Peer Pressure Review

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One of the claims I have been making is that the world runs on accusation. Searching out the truth, examining the arguments, and making your decisions on that basis is one way of doing business, but another, much more popular way, is to find out what all the other kids are doing, and just go with that. It is just like junior high, only we have credit cards now.

Scripture tells us not to allow ourselves to be steered in that way. Of course, if you live the way God calls you to live, you will be regarded as stoooopid. This is why we ought not to sit with mockers. We are blessed if we do not sit down with the scornful (Ps. 1:1), those whose mocking contempt always assumes that the argument has already been made, the issues completely settled, and with only a few remaining idiots standing outside the general consensus. If you can curl the lip right, this is a lot easier than actually making an argument. Just assume that somebody else has made that argument, which was of course unanswerable, and that “all scholars know it.”

This is not just done with intellectual issues (atheism, global warming, evolution), it is also done with lifestyle choices (feminism, homosexuality, bar-crawls). And if a Christian goes along with any of it, he can then be accused of hypocrisy. If he doesn’t go along, he can be accused of having hang-ups and of not knowing how to unbend at all.

“With hypocritical mockers in feasts, they gnashed upon me with their teeth. Lord, how long wilt thou look on? Rescue my soul from their destructions” (Ps. 35:16-17).

“For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you” (1 Pet. 4:3-4).

They think it is strange that we do not conform to their licentiousness, and they accuse us because of it. They speak evil of us for refusing to be hypocritical. The world runs on accusation. They will accuse your going out and coming in. If deacon Jones goes on a bender, they laugh at his hypocrisy. If deacon Jones declines to go on a bender, they laugh at all the scruples he has wound around his axle.

But it is not as though God is out of the picture. The Lord “scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly” (Prov. 3:34). This attitude of disdain for this kind of mocking accusation is one we must learn how to imitate. “Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; Yea, strife and reproach shall cease” (Prov. 22:11).

The world likes to believe that they progress from one level of understanding to another because the arguments are just so compelling. But in reality, they just pronounce certain arguments compelling, and police the boundaries of those ideas afterwards with a knobbed stick. Whenever a bad idea (whose time has come) arrives, the current honchos pronounce it “the very thing,” and anybody who wants to get anywhere had better toe the line. Intellectual history is the history of glorified peer pressure. Only they call it peer review.

David Hume supposedly posed a real stumper for the Western intellectual tradition, which Kant supposedly solved by floating off into the ether, but Thomas Reid had actually answered Hume within minutes. Global warming hysteria was based on data that was so cooked the steam was still coming off it, but the end result was a decade of screeching at people who like big cars. Evolution, as Malcolm Muggeridge once said, will be seen in retrospect to have been one of the great jokes of history — but just try to tell somebody that now.

But accusation is not argument. Accusation is not refutation.

It is important to note, yet again, that the rejection of the spirit of accusation is not a rejection of the antithesis between right and wrong. Rejection of accusation is not a leveling impulse. In fact, it is always necessary to put the scorner or the divisive man out. The ship can go in the water, but you don’t want water going into the ship.

Moreover, it is also most necessary for each of us to police our own hearts with these principles in mind. God judges within the church, but He does so in a spirit of chastening, not condemnation. He is keeping the spirit of condemnation from flooding in. The world runs on condemnation, which is why it will be condemned. The measure you use will be measured unto you. The church is a haven of grace, and so it is that we are invited to examine our own hearts for any remnants of accusation we have tracked in.

“For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world” (1 Cor. 11:31-32).

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