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What Are Our Ideas About Life?

We all enter this world with a need to try and make sense out of life. This is why children, as they grow up, are always asking questions. As we grow older we begin to develop certain ideas about how life works. These sets of ideas form our thinking, and they tell us what the world is like. Our ideas tell us how we should live. The great British historian, Arnold Toynbee, says that a society’s actions are a result of its ideas. If, for instance, its actions are destructive, we must ask what the ideas are that cause it to behave destructively. Toynbee is saying that our ideas lead to certain consequences. In fact, in 1948 Richard Weaver wrote his classic book, Ideas Have Consequences, about exactly this phenomenon. Furthermore, Blaise Pascal said that our ideas about life are either rooted in truth or rooted in falsehood. In fact he strongly believed that people struggle so much in life because they have false ideas about reality. For this reason he believed it was critical that we gain genuine wisdom by uprooting false beliefs and replace them with true insights and perspective. Stephen Covey says that if we are truly going to lead healthy, vibrant lives, our ideas about life must be rooted in what is true. He shares a wonderful illustration that demonstrates the importance of this truth:

Suppose you wanted to arrive at a specific location in central Chicago. A street map of the city would be a great help to you in reaching your destination.

But suppose that you were given the wrong map. Through a printing error, the map labeled “Chicago” was actually a map of Detroit. Can you imagine the frustration, the ineffectiveness of trying to reach your destination?

You might work on your behavior – you could try harder, be more diligent, double your speed. But your efforts would only succeed in getting you to the wrong place faster.

You might work on your attitude – you could think more positively. You still wouldn’t get to the right place, but perhaps you wouldn’t care. Your attitude would be so positive, you’d be happy wherever you are.

The point is, you’d still be lost. The fundamental problem has nothing to do with your behavior or your attitude. It has everything to do with having the wrong map.

If you have the right map of Chicago, then diligence becomes important, and when you encounter frustrating obstacles along the way, then attitude can make a real difference. But the first and most important requirement is the accuracy of the map.

This is what I have observed to be true in the lives of so many people. They are attempting to live their lives with maps that are totally inaccurate. What they do not realize is that they interpret everything they experience through these false maps…these false ideas that they have mentally developed over the course of their lives. For instance, take human sexuality. We all have certain ideas about sex. The Judeo – Christian view, which has been the predominant view in our country since its founding, is that sex is sacred. This view contends that the healthiest, most meaningful, most satisfying sexual experience is found between a man and a woman in a covenant relationship called marriage. A covenant is a promise – a pledge of love, loyalty, and faithfulness. A covenant involves continuity – the sense of a common future – to look forward to and a history to look back on together. A covenant means belonging – a commitment to a rich and growing relationship of love and care. In Matthew 19: 4-5, Jesus quotes from the Old Testament, “A man shall leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife and the two shall become one flesh.” The word “cleave” is a Hebrew word that means absolute unity. Total union. Deep, profound solidarity. Not just a physical union but an emotional union, and economic union, a social union. A complete union. To cleave to someone is to say, “I belong exclusively to you. Permanently. Everything I have is yours. I am yours.” This is what marriage is. This is why God created sex – for cleaving. Sex is a cleaving apparatus. God made sex to be able to say to one other human being. I belong completely, exclusively, and permanently to you. All of me. Everything. On the other hand the modern secular view is that sex is merely a recreational activity. It is for pleasure. The most famous sexologist to ever live is a man by the name of Alfred Kinsey. He probably did more research on sexuality than anyone before or since. Kinsey did not believe in God, and therefore believed there was no moral standards for sex. His view was that, as a mammal, you should be able to enjoy sex with any other mammal. So you have two different ideas about human sexuality and its purpose. But how do you determine which one is true? What is the right map when it comes to human sexuality? How do you seize the map that gets you to your desired location? C. S. Lewis believed that there is only one way to get this right, and that is to find someone trustworthy to guide you. He believed that there was no better guide than Jesus Christ. We are told that Jesus was the true light, that he came into the world to enlighten every man and every woman. (John 1: 9) In other words, He came to enlighten us about what is true, in order that our life would be rooted in the truth. If we don’t look to Him, to whom are we going to turn? Who else can guide us to what is true?

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