Friday, October 15, 2010

Romans 1 -- an urban strategy

Cities are place where people go to get away from the obligations of faith and family. It's easier to find anonymity and scope for debauchery in the teeming masses of an urban center. Wealth also tends to flow towards the cities, as do poor people wanting a chunk of that wealth. The people with the wealth keep the poor people at arm's length by tossing them bribes -- panem et cicusem -- bread and circuses. As the last part of this first chapter vividly describes, urban populations experience in compressed and accelerated form the spiral of decadence. You start by ignoring your Creator, and the duties of gratitude towards Him. Once God is hustled off the stage, you fill the vacuum with miscellaneous idols. Having thus blinded oneself to ultimate realities, the degenerate person loses the character and faithfulness you need to maintain human intimate relationships -- with parents, with spouse.[1] The final step is homosexuality -- the words of Lola, a song by The Kinks, come to mind:
Girls will be boys and boys will be girls
It's a mixed up muddled up shook up world except for Lola
Lo-lo-lo-lo Lola
You start by ignoring the differences between sacred and profane, between holy and perverted. You end up denying the glorious differences between male and female.

But what did Paul see? A center of influence. A place to take the Gospel, if you wanted to move a province. Time after time, he and his companions headed for provincial capitals. Now, he has his sights set[2] on the capital of the known world, Rome.
Rom 1:14 Grekler'e ve Grek olmayanlara, bilgelere ve bilgisizlere karşı sorumluluğum var.
Rom 1:15 Bu nedenle Roma'da bulunan sizlere de Müjde'yi elimden geldiğince bildirmek için sabırsızlanıyorum.
Paul has news too good to keep to himself, glad tidings to share with every division of humanity, a blessing that transcends these divisions -- between civilized and barbarian (Grekler'e ve Grek olmayanlara), between learned and unschooled (bilgelere ve bilgisizlere).


[1] Sometimes, the process works the other way. As one of Charles Darwin's early defenders frankly admitted, the advocates of the evolutionary worldview had reasons for resenting a meaningful universe. A world with room for God would limit their sexual freedom.

[2] The word sights in this context refers to gun sights, used for aiming at a target. Many American idioms, such as "Lock, stock, and barrel," refer to firearms.

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