2 Samuel 11-12
One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, "Isn't this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite?" Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her...Then she went back home. The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, "I am pregnant."
...In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. In it he wrote, "Put Uriah in the front line where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die."
So while Joab had the city under siege, he put Uriah at a place where he knew the strongest defenders were. When the men of the city came out and fought against Joab, some of the men in David's army fell; moreover, Uriah the Hittite died.
...When Uriah's wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. After the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the LORD.
The LORD sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, "There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him. Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him."
David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, "As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this deserves to die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity."
Then Nathan said to David, "You are the man!"
In my prior post I said that my faith journey is centered around the following:
which I abbreviated as KASE. I further noted that I've found the following worldviews/belief systems most helpful in fostering KASE (in me):
Finally, I noted that Christianity, with its belief in God, has been the most effective in shaping me into a moral person. Why?
Well, it might be best to start with the Biggest Temptation (BT).
The BT is this: A constant temptation to conflate The Good with what I want. This is, btw, the analysis the bible gives for the BT. In the bible the BT is always idolatry, the worship of "another god." And, invariably, this god is created in the image of humanity. In short, idolatry is when I dress up my selfish desires as a god and then worship, well, myself.
What happens in idolatry is that what I claim to be "god" or "good" is really just my own cravings. Idolatry is just God-talk painted over my cravings for safety, status, or comfort. The insidious nature of idolatry is that my base cravings get overt religious sanction from my "god." I gratify myself and get to feel righteous all at the same time. It's a win/win.
But let me quickly note that the BT isn't just a temptation for religious folk. Even atheistic liberal humanists try to justify their selfish choices with moral rationalizations. We all want to appear pure in our own eyes.
My big point is simply this: We are all fooling ourselves. Theist and atheist alike. The BT is always there, encouraging us to let ourselves off the hook, to offer excuses, to give the ready rationalization, and to cut moral corners. If you go back over my KASE list from my last post I think we can all agree that KASE is hard. Really hard. Really, really hard. So we tend to not go through with it.
So here's the question. Who is going to keep holding my feet to the fire? Who is going to be constantly in my face about how I treat my wife, my children, my world? Who?
See, the trouble I've had with buddhism and liberal humanism is that they did not provide me with moral critique. I could be a complete jerk and be a liberal humanist. But I can't be a complete jerk and be a Christian, at least not as I understand Christianity (i.e., KASE). You see, my moral struggle is very simple: I just don't want to be a jerk. Really. I spend most of my day obsessing about that. I don't really care about many of the moral issues swirling around Christianity (e.g., homosexuality, the War in Iraq, social justice, etc.). Those are important issues, but truthfully, I'm kind of busy working on not being a jerk. And it takes a lot of effort. Seriously. Try to make everyone around you in your home and at work or just in passing feel welcomed, embraced, respected, valued, and listened to. From the waitress, to the boss, to the co-worker, to the flight attendant, to the homeless person on your corner. It takes all my moral effort to be kind to all these people. Particularly if they are silly, shallow, prideful, or mean. And I fail all the time in my Quixotic quest not to be a jerk.
KASE is hard.
So I've found that I need prophets. I need a prophetic voice in my life. I need someone to break the tablets and shout apocalyptically at me when I'm worshiping the Golden Calf otherwise known as ME.
But prophets need a place to stand. They need to speak from a place of unimpeachable moral authority. They need, in short, to come from God. Again, I don't care much for the purposes of this post if God exists. I just have to believe in a moral location, or rather, a moral elevation that stands over me. This moral elevation creates, by its mere existence, the potential for prophecy. Without it my life becomes a level moral playing field. But I won't listen to mere humans. Trust me. Sometimes I will, if I like them. But when push comes to shove, why should I listen to you? You're just as much of a jerk as I am. Take the plank out of your own eye, you hypocrite!
You get the idea. I won't have truck with humans. I'll just debate them to death. And while I'm debating the moral fine points of my choices with you I'm not developing KASE.
So I need a moral critique that is hard to fight with. I need to feel that the moral critique just isn't another human opinion. I need to sense that the verdict is coming from a place much higher or deeper. Call that place "God."
In sum, I've remained within Christianity for a few reasons First, it paints for me the vision of KASE more clearly than all the other faiths/worldviews I've explored. And second, its notion of God creates a place for prophets to stand. Christianity builds moral critique into the system. And regardless if God exists or not, I've found the prophetic voice--which relies on God as "location/evelation/origin"--morally useful. More, I've found it morally vital and necessary. For me.
I do believe that non-theists can be good people, saints even. But for me, I can't cut God loose. Just because I need some metaphysical moral leverage working on me. I can't let go of the prophets. And I know I'll not respect the voice of another human. I'm too pig-headed and vain. So, I stay with Christianity, building into my moral life the potential for moral critique. To guarantee that I'm shook up, morally speaking, on a regular basis.
In short, I stay with Christianity because I've found there, more than anywhere else, that I have a better chance of my Nathan showing up.
2 Samuel 11-12