Y Tu Mamá Tambien

When I lived in Thailand, one of the most stressful parts of life was having to deal with the police establishment [1]. Between officials reminding me to please obey the law, and coming over without warning to ask for my phone number to see if I have been in touch with any local dissidents who could be arrested, it is not a pleasant thing when someone is under suspicion for disobeying the law despite being a generally law-abiding person (as hard as it is to convince some people of this fact). And what crime was it that I was under suspicion for, and certainly guilty of? Lese majeste, offending the majesty of the monarch, most notably by making a small post about reading a book that was illegal for its discussion of the wikileaks scandal as it related to Thailand’s 2006 coup [2] and for writing a lengthy and well-documented post on the sad history of Thailand’s coups since 1932 [3]. The fact that such documents and the points made were true were irrelevant–it was considered defamatory speech hostile to the monarchy and the ruling establishment, and unpleasant truths simply could not be tolerated.

I am a loyal and longtime member of a church who puts its money where its mouth is when it comes to the public proclamation of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. Yet at least two countries that our flagship magazine is published in make it a criminal offense to speak out against certain types of immorality. Apparently, to cite the Bible’s view of personal morality is as unpopular and as dangerous today in many areas as it was to preach the social morality of the Bible concerning the equality of all peoples before God (see, for example, Psalm 87 or Galatians 3:28-29). Those who hold to an external standard of morality and law by which we may be judged, even in the awareness that we fall short of that standard ourselves and are in need of mercy and grace are castigated and persecuted harshly in some areas. At times such people are considered radicals if the ethical demands of God’s ways seek to overturn existing cultural norms, and at times some people are considered as barbaric troglodytes because they seek to uphold existing godly standards of behavior that were once widespread in society, and at least honored in word if imperfectly obeyed in deed. It is my belief that we ought to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29), but retain awareness, about which I have more than theoretical knowledge, that such behavior may lead to trouble. One can never have enough trouble, though, so bring it on.

There are at least a couple of frightening insights I have gained from the experience. One is that wherever a sufficiently popular desire exists, one that is inflamed by our culture in terms of music, literature, fashion, and other forms of media, there is a consistent pattern of decadence that will follow. First an avant garde segment of society will adopt this vice as a way of breaking rules and conventions. They will seek tolerance for their behavior, and freedom from burdensome laws against their conduct and seek to group together to avoid the social disapproval that comes to that which is judged as deviant. Then such viewpoints will attract supporters, some of whom do not share the vice but support freedom in general and dislike any sort of moral disapprobation. Eventually that which was first prohibited and then tolerated on the margins will become increasingly public and increasingly loud. There will be debates, a reinterpretation of texts in order to tone down rhetoric, a patting of their own backs among those who consider themselves enlightened and tolerant, and those laws against such conduct will first become a dead letter and then be repealed or declared unconstitutional outright. And at some point such decadence reaches such a level where those who once sought tolerance seek to silence and criminalize all dissent to their behavior and, to the greatest extent possible, wipe out all historical trace as to the existence of any sort of rival perspectives, certainly from contemporary respect and admiration. So we become our persecutors in the end, so long as we remain as corrupt and as human as they. It is only when we refrain from paying back in kind and restrain ourselves from the nearly universal tendency to avenge ourselves on those who have hurt us+ that we can make any moral progress within ourselves.

What are we to do about this? In many ways, our influence on the world around us is limited to those who will read what we read, hear what we have to say, and see our example before them with a willingness to give us a fair hearing, and extend to us a graciousness that gives us the benefit of the doubt and that seeks to understand us and not merely to condemn us. If we cannot find such a fair hearing from our own relatives, or our own brethren who ought to see us and know us best, how much hope do we have that strangers will be as gracious to us as we are to them? Truly, in the absence of immediate blessings we must have a hope that we will be repaid ten, thirty, or a hundredfold for that which we do in faith not because it is popular or because it is immediately blessed, but because it is the loving and righteous way to live, loving in that it seeks to prevent unnecessary suffering in a broken world full of people who have been broken by their own sins against God and others and by the sins of others against them. Truly, knowing as broken as we are, why would we wish for a world without restraint where we may break others as we have been broken? Why not wish that to the greatest extent possible others may be preserved whole even in such a world as we inhabit? Are we so unkind that we do not wish for others to live lives better than we have known ourselves if it can possibly be attained? Do all have to suffer as we have so that we may feel ourselves justified in living broken lives by bent principles? Surely we ought to seek mercy for others, so that we may one day enjoy it for ourselves, right?

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/09/04/popo-dont-you-lose-my-number/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/07/05/please-remember-to-obey-the-law/

[2] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/09/03/a-non-book-review-thaistory/

[3] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/06/24/today-in-history-on-june-24-1932-the-thai-military-developed-an-unfortunate-coup-addiction/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Christianity, Church of God, History, Love & Marriage, Musings and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Y Tu Mamá Tambien

  1. Pingback: Your Stay On The Mainland Will Likely Be Of Some Duration | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: Book Review: Civilization And Its Enemies | Edge Induced Cohesion

  3. Pingback: Book Review: The Czar’s Madman | Edge Induced Cohesion

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