He contrasts seven virtues with seven common values that compete with them: truth v. tolerance, grace v. greed, love v. self-centeredness, servanthood v. significance, self-control v. sensualism, justice v. oppression, humility v. haughtiness. A serious list; I've only read portions of the first two contrasts, and I've already been challenged.
Of tolerance, he writes,
Since society has no moral authority that dictates the absolutes to which it should strive, everything is legitimate as long as it doesn't harm or hinder another person.And, I would add, as long as it isn't Christian or doesn't invoke the name of God.
Stowell also writes,
Truth by its very nature is intolerant. If there is truth, then there is error. If there is right, then there is wrong. A ... person who is committed to truth will always tolerate those who are in error, but will never tolerate the error itself.And
God is true. All he says and does is true. You can count on that. He is true to Himself, His Word, His people, His promises, and the entirety of His character. In His rule there is no error, no hypocrisy, no unfaithfulness, no injustice, no deceit."What is perceived as unfaithfulness on the part of God is really the immaturity and limited vision of humans: "If He's such a good God, why does He allow (fill in whatever tragedy or crime you wish)," or "If He's so powerful, why doesn't He stop (again, fill in the blank)?" There is the classic response that He has given free will -- humanity can choose to do good or evil -- but why, because God doesn't do as we desire or expect, do we assume He's unable or unfaithful? It's as if we expect Him to answer to us, rather than the other way around. We're arrogant.
A good parent will not feed his diabetic child all the candy the child wishes, no matter how frequent or loud the child's tantrums. The parent knows the sugar overload would kill the child. A good parent will impose boundaries, because a child then knows what to expect, he knows how far he can go, just a child in a fenced yard can play freely, knowing he is protected. A good parent will discipline and will not always save a child from the consequences of his actions, because pain teaches.
Much as I'm ashamed to confess it, there was a time I told my parents I hated them. I didn't want to admit my wrong or to submit to their authority, and I thought that I'd be free if they weren't always imposing their will or their rules. Only when I understood that submission is freedom did I appreciate their discipline -- and then I could understand that God's rules aren't meant to imprison but to set us free from the chaos and bondage we invite into our lives in pursuit of what we think is freedom.
book cover - Discovery House Publishers
white fence - Country Living