What do we go by?
Ted Richards loves parrots.
Ted is a lonely man who knows almost nobody. He does not know whether his parents are still alive. For years he’s had no contact with them. He only has contact with two other people.
At some point in his life he decides that he wants to resemble his parrots. And to look more like his pets he has the white of his eyes inked, feathers tattooed on his face, horns put on his head and his ears cut off. He also changed his name to Ted Parrotman.
When Ted tells his story at a Canadian talk-show, the crowd applauds him and the host comments, “There is nothing wrong with being different.”
We live in a postmodern world. Characteristic of postmodernism is that objective truth does not exist. The postmodern person relativises, is pessimistic, and no longer interested in the philosophy or deeper sense of life.
Postmodern man stresses being ‘different from the other’. What counts is whether I like something or whether something gives me a good feeling. We leave other people to their own values. Exclusive views on life can peacefully exist together. No ideals, no deep life questions, just airiness and superficiality. Food and games are the essence of life. We go from stimulus to stimulus, from mail to app to Facebook.
People regard their personal life from that point of view. Man is not interested in the ‘big stories’, in a view on life that goes deeper than the surface. No, you look at your own life to become your own standard to go by. What a person feels … that’s the truth.
An example is how the parrotman looks at himself. He actually feels like a parrot and lets his body be literally and figuratively changed so as to make it more consistent with those feelings. This is only one of numerous examples in which man has no eye for the created reality but goes by his own feelings.
This is also the case with Paul. He is a 52-year-old man, was married and has children. But he begins to feel like a six-year-old girl. He separates from his wife and finds a couple who are willing to acts as his parents. They’re completely happy to have him belong with them as a small girl. Their own children and grandchildren, too, support Paul in his situation. A newspaper voices its appreciation. Meanwhile, he still drinks coffee and drives his car and tractor.
And what to think of the young white woman with long blonde hair but who says that it does not match her feelings. For she feels Afro-American.
What to think of a man who has tried to adapt his appearance to his identity of being a female dragon.
What to think of a woman who in a recording mentions that she is a cat. She dresses herself like a cat, wears cat’s ears, and at times crawls around on hands and feet and meows.
Man becomes his own norm
These are extreme examples. And not everyone in our society welcomes these things, as was done in several talk shows: “Yes, go for it, there is nothing wrong with being different!” But such extreme examples are enlightening. They show what happens when man no longer has an eye for the reality created by God, the reality in which he or she has been placed. People no longer have an eye for the Creator who made man male and female. And then absurdity easily becomes the norm.
This is also seen in a YouTube video College kids say the darnedest things: identity. In this video a white presenter asks students from the University of Washington a few questions. He says: What would you say if I claim to be a woman? “Go for it,” says a female student. What if I say that I’m Chinese, continues the presenter. “Go for it,” she replies again. Next the presenter asks what she would say if he says that he is six years old. At that stage the students are more hesitant in answering, however they do remain consistent. If that’s what the interviewer feels, they will not say that it is not true.
For one student, however, it’s going too far when he says that he is quite a bit taller than he really is. And, she says, the reason is that I can see for myself that that is not true. But other students, however absurd, do insist: “If that’s what you feel, go for it!”
The presenter concludes the video saying: “It ought not to be difficult to say to a 175 cm tall white man that he is not a 2 metres tall six year old Chinese woman … but that’s apparently the case.”
When man is his own norm, much of human behaviour becomes norm-al. Step-by-step society begins to accept that divorce is normal if things don’t work out in your marriage. If you do not feel love anymore!
Familiarisation becomes apparent in questions about the beginning and end of life. When you feel your life is done.
In questions of that nature it is becoming normal to bypass the Creator of life and decide for yourself. Think of the abominable abortion practices, and of the increasingly louder discussion on ‘a completed life’.
This familiarisation also shows up when a Christian political party’s participation in the national government is no longer able to stop this development, or at most delays it for a few years.
We’ll just refrain from commenting on such ideas as ‘parents’ made up from four persons, or about the familiarisation that is currently on the rise about Second Love-like developments. Instead of respecting the order of the Creator, man chooses – after his own sinful nature – for a society that is degenerating into chaos. This begins on a small scale, a household by itself. It ends with society as a whole.
We are in the middle of it
You may ask what the church has to do with this development. Are these examples not far removed from our life?
But this is a naïve thought. We live in the midst of this world and cannot avoid it. Our young people are confronted with it in the schools and at higher and academic education, workers are confronted with it in the way their colleagues regard life, our elderly when they are confronted with the end of life and the discussions about it. The man who identifies himself as a woman is celebrated as a hero. A Caucasian woman who regards herself as an African is presented as an example. The woman who claims to be a cat is applauded for her life’s choice. The Christian, however, who lives in communion with God, is derided: Stop living a fairy tale and come out from under the table!
Because life in covenant community with God urges us in more and more situations to speak up for the honour of God’s name, we will also find that we become more and more isolated.
(The above is part of an article by JA Sikkens in De Bazuin, 4 October 2017, and has been translated into English. Sikkens made use of material from Reformed Perspective of June 2016.)