Isn’t it amazing to hear seemingly sophisticated people saying things that seem to lack common sense? Does common sense even exist anymore?
Hi, I’m Rex Rogers and this is episode #15 of Discerning What Is Best, a podcast applying unchanging biblical principles in a rapidly changing world, and a Christian worldview to current issues and everyday life.
The idea of “common sense” goes back to Aristotle and, generally, refers to a kind of basic awareness or ability to perceive, understand, and judge in a manner that shared by nearly all people.
But for there to be common sense, people need to believe certain thing in common. In other words, they, and the culture they produce, embrace certain understandings, what the philosophers call “presuppositions,” about God, humanity, the created order, right and wrong. We order our lives around such presuppositions.
But we now live in an upside-down age that defies presuppositions rooted in Christian faith. Consequently, we live in an irrational age. Pretty much, like the days of Noah, people do whatever they want to do, when they want to do it, with whom they want to do it. This sounds good. Sort of sounds like freedom.
But what we’re doing doesn't add up. No matter if you measure by history, religion, moral philosophy, nature, or common sense, the answer is the same: a lot of what we’re doing is irrational, i.e., it makes no sense.
Why? Because so much of what we’re doing jettisons concern for right or wrong, defies faith and reason, and is disconnected from reality as God designed it.This is the very definition of irrational.
Freedom is a wonderful thing, a blessing, and a gift from God to humanity. God created us with free will. It’s part of being made in his image.
But freedom works best, guided by belief in God, individual responsibility, and personal accountability. For freedom to thrive, it needs a culture wherein moral concerns remind us that life is best when lived within divine parameters.
The Scripture says it like this: “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love” (Galatians 5:13).
But these are old ideas, ones contemporary culture no longer recognizes. We want no one, least of all religion or even duty to God and country telling us what we cannot do.
Freedom to act with a moral compass of our own devising, freedom to do what’s right in our own eyes is what we want, and we’re chasing after this wind with all we’re worth.
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And I don’t just mean “bad people,” the violent, the murderer, the rapist. Certainly, they act with no regard for anything but their own gratification, rage, or emptiness.
Nor do I mean just the bold, often articulate, or creative, secularists, atheists, or hedonists among us. We know them today. If not “celebrities,” they’re called “influencers,” a term that means individuals who post their shallow values online, day in and day out, for millions of followers to read and emulate.
But these celebrity influencers are not a cause but a symptom. They’ve become who they are because they’ve been enabled by a culture enamored by the beautiful people, their high rent looks, or outrageous behavior, or material excess.
So, when I say we’re riding hell-bent for leather into irrationality, I don’t mean just the wayward ones out in la-la land. I mean “us,” our culture.
Contemporary culture—meaning our “way of life”—seems bent upon finding ways to embrace, even promote ideas, attitudes, values, and practices earlier cultures, and earlier generations in our culture, considered lacking in common sense. Indeed, in much of this, contemporary culture is celebrating irrationality.
Some of the ideas, attitudes, values, and practices we’ve recently embraced are irreverent, some are immoral, some are ill advised, and some, at least at one time, were illegal.
I say, “recently embraced,” but Solomon reminded us in the book of Ecclesiastes that there are no new practices under the sun, just old ones recycled (Ecclesiastes 1:9).
Of course, what one calls irreverent, immoral, ill advised, or illegal depends upon one’s worldview. What you believe—your presuppositions—about God, life, and truth influences what ideas, attitudes, values, and practices you consider legitimate. This is the prime reason contemporary culture celebrates irrationality. It does so because the current cultural zeitgeist, or “spirit of the age,” has jettisoned the idea of moral absolutes in favor of a new (ironically) absolute called “moral relativism.”
According to moral relativism, ultimate truth doesn’t exist…or if it does, it can’t be discerned or defined. And moral relativism also rejects the existence of clearly knowable, objectively established truth. In place of ultimate truth, or knowable, objective truth, contemporary culture affirms the idea, “There is no truth” or “What’s true for you may not be true for me.”
Consequently, since we can know nothing for sure, we cannot believe anything for sure. If we can know nothing and can believe nothing for sure, what we believe and, therefore, what we do does not matter.
A culture that does not believe in objective truth is vulnerable. Well, actually it is wide-open, to subjective “truth.” In other words, if we don’t believe truth is determined outside of us than it must be OK to determine it within us.
But this idea doesn’t work well, because human beings have depraved hearts and minds (Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 1:28), so, what’s inside us is not strawberries and cream but darkness, a capacity for and an inclination to evil.
Scripture repeatedly describes human beings as created good and for good. Yes, humanity by God’s design started out well. But with what’s called the Fall, human beings gave over their hearts to sin and depravity.
Scripture uses phrases like “willingly ignorant” or “deliberately forget.” We forget on purpose what is right (2 Peter 3:5). We are influenced by sin’s “powerful delusion” (2 Thessalonians 2:11). We “suppress the truth by…wickedness,” we function with futile thinking and foolish hearts, and we “exchange the truth of God for a lie” (Romans 1: 18, 21, 25).
We’re so good at this we “invent ways of doing evil” and in terms of our evil ways of life we “not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them” (Romans 1:30, 32).
This approach to what’s right allows us to determine what to do based upon personal experience, or the new catch phrase—“fairness”—as opposed to deciding what’s righteous or what’s best, based upon biblical doctrine (Philippians 1:9-11), Church teaching, history, or even “natural law.”
So, if we want to have our cake and eat it too, or if we think “just the right amount of wrong” is a sustainable lifestyle, then what’s to stop us from joining Frank Sinatra and singing the classic humanist anthem:
“And may I say, not in a shy way
Oh, no, oh, no, not me, I did it my wayFor what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has not
To say the things he truly feels
And not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows
And did it my way
Yes, it was my way.”
If we want to get an abortion, it’s my way.
If we want to say heterosexual relationships outside monogamous marriage are OK, well then, “If you can't be with the one you love honey, Love the one you're with.”
If we think we can win not just a race, we can beat the races, than why not gamble with abandon? Life is just a crapshoot anyway so let it ride.
If we want to believe life began by chance and that human beings are descended from some animalistic humanoid, it’s my way.
If we want to spend beyond our means including spending other peoples’ means (our children and grandchildren), there’s no piper to be paid, no reckoning. It’s all going to work out. It’s my way.
If we think God is an unnecessary hypothesis, that we can live life, and apparently the afterlife, without him, then what’s stopping us from creating our world and our future in our image? It’s my way.
And that’s the problem. We’re creating an increasingly scary world with a scarier future.
Celebrating irrationality is not rational.
Our culture cannot sustain itself indefinitely with this kind of pell-mell rush to senselessness. Yet lemming-like, we keep running toward the cliff.
But God is still the God who created reality. If we want to celebrate rationality, to exercise common sense, do it God’s Way.
Well, we’ll see you again soon. For more Christian commentary, be sure to subscribe to this podcast, Discerning What Is Best, or check my website, r-e-x-m as in Martin, that’s rexmrogers.com. And remember, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm.
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2022
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