T. PIERCE BROWN
I just wrote a letter to the editor about the comments made in the media about applying double standards to those in various areas of the military force. The principles are so important that I think it appropriate to include the letter here, and make some additional comments that are especially relevant to Christians.
The plethora of comments from almost every segment of society decrying a double standard in the high profile cases of military discipline is interesting. The truth is that almost everyone approves of and applies not only a double standard, but also a multiple standard in almost everything. Every parent has a different standard of conduct for babies than it does for teen-age children. Every state has a different standard for those who drive trucks and busses and those who drive cars. Airlines have different standards for different kinds of pilots. Grocery stores have different standards for managers than for clerks and janitors. There is no area in life where we do not recognize the validity of applying different standards and rules for different classes of people. Even God has a different standard for measuring and judging different persons, for he says in Luke12:48, “To whom much is given, much shall be required.”
The problem is not in having a different standard. It is in not properly applying the rules or standards that have been set up for any category. When God sets the standard or rule for a person or category, man has no right to change it, but only the responsibility to apply it properly. When men set the rules or standards, then the person or body that has the right and responsibility to set the standard should change it when it is found to be improper. Until the proper authority has changed it, it should be applied fairly and properly.
In the armed forces, if there is a law or standard that says an officer should act in a certain fashion, the officer, whether Lieutenant or General, male or female, who fails to act in that fashion should suffer the penalty of not meeting that standard. If the standard was not made for enlisted men, then it should not be enforced for enlisted men. If men and women are different, then a different standard should be stated and observed with regard to those differences. For example, women might be allowed more maternity leave than men. Instead of ridiculing double or multiple standards, we should clarify what standards should be set and why, then apply them equitably to all classes.
We seem to have a tendency to confuse the issues by an indiscriminate and improper use of words. We should set up high standards for those in high positions, and then apply those standards fairly, whether it is to the President, Chief of Staff, or any other person.
The above letter was published, and may have done some good. However in addition the points I tried to make in that letter, Christians need to understand that although God has different standards or rules for different categories of people, He also has some standards that are the same for everyone. For example, an elder must be apt to teach, the husband of one wife, with faithful children. This does not apply to everyone. However, Acts17:30indicates that there is a standard that applies to all men everywhere and that is the need for repentance. The standards or rules for being saved from sin are the same for all. If you do not believe in the Christ revealed by the New Testament, you have no promise of salvation. If you do not repent of your sins, you will perish. If you are not baptized by the authority of the Lord, you have no promise that you will get remission of sins. One needs to ask about his baptism, and anything else he does, “Am I doing this the way Christ said do it, with the attitude or prerequisites he demanded, at the time or place he said do it, with the purpose he gave, if he gave one.”
Note carefully that since God made the standards, He expects us to teach them. However, He does not expect us to try to make the final judgment as to the proper method of applying those standards. For example, Jesus says in Luke 12:47-48, “And that servant, who knew his lord’s will, and made not ready, nor did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes; but he that knew not, and did things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few.” It is not our business to try to determine how many stripes one should get. It is our business to try to teach and show the standards or rules by which we shall be judged. But since God applies His standard in terms of each person’s ability, opportunity, motive, knowledge, etc., and we do not know or need to know those factors, we leave the final judgment to him. We know that a teacher will receive stricter judgment (James 3:1). We do not know how much weight each factor should have. We know that the Jews who delivered Jesus to Pilate had a greater sin than he did (John19:11). There was a different standard by which they were judged. That gives us no right to make our own standard or try to determine how God will apply His in the final day.
It does give us the responsibility to teach what God’s standards are, and that the promises of God regarding salvation and other blessings are dependent on meeting those
standards. If we simply ask a person, “Have you met God’s standards?” without any effort to determine if he even understands what they are, we have done him a great disservice, and failed in our responsibility to both God and man.
T. Pierce Brown
1068 Mitchell Ave.
Cookeville, TN. 38501
Phone: (615) 528-3600