Shut Up and Pay Up
Are you ever shocked? When you go to the department store, are you shocked at the price? Maybe! But I don’t think you are shocked by having to pay.
Are you shocked that some actions have costs e.g. ramifications? Some people are but maybe this only applies to narcissists. We are in a social economy. We make social choices that have inherent costs: What do I get at what cost? If it seems like a bargain then you gladly pay the price.
The marital relationship is a good example to begin with. It is simple economics. You marry a person so that you have an exclusive relationship. You want that person to make a commitment to you as you make one to them. That means you give up the right to have other relationships with the opposite sex. These opposite sex relationships change dramatically.
You come home at night. If not you call and let your spouse know you’ll be late, where you are going, and why you’ll be home late. You have relational economic responsibilities. You give up the right to do what you want when you want. You pay the price because it is worth it.
You give up laziness. You fix cars, pull weeds, clean garages, do dinner, and change diapers. You work and keep your job. But it is worth it, the price is well worth paying. You have strength and support. You get care and companionship. You gain direction and purpose. I love being married and I have received much more than I could have gained retaining my independence.
But what occurs as a result of trying to keep the relationship but not abiding by the expectations? What happens to the relationship? One spouse expects the other to comply with the norms but reserves the right to do what they want. If there is spousal retaliation, the violator strangely calls foul.
So look at these economics. I want to drink, smoke marijuana, and sleep with whomever I desire without the restrictions of marriage. These all have a cost: you gain weight, lose sobriety, loss of health, are lethargic, broken self-esteem, broken hearts, broken relationships, shame, and guilt. You get the result of total freedom but it is worth it for this individual.
Now let’s look at this from the perspective of the Christian culture and community. We have Biblical standards. Just like a good marriage, for what I gain I give up certain things. So it is in the Christian culture.
Now this isn’t a real problem for those of us who came to Christ on our own in youth or in adulthood. We discovered the value of Jesus and the community and gave up our old life to embrace the new restrictions to have a love relationship with God through Jesus. We felt it was a great deal.
Well what happens if a person grew up in the community? What if against their will they grow up in the Christian community. They are under the rules and expectations of this community which we voluntarily joined. Now they hit 18 and want to choose their own lifestyle. They know about Hell, Heaven, God, the Commandments, Jesus and the Cross but still desire something different.
In choosing a lifestyle of the culture, they recognize the potential costs of loosing good relationships with the community and their family. But they may not want to pay.
They now have to tattoo and nose ring, they drink, smoke marijuana and sleep around. As a result they are at odds with the community. But they do not want to pay the price. They are disgruntled that they are frowned upon by the community. They rail “judgmentalism” and accuse the community of being unloving. They are mad and surprised there was a cost for their choices. They are treated as an apostate. They are considered Christian by the community and a matter of fact they may consider themselves Christians. Even though they know they have violated the code of the community, they still are aghast, surprised and offended. ”Why can’t they love me for who I am?” they complain.
At this point, if they are smart, they will renounce their self-perceived faith. This avoids the ramifications of ostracization. Since they know we have to treat the unbeliever different from the apostate, they change their position with the community in hopes of normalizing relationships. Through this, they can hang out with the loved community and enjoy the freedom from communal norms. This is a great tactic but is complex and uncomfortable for everyone.
I am not sure how sustainable this is. There is still a lot of tension. I do not think this will last long. I think eventually, they will come back to the community or reject it completely, finally willing to pay the price of their choices.
Now the family is in a worse quandary. The family is part of the community and they need to abide in the community, following these Biblical norms. If the apostate continues in this behavior they are shunned but if they join the unbeliever class the family is free treat them as any other unbeliever. The traitor wants relations to be normalized and the family to respect their choices, with a caveat: The family must remain silent, not speaking of their sin or the Gospel. This is a terrorist act! They expect the faithful family to abide by these draconian rules! The terrorist knows that the family wants the relationship enough to abide by the mandate.
They are stealing. They want to have such and such relationship but not abide by the norms. They force everyone to abide by these selfishly motivated new set of decrees. The relations are strained and somehow the perpetrator thinks it is just. This takes great perseverance for the family. It hurts the family knowing the (physical world and eternal) consequences of the person’s choices. This is complex and agonizing for the abused family.
It is horrible! These individuals want all the benefits of being in the community and family but do not want to pay the price. As in marriage, we must abide by the norms to have a good relationship. Would I call my wife unloving if she withholds the benefits of a healthy relationship upon my refusal to abide by the norms of marriage? If I came to you and complained that my wife makes me sleep on the couch because I won’t work and I get drunk, would you console me and agree she was a nasty person? Would you caudle me if I complained that my wife kicked me out of the house because I had a girl friend? Would you agree with me that she was not acting very Christian and simply a hypocrite?
I do not think you would. You should tell me to abide in the relationship under the norms. You should admonish me!
I think it abhorrent that an individual would paint themselves a victim, claiming the community and family are hypocritical and unloving.
May God’s mercy be upon you if you have been robbed in this way. I pray God will give you wisdom on how to navigate this. Also I pray that the family member that has abandoned this love would repent in contrition and rejoin the community and family for their salvation.