I don’t think there’s anything wrong with paying for quality. I just realized that the clothes I paid more for get more use and last longer than clothes I bought cheap. Not always, of course, but generally. I don’t know, but trying to save money can be more expensive in the long run when it doesn’t last as long. I’m just a fan of quality now, I think. Not luxury; quality.

This entry is long, kind of philosophical and quasi theological. So, people like Allie will probably hate it. But, I’m just warning you ahead of time.

So what I posted last time about divorce, I didn’t say much about what I posted, I just posted stuff that other people had written that I found interesting. And, what I did say about it may have been a bit muddled. At any rate, that was somewhat intentional. I just wanted to throw that out there, as a thought-provoker, and I’m glad if it did provoke thought.

But I should perhaps elucidate my own thinking about this. But I need to preface that I’m far from settled on it. Mostly because I can see good arguments on both sides. So the problem is, if you slam me, I’ll probably agree with it. I don’t know, there’s just good arguments either way you go.

Henry (I think; when I talked to him it was a while ago and I forgot a lot of it) sees there being really two parts to it. How you treat someone who is already divorced, and how you treat someone who may divorce, who is going through severe, prolongued, and fundamental marital troubles.

But in my mind, I think as it plays out these attitudes are kind of linked. What I mean is, a lot of people (rightly) hold a very high view of marriage and commitment. Such that they believe that divorce should essentially never be an option. And, I should say that if I had to choose a position, I’d probably be on this side. But, I’m not settled on it, and while I sympathize with this a lot, I also sympathize somewhat with other views. The problem I feel is that this view leads to a view that’s harsh once people have divorced. That is, people’s high view of marriage causes them to see divorced individuals as committing a grievous sin, one that hangs over them for the rest of their lives. Such that it practically seems to be an unforgiveable sin – as long as they’re divorced, they’re living in sin.

And, this kind of attitude kind of came out with the whole Amy Grant thing. I’ll be honest, I pretty much lost a lot of respect for Amy Grant with everything that came out. At the same time, once it’s over, done with, irrevocably so, I don’t know what the right thing is to do. Do you judge her for her divorce for the rest of her life? It just seems like that’s what some people want to do. And maybe that’s justified, if she’s not repentant. But regardless, it just seems like from now on, to some people, there’s no way she cannot be living her life in sin. Just being married to that other guy, she’s living in sin. That’s what a lot of people call it. Living in sin.

I just don’t understand because I don’t see what these people would want from her. Would that they divorce Vince Gill and remarry Gary Chapman? If you really have a high view of marriage, that just seems to compound sin with further sin. If we really believe that God forgives, somewhere down the line we have to be able to say that Amy Grant, or anyone like her, isn’t living in sin. And, I don’t think some people are willing to do that.

And, my belief is that this kind of stems from their high view of marriage. Again, I’m not saying that high view is wrong. Certainly not. It’s just, I feel holding it too extremely can lead to an attitude that is more judgmental than loving. Such that people would believe that to hold the highest view of marriage, they need to view anyone who’s broken that covenant as being perpetually in a state of sin.

Sorry, I’m rambling. Anyway, I think most reasonable people would agree though that given that divorce has already happened, we need to treat them with love, and forgiveness, and healing. And that means (to me) letting them live their lives, even if that means getting remarried to someone else.

But the more questionable issue I guess is whether it’s OK to let people get divorce. Or rather, whether it’s OK for people to divorce. So, people have voiced what they believe, and I pretty much agree with them. That is, if you said, it’s not OK, pretty much ever, I wouldn’t really argue with you.

But like I said, I’m not settled. It just seems to me that holding such a hard line all the time isn’t always loving. And, slam me on this if you want, but the problem with the Pharisees to me is that they got caught up in the letter of the law that they lost sight of the meaning, the purpose of the law. And in my opinion, holding such a hard line in all circumstances approaches this. It’s just holding too fast to a principle in the name of truth or whatever, and losing sight of love.

I’m fully aware that the overemphasis of a notion of “love” over law and godly principles, such that many principles are considered null and void in the name of “love,” is a lame thing that happens, particularly in the liberal church, that leads to heresy and other problems. I recognize that. But that’s not an excuse to go to the opposite extreme, and become a Pharisee. That is, emphasize law and the like and lose sight of love. I’m not saying an earthly notion of “love” should reign supreme. But I am saying if how you feel about a law or principle completely lacks love, there’s something wrong.

So the question is what the most loving thing is to do. And, like I keep saying, I don’t know. But it just seems certain things aren’t particularly loving to the individuals involved. Like, say there’s a woman whose husband repeatedly beats her, despite continual promises to change. What’s the best thing for her to do? Dr. James Dobson (whom a lot of mainstream people dislike, but whose views I find to be often most close to my own) would likely say she should get legally separated, but not divorced. It should be said here that this is already more than some Christians would grant. His mantra is Love Must Be Tough. Some would argue that the secret in such a situation is for the wife to continually submit, and that this behavior, in addition to prayer and faith, will change the husband. Dobson disagrees, and so do I.

But even with Dobson’s position, I just wonder if it’s the most loving thing. Is it the most loving thing to force her to live a life of solitude and loneliness, having to support her family on her own? God saw that Adam, who had everything he could need, including constant communion with God, needed a partner. You can disagree, but I don’t think it’s evil to say that some people need a partner. God certainly can be all they need, but that’s true of all people, and people get married anyway.

At any rate, it just seems to me a bit unloving to never allow her remarry, as long as her husband claims faith in Christ and is not sexually unfaithful, and yet continues to beat her. More than a bit, actually. It seems kind of harsh.

But a lot of people would still hold this line, in the name of having a high view of marriage. Again, I understand it. And I can’t doubt what God could do, even in this situation. But in a situation where the husband claims faith and yet continues to act in such a way, it just seems harsh to me. It seems like it’s a line held for theological or principled reasons, but not out of love. It seems to me that it’s held in this situation not because it’s the most loving position one could take for the person, but because of a principle.

I don’t know, it’s kind of an exceptional situation, but that’s the whole point. It’s not how to view divorce in general, I think we all agree that it’s wrong. It’s just how to view these exceptional cases. Holding the hard line to me sometimes seems a bit theoretical. Like, it’s easy to say just in general, whatever. But when you get to nitty gritty cases, or especially people you know, it just becomes harder.

And, I’m not settled about what Jesus would do. Here I’m getting theological sloppy, and you can rightly slam me, but his question regarding the Sabbath was whether it was better to good on the Sabbath or not. That should influence how you view the Sabbath. The Pharisees got enraged when Jesus healed on the Sabbath, because they held a principle too tightly, and lost sight of the meaning. And, I wonder if something similar could be said of views towards marriage. Obviously we should have a high view of marriage, as we should of the Sabbath. But shouldn’t we do what’s best in each? What’s most loving? The Pharisees in their view of the Sabbath overlooked the suffering of people. Isn’t it at least possible that we might be doing the same thing with marriage? Such that it causes people to suffer?

Again, many people would say, with God, everything is possible, and that they believe in the power of God to change people and marriages if both are committed, and such. And when you hear something like that, it’s pretty much impossible to argue against it. And yet, again, it just strikes me as too abstract. Maybe it’s just me that’s wrong. But there’s this family I know where the husband claimed faith in Christ, but repeatedly abused the wife, abused drugs, and gambled away all their money. It’s a really sad story and I don’t want to get into it too much, but the wife died. As far as I know, she didn’t want a divorce. But if she had, would it have been wrong for her to get one? It seems extremely unloving to say it would have been wrong, particularly in retrospect. I’m just saying when you get to real life cases, it’s just a whole lot harder to hold the hard line.

So some might say that it’s impossible to say divorce is OK in these extreme circumstances because you can’t tell when the couple has really tried everything, or when a member of the marriage is really hopelessly messed up. Since you can’t tell this, you shouldn’t ever allow it. And I see the merits in this argument. But again, it just doesn’t loving. Out of a fear of making a blurry line, we draw a line that’s too harsh.

I guess the idea is that you have to hold a hard line there, or else it becomes a slippery slope. That is, if you say divorce is OK in irreconcilable differences, when literally everything has been attempted and it’s harmful for one of the partners, then it blurs the line of what’s OK and what’s not, and that’s worrisome. Because then how do you distinguish what’s irreconcilable or not? It just starts you down the path where anything goes as grounds for divorce. And that’s clearly bad. So you can’t have that fuzzy line. So you have to draw that hard line.

In fact, this argument is made in a lot of things. Like the inerrancy of the Bible. Some go to extremes, saying that every word in the Bible is literally true. And a common justification for this is that if you don’t believe this, it starts you down the path to taking the entire Bible figuratively, or symbolically, like literature, and that’s clearly wrong.

I don’t buy that argument though. Why? To me, it seems to ignore the truth. That is, you hold a position because it’s the easiest position to hold, not because it’s true. But in my mind, the true world is a fuzzy, hard to distinguish, confusing thing.

And in the past, when this kind of argument has been used, it’s been because of the simplicity of holding it, not because it’s in line with truth. For example, the church used to insist that the earth was the literal center of creation. Why? There were theological reasons for it. If you deny that earth is the physical center of the universe, it starts you down that slippery slope of believing that maybe the earth isn’t the spiritual center of God’s universe; maybe man doesn’t hold a special place in God’s universe, etc. It’s a slippery slope, so it’s just easier to believe that the earth is both the physical and spiritual center of the universe.

But this argument is totally out of line with what seems to be true. It’s not held because it’s the best position to hold given everything we know, but because it’s easier. And, yes, ditching it does start down a slippery slope. And yes, many people now deny earth a special place in God’s creation. They think we’re just a mistake, just one of many many worlds, and maybe many many peoples. And God doesn’t hold a special regard for us. Some people clearly have gone too far done the slippery slope. And it is a somewhat fuzzy line to say earth isn’t the physical center of the universe, but that it is the spiritual one.

And yet, I think this truth is closer to this line than any other. It’s a fuzzy one, a difficult one to define. But I don’t think the earth is the physical center of the universe. And I don’t think the earth is not the spiritual center of the universe. It’s a fuzzy, slippery line, but I think it’s the true one.

I think this goes for a lot of things where people would belive something just because they’re afraid of the consequences otherwise. Like with the absolute literal interpretation of the Bible. Yes, if you move from that then it starts you down a slippery slope. And if you go too far down the slope it’s clearly wrong. And yes, it’s easier then just to hold the hard line. But that’s not justification of it’s truth to me. Just because holding the hard extreme line makes it easiest not to move towards heresy doesn’t make that extreme line true. That argument provides no justification in itself for its truth.

And in fact, I don’t think it’s true. I don’t think every single line in the Bible was meant to be interpreted literally. I think there is evidence that in some places, like in Psalms, it’s meant to be poetic, or symbolic. I might even go a bit further, but not here. Yes, that starts down a slippery slope. What’s to prevent contextualizing everything in the Bible? Or seeing the Bible as wholly symbolic? And some people go too far. But while the line is a fuzzy, slippery one, I do think the truth lies closer to here than anywhere else. Just because it’s a hard one to define doesn’t mean it’s not true. Similarly, just because other lines are easier to define doesn’t make them true.

Big digression. Sorry. Anyway, in relation to divorce, yeah, if you lessen the line a bit, say it’s OK in extreme circumstances, you run the risk of falling down that slippery slope towards a casual attitude towards marriage and divorce. And some people go this far, too far. But, in my mind, that’s not an excuse for holding a line that makes a ironclad rule out a good principle that in certain circumstances seems more concerned with devotion to the rule than love for the individuals involved. That just doesn’t seem to be in line with the message of Jesus.

What is the principle of marriage? Why does God hate divorce so much? Is it because it profanes a heavenly institution? But there is no marriage in heaven. It can’t be that. I’m just speculating, but I would guess it’s because of the people. Takin a casual attitude towards marriage leads to pain and suffering for people which is not good, nor does a marriage without commitment approach the joy in marriage that God intended. I have no Scriptural basis for this, so you can slam me; it’s just my rectum talking. But I think God’s plan for minimizing pain and maximizing joy is by having marriages for life, where each partner is fully committed to each other. It’s for peoples’ sake, not God’s.

So, when a marriage is just seriously jacked up, and you have legitimate reason to doubt that one of the partners will ever change, what’s most in line with the principle? I don’t know, it just seems that insisting they never divorce is not out of love for the couple, but for God’s sake or something, and that doesn’t seem right. And again, I heartily reject the “slippery slope” argument. It’s a valid one, but it says nothing of truth or appropriateness. Holding this fuzzy line where one recognizes divorce might be OK in certain extreme circumstances is admittedly more dangerous and slippery than the hard line. But, in my mind, it could be the most loving one, the one most in line with Jesus’ attitude of love. And that’s the line we want to find. Not the easiest one. The right one.

Sorry, that took a long time to say. The thing is, I still don’t know where I stand on the issue. I’ve said all this stuff, but I also know how it could be argued against. Like my whack comparison of the Sabbath and marriage. The difference of course being that Jesus himself said, don’t get divorced (arguably except in case of marital infidelity). It’s a line Jesus himself seems to have said. And I realize that. That’s a good reason for holding the hard line of no divorce ever.

So I’m unsettled. I guess in the end what I’m saying is that holding a hard stance on an issue just because that guarantees that you won’t slip into heresy is in itself not a validation of the truth of the stance. And I think on many issues, the truth is a fuzzy thing. It’s hard, and it’s dangerous, but it happens to be true. And with divorce in particular, I just think we could all benefit from a little bit of compassion. I worry that the hard stance isn’t done out of love, or that it might be losing sight of the principle behind why divorce is wrong, and moving towards blind legalism. But again, I don’t know. At least for already divorced couples, I don’t think a little more compassion would do the church harm.

So some commentators feel that the reason Napster is so popular is that it’s an easy, convenient way to get music online. Their opinion is that if record companies offered an easy outlet for music downloading, even if it cost money, users would use it. Meaning, the primary draw of Napster isn’t that it’s free, it’s that it’s convenient.

Idiots. The reason people use Napster is because all the music is free.

So I’ve rambled about Napster much too much. But I’ve also been thinking why people use it. And I’m pretty convinced that the primary reason they use it is because it’s free. It’s also convenient, which is key, but that’s not the main appeal. People use Napster because they get their music for free.

But, my opinion (and I could be wrong) is that, people aren’t replacing CD buying with Napster, if that makes any sense. My gut feeling is that artists that people like, they’re still buying CDs. What people are downloading through Napster is music that they like, but whose albums they wouldn’t normally buy. Like those isolated songs by artists that they like, but not enough to buy the entire album. I might be totally wrong about this, however.

So my take is, right now, people buy albums of artists they like, but use Napster to get songs they like, if that makes any sense at all. If you had Napster and it wasn’t free, there’s no way people would use it as much. Not by a long shot. It’s not the convenience, it’s the fact that it’s free. And they’re not going to pay for it.

But my belief is that shutting down Napster isn’t going to appreciably increase record sales because people are (mostly) downloading songs they wouldn’t normally buy. At least that is my belief. And, to be honest, currently, Napster use probably isn’t hurting record sales all that much, is my gut feeling.

The threat of Napster in my mind is not what it’s doing now, but what it could do down the line. Meaning, when people get more and more accustomed to downloading music, then it becomes a threat to traditional music sales. But I don’t know, what I’m saying now I’m less sure about than stuff I’ve talked about in the past. But I do think you have to be future looking to see how much of a threat it is, not just see what it’s doing now.

It reminds me of this editorial I once read in the Houston Chronicle, a truly mediocre newspaper. But this guy was questioning the vast investment of schools into computer resources. His take was that you look at jobs now, and see how many of them require or are supplemented with computer skills. And his claim was that hardly any of them do, such that it should be needed in elementary schools. Thus, the money should be used in other places.

It was one of the most idiotic things I’d ever read. Why? It focused totally on the present, and not on the future. What jobs are like now isn’t the relevant issue. What is relevant is how they will be when elementary aged kids are working. And, in my mind, it seems clear that in the future, computer literacy will play a key role in many many jobs, and in just being a part of society as a whole. So this idiot completely ignored the future.

We can’t predict the future, of course. But you have to try. If you try to predict trends based on reasoned knowledge, you may still be wrong. But if you don’t try to predict the future at all, you will definitely be wrong. I don’t know if I’m making any sense. But at least with computers in schools, the use of computers in society is clearly the future, so the investment in building up computing resources in our schools is clearly a good one.

Anyway, sorry for the sidetrack. The other thing about Napster is that the most idiotic party involved, in my opinion, is Napster. They have zero revenue, nor do I know of any potential revenue stream at all for them in the future. They can’t suddenly make the music not free. And they can’t use ads. If they do either, alternatives will quickly pop up, as they already have. So, they have no way of ever making money, and all they can do is anger music companies, whom they depend on. I don’t know, it just seems an idiotic “business plan” if you ask me. Of course, I don’t know much about it, so maybe someone can clear me up about it. But I don’t get Napster the company.

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