All of this, understandably, created a strong backlash. Costas continues to try to soften his stance by saying that he was misunderstood and that he wasn’t calling for “gun control”, even though it would be almost impossible to take it any other way.
Well, there are obviously a ton of issues boiling in this cultural flap, and no matter where you stand on them, I would like for us to step back and try to understand what is really going on here, because this is merely a symptom of something deeper and more critical.
Much of our culture today, regardless of “professed” beliefs, lives out a “naturalistic” worldview—that all reality is bound up in the material world—where all is morally neutral, man is basically good and no moral absolutes exist. It is important to catch the “professed” versus “lived out” part of this because there are many in our culture who “profess” some form of belief in God, but there is a vast difference between “professing” and “living it out”.
So, despite the large number of “professors”, we have roped off the public realm from such beliefs and especially the expression of those beliefs. It is here, in the public sector, where the existence of God and all things related are “off-limits”. This includes politics and “big media” where only “token” references are allowed such as when tragedy strikes, public figures are allowed to say benign things such as “our prayers are with those effected by this set of tragic events”, which is basically a way to sound emotionally sincere but actually means nothing. In fact, if a public figure were to say, “Let’s pray for those people right now…” the whole of listening existence would drop into frantic apoplexy.
Well, what does this have to do with the Costas affair?
When a culture gets to the point where it will only allow itself to think and talk as if there is nothing but the material world, then all solutions must therefore come from that material world—the stuff in the box.
If Jovan kills his girlfriend and himself with a gun, then the only solution we have is to control the stuff—in this case, the gun.
If people are getting too fat (oops, sorry, I meant “obese”), then the only solution is to control the butter and the sugar.
If some people have more stuff than other people, then the only solution is to take their stuff away and pass it around.
Now, those who lust for political power obviously drool over this approach, for it is all to their great advantage…and will continue to be as long as we keep the dialogue inside the box.
However, things were not always this way.
In the early stages of this nation, the prevailing thought was quite different. The word “government” was primarily understood to mean “self-government”. This was the odd and quaint notion that the individual was supposed to govern themselves according to a transcendent ethical notion (which, in politically incorrect language, is a biblical understanding of absolute right and wrong). The Founders referred to it often, stating over and over again that their hopes and dreams for liberty and freedom had been built upon the foundations of religion and morality. This meant that the people would govern themselves morally. If they did not, then the Founders believed everything would collapse. At a minimum, the state, which they had invested with limited power, would, of necessity, have to grow and grow incessantly. Robert Winthrop, whom I have quoted here before, summarized it well:
"Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled either by a power within them or by a power without them; either by the Word of God or by the strong arm of man; either by the Bible or by the bayonet."
When we disallow the public discourse to acknowledge the reality of “sin” (the banned word in public discourse today) and the sinful nature of man and the consequences of that sin upon individuals and our culture, then the public discourse will, by necessity, be confined to seek for answers within the material realm. This will ensure that the proposed solutions will forever be impotent to deal with the real problems and will, instead, continue to explode the growth of more and more laws and, with it, the increased loss of liberty and freedom of the people.
In other words...we will be governed by the bayonet.
Furthermore, it will also ensure that we will fail to recognize that while we bemoan the consequences and tragedies on the back end, we continue to water and fertilize the causes on the front end. We do more and more to stir up the sinful nature with the left hand and wipe the tears over the consequences with our right.
Is this insanity or what?
Big media will never, ever admit that it is increasingly pouring gasoline upon the fire with its sensual, self-centered productions and messages. NBC’s Costas points the bony finger at a piece of cold steel, while his network and the rest of big media pollutes the minds and hearts of its viewers, sowing and cultivating the seeds of the tragedy he laments.
Businesses won’t confess that its marketing and advertising campaigns contribute as well to uncontrollable passions of greed and self-interest and the “all about me” attitude.
Politicians will never admit that their policies and rhetoric are fomenting and provoking a greedy class warfare that will, like an aggressive cancer, destroy the fruit of this nation and provoke unspeakable violence toward fellow citizens.
But the real culprit lies within each of us...for we walk with greater and greater lust and less and less self-control. And we feel right in doing so, because we are confirmed in our selfishness from the voices in the public square.
And if we don’t see the real problem or talk about it, we are certainly guaranteed to never solve it.
No matter how many guns we take away…or soft drinks…or big Macs.
The longer we foolishly insist on a dialogue that must remain within the walls of the box, the more we will chase silly and ineffective solutions. The more we chase silly and ineffective solutions, the more we will see the culture disintegrate around us.
And the tragedies will continue to grow in numbers and severity…as will the laws.
We more we foolishly try to live in an unreal world, the more the reality of that foolishness will keep showing up on our doorstep.
P.S. Now, lest you think swimming against the stream is easy, be aware. There are consequences, for speaking “outside the box”.
If Mike Huckabee had been the one to give an opinion on Sunday Night Football and he had addressed the tragedy by pointing to the attack upon marriage and moral absolutes and how this decline is fueling more and more selfishness and violence, he would have been labeled a bigoted homophobe and would have been fired before the dawn’s early light.
Costas, however, will live to speak another day.
Because he stays inside the box—he paints inside the lines. Even those who oppose him on gun control will paint within the lines. One says it is about controlling the stuff in the box, the other says it’s about the free use of the stuff in the box.
Both ignore the real problem.
Neither offer a real solution.
Take the risk.
Speak the truth.