For those Americans who live where there are four distinct seasons, during the winter months you're probably tuned into your local radio or television station so you'll know the weather forecast.
Our meteorological forecasters have ways to determine if our days will be sunny and bright, blustering cold, or uncomfortably hot. With that thought in mind, how do most people gauge what is right or wrong? It's apparent that we're living in an age when almost anything goes.
It's safe to say that barometers generally don't lie. They don't give opinions, but reveal only the facts. They clearly and accurately record the rise and fall of atmospheric pressure. They are not influenced by anyone's ideas or opinions. They simply tell it as it is. To reject the barometer's warning is to reject the state of things as they are.
In 1938, one of the most powerful hurricanes ever to hit the east coast of America slammed into Long Island and continued up the East Coast. The winds blew at 120 miles an hour, gusting up to 200. The salty spray was carried by the fierce winds from Long Island 250 miles north to Montpelier, Vermont. The property damage was more than $300 million. At today's prices, the cost would be over 15 billion dollars. And tragically, hundreds of lives were lost.
I'm sad to have to be the pundit who points out that our generation seems to care very little about right and wrong. Let me give you some straight talk. America's society is in danger for rejecting God's moral barometer. We're leading ourselves to self-destruct, even without the help of the present administration pushing us over the brink. It's time we begin to toss out every cherished sin that makes us guilty before a loving Father. And to do that, we need to know the game rules.
In 2009, an interesting survey came out by George Barna and his Barna Research group of Americans known as Gen-Xers. What were its findings? Most Gen-Xers (Americans born between 1960 and 1980) have tossed out the idea of absolute truth. This staggering reality does not bode well for our nation's future. Seventy-five percent of adults and teens reject the concept of absolute moral truth. In other words, there is no right or wrong: right or wrong is what you think in your mind.
Joseph Fletcher wrote a book in 1966 titled Situation Ethics, which popularized this view among America's university students. His view was simply this — adultery, stealing, bearing false witness, or breaking any one of the Ten Commandments "is not necessarily and always wrong. If the situation is right, the act may be right."
Today, over half of all teenagers say that lying is sometimes necessary — not just convenient or common. To them, it's acceptable. This leads me to address some basic and fundamental questions. Are we facing a clash of cultures? Is the moral barometer of the 21st century abandoned and broken? I believe it is. How do we fix the problem?
What is essentially wrong with the idea that everyone must determine what is right for themselves? It's problematic because everything becomes a blur on the moral radar screen. Just what is the morality of the current "post-modern world"?
According to BBC.co.uk, "Postmodernism does away with many of the things that religious people regard as essential. For postmodernists, every society is in a state of constant change; there are no absolute values, only relative ones; nor are there any absolute truths.
"This promotes the value of individual religious impulses, but weakens the strength of religions which claim to deal with truths that are presented from outside, and given as objective realities."
In this opinion piece, I will attempt to tackle some of these tough questions. What is the fundamental fallacy in the idea that right and wrong are matters of opinion?"
"If any man think that he knoweth anything..." (1 Cor. 8:2)
What bothers me most about this concept of moral relativism, which is taught in our universities and school systems, is it's an absolute lie. The entire premise comes from a progressive mindset that demands we not be judgmental. If that is correct, then how do we know right from wrong?
When somebody tells me there is no such thing as absolutes of right and wrong, how can I even evaluate that statement? For me, the stark truth is in the Bible. There is a verse in God's Word that says, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end leads to destruction" (Prov. 16:25). It forewarns me that people may appear to understand things but reject true knowledge, which is needed to be able to determine what appropriate behavior is — that is, behavior that benefits not only themselves, but all of our society.
Take a long look at what is happening to our society as a result of the false belief that there are no moral absolutes. The human mind can't accurately evaluate what is right and what is wrong. The Bible says, "The heart is deceitful and above all things desperately wicked" (Jer. 17:9).
When we as a nation filter things to suit our own idea of right and wrong, then there's nothing but foolishness. Man has a fallen nature. I fully recognize that in our modern world, people reject the concept of a fallen nature. And since people do not want to admit that they possess such a nature, they would rather assume that they somehow have the ability to distinguish between good and evil in and of themselves. But if that were true, why were Americans so outraged when the World Trade Center was attacked? Islamic terrorists who flew those airplanes actually believed that they were morally right in killing innocent people. Both sides can't be right about that. And why are we outraged that Hitler killed six million Jews — if we believe there is no such thing as absolute right or wrong? When a country filled with churches of all denominations has intermingled God's holy laws with man-made traditions, we're left with no basis for feeling outraged at such evil.
When we inform God that His character and moral values are not important, then on any given Sunday morning, if my neighbor decides to go out and mow his front lawn and that bothers me, I could punch him in the nose because I value my peace and quiet. Who is to say that's wrong? At the same time, we live in a nation of laws. Our judicial laws punish those who would commit assault and battery on their neighbors. These laws stem from our Constitution, which is based on Biblical premises and principles.
If a man or a woman is not content or happy in their home, and there are no moral boundaries, what would be wrong with having an extramarital affair? Without God's Ten Commandments in the picture, morality becomes easy to rationalize.
The question then becomes, what is reality — and what are the results of ignoring what is right or wrong? How has an increasingly godless, rebellious mindset affected our society? And where is it leading our country?
Those who want to destroy America pander to man's human baseness. Progressives understood years ago what would happen if they succeeded in slowly but surely removing moral boundaries from every facet of our lives. And quite frankly, too many of us have become willing participants and given in to their enticements.
Conservatives of all stripes, including Independent voters, should not have a thing to do with the acceptance of gay marriage, abortion on demand, legalization of recreational drugs, or prostitution. Once a civilized nation dissolves its moral code, it ends up on the ash heap of history.
There is no guarantee that we will be able to restore our nation if we don't have a civil society based on God's unchanging law. As America's Judeo-Christian faith becomes ever-more diminished and compromised, our future looks extraordinarily dim. "He who trusts in his own heart is a fool" (Proverbs 28:26).
"Without me ye can do nothing" (John 15:5)
We need to look outside of human beings for sound rules. We need to look to something or someone that does have perfect understanding, perfect empirical knowledge. The Bible reveals God. He speaks of Himself in absolute terms. One of my favorite passages in Scripture is Psalm 111, in which the Psalmist summarizes the relevance of God's law. The Lord reveals absolute truth in His own character, in His own nature. God Himself is holy, and that truth is revealed in His Word. And God's truth reveals itself to every generation and every society, in undeniable ways. (See Romans, chapter one.)
The Almighty says, "The works of His hands are verity that is truth and justice. All His precepts are sure. They stand fast forever and ever" (Psalm 111:7). When speaking about God's law, the Psalmist points out that the law of God is an eternal revelation of the character of God and is increasingly relevant to every generation. For example, the law that says, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me," in an age of materialism where material values have become god, speaks positively of placing our priority on the things of eternity. The law that says, "Thou shalt not kill," goes far beyond the physical act of killing. It deals with respect for human life. His law provides some moral and objective standards.
It seems to me that God's law is like a mirror. In fact, the Bible reveals that. Take a look at the book of James. You'll look into its mirror and see that your face is dirty. The Word says: "By the law is the knowledge of sin" (Romans 3:20). It also says, sin is the transgression, the breaking of God's law. Sin is not something just in our minds; it's the breaking of an absolute moral standard that God has given to govern behavior.
Motives of the heart
But is it ever right to break that standard? Would you think that lying, for example, is acceptable?
Let's suppose that, during the days of the Holocaust, I tried to shelter a Jewish friend and a Nazi asked me if a Jew were there. Would lying in such a situation be right? Let's use God's law to find out what would be right or wrong in this case.
I know what the Commandment says. It says, "Thou shalt not bear false witness against your neighbor." If I were to reveal the existence of my Jewish friend, I would be acting unjustly against my neighbor, in a way that would likely harm him — something the Commandment seems to forbid. This difficult test of my integrity would require me to rely on God, through His Spirit, to know what He would want me to do. I'm pretty certain He would want me to protect my innocent friend from possible death at the hands of a murderous regime.
I believe God weighs the human heart. Not from an absence of moral absolutes, but from an overriding desire that we put His will (and guidance) first in our lives — above our own.
We live in a sinful world where evil forces are working against us. We need to be able to balance everything that is going on and make the best decision in a bad scenario. There is an example of this in the Bible.
In Exodus, chapter one, the Pharaoh told the midwives to kill every male Hebrew child. He became outraged when he discovered that the midwives refused to follow his orders. They did not want to commit murder. The midwives had the moral fortitude to protect the women. God honored the midwives for their decision. I would suggest that as Christians, we need to look for the honest and true way every time. The true story of the midwives gives us a perfect example. When we make a decision in a bad scenario in a sinful world, God weighs the motives of the heart. What are we trying to do? Are we selfishly trying to cover our tracks and protect ourselves — or are we doing the best we know how to protect and guard somebody else, in harmony with His will? I believe God weighs our motives. Don't you?
Some suggest that keeping the Ten Commandments is little more than "legalism" — needless restraint on freedom — and has little relevance for today. They also wrongly believe that if anybody tries to live by the Ten Commandments, they're trying to work their way into heaven. Nothing could be further from the truth. When I accepted Christ as Savior, I was saved by His shed blood on Calvary's cross and His abounding grace covers my every sin. I personally believe in God's laws. The scriptures will prove me correct.
Let's pretend that I'm the proud mother of two small children, a one-year-old and a four-year-old, and I lovingly restrict their freedom by putting a fence around the backyard. Am I a legalistic, controlling parent? No. If they were to wander from an unfenced yard onto a busy road, they might be run down and killed. God's Ten Commandments are not a straitjacket. They are an expression of His love.
In chapter five of Deuteronomy, God says of his children, "Oh that there were such a heart in them that they would fear Me and keep all of My commandments always." Why? "That it might be well with them and their children forever."
The heart of love in God is saying: I want to do my best for you. I don't want you to live in fear, so thou shalt not murder. My rule says your neighbor is not going to break into your house in the night and murder you or your family. My rule says that you can sleep comfortably at night because your neighbor is not going to come and steal your possessions. God has a guardrail around life. He is not trying to put us in a straitjacket and ruin our fun anymore than me keeping my children from playing in a busy street.
The Ten Commandments are codified love. If you were to summarize the whole law, it is based on one word — love. The first four Commandments tell us how to love God. The remaining six tell us how to love our fellow man. If you want to know how to love God, you look at the first four Commandments. You want to know how to love your fellow man, you look at the last six. I can't truly love if I steal from my fellow man. If I am angry toward him and want to murder him, I cannot truly love at all. It kind of reminds me, we were talking about the legalism of the law. Is the law restricting your freedom?
In the book of James, the apostle refers to God's moral requirements as the law of liberty, because we are not truly free unless there are some boundaries. You know, those I've run across who say keeping God's laws is legalistic don't feel that way when it comes to others keeping them. They would like their neighbor not to kill, steal, or commit adultery. It's just that they believe they should be able to do whatever they like. But doing what you want is not liberty.
Others say that the high standards of God's law are impossible to keep. They forget that every human being has struggled with them, including the humble follower of God, the apostle Paul. In Romans, chapter seven, Paul says, "I would love to keep God's law, but there is this old nature, this sinful nature that I make mistakes and I stumble and I fall." It is easy to become discouraged, but we cannot excuse ourselves.
Real hope and change
Our nature as sinful human beings is that we don't do things perfectly. We have become self-centered and selfish, and God's law is selfless and loving. And so we struggle. However, there is good news. There is hope. We do not have to succumb to that sinful human nature if we allow God to hold our hands.
We need to understand what God says — and what He does for us if we turn our hearts to Him, if we give Him the reins to our life. Accept the promise He gives us in the tenth chapter of the book of Hebrews: "This is the covenant I will make with them after those days," says the Lord. "I will put my laws into their hearts and in their minds will I write them" (Hebrews 10:6).
The God of Creation says, I once etched my laws in stone. He says, but I will take my finger, that same finger that wrote in stone, and I will reach into your mind and I will write my laws there. Hold My hand. The more time you spend with Me, the more you will become like Me and learn to love the things I love.
The Word tells me that God will write His law in our minds and in our hearts. He writes it in our minds so we know it, and He writes it in our hearts so we love it. And so we begin obeying Him spontaneously, because Jesus has changed our life. I love what the Lord reveals in His righteous Word: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Phil. 4:13).
Although the law presents a very high ideal, Jesus offers grace to transform our hearts and change our lives and enable us to live up to that ideal. Every time we fail, we stand at the foot of the cross and we seek Jesus and we begin to understand, it is because I broke God's law that He is hanging there, and then we stumble and fall, we look at that cross again and we feel small.
We often say, there is no hope for a sinner like me. But The Almighty says in Hebrews, chapter 10, right after He says He will write His laws in our heart and our minds: "And their sins and iniquities I will remember no more." He says, "I can forgive."
The blood of Christ covers you when you fall. And if any man falls, First John, chapter two, states that we have an advocate with God the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous. We have somebody who is perfect, who steps in between and says: These children are mine. I am busy working with them. They have stumbled and fallen, but that's ok. My blood covers their mistake.
God has an ideal; His law has an absolute moral standard for society. But when we fail, His grace is there to forgive us, to pick us up and to lead us back to live that obedient life. What more could you ask for?
America was given birth by a God who loves us and sets His standard to protect us. When we stumble and fall, He does not push us away, but picks us up and helps us on our way.
May I remind you that our society is wracked with crime, ripped apart by violence, and riddled with immorality? Each year, 1.7 million Americans are victims of violent injuries and over 3 million more violent crimes are reported where one victim is accosted but not injured.
Unmarried couples are now living together in unprecedented numbers — ten times the rate of 1970. Abortion — largely the result of unmarried sex — continues unabated, killing 1.3 million unborn children each year. 83 percent of all abortions are by unmarried women, most of whom are under the age of 25.
Our families are disintegrating. For every two marriages recorded in county records throughout America, there is one divorce. The growing epidemic of social problems shouts loudly that this generation is headed for moral collapse.
God has something much better for us. The Lord says — "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." Jesus came to give us life in super abundance. Christ longs for us to live a life filled with incredible joy. He longs for us to be happy and fulfilled, to live productive, satisfying lives.
A heart of faith
The Psalmist declares, "You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore." Then He adds, "I will run the course of Your Commandments, for You shall enlarge my heart" (Psalms 119:32).
Obedience to God is not a narrow-minded path. It does not restrict our freedom. It does not narrow our joy. A commitment to God enlarges our heart. It opens new vistas of incredible joy. It presents us with opportunities for amazing happiness.
Obeying God is a step of faith. It is saying, God, I trust you. You have written the moral code of the universe. You know more about making me happy than I know. I surrender to your will. I leave my happiness in your hands. I choose to obey you because I'm absolutely confident that you always have my best interests in view.
Americans, will you take stock of what I've put forth? Patriots, we have a country to save and a heaven to win. Let's take hold of every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. The Lord's Holy Ten Commandments bring us true freedom. Let's recognize them and try to live our lives upright by going back to God's basics.
© Marie Jon