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Gaslighting the True Light

I was watching an episode of the old television show the Beverly Hillbillies. I had to rewind it to make sure I heard the proudly-educated Jethro right. His family tried to talk him out of marrying a girl that his heart was set on. But Jethro would have none of it. He told them, “Man, you're just trying to gaslight me.” That was in the late 1960s. The word gaslight came from a 1944 movie by that name. In it a husband tried to make his wife think she was going crazy. In recent years the term has been used in cultural and political debates as a way of saying, “How dare you question this? You must be insane!” Journalists, professors, and politicians can be notorious for using this tactic.

This term is tossed around in moral and religious discussions also. The Roman governor Festus said Paul was losing his mind. When Paul defended himself before King Agrippa, “Festus said with a loud voice, ‘Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!’” (Acts 26:24). We are by no means the only Christians who have been labeled crazy.

Some even said that Jesus had lost his mind. “But when his own people heard about this, they went out to lay hold of him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind’” ( Mark 3:21). In another confrontation many of the Jews said, “He has a demon and is mad. Why do you listen to him?’” (John 10:20). If people said Jesus was insane, why should we be surprised when the world says the same about us?

It is not unusual for people who are completely out in left field to accuse Christians of being stupid and guilty. Ahab was one of the meanest rulers of Israel. The Bible says, “There was no one like Ahab, who sold himself to do wickedness in the sight of the Lord” (I Kings 21:25). Yet when he met Elijah, he had the audacity to ask the righteous prophet of God, “Is that you, O troubler of Israel?” (I Kings 18:17). It is hard to imagine anything he might have said that would have been more backward and twisted.

Sin hardens the conscience and makes people brazen and daring. Pedophiles shame their victims and make them afraid to tell anyone. Narcissists cause strife and blame everybody else. Tyrants love power but accuse anyone who disagrees with them of wanting control. The thought of being wrong never enters their mind.

Some things are so obviously evil that no sane person could say they are right—at least that’s what we think. But we are living in a time of moral insanity. People call good evil and evil good (Isa. 5:20). They are so hardened in sin that you would think they had lost their mind if they didn’t show other signs of intelligence. An insane man can make you question your sanity if you listen to him long enough. He acts like you are the one who is out of your mind. So it is with the morally insane. The Bible says, “Truly the hearts of the sons of men are full of evil; madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead” (Ecc. 9:3). Like mentally insane individuals, the morally insane don’t think they are crazy. They think you are.

There are people today who have the worthless mind of Romans 1:28. They have lost the capacity of moral discernment. There is no reasoning with them. The facts of nature and the will of the Creator make no difference to them. They are full of rage and lust, and there is no room for truth and reason. Yet if you disagree with their perverted lifestyle, their mindless greed, or their continual drunkenness, they act outraged that you would even question them.

You are not crazy for following the Bible. You may be in the minority, but you are not out in left field. And you certainly won't be left out of heaven. They will.


West End church of Christ bulletin article for June 18, 2023.


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