Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Modesty Is Not a Dress Code

Have you ever heard the cliché, “You can’t judge a book by its cover”? When it comes to apologetics, we have often exposed how clichés are only effective to a limited extent. Clichés can’t fully inform a philosophical or theological position. For example, if you can’t judge a book by its cover, what about a book that has a literal photograph of a naked person fully exposing themselves on its cover? What if a book cover displayed a picture of Jesus as a murderer? Sure, even in these two extreme examples, you can’t fully judge the book. But, you can judge the cover. And the cover does say something about the book. And, so it is with modesty.

In today’s culture, so many Christians wander around displaying aimless values. Many of us live and dress with an “anything goes” attitude. Much of this is borne of a confusion regarding God's grace. Too many Christians have the attitude that grace is something to take advantage of. We act as if we have been given unlimited vouchers to behave badly and we should enjoy cashing them in at Christ’s expense. So, we behave as if it doesn’t matter what you do because grace covers it all. While that may be technically true regarding the far reaches of grace, that attitude and the indiscretions that result are far from the mind of Christ - they are precisely the actions that caused His brutal wounding. Taking grace for granted is the opposite of wisdom – at least the brand of wisdom that begins with fearing God. And, Jesus who was crucified for your indiscretions, is God. Sadly, many of these Christians are learning this Christian brand of hedonism from their churches. I recently read an article by one of the current generation of “relevant” pastors who even argued that modesty has nothing to do with what we wear. And, he used (or abused) scripture to make his point. Does that make sense to anyone? More importantly, does that make sense to God?

In addition to an ill-informed attitude about grace, much of our poor living is also due to our values not beginning reborn in our attitudes before flowing outward. There is probably no more clear example of this than our poor living testimony of modesty or the lack thereof. Modesty is first and foremost an attitude. And, that inward attitude is displayed in what we do outwardly in clothing, hygiene, speech, etc. In fact, the Dictionary definition of “Modest” is as follows (read carefully): Having or showing a moderate or humble estimate of one's merits, importance, etc.; free from vanity, egotism, boastfulness, or great pretensions. Having or showing regard for the decencies of behavior, speech, dress, etc.; decent. Therefore, if you have a modest attitude, it will be reflected in a modest outward expression. And, yes, that means your clothing will reflect your inward attitude about modesty 100% of the time. Others (especially God) observing your garb and actions will come to one of three conclusions: 1) you are modest, 2) you are not modest, or 3) you don’t care. Hint: the last two are unacceptable for those who have been crucified with Christ and are led by the Holy Spirit. In fact, number 3) is just another form of number 2). The truth is that an action in question is either modest or it is not.

For those Christians who disagree or think that lack of decent clothing is acceptable, listen to what God says. 1 Peter 3:3-4 says, “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.” It begins with attitude. And, 1 Timothy 2:9-10 says, “likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.” This passage was abused in the aforementioned article to exempt sexually revealing clothes as they were not specifically mentioned – such interpretation is as distorted as the immodesty that results. And, Proverbs 31:30 says, “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Our actions are to display a healthy fear of God, not display inklings of depravity. 1 Peter 5:5 says, “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’” Our clothing should be humble – and so should our attitudes. Are you having trouble applying these verses in today’s culture? Let’s try together.

Is a bikini modest? Of course not, except in privacy with your husband. It is morally absurd that this question is even asked. What makes you think that just another form of what otherwise resembles underwear or strips of body paint is to the least degree modest? Then again, is even a one-piece bathing suit modest? Probably not as still not much is left to the sexual imagination. For example, why is it acceptable for some people to swim with a shirt on, but not others? Why is it acceptable for men to wear trunks but not women? Why are tan lines so important? Is the attempt to diminish tan lines an act of modesty or the opposite? For whom are you seeking to diminish tan lines on parts of your body closest to your genitalia? Would Jesus approve of a bikini or a tight men’s Speedo? Can you imagine Jesus or His mother wearing these? Would Jesus approve of a skin-tight anything? Are you so naïve as to believe that skin-tight clothing does not draw sexual attention? Did Jesus ever dress in a manner that drew attention to himself? In fact Isaiah 53:2 said of Jesus, “he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.” To dress modestly means to dress in a way that does not draw attention to yourself inappropriately. Drawing attention is the exact opposite of attitudinal modesty. And, inward modesty is always expressed outwardly. It is never expressed inwardly (to others). Inward expression is an oxymoron except to God. Likewise, outward expression can reveal a corrupted attitude. Therefore, everything we do outwardly, by default, is an expression of our modesty. By the way, if I wear a bright pink hat with a wire mesh shirt and bright green shorts to work, that too is probably not modest.

Further regarding revealing clothing, the body was not meant to be lustfully enjoyed by anyone other than your spouse – present or future (Deuteronomy 5:21). And, visual lust is declared as adultery by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:28). What are we saying when we dress in a manner that tempts others to lust? What does that say about our attitude towards the things that Jesus values? What don't you understand about the male and female minds? The act of lust is certainly the responsibility of the other person. But, wearing something revealing invites the tempting. And, the Bible is crystal clear that the Christian whose heart and mind is adorned with Godly modesty would seek to resist partaking in the tempting of others to sin (Romans 14:13-23).

In conclusion, regarding food, everyone is on a diet. Some are on a diet of anorexic proportions. Others are on a measured diet that respects daily needs. And, others are on a gluttonous diet. Like diets, everyone has a dress code. Some dress codes are informed by internal attitudes of modesty that are appropriate. Other dress codes are informed by internal attitudes of modesty that are not appropriate. Modesty is not firstly a dress code. But, your attitude towards Godly modesty will display itself in the code by which you dress and otherwise act. So, dress yourself wisely.

You can purchase the book "Reason If You Will - How To Answer Questions Regarding Faith" by clicking HERE. Profits go to Camp Bahamas. You can also follow @ReasonIfYouWill on Twitter.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Awareness - Self, God and A.I.

One of the more famous modern day theoretical physicists is Dr. Michio Kaku. Kaku is an active popularizer of science and is a renowned professor in his field at City University of New York. He also recently played a humorous role in a recent TurboTax commercial where he helped a taxpayer understand the concept of zero taxes due. More to a serious point, Kaku recently posted a startling video for those who claim we lack evidence for the existence of God (click HERE to view the video). What Kaku announced was the discovery of complex mathematical design even down to the eleventh dimension of the physical universe (physics). Kaku went as far as to say that God could be a mathematician, “The mind of God we believe is cosmic music, the music of strings resonating through 11 dimensional hyperspace. That is the mind of God.” Kaku believes and declares that we have found the mind of God. At first blush, what do you think?

After viewing the video, you might find it quite encouraging if you are a Christian. It implies a credible argument to which restless atheists won’t resist the temptation to find a non-compelling flaw that they absurdly tout as compelling. But seriously, this is yet another of the many instances where science does in fact support that there is a God. But, the conclusion that Kaku voices of God being a mathematician is too philosophically dangerous for us to actually fully embrace. God is probably not a mathematician. The declaration that He is, borders on being another example of anthropomorphism or humanizing God. I understand the sentiments that Kaku was attempting to convey. And, I believe he meant well. This is not a criticism of him or the video. Rather, this is a challenge to Christians to consider Kaku's quotes in proper spiritual context. While God is probably not a mathematician, He did invent mathematics and employed it in physically designing an amazing universe. As God thus employs mathematics, in a very, very narrow sense mathematicians have something in common with Him. But, God has very little in common with any mathematician – even with all of them combined. God is the Creator of all that we discover, apply and continually observe even down to every dimension that we can possibly examine. But, what we observe does not define the One who created what we are observing. We don't get the honor to define that which created us. The creation never defines the Creator. That is the Creator's sole privilege. For example, does a software program define the software developer who wrote it?

And, that is what brings us to the crux of the problem that inspires men to make claims as Kaku innocently voiced. Mankind is on a horrific quest to be the ultimate or apex creator. We are Hell-bent (pun intended) on denying the existence of God altogether, setting humans up to be the only creators. While Kaku did not directly do that, as Exhibit A to support this assertion, look no further than man’s claims regarding artificial intelligence (A.I.). Man claims that not only is A.I. possible but that man will ultimately create it, and that A.I. will ultimately rule mankind. A.I. in its simplest form implies that man will create mechanical systems like computers that will one day become self-aware and think for themselves. But, this quest is a fool’s errand centered on man. Allow me to explain.

Self-awareness in the created being is only manifested in a life force. In order for something to become aware of itself and think for itself, it must be a living force with a functioning brain capable of judgment coupled with a spiritual existence that transcends the physical. The ability to think was not given to non-living matter, has never been observed in non-living things, representing a logical contradiction lacking a single thread of empirical evidence (a.k.a. lacking science). Yes, we can design computers to perform commands that we have designed them to execute. But, that is not self-awareness by the computer. To be aware of one’s self, requires more than executing the commands of others, it requires the capability to invent intentional and meaningful commands with your own merit. It requires knowledge of self-existence apart from physical self. Computers will never be metaphysical. We are aware of ourselves not because our brains calculate the existence of self. Rather, we as part of our identity have a spirit (metaphysical) that is apart from brain function. It is our spirit that recognizes self, transcendent from the actual flesh that executes commands. In fact, a computer is just another manifestation of human’s self-awareness, not a computer's self-awareness. We are designing computers to carry out pre-programmed tasks for us that we designed. We are the ones that are thereby being self-aware, not the non-living things we build. More to the point, a human brain is not self-aware, but a human is. Which brings me to a couple of deeply philosophical questions. Are we truly self-aware? Is God self-aware?

Let’s address God first. Yes, God is perfectly self-aware. That is because self-awareness by God is part of His nature. As humans become more self-aware we are further demonstrating the image in which we were made – God’s image. But, God is perfectly self-aware because that is who He is. This is not God acting human. This is God being who He is. We imitate Him, not the other way around (as Kaku’s quote might errantly suggest). And, when God designs living things that exhibit the ability to be self-aware, even to a limited extent, that is a small and partial reflection of who God is through us, not the inverse.

Now, let’s address Humans. Humans are self-aware but only to a limited extent. We lack full knowledge of the breadth of our own capabilities as human beings. We also lack full vision spiritually, which is astounding since we are first spirit and second flesh. At our very essence (spirit), we are terminally blind. And, when we deny the existence or presence of God (also spirit), we are partially missing the point of who we are and who we are meant to become. In fact, as we deny God even by temporary action, we absolutely deny self. Self-denial is the exact opposite of self-awareness. How many of us truly act every day in a manner that is fully aware of who we are and the effect that we have on everything around us both physically and spiritually? How many of us act selfish, which is a distortion of self-awareness (i.e. not a good thing). How many of us deny God’s image in us? How many of us deny the existence of the spiritual realm, or even our own spirit? How many of us miss the fact that spirit is part of who we are (spiritual)? Can we truly be self-aware unless we are aware of our spirit? And, how many of us worship man in flesh as if man in any form is worthy of worship? That brings me to my final point.

While movies like the “Matrix” and “Terminator” series are entertaining, it is foolish to seek to create A.I. or self-awareness in a non-spiritual thing. It is foolish because it is logically impossible. It is absolute faith in the physical in total ignorance of all the damning evidence. We can’t create life force without God’s involvement. We are not the apex creator. But, that is merely secondary reason that this quest is foolish. The main reason is because it is another of man’s arrogant attempts to replace God with self. First, we deny God exists. That logically deceives ourselves into thinking God is not the Creator. Sooner or later, we declare ourselves to be the most supreme creator. We deny God as the source of self-awareness and deceive ourselves into thinking we are the source. Then we believe the lie that we can create self-awareness in non-living things. How utterly foolish! Do you see how this spirals downward?

And, what does God say on the matter? Romans 1:20 says, “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” Romans 1:25 says, “because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23 says, “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Matthew 10:28 says, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Ecclesiastes 12:7 says, “and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.” James 2:26 says, “the body apart from the spirit is dead.” Finally, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” That is just a sampling of what God says on the subject.

In conclusion, I actually thank and appreciate Kaku for his contribution to this philosophical discussion. But, scientists make for poor philosophers and vice versa. Yes, we have a continuing flow of overwhelming evidence that God exists by virtue of what we observe in His amazing creation – both the physical and the spiritual. But, Christian, let’s avoid the attempt to bring God down to our level, which is offensively impossible self-deception. Let’s also quit aspiring to be raised to His level (arrogant self-deception). Neither will ever truly happen. Rather, let’s be fervently God-aware. In doing so, our eyes will be opened more every day thereby improving our self-awareness as Christians. As we do, we will realize, as God’s adopted children, not only are we created in God’s image, He has granted us eternal royalty. This is who we are in spirit – that is true awareness of self. Our awareness begins and ends with an accurate awareness of God.

You can purchase the book "Reason If You Will - How To Answer Questions Regarding Faith" by clicking HERE. Profits go to Camp Bahamas. You can also follow @ReasonIfYouWill on Twitter.