the other hand, there are others who live in a spiritual straight jacket, afraid to do anything without a sense of guilt. There must always be a balance, but if you’re going to screw up, err on the side of putting your spiritual family members first.

Liberty in Christ will always triumph over legalism. Paul majored on our freedom in Christ. He said it doesn’t matter what we eat, including food offered to idols, because neither the taking of it nor the abstaining from it will have any effect on our relationship with God. All food is a gift from God. Paul encouraged Christians to enjoy life, to not be overly scrupulous. What you don’t know can’t hurt you.

Paul dealt with how Christians should behave when invited to a unbeliever’s home. My parents would have approved of his advice. Eat what’s put before you. The Corinthians shouldn’t make an issue of the origin of the meat or food they were eating. They should eat all of it. Eating a piece of meat that was offered to an idol will not defile the Christian. What defiles the Christian is participating in heathen worship. If eating a piece of idol-meat does not defile the Christian, there is no need to make an issue of it. This simply exercises an overly-sensitive conscience and introduces an unnecessary affront to the hospitality of the host. Paul implied that living out this freedom means that we’re going to have evangelistic entrée into people’s lives. There are nonbelievers who will invite us into their homes, and we have complete freedom to eat with them, whatever they put before us. Paul’s solution to a potential violation of conscience is “Don’t ask!” To the extent that we’re willing to do that, we’re reflecting the life of Jesus, Who ate with tax-collectors and sinners (Matthews 9:10-11). If we are legalistic, uptight, self-righteous, self-protective Christians, “holier than thou” types, our non-Christian acquaintances won’t want anything to do with us anyway. We’re not even going to get invited to their homes. But if we live a life of freedom and openness, that will attract them to Jesus.

But if someone says to you“This is from a sacrifice,” do not eatbecause of the one who told you and because of conscience I do not mean yours but the other person’sFor why is my freedom being judged by another’s conscienceIf I partake with thankfulnesswhy am I blamed for the food that I give thanks for? 1 Corinthians 10:28-30

Paul raised a hypothetical situation in which you’ve been invited to a non-Christian friend’s home, and one of your Christian friends is there who has a weaker conscience. They are offended or confused by the freedom with which you’re indulging: “Didn’t you know this is idol food? Are you sure you ought to be eating this?” Paul suggested that we might decide to refrain from eating the meat so as not to risk leading that younger brother or sister in Christ into sin or confusing their conscience. Paul made it clear, however, that even though we may choose to modify our actions for the good of the weaker brother or sister, we are not to adjust our own conscience. Their weakness ought to make us very gracious, merciful, and sensitive toward them, but the legalism of the weaker one shouldn’t make us feel condemned or influence us toward legalism in our own lifestyle. Paul defended his freedom to partake of any kind of food, especially food that he knew is a good gift from God, and receive it with gratitude. He refused to be fearful about what other people thought of him. He was not going to be controlled by that.

So whether you eat or drinkor whatever you dodo everything for the glory of God. Do not give offense to Jews or Greeks or to the church of God, just as I also try to please everyone in all things.  1 Corinthians 10:31-33

Paul moved to summarize the entire (three-chapter) discussion. He indicated this with the use of the word “then” (oun). As a general principle, believers should do everything “for the glory of God”—and Paul particularly mentioned here eating and drinking. To do something for the glory of God means to reflect God’s glory in the way we live. We ought to use our liberty carefully and selflessly to glorify God. Our eating and drinking should bring glory to God, not to cause conflict, to honor a demon, or to undermine the faith of weaker brothers and sisters. Paul’s desire was to live out his freedom in Christ, partly because of its evangelistic potential for the sake of the Gentiles and the Jews who didn’t yet know Christ, and partly so he could have an influence on the church of Jesus Christ as an apostle. His concern was having an attractively inoffensive lifestyle of freedom. Paul had already acknowledged that some people were offended by the gospel alone, but he didn’t want his own life to bring offense to the gospel in the eyes of anybody, Christian or non-Christian. The real fear here was that legalism, being controlling, would somehow be the offense that would keep people from the Lord Jesus. His desire was to try to live without offending in any direction, always thinking of both honoring Christ and affecting other people in how he lived. And Paul always looked in both of those directions.

I do not seek my own benefitbut the benefit of manyso that they may be savedBe imitators of mejust as I also am of Christ. 1 Corinthians 10:33b-11:1

I’m sure there were people who thought Paul was a man-pleaser (Galatians 1:10). His concern was that his life would be attractive so that they would be drawn to Jesus in him. “Saved” in this context probably includes Christians and means saved in the wide sense of delivered from anything that keeps someone from advancing spiritually (see Romans 15:1-3). Paul is not content simply to live his life as an example for the Corinthians to emulate. He actually instructs them to become “imitators” of him. (4:16). For Paul, as an apostle of Christ, it wasn’t just a matter of preaching and teaching. It was a matter of living out the truth that he taught. In many of those cities Paul went to, he would be the first and only Christian they would see. So watching him live his life was very important for them to understand the reality of the gospel.

Paul asks every one of us to live a consistent Christian life. Do you want to properly balance freedom and restraint? Do you want to be in the world and not of the world? Do you want to have a positive spiritual influence in your community, but not allow that community to mold you so you compromise what’s true and what’s right? Do you want to live a balanced life, not being driven by the extremes of legalism or selfish license? If you do, then imitate Paul. He tried to imitate the selfless life that Christ lived. Glorify God in what you say and what you do and in the attitudes of your heart. As Paul later explained in Romans 7, results aren’t perfect, but we’re only human, so trying our best is good enough.

Posted July 16, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Christianity, Uncategorized

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