Years ago, Bob Dylan sang the song, “You Gotta Serve Someone.” The more I thought about it, the more I saw that he was onto something. The baby serves his or her instinctual survival needs. They cry when they are hungry and know to drink the mother’s milk. When we mature, we begin to serve other needs – both emotional and psychological. Later, these demanding needs become social, as we seek approval and a place among our peers.
However, somewhere along the line, we also have to learn how to restrain our desires. Our conscience begins to kick in along with social norms. These tell us that we cannot always serve our desires. We cannot fight and scream when we don’t get what we want, or can we?
Our postmodern culture is now telling us that can have it all. In fact, you should have it all. We should have our desires, even if it means that we surgically change our sex. If that is not enough, society will now penalize those who speak out against this insipient I-want-it-now mentality.
How did postmodernity achieve this revolution? It has convinced us that:
· Repression is bad. It inhibits us. Instead, we have to be who we are and desire whatever we want.
· We have to be all that we can be.
· Exercising self-control makes us less authentic.
· The conscience interferes with our finding self-fulfillment.
· Those we had regarded as authorities are all wrong.
· Instead, we are the authors of our own reality, captains of our own ship, and we should empower ourselves to pursue our dreams.
· We create our own reality. There is no other reality but what we create.
· There are no higher truths or principles to tell us that we have done wrong. We should be our own judge and jury.
However, the freedom that postmodernism has promised is just another form of servitude. Instead of serving ideals, we now abandoned to serve our feelings and desires. The external ideals – objective moral law and our cultural inheritance – have been destroyed. Left alone to our feelings and desires, we find ourselves without a roadmap to tell us what to do with these desires. We are left to serve them. We now live with open borders, tyrannized by demanding desires.
I know that this sounds a bit extreme. So I want to try to illustrate how the removal of moral authorities has stripped us and has left us vulnerable to a more destructive and tyrannical set of authorities.
Have you ever noticed that when you get in a fight, it is always the other person who is in the wrong? I certainly have! In fact, the resulting feelings are so powerfully authoritative. I believe that I have been wronged, victimized, and humiliated. We want revenge, even if only in our own heart or the use of the silent treatment.
When objective principles of right and wrong have been crushed under foot, there is nothing remaining, nothing higher than our feelings, to correct us and show us that we have been wrong in our assessment and determination to seek some form of revenge. Our desires are left unchecked to tyrannize.
Our choices can kill. I had been convinced that my wife had wronged me, and I resented her for this. However, I had forgotten how many times she had forgiven me, but even recalling these wasn’t enough. My feelings had been so strong that they stomped down every other consideration in their path. Instead, these feelings dictated that she always misconstrued what I had said and she always would. I was livid.
If I was a postmodernist, my feelings would have remained king. They would have presided over any pragmatic concerns for my own welfare.
I needed protection from myself and to be convinced that my unforgiveness was absolutely wrong and that my failure to receive her back into my heart was an absolute betrayal of love and commitment. I needed far more than what postmodernism could offer. I needed to know that there is something higher than my feelings and even a cost/benefit assessment. I needed to be told that I was absolutely wrong.
This is what Scripture tells me. No, it comes crashing down upon me, indicting and correcting me, and ultimately, restoring us. I need God’s Word to break through my coercive and imperialistic feelings and desires and to put them in their rightful and humbled place.
I don’t know how other couples make it and how they can stand up against this postmodern madness. When caught cheating, a husband explained,
· “Well, having multiple partners is just what I am about. This is my truth. You have no right to dictate to me your truth. Keep your own truth for yourself.”
Of course, they divorced. They no longer shared the common ground, a higher truth. Instead, postmodernism damned them to divorce. They had become captains of their own ships and were their compass was leading them to separate ports.
There is no escaping it. We have to serve someone. It will either be our own desires or it will be something above us, hopefully, Someone who dignifies our service.