You know I never really have had a problem with the doctrine of “total depravity”, a doctrine heralded as one of the main and first talking points of Calvinism’s TULIP. And though I won’t spend any time unpacking the acronym in the least bit, this one doctrine alone for me has not only been believable based on what I have witnessed within myself and in my daily people watching, but that I also believe is demonstrably biblical, and the one thing we can be sure that the word of God teaches throughout.
Now I won’t get into the theological word wrangling that so many get caught up in trying to explain silly things as to whether it is actually “total” or not. Because for one, I think to do so is to miss the main point. So based on my lifetime of devotional and academic study of the scriptures, if the aspect of total depravity in some form is not true, then for me, nothing much else is. And for those who don’t believe it of themselves and of others, I highly encourage them to take a much deeper gaze into the mirror with a fast forward and a rewind button, and to perhaps get out more with your eyes fully open. Trust me, if you do, you’d have to be half dead to miss it. Some pun intended.
Last night was a case in point, though not like any other night per say. However, it was a night in which my wife and I were joined by one of my two gay sons and his partner as they took as out for dinner.
Now my purpose for bringing out this aspect of my family is “not” to say anything other than to state the obvious. And at least for me, the days for further questions or answers as to the “why” of it all, at least on my part are long gone now. For as a father who also has two other sons who are not gay, and as a man who believes everything that 2000 years of church history and the biblical record itself teaches, my days of teaching any of my sons what they already know from my imperfect guidance through the years has now reached its shelf life. Therefore, my stance on the matter with them and anyone else regarding any particular lifestyle one leads, is that my job is to simply point them to where the water is, pray that they will one day drink, and to simply love them. That’s’ all I got. And for the record, as an evangelism model, I would say the life of Jesus is an awfully good teacher here.
Gaydar’s Going Off
Now to be honest, last night wasn’t strange or peculiar in terms of the observation I’m making here. It just so happened that it was one of those times, where as I looked out across the landscape of older people eating their meals and downing their evening shots, that I could actually feel the odious vitriol towards my two guests. Yet even more than that, as I looked in their eyes and the eyes of others around me, it occurred to me that as we get older (I’m now included in that bunch), if we have not been shaped by the word of God through much purposeful practice over the years, the sin that lurks innately within each of us reaches its fullest maturation. Even to the point that if you are paying attention, you can almost see horns growing out of people’s heads as they carry on. In fact, the deepness of the aged depravity is noticeable in their meaningless conversations, their noticeable contempt for anyone who is unlike them or less privileged than they, and in their slithery smiles that would rival Kaa of Jungle book fame.
The Father and Son Agree
It was then that I was reminded how the Lord felt when he witnessed much of the same a long, long time ago. The word of God in fact tells us that “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart”. (Gen. 6:5,6 ESV).
So here we have the true picture of mankind’s default modus operandi, and the heart of God that is deeply grieved as a result. And though you and I are a far cry from being the Lord, I think it’s safe to say right about now, that as we also witness these things everywhere we turn, our hearts should be equally grieved continually at what we see.
Jeremiah the prophet echoes this sentiment as he witnessed it, and as the Lord’s own mouthpiece when he spoke prophetically that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 ESV).
And then Jesus, who was the exact representation of His father’s nature reminded us, “Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man” (John 2:23-25 ESV).
Back Where We Started
So I guess you could wrap up by saying that if the Father knows, and the son knows, then the rest of his sons and daughters should know it too. It should be palpable in their own narcissistic pool’s reflection and everywhere their feet trod in this life–especially now. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it is at least part of the gospel’s witness as to its truth that should be blatantly self-evident.
To be sure this requires a shift of sorts in how we view this life as people crazy enough to embrace this narrow path that requires so much of us. But perhaps recognizing that we are spiritual beings caught up in a natural world whose majority population is quite sure that it is the sum of all things is a first step towards our continual salvation. I’m pretty sure that will preach.
However, even more so is the recognition that something also innate within the gospel witness of man’s depravity, is that contrarian angst of the realization that all is not as it should be. And it never, ever was. That some ring of power is lurking in the murky water that longs to make us its master instead. And to know that though creation is indeed groaning and longing for the true sons of God to be revealed, that these renegades are also few and far between, limping along a path that makes it hard for uninquiring minds to ever find.
Yet even so, the witness is there if you’re not sleeping on the job. If you sit still long enough and wait, you’ll find it right in front of you and everywhere you care to look. And that is the one thing that will lead us back to God time and time again. And to know that despite all the roadside distractions in this life whose signs would have us believe this is the whole enchilada, that you and I are actually caught up in a cosmic tug of war that has to be believed daily in order to see it much more clearly. A war between the inherent evil of man under the behest of the god of this world in militant opposition to the glorious light of Christ. A light calling us still yet to eat from a tree called life instead. And that to be acutely aware of this very thing, at least for now, is in fact to be fully alive.