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On Goodness

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Forget evolution, science versus religion and just, for a minute, concentrate on this:

Gen 1:31 –  God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.

Creation was made to be good.  Clearly we have strayed somewhere along the way.  Any of us can name numerous things around us that are not good.  Human history is an effort to get us back to good.  Or is it?

Consider this scene from the movie “Captain America: The First Avenger”

Captain America is first and foremost “a good man.”  Yet throughout the recently released to DVD movie “Avengers: Age of Ultron” Cap is ridiculed for his efforts to try and clean up the language of the other Avengers.  Proverbs says, “And he who is perverted in his language falls into evil.” (17:20)  Quaint and anachronistic as Cap’s efforts seem to be, he seeks in them to make the Avengers good.  And the other Avengers ridicule him for it.  I wonder if our culture values goodness anymore?

Obama seems unwilling to even define things in terms of good and evil.  And when he does, he proclaims things, not people, evil (like guns).  What constitutes goodness can be a difficult discussion fraught with battling value systems and unmovable faith structures.  But should that not be a discussion worth having?  People like Obama seem to think that it is not.  Assuming it unsolvable, they proclaim themselves so smart that they are above such petty debate.  When all they really are is either too lazy to have the debate or too morally vacant to care.

Generally speaking, conservatives think about goodness as a personal attribute – the sort of thing that Dr. Erskine discusses with Steve Rogers.  Liberals on the other hand think about goodness as something external. As Obama, guns are bad, not the person using them.  Or the Avengers – they are “doing good,” so who cares if they are personally a little rough around the edges?  This divide helps explain the state of our politics right now.

Liberals, because they are convinced that good and bad is “out there” somewhere, and not with them personally, are willing to go places and do things to achieve some “good” out there that conservatives simply are not willing to consider.  Thus Obama cares little for the Constitution, religious freedom, the Second Amendment or personal humility in his pursuit of what he deems “good” policy.  On the other hand we conservatives, because we believe that good and evil starts with ourselves, are unwilling to bend or break the rules.  That is a big part of why we seem to lose all the time.

But I would argue that we are not losing all the time.  We may lose a specific political battle, but by remaining true to the rules, to goodness, we win on levels and in ways that the liberal mindset does not even understand.  You see, if we abandon goodness for a specific battle we lose a little bit of ourselves.  And more, the liberal vision for goodness, the vision that says goodness is “out there,” wins.  Once their definition of goodness has won, the war is over.

The current battles in the Republican party, whether it be the House leadership elections or the POTUS primaries, are fraught with danger in this area.  Discontentment with “ineffectiveness” threatens our commitment to goodness as a personal attribute.  Yes, we need leaders in all aspects of the party that can win the battles, but if they, and we, are not good people we will lose in the end.

The Apostle Paul, as he closes his first letter to the church in Thessaloniki, urges them to, “…examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.” (1 Thess 5:21-22)  This was his advice at a time when the church was under dire persecution, seeming to lose battles with great regularity.  And yet here we are 2000 years later.  Rome is gone, the gods of that age are considered mythology, but the church remains.  I am thinking that by “holding fast to good” those “losers” in Thessaloniki really won.


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