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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Just Your Opinion

I presented my readers with a couple of stories on my News Weakly program. One was about how more and more they are trying to force doctors with Christian ethics to violate their ethics and ... abort babies, euthanize old people, perform sex-reassignment surgery, that sort of thing. Two others were about abortion. In one case India granted a 10-year-old the right to have an abortion and in the other a TV show was using support for Planned Parenthood as an Emmy campaign. Clearly I think abortion is wrong.

You may have picked up what you might consider a double standard in that series that day. "On one hand you say it's wrong to force doctors to violate their conscience and perform those things you listed and on the other hand it's wrong to allow other doctors to do those things if it is within their consciences." The question seems to be "So, you're unwilling to force people to do things that are opposed to what is right in your opinion, but perfectly willing to force them to align with what in your opinion is right." Is that it? Is it all just a matter of opinion?

The truth is that opinions are fine. No problem there. Everyone has them. Lots of them agree; lots do not. Whether you like broccoli or I like lima beans is a matter of opinion not worth fighting over. We can have differing opinions and get along fine. The problem arises when we look at whose opinion is going to be imposed on others. Anyone's? No one's? Is there an alternative?

In a world that has rejected God (and, make no mistake, it has, and not just in our lifetime (Rom 8:7; John 15:18,24; 1 John 5:19)) the truth is that the only accepted standard is "opinion". That's all we have. In a world without God, that's the only thing available. The believer who stands on "I believe the Word of God" is standing on the opinion that the Word of God is to be believed. Understand, I'm not saying that the only thing we have is opinion; I'm saying that the only thing available to the world in the absence of God's absolutes is opinion, and the world has rejected God's absolutes.

At the end of the line, we run on the opinion of those in power. Perhaps it's the people, perhaps a ruling group, perhaps a single leader. (In a theocracy, the ruling power is God and it is His opinion that matters.) It's just the way it's done. So we operate on opinion. If the ruling power determines that killing babies is good and acceptable, that is law. If the ruling power determines that not killing babies is good and acceptable, then that is the law. In a democracy (or republic), then, you can sway the opinion of the majority to change laws to your own opinion and the laws will change. That's the way it works.

So, how are we to proceed? It's not as if you can do it some other way. We could, I suppose, assign the opinion of each individual as the moral law. There is actually a term for that -- anarchy. In Judges, Israel did it (Judges 17:6; Judges 21:25). God forbade it (Deut 12:8). Solomon warned against it (Prov 12:15). Otherwise we're simply going to be standing on opposing opinions where some win out and others lose. Oddly enough, those people that complain about "It's just your opinion" aren't willing to actually go there themselves. I don't think, for instance, if the opinion of the ruling power held that it was perfectly acceptable to commit "postpartum abortion" -- "Any parent is allowed to kill their child up until the age of 18" -- that these "It's just your opinion" folk would say, "Good!" These same folk look at arranged marriage, as an example, that was the norm of yesteryear and call it "Bad!" Why? It was the opinion of those ruling powers to be good. So these people who complain "It's just your opinion" and "You're trying to force your opinion on us" are operating on their own opinion and would like to force their opinion on us. An obvious example: "You think marriage is defined as the union of a man and a woman (as it has been for all of human history) and it is our opinion that you must change your opinion. We will require it by force of law."

"Just your opinion" is the phrase some use to diminish your view and elevate their own. The question is not "Is this just your opinion?" The question is the weight of the opinion. What is the source? What is the reliability? What is the history? What is the reasoning? A witness to a crime who "dreamed that I saw him kill her" is offering an opinion just as the witness who "was standing there and watched him do it", but one of those opinions has more weight than another. Taking an opinion that coincides with God's ideas has greater weight than taking one that originates from "I feel". But don't be fooled. It's all opinion. It's the opinion of those who love God that His views are right and authoritative and the opinion of those who oppose God's ideas that those ideas are wrong. The weight of the opinion matters, but in our world the opinion of the ruling power is what becomes law. That is the problem in a world of deceitful hearts and hatred for God.

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