The Latest Manifestation of the Sinfulness of Man

There are so many disturbing aspects of the “occupy” movement that it’s difficult to catalog them all. At its root is the desire to get something for nothing, a malady born out of an entitlement mentality that we have nurtured in our society. Where will it end?

That mentality is central to the greatest heresy of the twentieth century, one that ultimately led to the deaths of more than thirty million in the Soviet Union, even more in China, and also in smaller nations such as Cambodia, North Korea, and Cuba. We’re now seeing it at work in Venezuela. It doesn’t always begin as a full-blown radicalism, but it eventually descends to that low level.

I like to teach history because I believe we can see what went wrong in the past and avoid repeating those mistakes. At least, that is my hope. There certainly are enough object lessons from which we can gain wisdom.

The problem, of course, is that most of us are not wise. We too often reject sound knowledge and understanding. The result is to walk in darkness. Why is this? My authority for understanding why this is the case states it this way:

This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.

We have no one to blame but ourselves. We seek scapegoats. We want to believe that “others” cause all our problems, yet the biggest problem is what we see in the mirror. The “occupy” movement is simply the latest manifestation of the sinfulness of man.

Reflections on American Morality

The whole Anthony Weiner incident has left me deeply disturbed about the tenor of our society. That’s nothing new, of course, since I believe man in sinful and plays out that sinfulness continually. Yet this particular episode I find particularly perturbing. Let me see if I can explain why.

Weiner himself is what I always expected him to be; I’m less concerned about him personally than I am about other aspects of this. The media, both liberal and conservative, seem to be painting the women involved as victims of a sexual predator. There’s no disputing Weiner is a sexual predator, but if these women were victims, they were more than willing to be victimized.

One of them, Megan Broussard, has conducted interviews over the past two days, one on ABC, the other on Sean Hannity’s Fox program. I watched the latter. First of all, I was not impressed with her grasp of basic morality. She thought it would be “fun,” I guess, to banter sexually with a married congressman. Only when she feared her tweets would become public, or the pictures she sent him would be displayed on the Internet did she decide to preempt that exposure by speaking up. Even now, she doesn’t seem to have any real concept of having done anything inappropriate—at least on her part. And when asked if Weiner should remain a congressman, she had no opinion, saying that it was up to the voters in his district.

She is a microcosm of the state of morality in America at this time, I fear. She obviously doesn’t represent the morality of all, but I do wonder if she is representative of the majority: morally clueless.

Even now, only a slim plurality of Weiner’s constituents think he should step down. He may be able to ride this out. His arrogance is that great.

I think back on the Clinton impeachment. Even though it was evident that he had abused the trust given him by the electorate, and that he had committed perjury, public opinion polls indicated that about 2/3 of the country didn’t want him removed from office. I recall being dispirited over that at the time.

Just who are we as a people?

I want to believe better about us, but I don’t know if I can. After all, we put Barack Obama into the highest office in the land.

There is no golden age in our history where everyone was Christian and all was well, but there certainly was a time when we, as a society, had a keener understanding of eternal right and wrong, and when we veered off course, we at least felt guilty.

Does genuine guilt exist as a force in America anymore? Only by comprehending guilt will we ever seek forgiveness and reconciliation with God. I hold the firm conviction that nothing less than an explicitly Christian moral standard, and a firm belief in the transforming power of a Spirit-filled existence, will suffice to hold our society together. Without that basis, we will spin out of control.

I’m reminded of a quote from Christian statesman Robert Winthrop, who, in a speech to the Massachusetts Bible Society in 1849, pointed out a significant truth:

All societies of men must be governed in some way or other. The less they may have of stringent State Government, the more they have of individual self-government. The less they rely on public law or physical force, the more they rely on private moral restraint. Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled, either by a power within them, or by a power without them; either by the Word of God, or by the strong arm of man; either by the Bible or the bayonet.

Here’s the rub: do we still have enough people who live by individual self-government to make the difference, or are we in the process of losing all moral restraint? The reason I write and teach is that I believe there is still hope. I hope I’m right.

Evil and Good, Darkness and Light

Today I want to take a break from a specific current event, from cartoons, from book reviews, from links to other articles. Instead, I want to share a few thoughts from what I read in the Bible the other day. Going through the book of Isaiah, I came across a passage I’ve noted before, but one that deserves greater attention. It’s found in chapter five:

Woe to those who drag iniquity with the cords of falsehood, and sin as if with cart ropes; …

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;

Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;

Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight!

It seems as if we are surrounded by those who have turned everything upside down. What used to be considered evil [abortion; homosexuality] is now considered a “good” for society. We walk in spiritual and moral darkness and proclaim that it is “light.” We’re more intelligent than those who came before us, you see. They weren’t as sophisticated as we are. They actually believed there were eternal laws and God-given concepts of right and wrong.

We’ve come so far.

This attitude also reminds me of a passage in the book of Romans, chapter one, where the apostle Paul speaks of those who practice such things as homosexuality, envy, murder, greed, strife, deceit, and malice. He remarks that gossip, slander, insolence, arrogance, and mercilessness abound. Further, he instructs,

And although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

These two passages fit together nicely, Old and New Testament confirming the continuity of the message. And as it was in ancient Israel and in the Roman Empire of New Testament times, so it is today.

Jesus solidified this principle in His talk with Nicodemus when He told him,

This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.

For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.

Men still hate the Light—otherwise known as Jesus the Messiah—because the light He shines on them exposes their evil.

“Religion is okay, but don’t get too specific about this Jesus fellow, and don’t tell me I have to submit my life to Him. I want to do what I want to do.”

That attitude is the essence of sin—a self-centeredness that rejects the Lordship of the rightful Lord.

The book of James gets to the bottom line:

What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel.

You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.

Too much of modern Christianity avoids tough language like this. We don’t speak enough about sin, repentance, and the kind of life God expects us to lead when we say we give our hearts to Him. There’s a gap between what we say and what we do as the “church” of the living God.

That gap needs to go away. We need to be what we say we are.

That was just on my mind today. Yes, I know it came across as a sermon. I would apologize, but I don’t think God wants me to. We need to take Him more seriously.