May 21, 2012
It all depends.
I said, “depends,” not, “Depends.” That’s because “depends” means, “to be contingent; to be affected or decided by other factors.” If I had said, “Depends,” that would have referred to a brand of disposable adult diapers, which is a product with a growing market of aging but active adults whose personal purchases are not the subject of this column…
“It all depends” is a phrase made famous by the 42nd President of the United States, William Jefferson (“Bill”) Clinton. Abraham Lincoln gave us, “Four score and seven years ago…” John F. Kennedy challenged us to “… Ask not, what your country can do for you…” Ronald Reagan was abroad when he spoke the words, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
For Mr. Clinton, his testimony offered to a grand jury during the investigations that surrounded his impeachment included what may become his most memorable utterance. “It all depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is. If ‘is’ means ‘is, and never has been,’ that is one thing.’ If it means ‘there is none,’ that was a completely true statement…” (perhaps you had to attend Yale Law to fully understand the nuances).
Someone once said, “The devil is in the details” (attributed to German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, but unsubstantiated); these days, I think we might argue that “The devil is in the definitions.” We have reached a place in the progression of civilization where we tend to agree on the key words… and then fight wars over their meaning.
About 10 days ago, our President declared that, “I’ve just concluded that for me, personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.” He explained that his views on the subject were the result of the evolution of his thinking, and the counsel of his daughters (note: the evolution of one’s thinking is a positive trait; flip-flopping is not). In his follow-up comments in the interview, he explained that his Christian perspectives about “…Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf… also the Golden Rule…” solidified his position on the matter.
So, Mr. Obama, do you believe in the sanctity of marriage? He would answer, undoubtedly, “Certainly!” So, we must be in agreement on that foundational matter of our American ideals! Well, not necessarily: it depends what you mean by “marriage…”
Everyone ought to pay their “fair share” when it comes to taxes. When speaking to those assembled at the National Prayer Breakfast, the President invoked Jesus’ statement that, “for unto whom much is given, much shall be required” to sanctify his call for an increased tax demand for the “rich.” What is the definition of “fair?” What is the definition of “rich?” It depends what “is” is…
I’ve come to believe that life is about hearing the words… but waiting for the definitions before I determine my conclusions.
Most people declare their belief in “God;” there are definitions necessary to determine what they mean. Some people describe themselves as “Christian;” I want to put them in my faith cluster… but I need their definition of the term before I can do that. Lots of people will say, “I believe in Jesus!” What – exactly – do they mean in that declaration? Jesus said, “If you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.” (John 8:24). If I don’t know the claims of Jesus… I cannot say that I believe in Jesus!
We’re surrounded by war. Internationally, there is a War on Terror that will never end with a surrender. Here, in America, it’s a War of Words… and the enemy is in the definitions.
I believe in Marriage… as God defines it. I believe in God… as Jesus defines Him. Get the definitions straight before you declare your allegiance…