11 June 2014

The Beauty of "No"

The world in which we live has forgotten the word “No.”  We live in a crazy, mixed-up mess where whatever I want is what I ought to do.  Like the song-writer who said, “How could it be wrong, when it feels so good?”  We’ve lost the discipline of saying, “No,” to our passions and desires, and as a result, we live like selfish children.

There are so many things which other people desire that leave me shaking my head and trying hard to understand.  For example, I don’t understand a man desiring an intimate sexual relationship with another man.  The very thought of such an experience is nauseating to me.  I don’t understand because that isn’t the way I’m made.  On the other hand, I can understand why a man would be attracted to a beautiful woman because, to me, that’s a natural attraction.  However, simply experiencing such a desire or thought doesn’t make it the right choice for me to pursue.  Just being physically attracted to another person, any person, does not make pursuing that attraction right, any more than it would be right for a married man to make advances toward a woman who isn’t his wife.  There are many other examples of this principle such as:  people who are tempted to steal, or those who are tempted to lie or cause bodily harm to another.  Just having the desire doesn’t justify us in fulfilling it.

If we try to fulfill every desire, our lives become more and more dysfunctional.  Society is built upon mutual respect for each other, but this respect breaks down when we are focused entirely on ourselves and our wants.  We also cannot use our personal desires to justify our actions because, complicating the situation, our desires constantly change. Anyone who has ever followed politics or even fashion trends knows how fickle human opinion and tastes can be.  And because our desires are constantly changing, we cannot trust them—or the equally-changeable feelings of others—to become our standard for living.  This is one reason why the Bible is so important; it gives us time-tested principles by which to guide our lives.  We are not the first age of humanity to look for meaning in life, and we won’t be the last.  From the dawn of civilization, people have searched for ways to build productive lives, and the Bible is the best textbook, written from antiquity, on how we should or should not live our lives.

We live in a world which denies there is anything called sin.  Sin has simply become whatever you don’t want to do.  Our leaders tell us, “If it’s wrong to you, then it’s wrong, and you shouldn’t do it.  If it’s not wrong to you, then it’s okay for you to do it.”  This is nonsense.  The true meaning of the word “sin” means to miss the mark.  What mark?  There must be a standard which is more reliable than my random feelings or the shifting desires of society.  Appetites come and go, but the Word of God endures.  As a man I’ve experienced many changing desires throughout my lifetime, and I would’ve been foolish to try to fulfill some of them.  They would’ve hurt me and everyone around me.  I’m thankful that I discovered the Word of God and have used it as a guide for my life; it is what has brought stability, happiness, and blessings to me and my family.

I’ve discovered the best thing I can say to many desires is simply, “No.”  “No,” becomes a blessing to deliver me from a curse.  “No,” sets me free from the bondage of selfishness.  “No,” liberates me to do the things I should do.  It is well said, “Liberty is not the freedom to do what I want to do, but rather the freedom to do what I ought to do.”  When I say, “No” to the wrong things, it empowers me to say “Yes” to the right things.  We need to rediscover the beauty of “No.”