Whenever you have a society that has rules or laws that are unknowable, or rest in the end on the offense of the audience, there you have sufficient conditions to persecute, cast out, stone, and slay the prophets.
Let us take, as an example, two rules from a private internet forum.
- “No profanity. No inappropriate sexual content.”
- “No Trolling, flaming, spamming, baiting.”
These seem reasonable, don’t they? But, understand well, you cannot know beforehand whether any particular action or words or set of words will violate #1, and #2 relies, in the end, on the response of the mob.
Why? Because profanity is not defined except with respect to a particular person’s own internal, whimsical line of offense – that person being the judge of the speaker. It is inherently subjective, being purely a matter of taste. So it is also with propriety. #1 therefore functionally means “thou shalt not offend thy judges.” Thus the judges’ capricious, unknowable sensibilities, and not Christ’s commandments, become the standard of right conduct within that community.
And look more closely at #2. Trolling is the art of sowing discord. But most discussion only takes place because of discord, which simply means disagreement. But wait! How can anyone sow disagreement? They cannot; a person can only express something that someone else disagrees with. So, #2 ends up, in the final analysis, meaning “thou shalt not offend the mob.”
But these both may be rephrased and combined into one rule: “Thou shalt not offend.”
And if there are penalties for violating that rule, you have sufficient conditions for casting out, stoning, and slaying the prophets. Any call to repentance offends the guilty, and the easy way to deal with it is to persecute the one calling, as opposed to repenting; with such rules in place, one has a built-in public justification for such persecution – the Nuremberg defense – “I was just following orders / the law / the rules.”
Offense is strictly in the mind and heart of the hearer. And it is because of impurity of heart and mind that we take offense. Our sense of offense is our own fault; it means we are ourselves offenders.
15 Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.
I made this point explicit and offered up my membership in another community in demonstration of it – no matter how well-meaning the administrators of such laws are, you will be cast out even if you perfectly keep the law of heaven.
1 Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.
No community which has any variant of “thou shalt not offend” as a rule can become Zion. What it produces instead are fragile, passive-aggressive, guilt-ridden hypocrites whose greatest commandments, truly, are “Thou Shalt Fit In,” and “Don’t Not Fit In.” If a society is intended to participate in or become Zion, such rules must go.
“By proving contraries,” Joseph said, “truth is made manifest.” But if you dwell behind the walls and gates of “Thou Shalt Fit In,” and “Don’t Not Fit In,” you will be damned, for no contraries will be permitted to be proved; they don’t fit in. You will either never hear the truth, or you will yourself persecute, cast out, stone, and slay them you are sent.
34 ¶Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city.
The commandments of God are not for us to enforce on one another, nor to build a hedge around to prevent any from transgressing them, but for us to discipline ourselves therewith.
When I write these things, it is not so that people can say “Oh Log is so wise, isn’t that good stuff he’s written?” It is so that people might gin up the courage to begin applying these principles in their own lives.
So go have a peaceable conversation on religious topics with someone who is not of your faith – like an orthodox Christian, say. Open up your secretive Facebook societies and forums, cease stabbing each other in the backs, and listen to one another without trying to prove yourself right. Let the light of truth shine in and let contraries be proved, as uncomfortable as it may be. If you don’t like the results, then change. Abolish the unfair, capricious, whimsical, and unknowable rules that serve as excuses to silence uncomfortable truths and messengers.
Or you fragile flowers will be wilted by the blasting heat of the glory of the coming of the Lord. Zion is not for you.