From Jim O'Brien
July 27, 2017

Hi Friend,

In Search of Normal

At the doctor's office for a medical procedure a couple of weeks ago, he asked what medications I am on. I told him, "None." He expressed surprise that a person my age-I thought I was younger-is not on some medication. "It's not normal!" he said.

What is normal?

John Ortberg, in his book, "Everybody's Normal 'Til You Get to Know Them" asks, "Normal? Who's normal? Not you, that's for sure! No one you've ever met, either. None of us are normal according to God's definition, and the closer we get to each other, the plainer that becomes."

Even brothers to U.S. presidents-maybe especially-have been an embarrassment to both family and nation. Billy Carter, well known for public urination in front of a cadre of reporters and national news correspondents once said, "My mother went into the Peace Corps when she was sixty-eight. My one sister is a motorcycle freak, my other sister is a Holy Roller evangelist and my brother is running for president. I'm the only sane one in the family." Maybe he was telling the truth.

Abnormal lifestyles have often been accepted by an entire nation and forced on its citizens. For over a thousand years the Chinese considered small feet a requisite for women so they engaged in the practice of "foot-binding". Millions of young Chinese girls were virtually crippled by having their feet so tightly wrapped during childhood that the toes would grow under the foot.

The most desirable Chinese bride possessed a three-inch foot, known as a "golden lotus." It was respectable to have four-inch feet-a silver lotus-but feet five inches or longer, iron lotuses diminished a girl's chance for marriage.

The Smithsonian reports that the feet of a young girl were first plunged into hot water before clipping short her toenails. Then the feet were massaged and oiled before all the toes, except the big toes, were broken and bound flat against the sole, making a triangle shape. Next, her arch was strained as the foot was bent double.

Finally, the feet were bound in place using a silk strip measuring ten feet long and two inches wide. These wrappings were briefly removed every two days to prevent blood and pus from infecting the foot. Sometimes "excess" flesh was cut away or encouraged to rot. The girls were forced to walk long distances in order to hasten the breaking of their arches. Over time the wrappings became tighter and the shoes smaller as the heel and sole were crushed together. After two years the process was complete, creating a deep cleft that could hold a coin in place. For more than a millennia this was normal in China.

What is "normal" in our culture? Has cohabitation replaced marriage as normal? Is homosexuality normal and heterosexuality abnormal? How about being transgender?

Recently the news carried before and after pictures of a mother and son who had transformed. The mother had become the father and the son had become the daughter. Has a ten-year-old had sufficient life-experience to overrule nature in determining his or her sex?

The person whose emotions motivate him to take such action against his own body should listen to the words of the Prophet Jeremiah. "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked;" he wrote, "who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9) It's hard for a man to accept that his own heart can be the worst deceiver and his biggest enemy.

When I was a child, I once got lost hiking in the woods. As a 10-year-old it was a frightening experience. Every choice I made took me into territory that was worse than before-until I found a landmark. It was a creek that I knew ran near my house. So I followed the creek until I came to familiar surroundings and thus found my way back home.

Our nation needs to find its way back home! We are lost. We've allowed a tiny minority, less than a tenth of one percent of abnormal people to tell us we can't have restrooms and school locker rooms that segregate between men and women.

But it doesn't need to be. The Apostle Paul wrote, "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. (Romans 1:20)

Paul has given us the key to being normal. The created world tells us what God is like. He has existed-not just seventy years, or a thousand or even a billion years. He has existed for eternity. THAT is normal-and you are made in His image.

Until next time,

Jim O'Brien