Hi, my name is John, and I’m an alcoholic.
OK, if you’ve been reading this blog for very long, you probably knew that already.
I have some shocking news for you, though. You probably better sit down for this. I just know that this will bowl you over.
Before I knew I was an alcoholic, I was a sinner.
Honest! I kid you not! I know that must be hard for you to believe though…
OK, maybe it isn’t such a big surprise to you after all…
How about you? Do you struggle with sin? Is there one particular sin or set of sins that seems like an everyday fight? Do you get up in the morning and wonder if you’re going to “blow it” today?
Welcome to the human race!
You know, the other day I posted the article on “California Anti-Democratic Activists Judges At It Again”, and I want to make a few things clear.
All People Struggle
First and foremost, I want to make it clear that I am not condemning people who struggle with any sin in their lives. We are all tempted, albeit by different things, each and every day. Your weak point might not even cross my mind. So, does that give me the right to condemn you for your weakness? I think not. Should you judge me for not being able to drink? Again, I think not.
I actually knew someone who claimed they could not relate to Paul.
18For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
19For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
20Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
21I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
22For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
23But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
24O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
This person claimed that their particular weakness was not covetousness, and so they could not relate to it. I tried to explain it to them, but I honestly don’t think I got through. It’s not that the person was stupid or even proud in many respects, but they did have a blind spot.
Perhaps people prone to compulsive behaviors are the lucky ones. We can relate to what Paul is saying.
And, at the end of the day, the real problem I’m seeing is not that people have struggles in their lives. To a certain extent, it isn’t even that people sin because the reality is that we all do. That is rooted in our innate selfishness. If I were to re-write the previous article, I think I would point out more dramatically that, while it is selfish to sin, it is arrogance to force others to tolerate bad behavior. In fact, that sort of thing used to be considered a form of insanity.
All Sin Has Selfishness At Its Root
This leads to the second point. All sin stems from selfishness at the root level. Notice I’m not saying it is smart, as it often ends up doing more damage than good. However, what is the focus in any addiction? What is the focus in any temptation? It is what I can get, what I can get away with and what I have to do in order to obtain it. That’s why crack addicts steal. They don’t want stolen property or even stolen money. They want the crack. They know that stealing is a quick way to get to it.
A study of cocaine users is particularly interesting because it shows the different ways people will behave in order to get enough money for their habit. Some are very legitimate ways. They will work overtime to acquire extra money, for example. If they are famous, they will tour extensively until one day they collapse on the stage. In the end, though, it is still a house of cards.
This truly is the “way of get” that HWA often spoke about.
Pat Answers Are Not So Pat
This leads to the third point. In the COGs, we often resort to slogans and pat answers. HWA was an advertising man, and that showed in a lot of what he said and wrote. It makes some things memorable. It can generate interest in a topic.
Sometimes, though, it went overboard. There were a couple of phrases that, IMO, should have never been used, and I really don’t even want to repeat them here.
There is another downside, though. We can often forget that there are people at the end of those answers. Pat answers might be short and concise, and they may even be right on. However, even “easy” answers are not so easy.
I often speak bluntly. People aren’t used to that in this politically correct world. Frankly, I think the world could use more of it. However, there is a downside to that, I’ll admit, and it can even be worse in the Church because we are so used to the pat answers. Have problem A? Try solution A. Have problem B? Try solution B. What is usually unspoken, though, is that it is easy enough to say, but difficult to do.
Drink too much? Don’t desire it! Easy, right? Have a wandering eye? Don’t lust! Easy, right? Eat too much? Cut back! Easy, right?
Yes, those are fine answers, but they forget one important thing. There is a human being struggling with at least one issue behind these problems. Even if they know that they have a problem, they don’t necessarily know what they can do about it!
That’s why we need help from outside. We need supportive help from our family, friends and the church. I’m not talking about enabling here. While love and forgiveness are also important, Christian compassion is probably more important. However, it takes real strength to give a sinner what they need rather than what they desire.
What Was Sodom’s Sin?
It is easy to conclude that Sodom’s sin was homosexuality. After all, that’s what people have said for centuries, right?
Well, maybe it isn’t the worst of all sins after all. Many societies have accepted homosexuality as legitimate behavior, and God did not rain down His wrath upon them. Ancient Greece even glorified love between men as being “superior” to that of love between a man and a woman. Yet, God even allowed the New Testament to be transmitted to the world through the Greek language.
Notice that God decided to see for Himself whether or not the reports of Sodom were true. Basically, their fate was already sealed. All He needed was confirmation.
The real parallels I see between today and Sodom and Gomorrah aren’t even so much homosexuality. It is the forcible taking of what is not theirs to take. It is a proclamation of their “right” to a certain type of behavior, whether the object of that desire cares for it or not. It is the acceptance of all sorts of behavior, homosexuality being only one of which, by all levels of the society.
The slide towards immorality did not start with gay marriage. It started with the abandonment of the sanctity of marriage period. Once “no-fault” divorce took hold, it was inevitable that marriage would be devalued as something other than an institution that God created. Once it was devalued, it became a matter of “love” – that is, the feelings of the parties involved. If you are in love, get married. If you fall out of love, get divorced. We are a society held hostage by our feelings.
Once our behavior is ruled by how you feel rather than some type of objective morality, then it becomes “if it feels right, do it.” That includes gay marriage or even marriage to your cat.
And, who says the slippery slope doesn’t exist? “If it feels right, do it” quickly becomes simply “just do it”.
Isn’t that where Sodom was? Did they care about right and wrong? Did they care about hospitality towards strangers, a very common principle in Middle Eastern cultures? Or, were they more interested in taking advantage of whomever and whatever they desired?
9And they said, Stand back. And they said again, This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with thee, than with them. And they pressed sore upon the man, even Lot, and came near to break the door. (Genesis 19:9, King James Version)
God told Israel to “remember what Amalek did unto thee”. What did Amalek do that was so grievous?
18 When you were weary and worn out, they met you on your journey and cut off all who were lagging behind; they had no fear of God. 19 When the LORD your God gives you rest from all the enemies around you in the land he is giving you to possess as an inheritance, you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven. Do not forget!
~ Dt 25:18-19 (NIV)
Notice that there is a level of morality that is expected even amongst unbelievers. There is a level at which God’s patience runs out and He acts.
The breaking of taboos, calling good evil and evil good and relabeling morality have brought down many civilizations, though. It is the age-old story. If we as a nation want to keep this nation and keep our freedoms and keep our blessings from God, then we all need to humble ourselves and acknowledge that He knows best. We would have to at least attain to a collective level of morality that doesn’t burn God’s nostrils. That may mean giving up some of our “rights” as individuals.
That means stop tearing apart families. That means telling the truth. That means dealing honestly in business. That means having a sense of loyalty to family, neighborhoods and country. It means submitting to a moral way of life based upon objective truth as outlined by the Creator.
And, you know, it means stop having money laundering schemes where the poor are indebted to rich banks beyond what they can pay. It means not paying out bonuses to CEOs who do nothing but wreck corporations and move on. It means not skimping safety guidelines and polluting the Gulf coast.
If we outlawed gay marriage today, the US would still be in danger of God’s wrath. The killing of innocent lives before they are even born to the god of convenience is yet another stench in God’s nostrils.
If individual “rights” overtake societal norms of cooperation and cohesion in society, then that society is doomed to fall.
United we stand; divided we fall.