by David Sisler

Some of the people I work with listen to non-stop talk radio. Wandering in and out of the shop, I catch bits and pieces of conversation, occasionally stopping to listen to Dr. Laura Schlessinger.

For the uninitiated, and I was numbered among them until recently, Dr. Laura is the host of a daily three-hour talk show and a best-selling author. To quote from her own Web page, "Dr. Laura's straight talk, no-holds-barred opinions are listened to on more that 430 radio stations in the United States and Canada, and she reaches an estimated weekly audience of 18 million people."

The thing which I find appealing is the total absence of psycho-babble on her program and the total insistence that each of us take personal responsibility for our own lives (a theme frequently expounded in this space). The more people who live by her practical tenets of personal responsibility, the better our society will be.

Dr. Laura says, "Understanding fundamentals of psychodynamics has always been fascinating and important in helping some folks with some aspects of their lives. However, psychology does not offer understanding of how people truly find purpose and meaning in life, without which happiness is never perfected. What callers taught me over the years is that excuses and explanations do not stimulate growth. Personal responsibility, religious spirituality, and commitment do lead to those things."

Let me give you a "for instance."

A woman told Dr. Laura, "My boyfriend and I have decided to move in together. We have discussed our future and plan to be engaged in the next couple of months and to be married, perhaps next summer. My parents are not happy that we will be living together before our engagement. They have distanced themselves from my boyfriend and me, and I am very hurt. I am hurt that they will not accept my decision. I am in my late 20's and am an adult! How do I deal with this?"

Dr. Laura replied, "You are hurt? How do you think your parents feel? They did all the work in establishing a home with commitment and values, and they have to accept your decision to disrespect all that they have lived for and lived up to? I'm sure they are aware of your age. Since when does someone's age earn the person acceptance and respect? It is by their actions that the appropriateness of the respect is decided. You made a choice to reject the values of postponed gratification and the sanctity of sex and co-habitation within commitment — and in doing so, you have disappointed and shamed your parents. You made that choice. An adult (which you are so anxious to indicate you are) accepts the consequences of their choices."

Since I do not listen frequently, or at great length to her program, I can speak only to those things which I have heard. Bravo on stressing personal responsibility, but her indulgence of homosexuality is contrary to her Jewish religion, indeed, to all of the Bible. And it is about the subject of religion that I feel the need to express my great concern — not with Dr. Laura, but with a recent caller who described herself as "a born again Christian."

The caller expressed concern that her fiancé had started attending a church with decidedly non-orthodox beliefs. When pressed for an example, the woman said that they did not declare the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

"Tell me something," Dr. Laura replied, "I'm a nice Jewish girl and I don't understand all these ins and outs. What difference does the Resurrection make?"

It was a fair and proper question, indeed, a vital question, and one which should be easy to answer, but the caller could not answer it.

What followed reminded me of a line from "My Fair Lady." Professor Henry Higgins was lamenting the "cold-blooded murder of the English tongue." He recounted the ease and facility with which non-English speaking people learn their language. "Arabians," he said, "learn Arabian with the speed of summer lightening. The Hebrews learn it backwards, which is absolutely frightening." Then he paused and said, "The French never care what they do actually, as long as they pronounce it properly."

Dr. Laura told the woman that the particulars of any faith are not so important as the kind of behavior it inspires. The idea that what you believe is of far less consequence than what you do is a tragic error that is being foisted on us in this era of New Age.

The Apostle Paul disagrees strongly that precepts are unimportant. He told Titus, "Speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine."

To speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine, the speaker must be aware of the things which are proper for sound doctrine. What difference does the Resurrection make? Paul answers vividly, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."


Published in the Augusta Chronicle 9/27/97

Copyright 1997 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.

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