If we understand that God’s Laws predict a general non-compliance by humanity, if not open hostility, then our efforts to live His Laws begin to make more sense. We are not the Truth Police and there is no human on earth appointed to enforce God’s Laws on other humans, only on our individual selves.
We surely expect with great cynicism that human governments will always arise, always be held accountable to the Covenant of Noah, and always fail. There may be periods of partial compliance, but the general run of human government is more a matter of God’s inscrutable plans for fallen humanity as little more than smart animals. Further, while we can gain an understanding of God’s preferred intellectual culture, we can rest assured it is wholly unlikely to ever return to earth in the sense of restoring what once was. The ANE (Ancient Near Eastern) epistemology of Scripture will ever remain the open secret of those few believers who try to understand the Bible from its own viewpoint.
It’s not hard to find in Scripture places where Christ and His Apostles warned us to stay out of attempts to govern, to steer government, or to rebuild the intellectual foundations of the Bible outside of the church fellowship. We are most certainly required to implement those things inside the church as a key issue, a central function of what churches do. Right now this would be a monumental task, since it would mean starting from scratch with our own congregations, because I cannot imagine a single established religious institution making room for what we believe. That’s because we must understand we cannot enforce God’s Laws outside our own calling and the domain God grants to us.
The revealed pattern for understanding that domain is the family household, either blood kin or spiritual kin. The latter is by covenant restricted to those who voluntarily remain within the covenant. If God grants us by some miracle a wider influence in the secular society, they still must submit to the covenant in order to receive the blessings of His Laws through us. There is plenty of room for ANE feudal fealty to grant provisional coverage to those unwilling or unable to accept full covenant membership, too, but it remains a matter of recognizing that you and I cannot exercise dominion in any other fashion. ANE feudalism is fundamental to human nature, and spiritual birth does not change what is required of your flesh.
We live these ancient precepts because that is how Creation is wired. ANE feudal organization is the fundamental organizing principle of the universe. It is an expression of how God Himself operates throughout His entire Creation. When fallen men seek every other possible means of organizing, it is the natural fallen response to flee the Garden entrance and the Flaming Sword of Truth. As time passes under the hand of God, mankind will wander farther and farther away.
With each succeeding generation of believers, our part in the task of revelation gets more difficult from the human side of things. We will of necessity rely ever more on the miraculous power of God to change hearts and minds. Insofar as we implement any human authority at all, it must rest on the divine model of ANE feudalism. That model presumes a tension between human volition and the move of the Spirit of God. Yes, there is a time and place when God requires of His servants to use plain old physical force, but it always answers to God’s Spirit and Law. It does not ignore how such might conflict with secular governing force, but pays it little heed.
When conflict between divine command and secular authority is certain, we generally expect to hide, flee or submit as required by God for His glory. Actual armed resistance is highly unlikely, though not entirely forbidden. You as an individual believer will have to decide in the context. Chances are, actually taking up arms will have little to do with direct conflict between the rule of God and that of human government, and more to do with simple contextual necessity. God does not forbid us joining armed revolt or suppression of revolt, but we are forbidden investing it with any sort of religious significance. It’s never a question of which side God is on because human warfare since the Cross has never been a matter of holiness. The Covenant of Moses was closed by Christ, and God announced He was no longer offering anything similar again. Thus, the individual believer engages such political warfare only as a matter of individual response that is not subject to the approval of any other believer.
Christ does not sponsor politics on any other level than within the church, and only in churches organized under ANE feudalism. Anything else in that direction is simply your personal mission and calling. Again, no flag or uniform on this earth represents Christ. Keep that divine cynicism foremost in your mind. Yes, the Christian Mystic can serve in uniform under any flag that seems appropriate at the time, but only a fool sees God waving any flags. Such a believer will never offer quite the level of loyalty the leadership imagines they should have, but will serve more as an alien who could never belong to any human nation. Professional competence is a virtue of itself, and only indirectly a reflection of personal holiness.
If you can understand the virtual world, then quantum moral reasoning is not such a big leap.
Most people do not recognize the huge difference between meat space and online. They keep trying to apply their meat-space expectations to the virtual world, and it simply doesn’t work that way:
But “Kafkaesque” seems more appropriate. The term is conventionally defined as “having a nightmarishly complex, bizarre, or illogical quality”, but Frederick Karl, Franz Kafka’s most assiduous biographer, regarded that as missing the point. “What’s Kafkaesque,” he once told the New York Times, “is when you enter a surreal world in which all your control patterns, all your plans, the whole way in which you have configured your own behaviour, begins to fall to pieces, when you find yourself against a force that does not lend itself to the way you perceive the world.”
I’ve already noted in previous posts that if you learn military style operational security, if you can absorb the crazy mindset necessary to live in a combat zone, then you can easily understand computer security. And if you can get that, then you are ready to consider moral security. That is, you are prepared to recognize things most humans cannot and will not see as danger. There are a significant number of moral threats — or demonic influences, if you prefer — that try to sucker you into grabbing the wrong thing. It works that way online and it works that way when you try to live by God’s Laws.
Not paranoia, but it requires a confident watchfulness. You have to know what is required of you; your mission needs to be pretty clear in your mind. From there, you are in the position of strength, but it does require vigilance.
Human conflict is a given.
It requires a special kind of truculent stupidity to imagine we could ever remove it from human existence. It’s why we have the military. Experience in the military tends to affect the way one thinks for the rest of life. Such an influence tends to spread across all sorts of institutions as soon as they are forced to consider the existence of human threats.
One of the borrowed terms you often see in OPSEC — Operational Security. The basic idea is doing things in a way that minimizes risk to the actual work everyone is doing. Most of it has to do with avoiding giving your enemy an open door to hindering you. You learn to move quietly, provide mutual cover for elements of your operating forces, avoid giving away your intentions too soon, etc. OPSEC rests on basic habits plus analysis of the known threats.
Nothing we do as humans is risk free. The concept of OPSEC is as old as human conflict itself. We might change the calculus based on cultural assumptions and mythology, but most of us are instinctively aware that we can’t just blunder through life and expect everyone to go along with our decisions. Friction is a fact of life.
A critical element in OPSEC is expecting internal threats, too. More so, your biggest threat is not espionage, but the all too natural internal feuding. I note in passing the US military has by far the worst record for dealing with this. This is largely because the US military is almost completely abstracted from Prussian military traditions, a foul mythology. The entire frame of reference in US military psychology is hatefully anti-human. You have to be a complete sonuvabitch to advance. The entire institution asserts this is not a problem, that humans don’t actually exist as humans. The greatest operational threat to the US military is its own leadership. Thus, the US military is being steered down the drain by the growing entropy of failure to connect with reality.
Just as OPSEC as a concept bleeds over into other facets of human life, so the signal failures of OPSEC tend to stain the work of those who bring their military mythology into other areas of life. Churches are perhaps the worst at considering the very real threats to their operations. That’s because, like the US military, they focus on a mission that has nothing to do with their fundamental reason for existing. Someone making the decisions at the top is deluded and the whole thing will someday grind to a halt.
There isn’t much any of us can do. The primary failure of the Western Church is the same failure pervading all things Western. The individual trooper struggles against a crushing systemic failure, as does the individual believer, even when they understand the problem clearly. To imagine that this is not properly an OPSEC issue is itself a blind spot.
If you prefer to bind yourself totally to the institution in which you serve, then you can play the role of cogwheel in the machine. If you profess to follow Christ, that is not an option. The Kingdom of Heaven has its own organization and OPSEC considerations. Failure to recognize that can easily destroy your divine calling. In the Spirit Realm, your greatest threat is yourself — that is, your fleshly nature is your biggest problem. It wants things that will render you morally powerless.
One of the biggest problems I face in teaching is the failure to grasp that there are Two Realms, that Aristotle’s assumption of a unitary universe is a lie from Satan. The second problem is closely related, in that folks seldom grasp the nature of the moral sphere of consideration, as well. I envision a working model that posits a Spirit Realm, a Flesh Realm (under the Fall), and that the intersection between them is God’s divine justice, AKA moral law. The moral realm of consideration is invisible to the intellect alone. You cannot possibly reason your way to moral truth. But it surely exists within the reach of fallen human intellect if intellect recognizes revelation as a valid source of moral truth. However, to absorb truly the moral sphere requires spiritual awareness, a faculty totally separate from the intellect.
OPSEC is adherence to divine moral justice.
The mission of human life for us is to bring God glory. Without that, we have no reason to live on this plane of existence. His glory is tied up in our obedience to His moral justice. We use the record of His Law Covenants to inform our understanding of what moral justice looks like in certain contexts, then we extrapolate through our convictions what it looks like in our context moment by moment.
Now grasp this: Good moral OPSEC is, by definition, good OPSEC in every sphere of human concern.
There is no place for absolutism in this world.
I’ve already stated often enough that I am not a political activist of any stripe. It’s not that my actions have no political meaning, but politics is never the point. The real meaning of passages like Romans 13 is that we don’t directly interfere in God’s plans regarding human governments. He’s in charge and the only human government that ever had a chance of working directly with Him executed His Son. So His covenant with them died on the Cross. While the Laws of God expressed through His Law Covenants still apply to all human activity, there is no covenant nation on this earth. From the standpoint of divine justice, no government on this earth pleases Him. They might be useful to Him on a limited basis, but not a one can claim any special favor from Him.
We have been adequately warned that our mission on this earth will surely get us in trouble with human governments sooner or later. While governments these days tend to avoid openly labeling us troublemakers, that’s not the point. Serving Christ cannot avoid pissing off someone who serves Satan, whether they serve knowingly or otherwise. That’s the way it is in this world. Even if they could scarcely care less that we love Jesus, we cannot obey divine justice without coming into conflict with human government at some point.
Consider again my post on the fiery furnace ordeal. Remember that death is just a circumstance.
While we are here, we defend only our mission. Even then, we give no thought to changing how government acts, but doing as much as we can to ensure the mission is not hindered. The fundamental mission for all of us is communicating the truth. In my world, that currently requires Internet access. If there is one thing in this life wherein I’ll most seem an activist, it’s the Internet.
For the record: I am not anti-government; I am deeply cynical. Despite my complete cynicism about government institutions, I still regard life in the US Army as my “home.” It’s where I would still be most comfortable today, but I can’t imagine how I could return to that without radical changes in the current system, not even as a civilian employee or contractor. So I am not particularly interested in tearing down the US government or any of the institutions. But I’ll be the first to tell you don’t ever trust them to do the right thing, particularly regarding the Internet.
Not that I would imagine forcing anyone to keep their hands off of it. This is not a question of imaginary rights, because I have no financial or legal interest in the vast collection of wires, servers, etc. Leverage is a very slippery thing here, but while it’s available, I do have a lot to say about how I access it. As with all things in meat space, I can’t control the reality in which I live, but I can control me and my actions. In virtual space I’m a force to be reckoned with.
Right now, there is no distinction between the actions of the NSA and any cyber criminal. The same goes for all the other spying services, but the NSA is getting all the attention right now. They operate with a criminal negligence of human property and safety and any claim to serve our interests was blown away long ago. It’s not as if I could pretend that any government is going to put their spies back in the box, but I will not be told I can’t treat the spies the same as crooks.
And while I am hardly expert enough to fight them on equal terms, I can most certainly raise the cost of messing with me. If they target me individually, they’ll win. So long as I am just another source of packets on the Net, you can be sure they will gleefully run over me and you and anyone else. It has gotten to the point that they refuse to be accountable to Congress or anyone else, so screw `em.
Remember: We have a mandate from God to communicate, and when their activities hinder ours, they cannot claim a priority. That’s not at all what Romans 13 is about. They are already in defiance of God, so the angelic protections are on our side, and the demons are on theirs. They serve Satan. That doesn’t mean God will save us from the fiery furnace necessarily, but He would be inclined to support His own message. It’s a factor in His inscrutable and ineffable calculus of things.
The issue is not absolute control over their naughty activities, but reducing the threat as much as possible. More on this tomorrow.
Up until that moment, we had been friends.
Let’s face it folks: She was homely as mud pie. But she was a senior NCO in the unit’s command staff, and her influence was felt in every life attached to that military installation. A single mom in the US Army, it was a world where feminism was the law and she experienced virtually no hindrances from her gender. However, she suffered much from jokes and innuendo about how it was she might have gained her position.
In the first few encounters I treated her with the same basic kindness I used on everyone else in the world. I tossed her a verbal bone once and she acted like it was treasure. I wasn’t trying to curry favor, just acting the role I knew God had placed upon my life. It was with a genuine shepherd-like concern that I teamed up with another man to take her son on some manly outings at the one time he was most confused about life.
But duty called and by the time we were ready to continue working with him, the boy had lost interest. It wasn’t a good change. He became the proverbial troubled smart-ass punk. I won’t try to dissect who influenced whom, nor how, but his mother became a little distant, too. Not cold or hostile, just too busy for chit-chat. A lot of things were changing in that organization all at once.
Time drifted on and our organization hosted a major social event. We called in extra MPs from a neighboring organization to help with parking because it could not be left to random choice. That had been tried once before and failed chaotically. Without organizing it closely, we could not possibly maximize the limited parking space for the typical American community where just about every adult had their own car. This was in a foreign land where the bicycles outnumbered the human population and public transport was just too easily available.
She drove through where I was supervising our borrowed patrolmen in controlling the parking. Suddenly she dodged into an empty lot we were saving for later, ignoring the hand signals from one of the MPs. She came all too close to striking him with her car. I saw the whole thing; he approached her about it and she was openly hostile. Being a good bit younger and having never encountered her before, he was frankly intimidated. So he reported her reaction to me. I conferred with someone even more senior and was pretty much forced to write her a ticket. The commander later stood behind it 100%.
It was as if she were a complete stranger. I acted as if nothing had happened. For me, it was just one of those things people do when not in a better moment. But her contempt and hostility was harder and thicker than the centuries-old pavement under my feet when we passed a few days later on the street. The commander made it a point to check and make sure this gal didn’t retaliate through her official position, I later learned. Apparently she had tried it on other people. For me, it was as if someone had replaced her, and she was a stranger uglier than her own face.
Just doing my job, but she took it so very personally.
It’s not enough to look at this through standard Western analysis, nor even through Game. Looking back, that was at about the time I began my in-depth review of Ancient Near Eastern cultures and became conscious of the radical difference between that and our Western Civilization. It was just about the time the Internet exploded into the homes of average folks, and suddenly I had access to resources I had never dreamed. It was like my old college library, quite extensive in Antiquities on its own, but a hundred times larger and all on my computer. One of the signature grand accomplishments of Western Civilization will be her undoing.
Westerners understand human development and phases in human life. Yet there remains a fundamental and unconscious expectation that human identity is fixed. So very fundamental to that woman’s job was tracking personnel and career actions. If there was any one thing that advanced her career, it was her native expertise in that very occupation of managing it for others. It was her job to be obsessed with the administrivia. For her to respond to me as a dire threat to her career — her surrogate husband — was entirely normal. The tension in her life declined significantly once she managed to capture the newly divorced Command Sergeant Major as her husband. I was no longer a threat and she simply ignored me, while her son found himself under the watchful eye of a very manly man. She turned out to be a model devoted wife to this man, a woman who truly understood the professional demands on him. I’m happy for all of them, in the sense that their story for me ended there.
She would have been the first person to reject the ANE understanding that human identity is fungible, even as she benefited so much from that truth. If there is one core element of the American military bureaucracy, it is the fixation on stasis in human identity. A fat folder of papers followed me through my terms of service. Expunging anything, even the most ephemeral references, never actually happened. There was always a copy of something somewhere that was more permanent than my very existence. In military records, your file packet could only grow, and your identity was ever more fixed by the weight of the record acting like an anchor on your soul.
In Christ, you are a new person. The only memory of past folly is your own. God Himself is willing and able to discount the whole mess, and His records of you in Eternity are the truth of who you are. No entity in all Creation has standing to dispute what God says of you. Once you understand this and embrace it fully, it’s so much easier to forgive the common wounds of human conflict. I won’t hesitate to tell you that this single factor is by far the most difficult thing for Western Christians to absorb. It assumes an entirely alien approach to reality and even the very act of thinking itself.
Reality itself is fungible.