Seeking to Establish Their Own Righteousness
by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
A series of articles came across my desk that caused me to realize that our society is not just abandoning the teachings of Christ. People realize that society needs moral standards in order to function, but without the standards of God to guide them, society is turning to guidelines of its own making.
In October, 2005, Gene Edward Veith wrote an article for World Magazine titled "Worldly Word." In the article, Mr. Veith discusses the various gender-neutral translations reaching the shelves of bookstores, such as Today's New International Version and the New Revised Standard Version. These translations keep "masculine references to God and to Jesus, but change them for human beings, getting rid of the generic 'man,' putting 'brothers and sisters' where the original just has 'brothers,' and using awkward plurals and repetitions to avoid the generic 'he.'" Worse, they change the title of Christ from "Son of Man" to "a human being" -- all in the name of including the female gender.
Many denominations use lectionaries for their services. Lectionaries are canned worship services. A recent lectionary, called the "Inclusive Language Lectionary" goes beyond the alterations made by the gender-neutral translations. "Today, the congregations who use this lectionary in Sunday worship pray to 'our Father-Mother.' Jesus is not the Son of God but the 'child of God.' The pronoun 'he' is not even used for the man Jesus, [and is] replaced with ungrammatical constructions: 'Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us' becomes 'Jesus Christ, who gave self for us' (Titus 2:13-14).
A month later, in November, 2005, Ben Frichti wrote an article for Culture and Family Institute titled, "Can You Say 'Good Morning Boys and Girls'? Only If You're a Bigot." It seems that Rebecca S. Bigler, an associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin, is advocating removing all gender references from the classroom. Her argument is that saying "Good morning, boys and girls" is equivalent to making race distinctions, such as "Good morning, blacks and whites." Teachers, Ms. Bigler states, "should avoid making statements such as, 'The girls are doing a good job,' or 'The boys need to be a bit quieter,'" "This," she claims, "will help all children concentrate on their identity as students rather than as members of a gender group. ... Of course, gender cannot and should not be ignored in all situations. ... It is appropriate, for example, to discuss gender barriers that have been broken -- the first female astronaut, the first female U.S. senator and so on."
In case you haven't realized it by now, "gender neutrality" is really removal of all male references. The gender neutral translations don't avoid referring to Mary as a woman or using the female pronoun when referring to her, but they do aim to reduce or remove male references to Jesus. The nutty professor from Austin doesn't mind the use of female terms when discussing the advancement of women, but she doesn't want half the children to think of themselves as male. What is being created is a moral standard where being male is wrong, in and of itself.
Finding it hard to believe this? Consider Patrick Goodenough's article "Airline Seating Policy 'Demonizes' Men," published by CNSNews.com, November 29, 2005. The articles lead line states, "Two airlines 'down under' are under fire after acknowledging their policy of not allowing an unaccompanied child passenger to sit next to a man." "Both Qantas and Air New Zealand have now confirmed that they would not seat a child traveling alone next to an adult male passenger." Of course, this policy implies that children are unsafe sitting besides a man. One politician decried the policy stating it was "prejudicial to presume that men can't be trusted to have contact with children unless they are related to them or are specially trained."
What has happened? In absence of reasonable moral guidelines, people are establishing their own; in this case, a guideline where being male is bad or at least suspicious. "When I say to the righteous that he shall surely live, but he trusts in his own righteousness and commits iniquity, none of his righteous works shall be remembered; but because of the iniquity that he has committed, he shall die" (Ezekiel 33:13). When people create their own standards of right and wrong, they often get it wrong. Oh, it sounds good to them at first, but the application demonstrates the foolishness of their "wisdom."
The Israelites had this problem. "For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God" (Romans 10:3). It has become our problem as well. As our culture pushes to remove all religious ideas, especially Christian ideas, from our lives, the moral vacuum is replaced with a moral code of mankind's imagination. People are ignorant of the benefits of following God's plan for mankind. They believe that it is straight forward to create their own plan, but eventually they are left wondering what went wrong. However, instead of returning to their Creator for guidance, they foolishly decide that they didn't go far enough. And, thus, the downward spiraling decay of our society.
Will we not learn, as Paul did, that our only hope lies in the Almighty God? "Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead" (Philippians 3:8-11). Our salvation depends on following our Savior. We don't have to forge our own paths to destruction when the path to salvation has been opened for us.