I’m not a big fan of algebra. I definitely don’t care for word-salad algebra.
What does the world really mean when it talks about diversity? What does the Church mean? When a business showcases a window sticker or hands out pencils that read “All are welcome here”, what do they really mean?
Do they mean that whether one’s epidermis has been colored by the rich dark muds or the white sands of earth that they may enter and expect to be treated as a valued patron? – And, if so, was this not true before they posted the politically-charged sticker?
Do they mean that whatever lifestyle or orientation one chooses, whether straight-laced upon the road less travelled or footloose and fancy-free on the path paved with progressive intentions, whether masked in blue or loaded with red, that the diverse patron can expect to receive a correct count in change back during a cash purchase or a customary “My pleasure” after the transaction? – And, again, if so, when was this not true and who are they snubbing-it to by making the gratuitous announcement?
When a church boasts an “All are welcome” sign, do they mean that all are not generally welcomed in other churches? That all were not prior welcomed in their own? Are they making a political, theological, idealogical, or religious statement?
Of course, I make a farce of examining the statements in this way. We all know good and well what is meant because they are political and moral statements stuffed with theological, social, and partisan fluffy unicorns – popular, pretty, and sentimental, but hardly sturdy when pressure is applied.
Our world has been ‘diverse’ since the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11). And before anyone knocks the Bible as another mythical unicorn in our universe, one should at least soberly recall how much of it has been proven historically and factually. Insomuch as Israel is still on the map today, one should take some note of the Biblical text. It’s astounding really, as nations come and go and drop like bombs in the sands of time… and yet Israel remains. But I digress from the topic.
There was one language and one people until God divided them and, uh, made them ‘diverse’ – diverse nationalities with differing tongues. Fascinating, isn’t it? – How hard we are trying lately to Build Back Babel Better….
Today, we call it globalism, erasing borders, and even social justice.
Spoiler alert: The book of Revelation tells us that mankind succeeds to some degree in this endeavor, and it is hardly difficult to imagine such possibility today, but the Bible also tells us in advance that it won’t last… any more than the Tower of Babel.
Granted, prior to the confusing of languages at Babel, we might assume that people generally had like-customs, similar beliefs, and came from the same basic stock (Noah) after the flood. Tragically, this later generation’s response to the flood was to snub the Creator by trying to build a water-proof tower. Well, that sounds just like humankind to me…
Diversity is not a virtue; diversity of tongue and nation was a judgement – not unlike pains in childbirth (Genesis 3:16). It exists and we need not pretend it doesn’t, even if we find ways to make it slightly less painful.
Revelations of Unity
Ironically, even as the word ‘diversity’ is floated around, shared, and whored like an undesirable yet easy prom date, there is a definite push towards all things homogenous in this land. Those who claim to desire diversity (“all welcome”) only want it so long as we’re all homogeneously egregious in vocabulary, lacking morals, and mindless. Dare to point out the abuse of a word, the trampling of all things holy under the guise of untethered and shifty sanctimonious platitudes, or the mindlessness of minding mere mortal social constructs and a diverse unity is soon sucked out to sea by the undertow of indignation, violence, “f*ck you’s”, professional and social assaults or cancellation. The world desires a uniform diversity, a homogenous ‘world peace’ – well, an insane dystopian Utopia if I ever heard of one. (On earth, this mentality works out to be Communism, genocide, or a cult, but pretty much never a Utopia.)
This is self-evidenced by any major city abroad. They have all begun to look the same (as we vainly ‘celebrate diversity’). Where is the excitement in traveling from New York City to London? You will find a Starbucks and a McDonald’s in both locations and that is but a very obvious example. Finding the homogenous in China and India and Peru is even more depressing. Sure, there are historical, architectural, and political relics that remain distinct and diverse but for how long? I wonder. Individuals may enjoy the distinctions available in these places, but the corporations and powers-that-be can’t profit from them; they want to rule the world with one ring. Diversity is a welcomed guest in wall tapestries, unexpected kindnesses, beautiful architecture, and songs sultry sung in a foreign tongue, but it is a complete menace when it diverges from your comfort zone, your beliefs or values, the corporate profit lines, and your preferences or expectations of a tidy, U-centered, and wholly agreeable world.
Even amongst Christians, one doesn’t have to look too far to find similar messaging. After all, the book of Revelation describes a people from “every tribe and tongue” before the throne of God. That is riveting and true and exciting. Nonetheless, I think I need not point out that this takes place around the throne of God and not around our social constructs or earthly kingdoms. While these shiny ones may be drawn from every tribe and tongue on earth, what do you think their identity is based upon in heaven, around God’s throne? – Is it not predicated upon their identity as children of God, heirs with Jesus? And why should God mind the external diversity? He created it! – And, yes, He created it because He rules the world. (We didn’t get a vote.)
I feel very confident that He won’t much care which tribe’s color scheme got upvoted on Reddit. Just a guess.
To desire the unity of the brethren – that is, of those who claim to believe in and follow Christ’s ways regardless of their past or their skin color – is a noble thing and scripturally mandated. To desire the unity (i.e., uniform embracing of an Anything Goes ideology and morality) of the whole world, of light and dark, believers and unbelievers, all customs, all morals (or lack thereof), and all ways and beliefs is an entirely different and UN-christian devilry (2 Corinthians 6:14-15).
That effort is merely the modern retelling of Babel and will prove about as productive.
Roadblocks of Sincerity
Sincerity is a feral social drink, hard to tame and difficult to wrestle into a bath, and as bewitching as Bathsheba on the rooftop bathing. How many times has a loved one betrayed all morals, all belief, all tradition, and all value while buzzed on the intoxicating acceptance of another mere mortal’s sincerity?
Often enough to turn the tides, I’m afraid. I have fallen prior under this spell too, and niceness is its cousin.
I live in a town with two warring churches. One has maintained its traditions and, the other, has gone the way of the progressions (a word I use facetiously) of our day, but neither can accuse the other of insincerity. They are both sincere to the utmost – that much even a newcomer can smell in the air.
You see now the dilemma…
If I believe sincerely one way and you believe sincerely the other, well who can know who is right? In matters of where to find the best grocery prices, this quarrel may be easily put to rest, but in matters of faith, what is the standard? Where will the line in the sand be drawn? If we are both sinners, prone to error, prone to dimness of sight, then whose eye has the log and whose has the splinter (Matthew 7:3)? – We cannot simply agree that both are right without falling headlong into disbelief altogether and eventually. Somewhere there is error and, elsewhere, truth exists, but how can we know it when everyone’s sincerity is bleeding out all over everything like a bloody murder scene? In matters of sincerity, everyone is the victim-supreme; no one is more sincere than me.
Thankfully, God does see the heart… but, as God, he also sees where sincerity is a poor substitute for truth. Like aspartame for sugar. Sugar substitutes can taste quite nice and every bit as sweetly sincere as sugar; but they are not cane sugar, and that is the truth of it. (Hence the moniker substitute.)
(Aspartame is terrible for you! Stop putting it in our chewing gum, Powers-That-Be!!)
“But he’s a good guy…”
“But she’s a nice girl…”
“She’s sincere in her faith…”
The Christian rub is that all of that Nice, Sincerely doesn’t mean anything on its own – if the Bible is our standard, our line in the sand. Jesus called himself “the Door”. No one comes to the Father except through Him, He says. So, if we accept Jesus as God’s Son, then His words are the standard by which we find truth – and by which we are unable to accept all other faiths as legitimate, however sincere.
As the saying goes, we can all be sincerely wrong. That is true. But again, the Christian faith is predicated upon the Bible, Old and New Testament; throw out the Bible and you have nothing but another religious movement void of power, void of Christ, void of the very Presence that will unite so many from diverse backgrounds around the throne of God (here and there).
Many faiths boast some form of ‘Right Conduct’ without anything to tether their beliefs to and, thus, their beliefs of what is or is not acceptable constantly change. Sadly, many in Christianity today have taken a like role by redefining their interpretations of scripture or by throwing entire passages of the Bible out to redraw their social lines of acceptability. What a shame. They have taken what does not change, the designs of our Creator in heaven, and substituted them with social sincerity and pleasantness to appease the earthly masses. I think they will find much sincere regret in that action one day…
Nonetheless, it is called faith for a reason. All of the intellectual (historical, Biblical, scientific, etc…) arguments in the world cannot hold together the faith of the one who determines to be respected by the world and applauded by mere mortals. Our god-at-heart will be our god-in-fact: our feelings are most sincere in their desires. That does not, of course, make them right. Christianity has long wanted a seat of honor in the intellectual world; the major institutions in Christianity have now proven that they are willing to compromise much to gain that seat to their shame. (Nearly every denomination has split along these lines now.) I’ve no doubt that some of them sincerely believe in their error.
I can sincerely desire to go to bed with my neighbor’s husband. I might even sincerely desire it because my husband is mean and his wife is ugly. That does not make it any less a sinful temptation and against God’s law, however sincerely I feel about it. I might sincerely desire that all people be saved and believe in Christ (i.e., believe as I do), but that does not make it right for me to sincerely hold a gun to your head and insist upon it. I might sincerely desire to have a home as nice as yours; my sincerity does not give me the right to burn yours down in a twisted sense of immoral ‘social justice’ (i.e., covetousness and jealousy).
Truth is not an easy prom date; she requires more than sincerity to court her intimately. Her standards require more of our character than cheap-seated emotions and convenient opportunities. One may take advantage of her good name with lies and deceit, but one cannot gain her riches without fidelity; she is not mocked.
There is a better building the Christian citizen is supposed to be concerned about:
…you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.2 Peter 2:5
(If you want to know more about what those “sacrifices” are, see Romans 12.)
And that spiritual house is full of diversity.
And that spiritual house does strive for unity.
But that spiritual house does not pretend to make spiritual what is mere and stinky flesh.
Our external diversities are meaningless to the Creator, except insomuch as He enjoys them… and He has clearly stated in his book which moral ‘diversities’ He does not enjoy or approve: Among them, the worship of idols, false accusations, and sexual perversity.
Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.Galatians 1:10
All, indeed, are invited to believe; not all will choose or be chosen in that path. Can you join together what God has separated? I think not. He has always retained a ‘remnant’ of believers who condemn the world by their very belief, and so it shall remain until he comes to complete the harvesting of souls.
Building back Babel better will not be enough to withstand the coming flood of judgment.
Build God’s house instead – His house of living beings who understand their true citizenship and identity in Christ and relate not with the world in its passing passions.