The "New" Doctor Laura Righteousness
Man has historically devised forms and systems of righteousness. First, righteousness (Greek, dikaiosune) is, "The character or quality of being right or just; it was formerly spelled 'rightwiseness,' which clearly expresses the meaning" (Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, by W. E. Vine). A very important passage in our study is Romans 10: 1-3. Notice some of the basic truths set forth in Paul's statement, truths such as one can have a "zeal of God" but not according to knowledge, go about "to establish their own righteousness," and be lost in so doing:
"1. Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. 2: For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. 3: For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God."
God's righteousness or means of making man right is contained and revealed in his gospel (Rom. 1: 16, 17). Beloved, there are numerous forces at work in the world today. There is, for example, the influence of God's word that teaches man what morality is and how to be right. There is also, though, immorality, amorality, and a false righteousness. Out of all the wrong kind of extant influences, I deem false righteousness to be the most insidious and dangerous. From a historian's standpoint, one source of false righteousness and morality is the talk show host Doctor Laura Schlessinger, commonly known as Doctor Laura. Doctor Laura has become a household name and is among the most influential "religious" people in America today. Most are familiar with, "I am Doctor Laura Schlessinger, my kid's mom" and after offering moral advice, " now, go do the right thing." Please do not misunderstand me, Doctor Laura has preached much needed truth. She has become the champion of the welfare of children; the rights of the unborn; and the perversity of homosexuality. She has enabled many women to take moral stands and become better mothers. However, Doctor Laura has also offered a righteousness not of God and has thus influenced many in "self-righteousness."
The exclusivity of truth wrong. Anyone who has even occasionally listened to Doctor Laura is aware of her stance and teaching regarding those who singularly emphasize the truth to the exclusion of all error. She has manifestly embraced and advocated, "You can believe what you want to, just do not think it is the only truth!" Doctor Laura converted to Judaism several years ago and she has since fervently urged all to practice tolerance in religion, even to the point of not stressing Jesus is the Messiah. Notwithstanding, Jesus singularly taught, " for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins" (Jn. 8: 24). Based on Doctor Laura's teaching and influence, some have come to view Doctor Laura as a modern day anti-Christ (see I Jn. 2: 18, 22, 23). True righteousness stresses the oneness of Christianity and the exclusivity of the truth of the gospel (Eph. 4: 3ff., I Cor. 1: 10, 2 Jn. 9-11).
The matter of corrupt speech. Doctor Laura has come under sharp criticism, rightly so, because of the language she uses in her programs. It is not unusual to hear her, "Curse like a sailor." I was listening to her widespread radio broadcast one day when a caller objected to her use of profanity, vulgarity, and expletives. She replied with words to the effect, "Some do not like the fact that I use some four letter words that they do not think are appropriate, I view this as a personal problem, their problem!" Doctor Laura has encouraged by her example, calling people degrading terms and wishing all sorts of bad things happen to them. To the converse, the scriptures, true righteousness, enjoin pure speech, good for edifying others, and that "minister grace unto the hearers" (Eph. 4: 29). Doctor Laura has even used profane language to young people who have consulted her for moral instruction.
Social drinking acceptable. I have personally heard Doctor Laura talk about different social circumstances in which she consumed alcohol. She has been heard not only defending social drinking, but making fun of those who do not so use alcoholic beverages. I recall hearing her chide one caller who asked for advice about attending a function in which liquor would be present and she even made fun of the caller by using course and profane language. Yet, Doctor Laura is being herald as the, "harbinger of morality to a morally decaying nation." The scriptures, even the Jewish scriptures, which Doctor Laura claims to believe, teach the avoidance of strong drink (Prov. 23: 31, 29-35, see I Tim. 5: 23 for medical exception).
Divorce for different reasons acceptable and even recommended. The scriptures teach one man, one woman for life, fornication being the only acceptable cause for divorce and subsequent marriage to another (Matt. 19: 4-9). This was God's original marriage law, again, Doctor Laura professes that the Hebrew scriptures are inspired of God and binding (see Matt. 19: 4-9, Gen. 2: 18ff.). Doctor Laura, though, has on many occasions publicly advised men and women to divorce their mates when fornication was not the reason or even involved. Not only does Doctor Laura so instruct and even demand unscriptural divorce, but she often listens to tid-bits of information and based on such, she immediately offers radical instruction that can even destroy a potentially good marriage. For this reason, many professionals classify Doctor Laura's programs as entertainment rather than education and qualified counseling.
Lying can be acceptable and recommended. The Bible expressly teaches telling the truth (Col. 3: 9). However, the "righteousness" that Doctor Laura advocates says, "It is acceptable to tell a lie in certain situations." She goes on to explain, "If telling a lie helps and does not hurt another, then tell the lie." She has made stronger statements when she has instructed her listening audience thus, "It is wrong to tell the truth if that truth hurts another!" I understand that there can be occasions when one does not have to reveal privileged information. However, Doctor Laura does not so qualify her teaching. Basic honesty is to characterize the child of God at all times, this is the morality of the Bible (cp. I Tim. 2: 7).
The well being of man takes priority. Doctor Laura has incorporated tenets of Humanism in her righteousness. Humanism essentially teaches that the ultimate good of man determines matters of right and wrong. I have personally heard Doctor Laura on many occasions address a "moral quandary" that has been called in for her answer and the premise behind her answer has been, "You must not do anything that will alienate a family or cause harm to others." Doctor Laura does have a few exceptions; most of which pertain to the safety and well being of children. However, in general applications, the good of man determines what is right and moral. On the other hand, Jesus taught that truth and moral issues come first, even if putting them first divides a family (Matt. 10: 34-38).
As an amateur historian, I follow Doctor Laura's Movement because it reveals the minds of people. Some historians are now considering Doctor Laura's following a cult and Doctor Laura the cult leader. Before you dismiss this possibility, pay special attention to many of her callers. "Doctor Laura, I must have your blessing on the decision that I am about to make ," "Doctor Laura, you must tell me what to do " ad infinitum. Many, it appears, cannot make the simplest of decisions with the approval of Doctor Laura. Many, alas, cannot determine matters of right and wrong unless Doctor Laura provides the definition and pronouncement.
While I have conceded that Doctor Laura does teach some truth, it is very sad that masses view her as the epitome of true righteousness and worship her as their spiritual advisor, even when her righteousness contradicts God's righteousness. The scriptures (including the New Testament, which Doctor Laura rejects) offer to man the mind and will of God and the righteousness so needed, righteousness that pertains to practical and pristine morality. Doctor Laura's form of righteousness is shaping politics in America, establishing values, and even dictating what religion is to be. People need to back off and take a good look at the particular righteousness Doctor Laura is promoting, a morality not of God (Rom. 10: 1-4, notice that Paul said in verse four, "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth").