It’s Not The Thing That’s The Thing

Regardless of would be firearms barn burners that screech, howl and pound public podiums railing against the private citizenry’s right to bear arms, the fact will always remain, even if it is a bitter pill to swallow for some, that the gun is not the thing that is the thing. The pistol has no innate evil nor righteousness it is simply amoral. It’s not the thing that is the thing. The “thing” that is the “thing” is the flesh and blood eye that sights down the pistol’s barrel and the flesh and blood finger that squeezes off a round because of some emotional mishmash throbbing in the gun owner’s brain and the speeding bullet murders some other human being. That’s the “thing.”

One could rightfully say then, that the gun becomes “evil” when it is possessed by an individual with evil intentions. In our present world, thankfully, the law abiding, responsible gun owners far outnumber the lawless and irresponsible gun owners, therefore, the gun maintains a neutral rather than a negative reputation. But let us say, for a moment, that the world suddenly flips the scales and the lawless outnumber the lawful gun owners—this scenario automatically changes the reputation of the firearm and makes it carry one of disrepute. Why did the “thing” (the firearm) change its complexion from neutral to negative—simply because the far overriding environment in which it exists changed from lawful to lawless.

The swastika, contrary to popular learning, did not originate with Adolf Hitler and the Nazis rather it is a symbol that existed among the ancient Celts, Indians, and Greeks centuries before Hitler. The word swastika came from the Sanskrit word svastika, meaning any lucky or auspicious object, and in particular a mark made on persons and things to denote auspiciousness, or any piece of luck or well-being. It is composed of su- meaning “good, well” and asti “being”. Suasti thus means “well-being.”

The symbol has a long history in Europe reaching back to antiquity. In modern times, following a brief surge of popularity as a good luck symbol in Western culture, a swastika was adopted as a symbol of the Nazi Party of Germany in 1920, who used the swastika as a symbol of the Aryan race. A right-facing 45° rotated swastika was incorporated into the flag of the Nazi Party, which was made the state flag of Germany during the Nazi era, after Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933. Hence in many Western countries the swastika is stigmatized as being associated with Nazism and related concepts like antisemitism, hatred, violence, death, and murder. Notably, the swastika has been outlawed in Germany and other countries if used as a symbol of Nazism in certain instances.

The pre-Hitler swastika was a symbol of “good-luck” but the post-Hitler swastika became, and still is, a symbol of evil. When the swastika’s environment changed its setting it, likewise, changed its meaning.

What, you may ask, has all this to do with certain holiness standards? Very much, in fact. There are certain “symbols” and “possessions” among us, in this present generation of Apostolics, which are much akin to the firearm and the swastika which time has changed the “thing” from one thing to another “thing” due to their setting in a present environment. Some neutral things have gone negative and some innocent things have become the epitome of evil and error.

The thing is not the thing. The thing, because it becomes associated with the evilness and error of mankind becomes a symbol of that evil and error. Paul clearly illustrates this principle when he informs the Corinthians; “As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.” Paul is saying that the “thing” (the idol) is nothing, it is stone, wood, metal or some other crafted material and the thing is no thing…. but BECAUSE of its use by worshippers of false gods that there is an evil “behind” it…. it’s not the stone that is innate with evil but is a symbol of the evil of false gods. He tells the Corinthians that the food, the meat, cannot be contaminated by the “thing” since the thing is not the thing. Graven images are symbols of a satanic diversion from the true and living God and therefore are rejected by Christians.

Let us consider the popular argument, among some, who delight in reminding us that many of our forefathers of early church history possessed some personal attributes which today we modern Apostolics have censured and done away with. To prove some ephemeral point, some like to remind us of certain “styles” of the past which we now reject. Why is this the case? Simply because the “thing” is not the “thing.” In the day of our forefathers the stigma of the “style” was not upon the “thing.” However, with the passage of time the symbol has become associated with the rebellious, lawless and degenerate more than the opposite. Therefore, for this reason, there are situations which seem to vie the “historical” with the “present.” Why? Because the “thing” is not the “thing.” It is the environment that a thing is most associated with that determines the things reputation.

Some “things” of the past that no longer carry a stigma of worldliness are now readily accepted such as, for instance, the red dress which was once viewed as the attire of the harlot. Since the social environment has changed therefore the thing has changed. So, again, it’s not the thing that is the thing. Also, in reverse, things that were once considered proper are no longer accepted as such simply because the thing has taken on a new meaning and must therefore be dealt with in its present environment.

As a matter of fact, some standards can be more local than universal. For instance, there may be a cafe in some local setting that is a known homosexual hangout and therefore “Joe’s Eatery” is preached against because of its environment. Not all “Joe’s Eateries” of the world are likewise banned. In that local setting there might have been a time when “Joe’s Eatery” was not associated with evil and was not under censure and there may come a time in its future when it loses its stigma of evil and will no longer be censured. Why? Because the thing is not the thing. Therefore pastors must, for the safety of their flocks, be cautious of both their local environment and their universal environment and set bounds accordingly.

While we understand that there are some concrete standards cited in the Word such as uncut hair of the woman, etc, and should be readily agreed upon by all for all time, however, arguments that do not take into effect the principles of “social environmental influence” concerning certain “things” are arguments that lack true holiness understanding. Yes, some “things” do indeed change… because the thing is not the thing.

— jlg —

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