Whose Way Is Right? (Ezekiel 33:17)

“Yet your fellow citizens say, ‘The way of the Lord is not right,’ when it is their own way that is not right.”

Ezekiel 33:17

I have heard and read almost these very words on a multitude of topics in recent times. Lately, this has been most often communicated in relation to the whole gay marriage debate. Believers say that God created marriage and that He created it between a man and a woman all the way back in Eden. Then others who call themselves believers claim that The Bible says no such thing or they dismiss the verses that denounce sexual sin in its various forms, including homosexuality. The arguments are emotional and heated and irrelevant. Everything boils down to this question: Is God’s way right?

The Israelites of Ezekiel’s time thought not. They believed that the righteous man who sinned should have some excuse; that his one sin should not warrant death when the whole rest of his life had been righteous. They believed that a habitual sinner who turned his life around; who repented should not be shown clemency; should be judged based on the preponderance of actions in his life. In short, they had an anthropocentric view of justice. It was all about human standards and human ideas of just and unjust and human plumb lines.

Anyone who deals in standards and justice and making things level knows that there are tolerances in human measurement, because we are not perfect. I work with engineers regularly in my occupation and their drawings always have tolerances. Always. They know that no person, no machine, no process will ever consistently produce the precise measurement; consistently produce perfection. So there is wiggle room. Things are designed to a certain size plus-or-minus a certain amount. This is done not because it is ideal or right, but because we are not perfect. Even safety standards are phrased in such a way as to allow variation. Variation is human, not perfect or ideal.

God’s Law; God’s ways are perfect. There are no tolerances designed in. There cannot be. Tolerances are allowances for imperfection and God’s Law is the standard of perfection, not of good enough. Those who claim, as the Israelites did, that the way of the Lord is not right are judging the perfect by imperfect standards. If we, instead, judged our imperfection against perfect standards, we would immediately see our need for a Savior.

My fellow believers who want to claim that God’s Law is not right have it backwards. I may not like it when The Bible tells me that lying is wrong, but I cannot hold the perfect standard against my standard with tolerances built in to allow for imperfection and call the perfect wrong. I can see that it is different, but the standard that is inferior; that is wrong is the one I have designed. I may think that God is unnecessarily harsh when He says that all sin outside the bonds of marriage is wrong. I may think it harsh or too stringent a standard, but that does not make it wrong.

A popular cliché in Christian circles is, “God said it. I believe it. That settles it.” There is a bit of lie in that truth. A good friend of mine re-framed that as, “God said it. That settles it.” This second is the unadulterated truth. Whether I believe it or not is not pertinent to the veracity of the statement. God said it, therefore it is right and true and utterly plumb. Moreover, the matter is settled, not because I believe, but because God has declared that it is so. Lying is wrong. Period. No exemptions. No allowances for trying not to hurt another’s feelings. Nothing. The standard is zero lying. Not even truth with 0.00000000000001% lie (I could have made that fraction smaller still, but I think the idea comes across) is acceptable.

God’s way is right. There can be no debate on this for the believer. If God said it, then it is true. End of discussion. This is difficult for me to stomach, as I find God’s standard too stringent for me to meet. God’s answer to that is grace. Jesus Christ died to bring me into conformity with God’s standard. Jesus lived according to God’s standard (He is God, so no surprise there) and died in my stead so that my death is no longer required to appease the requirement of God’s Law. It is a lot to digest and I still struggle to comprehend it, but it is true.

I know that God’s Law; God’s ways, perfect as they are, offend the human sense of right and wrong. We think there should be allowances; tolerances, room for mitigating circumstances. There is none. Right is right regardless of my circumstances. It does not matter that the truth hurts. Sometimes I must hurt before I can heal. May I, today and every day, face the truth in its unyielding perfection and know that God’s ways, God’s Law are right.

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