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THE problem and THE response

So they are without excuse; for though they knew God, they did not honour him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking..... and exchanged the doka o a-phartos theos [Greek = the splendour of the God with no decay, no corruption] for eikon phthartos anthropos [Greek = pictures, ideas, of a god with decay, with corruption, who resembles mankind].... Therefore God gave them over to the epithumia [desires] of their hearts to dishonour [Greek = to devalue] their bodies amongst themselves....   Romans 1: 20-23 [c. AD 57]      

What a bargain! What a trade-in! What an exchange! See bold above. On one side (given away by me) is “the splendour of the God of no decay, no corruption, and the creator of all things bright and beautiful”. On the other, received by me (super bargain, this), is “a new god who resembles me, resembles dying Richard Syvret, subject-to-corruption Richard Syvret.”


Yes, super bargain this – for one very persuasive reason: I will now have autonomy. I will not be accountable vertically. I can follow my own “desires”, my own epithumia. Hey ho. Off I go to serve myself, my family.


What happens now? What does the God of all creation do? See above – he “gave them over to their desires”. In other words, he says, “If that’s the bargain you want to make, go for it.”


And all Jersey folk (writer included) are going for it, going for the desires of their hearts. Indeed, we are all engaged in human-ism – in putting dying and corruptible humankind on the throne of our life, our world, our Island.


But there’s a bit more in bold above. We’re going to devalue our own and each other’s bodies as we begin to pursue our hearts desires. Is this so?


One example. Have you looked closely at the faces of the women on the lads mags at the newsagent or on the many freeview Sky so-called adult channels? Are they devalued? They have agreed their work/remuneration contract terms, yes. But, after a while their devaluation tells on their faces. Who has devalued who? It was a bargain. God “gives them over.”


Another example. Homosexuality and lesbianism. Yes, these practises are the outcome of genuine, deeply-felt desires of the heart – epithumia. But they don’t create – they don’t pro-create the glorious wonder of a baby child. Yes, that can be overcome – if so “desired”. And God lets us do just that. He “gives them over”.


A third example. There is a strong desire for autonomy in all our hearts. Especially men. So we have no “desire” to enter a permanent contract of marriage. Women also have “desires” – desires for a husband, a home, a child of their very own. OK, then. Cohabitation – both have a bargain.  But satisfied desires bring children (and mothers) into insecurity and instability.


A fourth. A few weeks ago two young girls were crying at school. Their mother was trying not to do so. The “desires” of the father and husband were no longer towards his wife and children. The wife had just been told. The husband “desired” an agreed statement about a mutual parting. But he had devalued her. And he was devaluing himself.


For good reasons Jersey (and other governments) have given fiscal, inheritance, social security and other benefits to contractual marriages and to families that stay together. This also is being dismantled – even this week - by “desires”.


Where is God in all this? He “gave them over”. Why? Note the “Therefore” in bold above. “Therefore he gave them over to the desires of their hearts.” God allowed them their desires because of the bargain they had decided upon. They had exchanged X for Y; a splendid incorruptible creator for an illusion of a god that looked like themselves and that allowed all their desires.


But there is good news. All of the above is part of the reason why Christians are not ashamed of the good news: because things are a mess.


The good news is the very real power of God to achieve change in this dreadful situation for Jersey folk where we are all included in “God gave them over.”

‘It is becoming more and more obvious that it is not starvation, not microbes, not cancer, but man himself who is mankind’s greatest danger.’(Carl Jung, Swiss psychiatrist, 1875-1961)
‘Man was created for an empire but is living in a pit.’ (H G Wells, English author, 1866-1946)
Richard Syvret

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