Double Standards — Double Trouble
by Fr. James C. Meena
Double standards have plagued society of history, but it is this generation and those to follow which will pay the Piper. Adults set one group of standards for their own conduct while prescribing another for the conduct of "The Younger Generation". Mainliners in society have reserved privileges for themselves while denying basic human rights and imposing stringent limitations on certain minorities. One standard is for men, another for women, usually imposed by male members of society.
As the pendulum swings in the other direction, we are witnessing not the elimination of the double standard but a tragic distortion thereof. Extremists of the "Now Generation" claim an unbridgeable gap exists between them and those "over 30" who should not be trusted, but they do not tell us of the trustworthiness of those who were once their peers and who are now on our side of 30. Extremists among leaders of minority groups, which are only now receiving certain of their just rights to a degree not known in our nation before, embrace that double standard when they advocate for themselves the same exclusivity and separation which caused them so much pain for so many generations.
I offer you another idea which may be extreme to some of you. I offer you Heaven which, according to Scripture, is a Kingdom awaiting all those who wish to enter it, not after the demise of the flesh, but now, as we walk and move in this corruptible body. I offer you the "Kingdom of God and Its Righteousness" and all that which shall be added (Matt. 6:33) and forewarn you that Hell is waiting impatiently at the opposite pole. Perhaps the idea of Heaven and Hell is too archaic a concept for this ultraliberal society with its many shadings of truth, its variations on the themes of good and evil, its radical attitude that everything lies in a limitless area between good and evil, between the Heavenly and the Hellish . . . a massive, all-encompassing, unproductive and self-defeating gray zone.
Out of this attitude and out of this quality has come a rash of so-called experts; gurus of a secular wisdom assailing us with their infallibilities on every question which man, in prior times, handled with a certain humility and discretion. No subject is too sacred, no mystery too deep that it cannot be discussed in dogmatic detail by these magnificent magi of a malleable mammon who hold out for the world the false gods of pleasure and gratification that promise to solve all our problems; from the most public, such as wide-spread poverty and starvation, to the most intimate methods of living and loving.
Sadly, it is not these advocates and products of this gray zone concept which are to be censured so much as those of us who stand by passively and watch them gaining, day by day, one foot-hold after another in our society. Not only do we allow them to glorify such scripturally forbidden things as sexual aberrations of all types, abortions, pornography drugs and negative life-styles which diminish our society, not only do we stand idly by as they strive to convince our children that theirs is the only way of life, but many of us, innocently or naively, condescend to follow or to imitate some of these questionable champions of questionable causes without asking to see their credentials.
Enough of this senseless and corrupting indecision. Christians must consider that now is the time for them to make a decision either for Christian activity to counter the influences of evil in our society or for complete surrender to those influences. We are being engulfed in an ocean of permissiveness. Discipline and self-respect are almost forgotten words. The ability to censure sin out of a hatred for sin, and to admonish the sinner out of love for the sinner seems to be a past-tense idea.
I submit to you that the evils of our time are not new to us nor unique to our generation. St. Paul writes: "It is said that there is sexual immorality among you so terrible that not even the heathen would be guilty of it", (I Cor. 5:1). In referring to Christ's refusal to allow the woman taken in adultery to be stoned by her accusers, His act of forgiveness is almost always emphasized. His admonition to the woman to "go and sin no more" is often overlooked.
We are suffering from an over-reaction to the excessive disciplines of Puritans and Christians of the Middle Ages, from a Victorian hypocrisy which was embraced by certain areas of our society out of which grew the dualism which allowed racism and violence in all its forms. Finally, aware of the real dangers inherent in that 19th century moralism, our society became disenchanted and fearful to the point that we have abandoned, almost entirely, the need for spiritual and moral disciplines essential to our total health as individuals and as nations.
In the final analysis, we must decide if we are to be joined to things Heavenly or things earthly. . . to the things of God or of Satan. We must decide whether we will abide in that gray zone created by those whose faith is uncertain or non-existent or to leap heavenward with our every action and thought.
It boils down to whether we are believers of that contained in the Scriptures we profess as being God-inspired, or followers after the purveyors of fleshly fantasies.
Publication of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America