Don’t Put the Symbol Before the Horse

horsecart 001ps

In Genesis, the creation account talks about the passage of days before the sun was created. There was a light time and a dark time: a full day.

Now, when God did create the sun, He did not then spin the earth, wait to see how long it took to spin once, and then decide to make a day 24 hours long. God determined that a day would be 24 hours long before He made the first day. The sun and the rotation of the earth were set to conform to what God had already determined. We need to be sure we don’t get that backward.

It is the same with biblical symbolism. Biblical symbols are not like Forest Gump’s box of chocolates. Forest wanted to describe life, so he chose an object close at hand and used it. The object he chose was not created to be a symbol for life, but it was able to be used as such with some imagination. Biblical symbols, however, are specifically created to represent something else that already exists.

An example is marriage. When God wanted to describe the relationship between Christ and the Church, He did not say, “The relationship between Christ and the Church is like marriage,” in a ‘Forest Gump box of chocolates’ kind of way. No, God created marriage because the concept of the relationship between Christ and the Church already existed, and marriage is an image of that pre-existing reality. This is the first reason why Christians oppose gay marriage. Jesus isn’t marrying another Jesus, therefore men don’t marry men — the created symbol has to follow what it’s imaging of the Creator.

When a man is opposed to the idea of a woman being a pastor, it is not because he is a male chauvinist. Rather, it is because he believes that gender matters. Gender is symbolic; not in a ‘box of chocolates’ kind of way, but in a ‘something pre-exists about God and this is an image of that’ kind of way. A man standing before his congregation is a symbol of Christ standing before His bride. A man protecting his church is a symbol of Christ protecting His wife. A woman can not do that; not because she isn’t smart enough, or talented enough, but because she doesn’t fit the symbol. The ‘Beauty and the Beast’ story would quickly lose its appeal if the beauty decided to switch roles with the beast — the symbols wouldn’t match.

Bread and wine exist because they image pre-existing things about God. Baptism, circumcision, the temple, birds, trees, clouds, stars, and even people themselves are symbols following after something which was real before any of them ever existed. Biblical symbols are directly connected to that which they image. Gump’s box of chocolates is not.

Symbols matter. They are not interchangeable. God sets them in place, and we benefit when we follow them and use them as He intended.

The Edict of Intolerance

OKCupid Mozilla
A wise man once said, “All we know from history is that we don’t know from history.” In AD 311 emperors Constantine and Galerius signed an edict of toleration ending the persecution of Christians. The other religions were not done away with, but Christianity was allowed into the pluralistic worldview of the time.

The agenda of this edict was not to usher in some golden age of toleration. It was a transitional time where one worldview was replaced by another. The pluralistic worldview was being replaced by the Christian worldview. The time of tolerance was only temporary.

Today in the west we see something similar going on. One worldview is being replaced by another. All this talk of tolerance is, again, just a temporary time of transition. Anyone who thinks that this time of tolerance is a permanent thing is fooling themselves. In fact, the time of tolerance has already passed, and the incident with Mozilla shows that.

With Mozilla you have a situation where a man holds to traditional beliefs and he was punished for it. He was punished because his beliefs don’t conform to the new worldview.

Some would say that the Mozilla incident is simply the free market working as it should. That is true, but it is only true as a secondary issue, it is only true because of everything I mentioned above. In a true free market capitalist system no one would care what the CEO’s personal beliefs were. They would only care about how much money he could make the company.

As a Christian I am not tolerant. I don’t defend tolerance and I stand for what I believe in. I am very intolerant regarding abortion for example; in fact I am guilty of hate crime when it comes to abortion. That does not mean I am going to go around planting bombs in abortion clinics or anything–I have no desire to hurt anyone. But, if possible, I won’t support a business, or a politician, or a special interest group that supports abortion.

If, in this day and age, a CEO is punished for not celebrating gay marriage, so be it. But don’t tell me that is tolerance–that would be akin to doing something like pissing on my leg and telling me it’s raining.

image credit: