The word “honor” is in a weird place right now. Our culture’s managed to provide workarounds for many of the problems that honor was a life-and-death matter about in ages past, what with credit scores and police forensics and reporters trawling the social media accounts of political candidates. It’s a propaganda word we use to try to polish a personality, just another perfect head of hair or twinkle from the corner of the mouth. An “honor system” is when you take the exhilarating, risky decision to trust people to tell the truth. An “honor code” is when you take on the mantle of an authoritarian, the iron fist of the kings of old, to tell college kids to act like adults until very recently used to just act.
To many people, honor is an anachronism, a social technology for establishing trust that is no longer needed in an age when we don’t even trust nature and our senses without a peer-reviewed, replicated study to prove that dreams are in fact real. In some parts of the world, the credit systems we’ve developed to determine mathematically if a borrower is honest enough to pay back what is owed has been adapted to cover all aspects of life, and if the social credit system works over there you can look forward to a similar system being established here, outsourcing personal integrity to the guardian angels of a computer system, their silent notes taking stock of your character with a margin of error in the bottom quartile of the industry, and then nobody will need to get to know you to see if they should trust you.
Ancient Israel got to field-test the old EMP-proof version of honor. Our Gospel Doctrine lesson today divides the story of Samuel’s career into four things honored, or loved, or trusted. Eli’s sons honored themselves. Eli honored other people. Samuel honored the Lord. Israel honored the world. Continue reading “Old Testament Gospel Doctrine Lesson 21: Honor Is Not About You”