Naivety is the lack of experience, wisdom or judgement. Nonsense is that which makes no sense or is simply foolish (everything that doesn't align with reality).
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For example, Beyoncé sings 'who runs the world? girls', that's an example of nonsense, but naive girls at least in the western world have lapped it up.
Nonsense should be thought of as a faulty foundation, anyone who builds on it is sure to suffer disaster sooner or later. The truth will always catch up to the lie.
In an era of post-truth, fake news, alternative facts, and naked propaganda the need for personal scrutiny and structures of checks and balances become essential.
Examples of nonsense
The development of a romance between two young individuals often presents a classic case of nonsense and naivety colliding. “Oh Romeo oh Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo, deny thy father and refuse thy name...” never mind that they've only met for five minutes. Yes, she knows he is the one. Inspection of family background, histories, or values? “Eh minor details” say the smitten. The individualistic modern dating model is based on romanticism, not covenant building. As a result, it often lacks the basic guidance and blessing provided by eldership and authorities, making ample room for nonsense and marital breakdown.
In our fellowship, we fleshed out a God honouring process in keeping with the nature of the marriage covenant which has been usurped by a romantic model in our day based on dating. A process that recognises God's copyright on marriage and introduces healthy checks and balances supported by authorities and elders. Love birds, in the state of 'in love' are vulnerable to the many nonsenses that will manifest in a relationship.
Dating is only one example of lack of scrutiny. We could talk about those who repetitively fall for get-rich-quick schemes, or very obvious email scams, or those that forward highly suspect chain messages on social media (by the way share this article with 7 people today and you’ll receive your 7-fold blessing in 24 hours, cough cough).
When we watch the BBC news without filters we are naive, when we say amen without Berean like inspection, we are naive. We're all susceptible to the ‘white coat effect’ highlighted by Milgram’s experiment; mindless obedience to perceived authority. Scripture states: For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 2 Timothy 4:3 In other words, falsification has a fan base. ‘People believe to be true what they prefer to be true’, this is how flattery disarms the sceptic. So I guess there are two types of naivety.
Deliberate naivety: A product of laziness (can’t be bothered to scrutinise) and;
Ignorant naivety: Lack of knowledge (does not have the tools or ability to properly assess or scrutinise). I find myself cringing in anguish at the lack of scrutiny exercised by people, or even the failure to humbly recognise areas of naivety. As citizens of God’s kingdom, we cannot afford this state of affairs. Apart from the Lord’s command that we become expert judges (John 7:24), it seems many intentionally resist scrutiny.
Scrutiny doesn't mean negative criticism but even if it concludes in critique so what?
Is it not a priestly duty? Or is it just a nice to have add-on downloaded by the Holy Spirit? Priesthood, as seen in the Mosaic covenant, required vetting the people in matters of sin and doctrine. Scripture represents leprosy as the impact of sin and yeast as the nonsense doctrines that spread if not addressed. The priest had to assess, is this just a flesh wound or is this deeper? Can this be treated or must this one be put out of the camp? And I dare a priest to enter the Holy of Holies without first thoroughly scrutinising himself. Lack of scrutiny hinders maturity and healthy communities, producing Christian robots who are hard to fix. So the question of how we reduce corporate naivety becomes a vital one.
How do we reduce naivety and repel nonsense in our communities?
There is a need for a cultural shift, and changing culture can be hard work.
1. We must understand the Ekklesia is a judicial house (1 Corinthians 6:1)
2. We must resist all ideologies that encourage passivity and position scrutiny as negative.(1 John 4:1)
3. We must encourage collaborative leadership, embracing offices (Ephesians 4:11)
4. We must provide opportunity for discussion, debate and testing (1 Cor 14:29, Act 15:7)
5. We must Discourage spectatorship and encourage participation in policy-shaping, and strategy implementation (Thes 3:6, Ish 1:18)
In truth discernment is sharpened by debate and constantly testing ideas and ideologies and philosophies, thoughts and opinions and internalising the law (Read Hebrews 5:14). It is further nurtured by structures of accountability that encourage collective council. And rather than a reputation of naivety or nonsense, onlookers will say of us, like it says in Deuteronomy 4:6 'Surely this is a great nation a wise and understanding people.'