Saturday, April 06, 2013

"Doesn't nature itself teach you . . . " Spiritual Inbreeding

Whenever we hear about inbreeding – it’s usually attached to a joke. That spooky banjo playin’ kid in Deliverence is a mixture of those jokes as well as the serious reality of what people who produce offspring from a limited gene pool can do.

I thought it was interesting that Billy Redden who played this role, answered a casting call from his elementary school, but didn't actually know how to play banjo. A musician played by reaching around from behind Redden and was disguised using careful camera angles.

Medically speaking – here’s a bit about inbreeding:

“. . . by the mating of closely related individuals there is a greater chance for recessive genes to be expressed. The majority of serious genetic disorders are recessive, which means that an individual must inherit two copies of the abnormal gene (one from each parent) for the disorder to be expressed. It is much more likely that both parents will carry the same recessive gene if the parents are related. The risk of a serious disease or malformation in a child of such a union is about 1 in 20. However, among married first cousins, the risk increases to about 1 in 11. If the couple are first-degree relatives, the risk is 1 in 2. If the carrier-offspring lives and mates – this can lead to an even more constant rate of birth defects."

I am amazed every time I see something new in the physical world that teaches me more about its Creator. It’s not that there’s a lack of opportunities to learn – since He is in every rock, each blade of grass and every duck feather. It’s my openness and seeking for Him that are my only limitations. Now – how does inbreeding fit in?

In the natural world – the sexual union of family members (both human and animal) causes the offspring to be defined by the lowest denominator of each contributor. A problem/weakness which is not even apparent in either of the parents – comes out and cripples the child – because he/she gets the double whammy of having that weakness passed on by both.

Looking around at the little buildings in all our towns that house Christian franchises of every flavor – I’m afraid we see that exact physical/natural truth being played out spiritually. God is a great analogizer!

I’m reminded of the verse (which I heard so much in my teenage years applied to my guy friends who had longer hair) “Doesn’t nature itself teach you . . . “ In nature we see that people who join themselves tightly with others of common background reek havoc on the offspring they produce by imposing their lowest level of weakness on their offspring. How is that different when spiritual brothers and sisters are limited in their growth and health by the weaknesses brought on by the shallow differences in their own beliefs and understandings? Unless there is variation infused into the bloodline – the depth of the spiritual gene pool will become as weak and disrupted as its physical counterpart.

Paul said it like this in 1 Cor. 11:19 – “it is necessary that there be heresies (which means schools of thought, freedom to choose) among you so that the approved will become apparent.”

Paul had heard there were problems among some brothers and sisters and so he wrote and talked about how upset he was that they were allowing those problems to affect their relationships. Paul’s word was trusted as Truth when God’s spirit spoke through him and he could have said, “Hey – I hear there are some disagreements there and y’all are dividing over them. I tell you what – I will put you down as my next stop on my Missionary Journey and I’ll come straighten that out by telling you exactly what God says on the matter.” Hmm, that would have been the easiest way, the sure-fire way to get it all right – the cleanest way.(I have seen problems among brothers handled exactly that way! "I am on my way and *I* will tell you which side is right! Don't do a thing til I get there. And these guys aren't even inspired as Paul was!")

But that’s not what Paul said. He said – “Hey. I hear you folks are not getting along over some differences. Get together. Talk. Those differences are not only good they are necessary! Through all of your various ideas, I promise – the truth will be obvious to you all.”

People sharing their heresies – their different ways of seeing things - is the natural variation that is needed to produce healthy results. God never intended for people to shut themselves behind doors of the same doctrine, same financial levels, same backgrounds, same age, same gender, same race, etc. That is incestual spirituality. God said – “Get together. Listen, value, encourage and learn. Work out your own salvation which is really me working my Good Works out through each of you. (for it is GOD who is at work in you – both in the willing and doing). I will bless people through you – and you will be blessed through them. And don’t neglect this as some do – enjoy and love each other as well as Me – and let the world see that in you – because then they know you belong to ME.”

I hope to not just tolerate those different from myself – but seek them out and value them. I need them!

And they need me.

PS - and the political world we see on the news each night could use a little vaccine of this, I think. What if they valued the other's viewpoints (even if they adamantly disagreed) rather than trying to discredit and silence by saying "the way I see it is the only RIGHT view." Reminds me of the wonderful old parable "The Six Blind Men and the Elephant."