An ancient Hebrew songwriter coined a phrase: “Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.”
I think he was on to something.
We need something higher. A vantage point. Something above. Something that transcends us.
In a world where equality reigns, where everyone is in the same boat, on the same level, in the same mess, we are left without a clear reference point. We have no guiding star to show the way. We are without a North Pole to make our moral compass work. No clear guidelines. Just sameness.
We need a Rock that is higher.
If we develop and choose our own values, then what we put in with one hand, we are taking out with the other. We end up building on something no better, no higher than ourselves. Not a promising foundation.
Equality informs us that no one has the right to judge. We are all in the same soup. No one is qualified to say something is wrong or evil, or to suggest their opinion is the best. All ideas are equal—except, of course, the idea that one might be better than another.
If that’s the case, Mother Teresa and Hitler end up on the same level. Heaven and hell would no longer exist. If no one has the right to “judge,” then the Holocaust and hospitals are both equally valid. We have no solid basis to discriminate between killers and caregivers. We are left only with different options, opinions, and personal preferences. We have leveled the playing field, and now it’s all up for grabs.
We have become confused about gender. We don’t know how to differentiate between men and women, or how many variations there are in between. Everyone is free to make their choice from the gender smorgasbord. We don’t know which bathroom to use, or if we should say Mr, Mrs, Ms, or something else. We are at sea without a rudder.
How did we get into this mess?
We need something rocklike—something solid that doesn’t shift or quake with each passing fad. A strong foundation that is resilient and resistant to the changing winds that blow. Something fixed and unmovable.
We need something higher.
Maybe . . . it’s Someone higher that we need.
Someone to define which direction is up and which is down, how things are to work, how life is to be lived. That would sure help.
Maybe there is Someone.
Perhaps we lost our way because we lost sight of Him.
Maybe we need to join the Hebrew poet and said: “Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.”
One need only consider the highest Christian ethic of “Greater love hath no man” and thereafter ask oneself what conceivable secular rationale could justify the death of St. Kolbe [a Polish Franciscan friar, who volunteered to die in place of a stranger in the German death camp of Auschwitz]. True, such tales of self-sacrifice cannot but impose themselves on the sensitive human heart. But if there is truth to the secular doctrine that the ephemeral life — this eye-blink in the history of the universe that we call Self — is the only thing that any living being will ever possess, then the ultimate act of love really turns out to be the ultimate act of stupidity. And since one can just as easily be desensitized to love, we can hardly rely with any confidence on the sensitive human heart.
From the Christian perspective, self-sacrifice is of course an act of love in the sense that it is an act of faith, which also happens to be the theological justification for the very virtue of faith, namely that if the existence of God and the full consequence of any act (both finite and eternal) were obvious to us, it would render altruism impossible. But any act from which the Self cannot possibly profit simply has no rational justification in the secular, even in the sense of one’s deeds reverberating through the future of humanity, which at any rate is just as doomed to die as the Self (and these days possibly not long afterward). I may therefore assume with confidence that if we are indeed living in the secular world, the only thing of ultimate importance is incontrovertibly the precious thing that is me — my thoughts, my feelings, my determinations — my experience of reality… It would be quite superfluous . . . to demonstrate that the secularist is inclined to egotism, though it is quite demonstrable that it would be quite illogical for her to be inclined to anything else, so long as she is unable to afford sufficient reason for placing ultimate value elsewhere…
America has changed beliefs that have existed for five millennia on virtually every matter of essence. Humanity, sexuality, and the family are redefined; truth is redefined; absolutes are jettisoned; our chromosomal constitution is redefined. We live under the delusion that any rebellion against a transcendent moral order is a personal matter with merely personal implications. In the end, with moral choices, there is no such thing as isolation. The impact of moral choices is catastrophic, like an earthquake that radically changes existing structures.
Where are we headed? I don’t know. But if present postmodern autonomy continues, each one a law unto himself, we’ll soon be in total anarchy.
One of the most impressive sights of 1951 was that of an elderly man giving a lecture at Columbia University. He was a man not ordinarily accounted one of the twelve disciples, and I am not baptizing him now — Bertrand Russell (atheist philosopher). It was rather amusing to many to see and hear the apologies and hesitations with which he made his announcement that Christian love was the world’s greatest need. Here are his words, with all the apologies left in:
“The root of the matter (if we want a stable world) is a very simple and old-fashioned thing, a thing so simple that I am almost ashamed to mention it, for fear of the derisive smile with which wise cynics will greet my words. The thing I mean is love, Christian love.”
“Christian love.” But trying to have Christian love, without its source in the revelation of a God of love in Christ, is trying to create something out of nothing.