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Chaos, cosmos and the assault on boundaries

Unsplash/ Joshua Fuller

Chaos, like a marauding guerilla army, hides in deep cover at the vulnerable borderlands of society, waiting for walls to collapse, and gates to be thrust open.

And when the boundaries are gone, chaos surges in. Think Afghanistan in recent times.
In the current bedlam, we struggle to hold up the barriers to the pandemonium that threatens our lives and families. This is an era when a week begins with headlines like these:

  • Random shooting at California church.
  • Hate-driven gunfire at Buffalo, N.Y. grocery kills 10.
  • Shooter at Houston flea market kills two and wounds three.
  • Celebrities in court battle argue over who defecated on bed.

“The world is fragmenting and changing in all different directions ... Unfortunately, contemporary America is offering no guidance,” says Victor Davis Hanson.

As to America itself, Hanson says that “traditional bedrocks of the American system — a stable economy, energy independence, vast surpluses of food hallowed universities, professional judiciary, law enforcement, and a credible criminal justice system — are all dissolving.”

The build-up of chaotic energies pressing on the walls of religious belief and commitment, moral values, social markers, and much more, threatens the well-being of the whole world.

Hanson traces the large-scale dangers building in a world without protective boundaries: “The more China and North Korea talk about nukes, the more necessary it is that uneasy democracies such as Australia, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan will make adjustments ... and the more the United States bows out of its prior role of extending the nuclear umbrella, the more these societies will consider going nuclear themselves.”

But it’s not just the boundary of the “nuclear umbrella” that is collapsing under the fierce winds of chaos, but many others that define and secure a nation and its values to which oppressed people have looked to for hope for centuries.

Quality of life depends on the soundness of boundaries. God the Creator desired a high standard of living for His image-bearers in the world He fashioned for them. Several times in the Bible God says He is giving commandments and directions to His people so that it might “go well” for them.

Interestingly, the “go well in the land” theme appears usually in the context of the Ten Commandments. In fact, the Commandments reveal the boundaries that assure stability and well-being, including these values and qualities:

1. True Worship— “You shall have no other gods before Me.” The true God is the One Who reveals Himself, not a human contrivance. The human being needs to worship, and when he or she rejects the revealed Lord of all, the human soul, as John Calvin said, becomes an “idol factory.”[1]

2. Transcendence — “You shall not make for yourself an idol ... Made in the image of God, humans are “wired” for transcendence. The true God Who reveals Himself is Other than a finite human being. People must give an account to the Transcendent One for the way they have used the spiritual gifts and natural talents He placed within them for the sake of service to the world.

3. Reverence— “You shall not take the Name of the Lord Your God in vain.”  Name expresses the totality of a person’s being. To flippantly speak the Name of God is to diminish His Being in one’s spirit and soul.

4. Holiness — “Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy.” Remembering the Sabbath means there is a place in time and space to pull aside and contemplate God’s holiness ... and thus the day of that focus is itself “holy.”

5. Family — “Honor your father and your mother.” The nuclear family is the foundation of ordered human society. When this boundary is removed chaos ensues, with the breakdown of “cosmos” — righteousness, love, peace, and Spirit-given joy.

6. Sanctity of life — “You shall not murder.” When human life is not “set apart” but viewed as just one more animal, the chaos of murder and war are unleashed on the world, as well as a contempt for humanity.

7. Moral behavior“You shall not commit adultery.” Sexual intimacy between a husband and wife living in sanctified covenant with one another is holy, and expressive of God’s intimacy with humanity. When sexual intimacy is devoid of the deep spiritual truths it signifies, a culture becomes caustic and chaotic, with human beings seeing one another as mere instruments of gratification.

8. Property — You shall not steal. Without property rights a dominating force can usurp what properly belongs to a private individual. Confiscatory people and confiscatory governing regimes are thieves.

9. Integrity — “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” God is love and love functions through relationships. When relationships between people sharing a community or society are shattered by falsehood, a culture of deceit develops. with chaos on a spreading scale.

10. Respect for others — “You shall not covet.” Covetousness begins with a preoccupation and intensifying desire for that which another possesses. These are powerful strongholds in the soul that fuels a chaotic life of dependency, vain imagination, manipulation, theft, and even murder.

Adolescent-minded people see the Commandments as restrictions on their pleasure, but the wise and mature view them as the owner of a costly new car would the operator’s manual that comes with it.

In the absence of sturdy boundaries, liberties deteriorate into anarchy that turns protective walls into imprisoning barriers. When the boundaries become barriers to a high quality of life, they need to come down, but not through a strategy that only releases more chaos on the nation.

[1] See my book, Who Will Rule the coming ‘gods’, for a more detailed discussion of this.

Wallace Henley is a former White House and Congressional aide. He is now a teaching pastor at Grace Church, The Woodlands, Texas. Wallace is author of more than 20 books, including God and Churchill, and his newest, Who Will Rule the Coming 'gods: The Looming Spiritual Crisis of Artificial Intelligence

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