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 Vol. 6, No. 10 

October 2004

~ Page 14 ~

Moral Issues Facing the Church

By Roger A. Rush

Image Can it be said with any degree of certainty that anything is necessarily wrong? Have black and white really dissolved into the murky world gray? Are there no absolutes any more, except, of course, that there are no absolutes?

A few years ago I would not have considered such questions as worthy of serious discussion. Right and wrong were clearly differentiated, and most folks understood the difference. Abortion was unthinkable, divorce unacceptable and unwed pregnancy a disgrace. Now these are common occurrences in many families. And, there seems to be no shame, no sense of failure, no stigma attached.

Why is the realm of ethics and morality shrouded in a dense fog? Is there nothing that we can point to as always right or always wrong? The "enlightened" answer is "No!" Is that your approach to this subject? Are you among the growing number calling for tolerance? Is your voice among those who plead for acceptance? Do you sit in judgment of those whom you condemn for judging? Are you among that number whose knowledge of the words of Jesus is limited to his statement, "Thou shalt not judge"? If you find yourself in this crowd, answer these questions. Is it ever right to abuse a child? Is child pornography ever morally acceptable? Is it ever wrong to treat people the way you want to be treated?  And, how do you know?

The realm of right and wrong is not nearly as murky as we are led to believe. Whether we accept it or not, the Bible makes a clear distinction between the two. Some conduct is always morally reprehensible, while other actions are always desirable. And, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure it out. Our problem is not that we lack the ability to know the difference between right and wrong; the problem is that we don't care. As long as it doesn't affect me personally, it's none of my concern. If only that were true, but it's not. "For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself" (Romans 14:7).  "No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main..." Our lives are intertwined. The lack of moral certitude has had an impact on all of us.

Contrary to popular belief, there is nothing wrong with embracing the morals and ethics of the Bible. In fact, the church and the nation will not survive if these divinely ordained principles are abandoned!

During his ministry, Jesus paid special tribute to his cousin, John. He asked John's disciples: "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed, those who wear soft clothing are in kings' houses. But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet. For this is he of whom it is written: 'Behold, I send my messenger before Your face, Who will prepare your way before You.' Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he" (Matthew 11:7-11 NKJV).

I suspect John had some rough edges. He never owned an expensive suit or ate in a fancy restaurant. He wore a coat of camel's hair and ate a diet of locusts and wild honey (Matthew 3:4). Some might say he was too intolerant and judgmental, but no one could dispute his courage, conviction or uncompromising stand for truth and right. In fact, it was his inflexibility in regard to morality that cost him his life.

For those of you who may not know the story, John confronted King Herod regarding his adulterous relationship with Herodias, his brother Philip's wife. John simply told Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have her" (Matthew 14:4). Herod wanted John dead, but he was afraid to have him killed because of his popularity with the people. However, he did imprison John. Sometime later, at Herod's birthday party, his stepdaughter danced for him. Herod, probably drunk at the time, offered the young lady anything she wanted. Prompted by her mother, she asked for John's head on platter. Herod granted her request and had John beheaded, and his head was given to the girl.

Standing up to Herod's immorality cost John his life. Having failed to stand up to the king would have cost John far more! There comes a time in life when we all have to make a similar choice. Will we take our stand for right regardless of the cost, or will we compromise for the sake of convenience? Sadly, it seems many have decided that compromise is preferable to conviction! The church must not be among that number. People need to be held to God's standard, and we are faithless cowards if we refuse to do so! There are far too many reeds swaying in the wind today. We need more men like John!Image

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