Thursday, January 16, 2003

Edifier du Jour-1 Corintians 7:18-28(NASB)
18 Was any man called when he was already circumcised? He is not to become uncircumcised. Has anyone been called in uncircumcision? He is not to be circumcised. 19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but what matters is the keeping of the commandments of God. 20 Each man must remain in that condition in which he was called. 21 Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that. 22 For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord's freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ's slave. 23 You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. 24 Brethren, each one is to remain with God in that condition in which he was called. 25 Now concerning virgins I have no command of the Lord, but I give an opinion as one who by the mercy of the Lord is trustworthy. 26 I think then that this is good in view of the present distress, that it is good for a man to remain as he is. 27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be released. Are you released from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 28 But if you marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Yet such will have trouble in this life, and I am trying to spare you.
It's common for people to ask whether they're currently in God's will about various things in their life. This passage points out that the status quo should be the default value and that changes in your status should not be actively sought. Carried to an extreme, this can lead to stagnation, but the alternative of change for change sake seems to be even more destructive. Changes to your life can bring unintended complications as well. For instance, elsewhere in chapter 7, Paul mentions that a married person has to serve their spouse rather than just God. Getting circumcised can have surgical complications. Thus, staying "in that condition in which he was called" denotes a bias towards conservatism in the sense that the status-quo is to be maintained unless the change has clear advantages. Don't cheer too loudly, folks on the right; that also applies to changes away from statism; half-baked privatization scheme can be almost as bad as half-baked government programs. While I might be a dynamist in my economics, this passage calls for a prudent dynamism, one that carefully looks at changes before implementing them and only embarking on a change if it is clearly better than the status quo. If you really wonder whether a change is for the best, the best answer seems to be "No." If you have to wonder whether you're currently doing the right things, the default answer seems to be "Yes."

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