And Now I’m Confused Again

This is a "thought bubble". It is an...
This is a “thought bubble”. It is an illustration depicting thought. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I turn eighteen next month. I feel roughly the same sense of anticipation that I felt when I was turning sixteen and seventeen. It’s not because I think anything exciting is going to happen, but because I feel like I’m marking a milestone like I do every year. One more year gone, one step forward. This past year has been more interesting that all the others because I’ve learned so much more. I’ve started reading the Bible through and thinking about theological and economic issues. I feel like I know so much more.

But this anniversary is making out to be just like the last one. It was preceded by a time of reading, thinking, searching and worrying and then, when the day finally came, it was peaceful. I felt like I had accomplished a lot during the summer, become more certain of important things and I could breathe again. I don’t feel nearly so suffocated as I did then, nor do I have such a weight on my chest (praise God) but my thoughts are foggy again. I have to think about lots of things I don’t think I should have to think about. I can’t help thinking that the questions were a lot simpler then. “How do I know God exists?” “If God does not exist, what does my life matter?” “If God does not exist, why should I obey my parents and not steal dresses from shopping malls?” Now it’s “What goes on in hell?” “What secular reasons can be given for opposing gay marriage?” “Am I going about all this correctly? What if I’m thinking badly?” “How much can I trust my reason?” . The new questions are a lot less foundational than the old ones, but I have so little data on them that I don’t know what to think.

So, I’m confused again. And when my confusion stems from a lack of knowledge, I order more books and reflect on what I already know. I am a sinner, deserving of God’s wrath and in need of his grace. God is good and kind, and oh so gracious and knowing that my only hope is in him, he has saved me. This is my hope in life and in death and a foundation on which I can build other things. I’m embarrassed to say I can say very little else with such certainty. I sure hope this sorts itself out by my birthday.

I stand upon – stand upon the Blessed Holy Rock of Ages

And safe within – safe within his shelter I will be

Winds may blow – winds may blow and the angry storm all around me rages

Upon this rock – the blessed Rock of Ages I shall stand

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Published by

Tracy

I’m Tracy

12 thoughts on “And Now I’m Confused Again”

  1. Being 18 doesn’t mean nearly as much as most people expect it to mean, though for many it does make a good excuse for a party. Still, it’s good to think through some big issues.

    If it helps, here’s a bullet response to some of the issues you’re mentioning.

    “How much can I trust my reason?”
    1: God designed it.
    2: It seems to work pretty well for most things.
    3: You haven’t got anything else to trust more.
    4: You might as well trust it, or you put you brain into an infinite loop.

    “What secular reasons can be given for opposing gay marriage?”
    “Am I going about all this correctly?”
    1. No, you shouldn’t decide on your position and then look for reasons. You look for reasons and then decide on your position based on the reasons.
    2. Remember that it’s perfectly valid to oppose something as a matter of conscience, but not try to have it legislated against. In the same way there’s a solid Biblical reason for opposing adultery or premarital sex, but most people wouldn’t try to bring the law into it unless they have secular reasons too.
    *. Say same-sex marriage, unless you’re happy for Lesbian marriages to go ahead. 😀

    “What secular reasons can be given for opposing gay marriage?”
    Loads of them
    Tradition, Freedom of conscience, impact on the family, various arguments against the idea that it’s discriminatory. Actually, start by looking for arguments for marriage, they should be predominantly heterosexual.

    1. Also, I’m not fond of the view that I cannot get something legislated against because it is against my personal moral values. we legislate against all sorts of things which are against our moral values (murder, etc) even if those who like those things disagree with us. What I cannot do is try to get people to oppose SSM who do not share my religious beliefs using arguments based on those beliefs.

      1. The distinction is, the law prohibits murder not just because it’s against your moral values as a Christian, but because it infringes on the right to life of another person. That God said don’t murder isn’t the reason it’s illegal (and for that matter if God had said to murder, it would still be illegal).

        Even so, as I said, there are plenty of secular arguments against broadening the definition of marriage away from one man and one woman.

      2. I know that the law does not prohibit certain things because God forbids them. I’m thinking more along the lines of each person’s obligation to oppose things they view as wrong. While the law does not prohibit certain things because of God, we vote for or against them based on our moral values. It is a moral value that it is wrong to do something that infringes on another’s right to life so the law does legislate morality. Consequently, I don’t understand the view that I cannot legally oppose something that is against my moral values. If that were so, we couldn’t legislate against anything.

      3. By no means am I suggesting that you can’t legislate against something which is against your moral values. I am suggesting that you can’t (or won’t get away with it if you try) legislate against something purely because it violates your religious convictions, especially in a secular state. In the same way, a Jew or Muslim couldn’t legislate against the sale and consumption of pork.

        If something is against your religion and is harmful to society, it can be legislated against. But that legislation is made because it’s harmful to society, not because you say God says it’s wrong.

      4. So, the idea is that I can try to legislate against something that is against my moral values, but only if that thing is also harmful to society? Or are you saying that I can try to legislate against something only if that thing is wrong and the judgment that is is wrong is based on something other than my religiou convictions?

      5. “Or are you saying that I can try to legislate against something only if that thing is wrong and the judgement that is is wrong is based on something other than my religious convictions?”

        Pretty much. In a secular or pluralistic society, you can’t force everyone to follow the Bible as a law book. Murder is wrong, both on religious grounds and because it harms (understatement of the year) another person. It’s illegal because it harms the other person, and anyone can agree to that whether they’re Christian, Muslim, Hindu, or atheist. Closing all businesses on a Saturday (Jewish Sabbath) may seem like a good law to a Jew on a religious basis, or banning hamburgers may seem like a good idea to a Hindu, but it wouldn’t get passed into law in America because it has no basis outside those religions.

      6. I’m still trying to wrap my head around this. I think it is one thing to say that in pluralistic society, others won’t let you suggest that they ought to follow your moral values. But it’s another thing to say that you ought not to vote in accordance with those values even if others disagree with them. After all, people disagree on moral claims, religiously motivated or not. In a pluralistic society, people disagree about moral values based on their religion. In a society with no religion, people would still disagree about moral values. It seems odd to say that we can vote in accordance with out moral convictions in the second case, but not in the first. People disagree with them in both cases. It changes nothing.

        If what you are saying, however, is not that we ought not to vote in accordance with those convictions, but that the society won’t let us, we’re on the same page.

      7. I’m just saying that you shouldn’t try to enforce your religion through the law, unless you happen to live in a theocracy.

      8. To be precise, I’m not for enforcing my religion on those who do not want it partly because it cannot be done. I can’t force people to believe anything. What I am wondering is why I should not try to legislate my moral convictions just because they are predicated on my religious beliefs. It sounds like the same thing as arguing that non-religious people ought not to vote in accordance with their moral convictions because some people disagree with their philosophical views. It makes absolutely no sense to me.

        I just wanted to clarify that.

  2. Being 18 really is a milestone for me. I will be able to get internet for my apartment, drive in 2 of my countries of residence and I won’t have to fax consent forms to my parents whenever I have to see a doctor.

    I don’t think I’ve decided that there are secular reasons for opposing same-sex marriage and I’m now looking for reasons. In my head, “what secular reasons can be for opposing gay marriage?” is the same thing as “what (if any) secular reasons can be given for opposing gay marriage. I have already decided not to support the institution, of course, and I have reasons for that – just not secular reasons.

    The issue with all those questions is not really finding answers. It’s judging the merit of the answers. I’ve heard arguments for and against gay marriage. The confusion arises when someone makes an argument that I don’t understand. Because I don’t understand it, I can’t tell if it is a good argument or not. I don’t know what to do with it and it drives me nuts. There’s also the problem (like with your argument for trusting reason) where I have a problem with an argument, but I can’t really figure out what makes me uneasy about the argument.

    With time, I’ll either figure it out or forget about it, I think.

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