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Just 10 Men
For the lack of 10 righteous men, an entire city was destroyed. If 10 is the bare minimum for giving a corrupt city its second chance, that leaves me unsure of the number required for a nation.
Most of the biblical scholars among us have probably already figured out I am referring to the city of Sodom, which met its destruction in Genesis. Those same scholars could tell you that the original number was 50 righteous people, or “innocent ones,” before Abraham kept bargaining to reduce the number for the sake of his nephew’s hometown. Yes, I know that I crudely used the term “men” instead of what many would consider more inclusive language. But in this era where our descriptive titles for each other seem so fluid, I feel a new-found freedom of expression and can only hope that our tolerant but ever-changing social standards will not declare me a primitive sexist. I can only hope.
I also hope that those of you who are more studied than myself will grant me a few lines to make a couple of points to those with college degrees and professional certifications they value more than actual education. Genesis is, of course, among the first five books of the Bible, which are referred to collectively as the Torah. The Torah was given to the Hebrew people by Moses before they entered the “promised land.” The term Torah itself means “teaching,” and so with my simple-minded view of things, it seems logical that the first point to be asked about any part of it should be, “what is the lesson here?” or perhaps, “what is God trying to tell us or warn about?”
Possibly a point worth remembering is that although only about 19 chapters into Genesis, mankind had already managed to come through some pretty harsh and deserved consequences. One was a flood that brought about a reboot for all humanity. One might hope that among the lessons to be gleaned from Sodom’s fate would be what had caused their destruction as well as how to avoid the same for ourselves.
The simplicity of my mind and thoughts is well-established, so I will spill mine on this subject to allow you more sophisticated ponderers to hurry about revising them to fit a more socially and politically accepted narrative.
It seems that man (I know, there are plenty of women involved here too. But my simple ways change slowly) has a strong tendency toward his own pride, comfort and to allow evil to become normalized in his society.
He has been given safeguards against these. There is a divine, natural moral order to the universe. It is based in reality and natural consequences. It also reflects a divine purpose that God has for his creation and man’s role in it. When that order is marginalized, ignored, or rejected completely, Truth itself has been abandoned. I have speculated before on these pages that the honest and sincere quest for Truth and our role in regard to it might well be a major part of our purpose in this world.
Perhaps one of the more immature things we can do is dismiss plain and simple reality. Doing so individually usually has severe consequences. To do so as a society invites massive destruction.
Our society, our nation was founded on a Judeo/Christian tradition. It is a moral order that has traversed a few thousand years, growing and expanding its insight and revealing its universal wisdom with the twists and turns of western civilization. Crisis after crisis, this tradition offered the most successful model in human history for achievement, order, and social stability. It offers these benefits for both the devout and unbelieving.
It is based in the responsible practice of Liberty by individuals and the natural results from any irresponsibility. The foundational unit of this order is the family. Any attack on that unit is a direct assault on an individual’s Liberty as well as their very existence in that divine moral order. It is an evil.
Perhaps the most irresponsible thing we can do in a society is not to see an evil for what it is and then oppose it. Of course, seeing it, naming it would then require us to both reject that evil and work tirelessly and sincerely for its removal. For many (too many), that is often a step too far.
Sodom was not destroyed because there were evil people and evil happenings within its walls. There will always be evil for us to battle. That is one of the burdens and responsibilities we have – if we are to maintain and prosper under that moral order.
Sodom was destroyed because the evil had been allowed to become the standard, the normal. And evil does not sit still. It grows and changes to forms even more destructive to an individual created in a divine image for difficult but substantive, glorious purposes. Genesis tells us that God’s heart was “saddened” by the evil that men allowed and practiced before He ordained the flood generations before the time of Abraham. Evil had become normalized. Perhaps His sadness of heart was like that of a parent whose child has not only become rebellious but destructive of their own lives. Perhaps it was even much, much deeper.
It might seem to some that there is an endless circle at play here which cannot be broken. That circle is caused by our own weakness and the relentless intrusions of evil which are intended to not just bend us away from the divine will at a given moment but to destroy the path back to it.
History is filled with cultures that rose, prospered, and fell brutally. Culture does not reflect race, color or gender. It is about values, what is valued, respected and lived by. When those values are altered, watered down or abandoned, the culture is dying. It is sick.
The truth is that the seemingly endless circle has been broken several times because that moral order was taken to heart by man. And when it was, both his understanding and humanity grew. Liberty is individually based because religion is. Each individual is blessed with a free will to decide their own spiritual path. Without that, their “faith” would be by rote and not of the heart.
But that blessing of choice is to choose good over evil and work for that good, that Truth. To not do that carries consequences because evil is a demanding master. It hates choice and will imprison any individual any way it can. That divine moral order gives people the ability to direct their own lives in a positive, productive direction.
There are no herds of individual “truths” wandering the universe which can be accepted on the momentary whim of a self-absorbed mind. There is Truth. It is consistent in both its rewards and its demands. It and reality walk hand in hand.
To deny reality is delusion. A society that normalizes delusion is well on its way to normalizing evil because Truth is no longer the goal. Those who do not speak out about these delusions do not just allow evil, they silently condone it.
There has been a consistent reluctance of professional, commercial conservatives to admit to a culture war between theological good and evil, which for decades has been laying a groundwork for the destruction of the values and institutions most fundamental to our national culture and purpose. They have failed us. But that hardly excuses us for failing ourselves. We are now a point of decision.
I will not retrace the story of Sodom’s destruction for you here. Most, I hope, have at least a basic knowledge of what happened. But I do not believe that all the men of Sodom were evil. But they allowed evil to become normal and unchallenged. As a result, that evil touched every level of society.
The crowd that gathered outside of Lot’s house to demand for the young men to be sent out contained all ages, youth, adult, middle-aged and elderly. They were unchallenged by anyone in the city. I am sure there were some “good” men in the city who would at least not take part or who silently condemned it (but never out loud). Perhaps they were concerned about being seen as “too divisive,” and that would prevent some hoped-for “middle ground.” Maybe they just closed their mind to how evil has no middle ground. They might even have seen those who wanted to speak out or make changes as “wacko birds,” “yahoos,” “real turkeys,” or “crazies.” Before long, such people either lost hope and changed themselves or became silent, thus surrendering the whole to evil. There are consequences to remaining among people either given over to evil or tolerant of it.
One might wonder, how close were they to having those 10 men? If just 10 had spoken up and remained firm, would all those been spared?
Some time ago, I spoke here of Carthaginians and child sacrifice. I have not researched extensively enough to know if along their path to that horrid practice they mutilated their children, used them economically, politically, and sexually to numb the people’s consciences and test their compliance. Perhaps they did. Perhaps one characteristic of a society growing evil is that they abuse the weak instead of protecting them?
To prevail, evil conditions people and the delusional becomes normal. When this becomes too ingrained, there has to be a reset if man is to put his feet back on the way to Truth.
I am still unsure of the number of “innocent ones” needed to stop the just destruction of a nation. That might cause some to believe I am answering that it is “too late for America” to borrow from a question presented by someone with a far clearer mind than my simple one (not to mention a bad hip). They would be wrong. My simple answer is that it is up to us.
We were recently told by one who is taking his own lumps for loudly and consistently calling for reason and wisdom in the face of delusion that “True things prevail.” I believe that also. They do, over time. In many ways, the schedule is up to us, our clarity and our strength of will to declare what is right.
But I also believe that most good things come from the outliers. An evil society or an evil in society cannot be changed by those who continually compromise without the course being altered. But it can be impacted by small groups. Most good is initiated by small groups.
The end to human slavery in our nation came about because of small groups organized mostly through religious groups who maintained a course toward freedom for all while even those with “good intentions” at the top of society struggled with one stumbling compromise after another. It was a grassroots movement of imperfect people who would not be quiet. They suffered for it. But they prevailed. They simply would not accept that evil, even if it had existed for thousands of years. It violated the moral code. And because of their insistence, we moved a little closer to Truth.
Those outliers who helped to end American slavery refused to be among the 10 who remained silent and inactive. By being silent and inactive, each of those 10 doomed everyone else. It was a cruel act on their part as well as a cowardly one.
So is it too late for America? Not if the founding on a moral tradition is kept alive and insisted on by individual efforts and determination, finding like minds, and being active and vocal. This was intended to be a grassroots nation. It was also intended to be one of knowledge, self-discipline, and virtue. When that reality is abandoned, we lose the ability to direct the course of our own lives within natural law. If our children and their children never have that ability as completely (or at all) as our fathers, it will be due to the cowardice and “convenience” of those who can not quite bring themselves to be part of just 10.Published in General
I see you finished that bottle of whiskey. ;)
It has been said many times in these pages, start small (ie. in your community, workplace) and you’d be surprised how things will grow. Don’t be silent when the opportunity presents itself to speak up. Every little bit adds up. You may be surprised to find that others will follow your lead. They just needed someone to take the first arrow.
Atheists either don’t believe in God because they can’t see Him or because it is more convenient or fun not to because His laws prevent their desires. It would be pointless for God to show Himself. That would be the end of faith for all of us and they still wouldn’t embrace Him because they would still reject His laws. (Faith requires effort. Anything required without effort is cheapened and not valued by the recipient.) Instead, the atheist would then create their own god, one more powerful or valuable in their minds and would try to reduce our God to imposter status. The Bible has many examples of false gods.
A beautiful post, thank you.
I continue to be uncontented with the idea of some kind of objective reality, a Truth with a capital “T”. I don’t think Truth is a universal reality to which all mankind should ascribe. There are too many different languages, instruments, cultures, ways of perception and processing… even a man and woman cannot agree on what “purple” is – and that is, I think, a feature and not a bug. G-d made us all different for a reason: we can each perceive a different aspect of Truth – which means that at some level there are different truths.
Instead, I think that Truth is more accurately described as being a direction of travel, characterized by good faith and holy intentions and using the text as the touchstone.
Which is why I do not feel the need to describe those who have different religious beliefs as being False or Evil. We are all working toward the same direction, regardless of the varieties of our paths.
What an impressive piece to open a Sunday morning, maybe the best I have encountered on R>. What makes me say this is the focus on truth and reality as the cornerstones to stand on when contesting evil.
The navigation along this path is not easy. Evil itself makes the discovery of truth and the understanding of realty more difficult. The growth of evil exacerbates this process and the allowance of that by those equipped to stop it is itself evil.
My own experience during the course of my lifetime has led me to this point where what you have presented here fits my mental state almost perfectly. But here is another piece to know. In my case, the first three-quarters of my life was learning experiences. Only around the turn of the century did things begin to take shape in a fashion where I began to see the great divide that exists between good and evil and how the corruption of truth and distortion of reality is used to destroy the righteous. And there was an early period of my adult life when I was right in the mix of the evil directions being formulated in the sixties. I’m still learning but I can see it. I am also thankful that I changed course almost sixty years ago when I joined with my wife to make our family.
There is more to be said and much more to be done.
Thanks for your time and effort to write this for us.
Just last week in my audio book version of Antifriagile, Mr. Taleb repeatedly reinforced his point: “If you see fraud and do not say fraud, you are a fraud.” It seems the concept works well for these “delusions” also. (I wonder if Taleb would agree with my logical expansion of his truism.) For me this all flows from Havel’s themes of living with the lie:
More at the link. Search for all uses of “live within” for references to both “truth” and “lies”. Well worth the abbreviated pass through the document.
With that, I strongly second your finger pointing at the “professional, commercial conservatives” … “who continually compromise without the course being altered…”. (The local versions/enablers are quite irritating too. But I digress.) But that just brings us full circle to us, the voters. It turns out, those with the personality and temperament to weather the modern political campaign are precisely NOT the ones you want wielding the resulting powers. (Yes, I am now watching The Diplomat.)
Pressing the word limit…
Great post. (Sorry for the rambling, unfocused response. I’m highly caffeinated and anxious to get outside for another glorious North Texas day.)
I’ve always enjoyed writers and speakers who begin by saying, “For the purposes of this discussion, I will define X as . . . .” :)
Our existence is a team effort, and communication is essential to productivity of any kind. The only way that can happen is for people to agree on a commonly held set of definitions. That’s about as close to “objective” as I think we can ever get. :) :)
Good ideas here. I wrote a post once on preferring the hard life. I made a comment earlier in response to one that suggested John Adams might have preferred an easier path to make money than defending British Colonial soldiers that cost him much of his existing legal practice. I sometimes wonder if our technological prowess merely sets us up for doom as we provide a life of ease and comfort for so many while there are yet billions who suffer.
What we are seeing and experiencing today in our social culture and political life is definitely not what you describe here.
I’m sure you have written on the Ten Commandments. How would you square the Commandments with the concepts of Truth and Reality and fit all that into what we have today?
The Torah is a touchstone document, a way to reference whether the choices we have made and are making are compatible with what is good and holy. It does not present a consistent version of Truth – the concept of Truth the way it is understood in the OP is not found in the Torah at all.
Yes, our soft younger folks whine about the smallest things.
I can read what you write and I can say ok we can talk and learn some things. But that is not what I see in our nation today as presented by our public education system and our advanced education in universities and our public media and our federal government. What do you see in those entities and is it compatible with your thinking on how we learn things that improve our situation?
I see a deeply corrosive and deliberate undermining of all that is good. I see the destruction of the young, the perpetuation of a pagan worship of Mother Earth above all else.
How do we fix it? Devolving power away from corrupted institutions and government and toward communities, families and individuals is surely very important.
Attacking the Woke religion in all of its facets is essential. Free speech – applied using humor – is a very effective tool. That which is evil should be ridiculed and humiliated – because the audience responds better to humorous attacks than to the flaming sword of Truth.
:) I also finished with those last two colts, although one is proving to be a reluctant student.
Seems you have been drinking…
from a well of wisdom.
Our nation was not founded on a Judeo/Christian tradition. It was founded on the Protestant Christian faith.
It is precisely the claim of Liberty that is used to allow all sorts of evil to flourish in our country.
Liberty is individually based because religion is. Each individual is blessed with a free will to decide their own spiritual path. Without that, their “faith” would be by rote and not of the heart.
Are you @arizonapatriot contesting the accuracy of the above from the OP? If so, please state your case.
Let’s just say @arizonapatriot is totally incorrect in this assertion, at least, until he submits some arguments to demonstrate its truth.
The fact that two pathological liars— Trump and Biden — are vying for the US Presidency is distressing. Perhaps the White House, a house of immoral, incorrigible liars, deserves to be destroyed a la Sodom.
I heard Trump’s interview on Life, Liberty, and Levin last night. As always, he was calm, interesting, rational, and humorous. Calling him a “pathological liar” and putting him in the same boat as Biden just isn’t accurate. Sure, he can exaggerate about his stuff being the best but I don’t want someone running who thinks he will implement the second best ideas. Like I keep saying, there are two Trumps, the real one and the media portrayal. I am much more suspicious of “grip and grin” politicians who hide their true selves from the voters. Trump is open about who and what he is.
People seeking perfection will always be disappointed by their choices, as some DeSantis voters are becoming now that he has made some missteps. As to the attacks, it is primary season stuff. DeSantis worries me because he is trying to rise above it, just like W did in Bush fashion. That didn’t end well. You know who I blame….the voters. They put Biden in the White House and would do it again. I hear suburban white women will vote with their feelings again and vote Dem because they are upset with Trump’s attacks on DeSantis. Heaven help us if they have learned nothing.
I won’t insert myself in an argument between two groups, one that dismisses the New Testament and another that dismisses the Old Testament. We worship the same God. I doubt if the founders only read the New Testament. King James had the Old Testament as well as the New Testament translated into the best English translation ever done. We were founded on Judeo Christian “values.” (He said “traditions.”) Just because they didn’t practice the Jewish religion doesn’t mean you wipe out the values.
The Christian side that the western world influenced gave rise to what we are now but you must trace the ancestry back to its roots. His comment seems as silly to me as the small minds who killed Greek and Latin and other classical studies because they believe those studies aren’t related to who and what we are. I guess we could become like the sexually confused and use half the alphabet to describe all our intricacies but simplifying it to Judeo Christian is easier than Greco Roman Judeo Christian Catholic Protestant Western European Americans, or GRJCCPWEA.
I liked your response but I would add one fact. The colonizing of the western hemisphere culminated eventually into a Protestant Christian dominant America and a Catholic Christian Mexico, Central and South America. These both have the major elements of the description in our last sentence but they are significantly different in the resulting societies.
I agree. Just another reason our founders created an “exceptional” country (and atheist lefty Democrats said, “hold my beer” with the predictable results).
Free will is not such a blessing. What does the Bible teach about free will? It teaches that none of us are righteous, and that we are all wicked, rebellious sinners deserving death.
The Old Testament and the New teaches us to raise up our children in the faith. It does not say to raise them up to make up their own minds in some perfect Liberty. Liberty is quite bad for us, because left on our own, we are evil.
A good society will teach and socialize people into the true faith. We used to have such a society, for the most part.
As far as I can tell, the modern doctrine of radical Liberty didn’t really take over in this country until the 1960s. It is a view of the supposedly rational, atomized individual. It’s the philosophy of a spoiled child, I think. It used to be my philosophy, because I was once a spoiled child. It’s taken me a very, very long time to abandon that way of thinking. I was indoctrinated in a shallow libertarianism.
I think that your argument exemplifies the problem raised in the OP, Bob, although Ole Summers makes something of the same mistake. The OP bemoans the wickedness around us, and I’ve seen you do so too, I think, but for some reason, you folks don’t make the connection between your doctrine of radical Liberty and the horrible state of our country.
I see supposedly Christian, supposedly conservative people celebrating the birth of bastard grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Our degradation is just shocking. Yet rather than demanding right behavior, they keep on preaching their true faith — the do-your-0wn-thing, me-generation Liberty philosophy of the 1960s.
Which side dismisses the Old Testament?
I’m a Christian, and I take the Old Testament very seriously. The Jews don’t, and don’t understand it at all, or they would understand that it points the way to Jesus.
And no, the Jews don’t worship the same God. Some of them used to, before the time of Jesus. But they didn’t know God at all, had no love of God in their hearts, and didn’t understand Scripture. This is why they reject Jesus, and this is what Jesus taught.
In this statement, I mean Jews who don’t follow Jesus. Obviously, a person of Jewish ancestry can become a Christian, as can a person of any other ancestry.
Sounds about authoritarian as one could get. The fact that in many cases free will is not a blessing has little effect on the fact that it exists naturally and the act of moving from non-Christian to Christian requires it. The Catholic Church had a long period of this kind of authoritarianism and it failed.
Bob, yeah, there you go with the anarchism. Enforcement of anything is “authoritarian.” Typical libertarianism.
The problem with Catholicism are the heresies, not the attempts to teach the faith, nor the support for enforcement of laws founded upon Christian morality.
As I understand the empirical research, the greatest predictor of whether one is a Christian believer in adulthood is whether one was raised in the faith. There are a few people, like me, who come to faith as adults. This is rare.
We are to raise our children in the faith, aren’t we? Or are we just to let them loose in this depraved country of ours, to do their own thing?
There is New Testament teaching on this, from Romans 13:1-4:
Do you agree with what Paul wrote, or not? If not, don’t claim to be a Christian. If so, then stop being a libertarian and stop complaining about enforcement of morality being “authoritarian.”
Jerry, in the Romans 13:1-4 scripture that you quoted, the “authority” Paul is referring to is the pagan authority of the Roman empire. So, it seems that you are making the argument that even if Christians are ruled over by non-Christians, they should still obey the laws enacted by those non-Christians. Is this your view?
I don’t know why you always go there, I’m neither a libertarian nor anarchist. I support the Constitution and rule of law and I like having a community operating with civil order. There must be some flexibility within Christian doctrine when one is operating under a set of laws in place but being dishonored by those in the ruling positions that claim secular authority. I mean we are facing rulers now who are mandating that we do things that go contrary to Christian teaching and doctrine. I know we have a society that has passed some laws that actually approve unChristian behavior. I have never said that I approve those laws but I have no authority to do more other than in my vote to choose different leaders and make different laws.