Obedience to "because I said so" is good if the directive comes from God, a loving parent, or someone or something proven trustworthy. Outside that, we must tread carefully if we yield our will. In America we have fought hard for our freedoms.
President Obama is right when he says we should learn to disagree with respect. To do that, however, demands we anchor our positions in wisdom, knowledge and true revelation. The president revels in debate, and he is good at it.
If we are not Roman Catholic, why argue Notre Dame's decision to invite Obama to speak at its graduation, or even to award him an honorary degree? It is not our business. If we are part of that church and disagree with its policies, we should debate and protest, work for change from the inside if so inclined, or simply get out. This is not the Dark or Medieval Age, or the Inquisition, but some would return to that if allowed.
"The Thorn Birds" is an excellent book and movie. Not only does it caution us against running ignorantly to the Australian Outback, but also shows us the fallibility of a priest, who has vowed celibacy, in love with God, the Roman Catholic Church, and a woman. Now America has its own, celibate-sworn Rev. Alberto Cutie caught frolicking on a Miami beach with his girlfriend of two years. CNN and other media have had panel discussions about whether or not the church should require celibacy for its priests. The general public, talk shows and gossipmongers all have opinions. Again, where are non-Catholics getting the notion they should direct that church? If one is Catholic, did he/she not know the rules before joining?
The Bible is adamant on the sacredness of vows. "So what?" say those who do not accept that book as the inspired, inerrant Word of God. "So what?" say the actions of those who say they believe but ignore its practical precepts in their daily lives. "So what?" say those who profess belief but never study for themselves. It is not the laying of the unbeliever's hand on the book in a courtroom that causes truth telling, but rather, the fear of committing and being prosecuted for perjury.
Pacification of those who are grounded in the wrong mindset by yielding to their rules and demands will not open them up to receive truth. Neither will hotheaded, disrespectful rebuttal. When Paul stood before Judaism's highest court, the Sanhedrin, the high priest Ananias ordered the apostle struck across the mouth because of his testimony. Paul was not succumbing to a fit of temper when he then called Ananias a whitewashed but tottering wall. He let it be known that he respected the "position" of high priest, but he did not yield to Ananias' occupation of that office (Acts 23:1-10).
So, GQ Magazine outed former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for Bible verses topping his personal, top-secret briefings to President Bush. Things like, "Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His face continually" (1 Chronicles 16:11), may indeed threaten some; but for those who trust Him, it is "because He said so." GQ is out of its league and has exposed nothing more than its own biased, preconceived viewpoint.
Finding truth requires the right starting point. That is the quest of this column. If you are a seeker of simple truth, we can find it together-side-by-side.
Linda M. Downing is a freelance writer. Contact her at lindadowning.com.