Making things complicated

Faith & Inspiration | Beware of losing the simple teachings of God
by Andrée Seu Peterson
Posted on Thursday, December 1, 2016, at 4:57 pm

Long ago someone gave me a book on potty training. That’s right, a book. I underlined four or five helpful sentences and threw away the rest.

At the risk of being the resident curmudgeon, I would like to complain about the complication of everyday things. Of formerly simple things—as when you could let a 5-year-old walk on the perimeter wall of the hospital courtyard as you held her hand during her mother’s now two-hour-long doctor visit without the security guard coming after you—which happened to me the other day. I recently told you about the time I attempted to ask six schools I visited which history text they use. It went like this:

“‘I should see the garden far better,’ said Alice to herself, ‘if I could get to the top of that hill: and here’s a path that leads straight to it—at least, no it doesn’t do that—’ (after going a few yards along the path, and turning several sharp corners), ‘but I suppose it will at last. But how curiously it twists! It’s more like a corkscrew than a path! Well, this turn goes to the hill, I suppose—no, it doesn’t! This goes straight back to the house! Well, then I’ll try the other way.’

“And so she did, wandering up and down, and trying turn after turn, but always coming back to the house, do what she would. Indeed, once, when she turned a corner rather more quickly than usual, she ran against it before she could stop herself” (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, 1865).

I had wanted to do hospice visitations with my father-in-law, but he could never endure the 12-hour training session one organization required. We started an English as a second language class at church, but the information-packed weekend workshop so intimidated some prospective teachers that enthusiasm turned to attrition. (I have an effective method I could teach anyone in 20 minutes.) A multi-week food-handler’s course left me with two takeaways: Keep meats at 35 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and don’t store the rat poison jug near the vinegar. Contractors used to do fine before required EPA certification from contractor state licensing schools made their lives complicated.

In fact, there are many professions that now require certifications and licensing, including barbers, upholsterers, manicurists, locksmiths, interior designers, florists, ballroom dance instructors, makeup artists, auctioneers, residential painting contractors, funeral attendants, travel guides, cosmetologists, security guards, hair salon shampooers, home entertainment installers, ornamental garden installers. (It is hard to see why we need government “protection” from a bad ornamental garden installer.)

But none of the above requirements, cumbersome as they are, have eternal consequences—only creeping statism and stealthy redistribution of wealth by a government that takes our jobs away and gives them back to us in the form of a license. But there is a kind of complication that could be hazardous to the church. It is the proliferation of parachurch ministries and protracted Sunday school series devoted to discussions of topics like transgenderism.

Their heart is in the right place, I’m sure. But I attended one such event and could not at first put my finger on what was unsettling about the hours of Christian discussion of transgenderism—its possible sociological and psychological causes, its classification in the DSM-IV versus DSM-V, the various responses of churches, the anecdotes of transgendered cousins.

Then I realized what was bothering me. The more conversation, the more danger there is of losing the simple teaching of God on the subject. The very act of over-discussing—the very pedagogical structure of the workshops—communicates the impression that sexuality matters are debatable and difficult. They are not. God’s Word is clear.

There is an incident in the Bible I love for its sheer lack of message complication. A certain jailor realizes that if he dies in the condition he is presently in, he will go to hell: “trembling with fear, he fell down before Paul and Silas. … ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ And they said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved. …’” (Acts 16:29-31).

Not much padding there.

Andrée Seu Peterson

Andrée is a senior writer for WORLD Magazine. Her commentary has been compiled into three books including Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me. Andrée resides in Philadelphia, Penn.

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