Saturday, June 22, 2013

How to Offend Every American: Question the Bill of Rights

I didn't wake up this morning and think, "Gee, how can I offend everyone today?" I really didn't.  I have no friendless-wish (like a death wish), but I do like to discuss things that some people are going to freak-out over. So what am I supposed to do, treat certain taboo subjects like they are sacred when they are secular? 

Now I am even confusing myself so I will get on with it. (Deep breath.)

Why do Christians enshrine the "right to pursuit happiness"? This right to pursue happiness has truly become idolatry in America. I don't read that right given to us in scripture at all--at all, anywhere. In fact, I see the opposite. We are given the freedom to choose or reject obedience to God. If we choose obedience to God then we don't have the right to pursue happiness, we have the obligation to pursue holiness. 

Seems pretty simple to me and I am okay with not pursuing happiness. But for some reason Americans associate our freedom to pursue happiness with godliness. Please show me that in Christian history or in scripture.

Does God want us to be happy? Of course. Does He want us to pursue happiness? Of course not! I mean, come on, even ancient philosophers could figure that one out. We can never find happiness by pursuing it. This enlightenment idea was debunked thousands of years ago. It's a lie to teach that you can be happy by pursuing it and if you look around you can see evidence of that lie all over the place. 

Set aside the Bible for a moment and lets just look at results. The whole idea of pursuing happiness is ludicrous as its premise is illogical. 

The Problem of Making Happiness a Right

An example of how the idea of "rights" can get ugly and aggressive: 

We all know that we have the opportunity to marry someone who is attractive to us. That part of our natural experience. But what if our constitution had a "right" in there to pursue a spouse who we find attractive? Think about how our courtship attitude would change. We could sue bars that didn't have pretty girls in item  (Those greedy Capitalists are hogging all the ladies and taking away my rights!) Stalking would be legal. (I have the right to pursue attractive people!) Supermodels would be receiving lawsuits at every step. (She's impeding my rights by ignoring me!) 

There can logically be no "right" to an attractive spouse even though we all have that opportunity to pursue one. Freedom is one thing, as it is the natural context of God's kingdom. When, however, we attach a right onto freedom we are indoctrinating everyone that we somehow deserve something without any effort on our part. As if there is a government reserve of our rights in a warehouse somewhere and they are hoarding them instead of giving it to us. 

This is the problem with a right to pursue happiness. It makes us feel aggressive with self-centeredness. Happiness becomes the goal of life rather than the natural outcome of pursuing truth and goodness. 

A more important point:

Nobody Really Knows What Makes Them Happy

Eating a pint of Ben and Jerry's ice cream may make us momentarily happy or stealing a pretty piece of jewelry may give us a kick, but after a few moments of pleasure, we suffer the results. There is one of the problems with the pursuit of happiness--most people lack the the maturity to know what will make us happy tomorrow based what we did today. We seem to not care about tomorrow. We want instant gratification and that will never make us really happy. 

What if children had the "right" to pursue happiness, there would be no bathrooms or beds, no clothes, no school and the driving age would be 6 years-old as would be the drinking age. We'd be living the Lord of the Flies (okay, we are living the Lord of the Flies--but I'll get there later.) We, as their parents, understand children have neither the maturity to know what will make them happy nor the discipline to do what makes them happy if they did know. God gave them parents for that reason. 

But actually all humans, not just children, lack wisdom and discipline till they are quite old--if they ever acquire it. And by that time, they have already made so many huge mistakes pursuing happiness that the'd need a life do-over to implement all the knowledge they'd discovered from living a life of pursuing happiness. So this pursuit of happiness yield some voiceless, wise old people sitting in retirement homes full of regrets. 

God understood that if we had carte blanche to pursue happiness then we'd make awful decisions that look good on paper but living them out is hell, not happiness. We'd be getting married to someone because we are attracted to them and sleeping with them before we're married. We'd cohabitate. We'd be taking drugs and watching too much television. We'd spend too much time on the internet, we'd be pursuing money, we'd be getting divorces. We'd be disrespectful and lazy and overweight and more interested in Beyonce than our credit score. We'd lie on our resumes, we'd resent our children because they are impeding our pursuit of happiness, we'd place our own ambitions above our family. In short, we'd be the Lord of the Flies. 

We who have the Constitutional right to Pursuit of Happiness as our national goal are not happy:

The United States has a higher suicide rate than Haiti, Egypt, Columbia, Iran, North Korea and India. 

We are some of the most unhappy people on the planet.

And again, if we had listened to Aristotle (and Jesus) we'd know we were setting ourselves up for a fall trying to achieve happiness by aiming at it. 

Yet, the right sounds so... nice, so decent, so sacred. (But as we have seen by Nancy Pelosi, our ideas of sacred are at best.... corrupted.) 

This is going to get worse.... but I'll leave that for the next post. 

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