Screenshot from the Lemmings PC game
Fanaticism consists in redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aim.
~ George Santayana
What does abortion have to do with lemmings? Are sheep lemmings, only bigger? What’s a real sheep look like?
Silly questions? Well, take the last question, for an example. If you don’t know what a sheep is, then how in the world will you discern a wolf in sheep’s clothing? Will you use your brain, or will you march off the cliff with the other lemmings?
First, a word about lemmings. For me, the word was unknown before I was introduced to the video game called Lemmings. I had purchased it for my daughter to play when she was much younger. Basically, you try to herd the lemmings away from killing themselves. That’s easier said than done! Herding sheep is one thing, but lemmings aren’t always so cooperative, or at least the game version wasn’t.
Apparently, it is possible to download the older abandoned games, BTW. I have to do more sleuthing, but I assume it is legal, as most of these games long ago stopped production, but MyAbadonware contains many of the classics.
However, the reality is that lemmings have gotten a bad rap. It appears that a lot of bad assumptions have been made about them, in part due to their wildly fluctuating populations. Some in olden times even claimed that the rain brought them in, which is why a sudden spike in population would occur. When an area would become overpopulated, which was very common, they would attempt to migrate elsewhere, and they always did in large quantities. Sometimes, these migrations would be through mountains, through water or other treacherous terrain. If the distance was too far, many of the weaker ones would die. That’s where the myth of lemmings being suicidal or simply following their leaders to their death came from.
Still, the myth holds on, and the symbolism is quite strong. From calling them “Marching Morons” to video games depicting them following their leader off the cliff, the legend lives on.
A quote I found on SermonCentral that I came across while googling this was from Clark Tanner:
The problem in today’s church is that we have developed a low concept of God and are guilty of wanting to make Him into our image. Let me repeat, I am talking about the church, not the unchurched and unsaved. When I hear them talk of God for the most part their ideas are so silly and so far-fetched and so backward, they are laughable. But we cannot laugh at the view of God very many evangelical Christians have.
It can be discovered in people’s praying and their prayer requests, in their speculations and their pursuit of fanciful new doctrines that scratch them behind the ear, by the mass lemming-like suicidal rush to false teachers and celebrated personalities and by the pandemic of Bible ignorance present in our entire counter-culture.
There are a lot of recent events that this fits, if you ask me. However, a specific event crossed my mind when I read it:
With high-ranking Democratic officials listening reverently in the Iowa state capitol, a liberal activist and union official on Wednesday led a prayer for increased funding for abortions, for greater access to abortions, for doctors who perform abortions, and for what she called “the blessing of choice.”
In her invocation at the rally, which was attended by Jack Hatch and Tyler Olson, two Democratic candidates for governor of Iowa, Slater prayed that elected officials “may always support a woman’s right to make her own medical decisions.” She prayed for “increased financial support for low income women” to have abortions. She prayed that “women in developing nations” have greater access to abortion. She prayed to “give thanks and celebrate that abortion is still safe and legal.” And she prayed that families may know “the blessing of choice.”
~ Washington Examiner, “Iowa Democrat prays: Dear God, thank you for abortion“
“Blessing of choice“? Really? This is a case of where someone has forgotten why we pray in the first place! Like Santayana’s opening quote, it reveals a fanaticism that is so striking because of its cognitive dissonance! It seems they need to be reminded they are praying to the same God Who drove out the Canaanites for child sacrifice among other things!
31 Thou shalt not do so unto the Lord thy God: for every abomination to the Lord, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods.
~ Dt 12:31
This is the God of the Bible speaking! He is One to be feared! He is not some cuddly genie that you keep in a bottle to ask of Him wishes once in a while when you’re in trouble! He is God, and He gets to make the rules!
13 Thou shalt not kill.
~ Ex 20:13
That should be clear.
7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
~ Gal 6:7
God will dispense justice upon this nation for our national sins. We can kid ourselves of what God will wink at, but God will not be mocked!
Lemmings are not the only animal to get a bad rap, though. Sheep do as well. Some of it might be justified, to a point, but as in the case of lemmings, it is quite exaggerated.
Perhaps one of the most vivid examples of the differences in those who will be accepted by Christ vs those who will not is the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Mt 25:31-46). It is the sheep who are accepted, while the goats are not.
So, that means being a sheep is not a bad thing, doesn’t it?
Having raised both (a long, long time ago), I can attest that they are quite different creatures in spite of their obvious similarities. I appreciated a sermon I once heard about the differences between sheep and goats, including their more independent behavior. Basically, goats are hard headed, and I mean that both literally and figuratively. Goats are inquisitive, and their thoughts tend to dwell on the grass that is always greener on the other side of the fence. In fact, Dad, for whatever reason, never cut the horns on one goat, and it was a regular routine to come home from school and get her out of the fence again.
Sheep, however, do not blindly follow the herd. They will when they are scared, however. When the herd is being attacked, it is best for the herd to stick together. That’s why predators will commonly pick off the weak and those who fall behind and become separated from the herd. However, I’ve seen sheep that can on occasion take a wild notion and be as independent as a goat!
In the world’s view, being called a sheep isn’t considered an honor, is it? No, rather there is even the term “sheeple” to derogatorily refer to those who follow along at all costs, like the lemming follows its leader to its death.
This herd instinct is the major reason that sheep are regarded as “dumb”. In fact, “dumb sheep” is still a common expression. There is a website, Sheep101.info, which is filled with examples of how sheep are actually pretty smart!
Hungry sheep on the Yorkshire Moors (Great Britain) taught themselves to roll 8 feet (3 meters) across hoof-proof metal cattle grids to raid villagers’ valley gardens. According to a witness, “They lie down on their side or sometimes their back and just roll over and over the grids until they are clear. I’ve seen them doing it. It is quite clever, but they are a big nuisance to the villagers.” [Source: BBC News, July 2004]
Not only that, but they and other website document that sheep can often remember faces of other sheep and sometimes people for up to 2 years. This should click, as sheep are very social animals!
Think about the implications. People are social by nature as well. Sure, there are introverts and the shy, but that doesn’t bypass the fact that people get lonely without human contact and can even regress in various ways.
Is it only for the purpose of hearing doctrine that we are commanded to assemble together? I don’t think so!
The facts that sheep can remember, can outwit obstacles, can navigate complex mazes and even seem to be able to pick out plants that heal when sick show amazing mental capabilities for a “dumb” animal! Again, what are the implications? God gave us a brain. God expects us to use our brain! Are we encouraged to study just to memorize some words, or are we to think about (meditate upon) them?
Lemmings are a bit maligned, but the symbolism still seems to fit those who go along, whether due to selfish apathy or ideology, mindlessly with some of the drivel that this society feeds us. Sheep get a bad rap as well, but that is a biblical symbol used by Christ Himself! If you ask me, the latter is no mystery. By putting down “sheep” as something not worthy to be, it deflects from what we are intended to become. By substituting a counterfeit idea into the mix, Satan has succeeded in sidelining the view of what we are to become like, yet once again.
However, the counterfeit idea neglects something more important! It neglects the fact that we are privileged to not be wild sheep left to our own devices! Our implicit trust is in Our Leader, Who is not another sheep, but The Good Shepherd! It is not the lead sheep we blindly follow but Him!
And, if that makes me a “dumb sheep”, then give me a badge with it on it!