Acorns and nuts
A preacher would often quote a portion of 1 Corinthians 16:13 at his convenience. “Quit ye like men”, he would say, especially when he was coercing, threatening, or otherwise manipulating someone in the audience. His bloviating wasn’t usually successful considering its less than manly mouthpiece. But, as is the case periodically with blind hogs, he was on to something.
The cream of conversation
Bye and bye, truth has a way of rising to the top, especially when Scripture is alleged to be the primary source of information. Its only when a person distorts it and forces it into their own malicious mold that it becomes unrecognizable. Like cream and milk, time trumps knowledge as a tool of discernment and soon truth rises to the top.
Scripture tends to overcome execrable exegesis, horrible homiletics, or even profane prophecy. It is true because it’s God’s Word. Because its Gods Word, it is also alive and able to do its work independently (Heb 4:12). Furthermore, Gods Elect will hear his voice, he knows them, and they will follow him (John 10:23). That oversight was costly to the aforementioned preacher who, when men followed his advice to “act like men”, complained.
You’ve got to stand for something
If you didn’t already know, the King James phrase “quit you like men” translates to the 90’s Aaron Tippen song You’ve Got to Stand for Something. Or, if you’re Reformed, it resembles Martin Luther’s response to his accusers “Here I stand, I can do no other”. As a Southern American and native to Virginia I think of Thomas (Stonewall) Jackson’s maxim, “Do your duty! The rest is God’s.”
Those historical examples of standing made impressions on thousands of people and became moments when history pivoted. When a person takes a stand on principle, something must give. When people see someone take that stand they are often overcome with courage anew. Such was the case with Luther and Jackson.
Honesty impels me to admit that standing does not always result in a great following nor does it necessitate victory. Sometimes the consequences are not as celebrated as that. But, that is the risk, ain’t it?
“And what of your principles, sir?”
Yet, there are times that men must plant their flag firmly on terra firma and say to the world, “I will not be moved!” “No matter the consequences, win or lose, live or die, I stand here!” For many of us, the question is not if we will be called to stand, but when.
How do we recognize it? What will it look like? What hill must we die on? The specific answers to those questions cannot be answered by me. But, it would be prudent to discuss the general characteristics of occasions when one ought to consider standing.
It seems to me that the hills we must die on can be categorized as three things. There is the physical or “neighbor” hill. There is the moral hill. And finally, there is the intellectual hill.
The Neighbor Hill
The physical hill is often the most obvious but considered by some to be the least moral hill on which to die. I would admit some ambiguity exists around this principle but usually only to observers, not participants. Hopefully, I can remove some of that.
What I refer to as the physical hill is better described as standing up for your neighbor(s). It is the concept of Hearth and fireside, kith and kin, and patriotism. It is defending your neighbor because they are your neighbor. It’s the reason 75% of Southern men chose to fight between 1861-1865. It’s why their neighbors honored them with hundreds of nameless monuments.
One reason for the moral ambiguity of defending one’s neighbors is the intentional dilution of what a neighbor is to a category of meaninglessness. Neighbors are those people with whom you share soil before they can be anyone. Standing up for your neighbors is virtuous.
It’s easy for us to be confused by the over-emphasis on our worldwide neighbors by those who have an interest in globalism. It is not as if the people of the world are not our neighbors in a very abstruse sense. But, no one is our neighbor if the person down the road, next door, or inside our own home isn’t. Of course, these are the folks we become interested in defending. Of course, we have a different, more intense love for them than someone across the globe or even in another region of the country.
The idea of homogeny (physical neighbor) verses globalism (ambiguous neighbor) is where virtues and their opposites grow out of. There is real virtue in patriotism as opposed to being a traitor. Standing as a patriot requires real neighbor love, love for real neighbors. It is the difference between courage vs coward. These are virtues held by people who stand for their neighbors and families despite the moaning of globalists who would have you believe that an emphasis on homogeny is racism. Why? Homogeny does not necessitate ethnicity. It isn’t necessarily monolithic politically either. But homogenous societies emphasize community and cultural similarities while protecting their distinctions. It is the only way we can grasp the concept of neighbor and the most common way we understand standing up for them.
The Moral Hill
Another category of standing is moral.
There are times when we recognize immoral behavior and we must take a stand on the side of what is moral or what is right. In fact, it is the category of right and wrong. It is the category of justice and is mandated to the Church (Micah 6:8). Injustice is all around us in several forms and we are called to “do justice” both as a Church and individually.
One must use discretion when faced with acting upon injustice but this is no excuse for inaction. It is only a warning to the wise to be careful of your method. It is never wrong to do the right thing but a long view of doing justice is prudent. Reacting harshly or expediently can create more injustice. Be careful of movements that accept only total elimination or abolition of a certain injustice. Their ideology often breeds harsh methods because of the emphasis on expedience. True justice doesn’t create more victims in favor of expediency.
We must also be careful of hypocrisy, when it comes to doing justice.
This category doesn’t necessarily include the previous category of physical location, or neighbor. But, it ought to begin there. One who is unwilling to do what is right by their neighbor is hypocritical when they insist on doing justice outside of their community. That misappropriation is common in local churches and I am convinced that many church’s neighbor hypocrisy undergirds the criticism from their accusers. On the other hand, those few churches that engage their community often win the affections of their neighbors and even their local governments. If you want to know what’s wrong with America, look no further than that particular disconnect.
The Intellectual Hill
The final category of standing is intellectual. It is the most neglected of the three.
Taking a stand intellectually is the battle for truth. In Christianity, it is called apologetics or defending the Faith. It is not limited to faith discussions though. Truth transcends other important topics as well, though for the Christian all topics find their truth value in the question “what does the Bible say”.
Now, this doesn’t mean that all truth is found in the Bible. It also is no indication that only Biblical truths are worthy of our defense. Standing for truth on all important issues ought to be a quality of the virtuous Christian whether it be political, cultural, or Biblical.
Just as in the other two categories of standing, making an intellectual stand can be hypocritical as well.
Some well-meaning Christian folk are quick to take stands on many issues like politics or even culture but neglect a proper defense of their own faith. It is good to plant your intellectual flag square on the top of Truth Mountain, but if from the top of that hill no one can see the higher peak of Faith, something is amiss. If you add to that the label of “Christian”, onlookers can rightly become suspicious and point to your hypocrisy.
Now, we know that claim to be the genetic fallacy. Truth ought not be weighed against the truth teller. But, reality imposes a separate standard for Christians because we claim to know the origin of truth. The object of our Faith is supposed to be Truth himself. His faithfulness and trustworthiness undergirds the Gospel we espouse. For the Christian, truth is primary and by default, if the truth of Christ is untrustworthy no truth is trustworthy. Therefore, our stand upon truth is truly a house of cards (1 Cor 15:13-19).
Be a man!
I encourage you to act like a man. Begin to stand for truth. Stand against injustice. Defend your neighbor. Don’t be discouraged by naysayers who would distract you or stand against you. Don’t be hypocritical by neglecting the folks with whom you share soil, only fighting for worldwide justice, or leaving out a defense of the Faith.
If you truly want to see change, begin at home. The emphasis on national politics or global injustice changes little and wastes much. Focus on your local church and engage your town or county. If each of us made our stand locally with a focus on neighbor, justice, and truth, permanent change would follow along with the courage of many others.
Be a leader. Make a stand.