|Vol. 14 No. 8 August 2012||
Several decades ago if an unmarried woman became pregnant, she was shipped out of town to a home for unwed mothers. Or, the young woman was sent to live with a distant relative far from home. Often, the child was given away for adoption upon his or her birth. Sometimes, there was a “shotgun wedding” – the father was forced to marry the mother. All this was done to save the family from the embarrassment of having an “illegitimate child” – a child born to parents who are not married to each other – in their midst. Unwed mothers were never discussed at family gatherings.
During this same period in history, one did not talk about the family member who divorced his spouse. It did not matter that the offending party committed adultery, divorce was an embarrassment to the family.
Move forward a couple decades. When I was in high school in rural western Pennsylvania, a married individual was not allowed to attend high school. If school officials discovered a boy or girl were married, they were immediately expelled from school. Also, if someone discovered that a student was pregnant, she was immediately expelled from school. At this time in history, the girl could stay at home and have her baby. However, she was still an embarrassment to the family, but not to the extent that she should be sent away. Yet, she could not attend school because she represented an improper behavior and was deemed a bad influence upon her peers.
Also, during this time period, school principals enforced the dress code. Boys were required to wear long pants, shirts, shoes and socks. Girls were required to wear skirts and blouses or dresses with the length going below the knee. During my junior year of high school, girls were permitted to wear pants (no jeans) to school as long as they were not deemed too tight. If a student failed to follow the dress code, he or she was taken home to dress properly and brought back to school. A letter was then mailed to the parents outlining proper dress for school. Immodest apparel was an embarrassment and never tolerated. If one chose to refuse to comply with proper dress on school property, a suspension from school helped the student to reevaluate his attitude.
Decades ago if one was a homosexual, it was carefully hidden. A family member who was known to practice such was shunned and never talked about. Promiscuity was frowned upon, and the offending party was not welcome in the homes of those who tried to live godly lives. Immoral behavior was an embarrassment.
Do you remember the first television shows? If a bedroom scene was depicted, it showed husband and wife dressed in pajamas that covered one from the shoulders to the ankles, and they slept in separate beds. A curse word was never uttered, and children showed respect to their elders. Viewers would be embarrassed by anything else.
Fast forward forty years to present day USA. Divorce and unwed motherhood is normal for our society. A couple who has been married for many years is thought to be unique. Women now have multiple children without ever being married. Single-parent homes are normal, not the exception to the rule. People no longer blush at divorce and unwed pregnancies.
Schools not only allow, but encourage married students to stay in school as well as those who are pregnant. Many schools go so far as to provide daycare services so that the mother can continue her education. The apparel worn by those attending school is far from modest. Short shorts; short, tight skirts; midriff revealing tops; tube tops; spaghetti-strap tops, low-cut tops; pants that sag well below the waistline so that the underwear shows; skintight pants; T-shirts with vulgar sayings and pants with many holes so that much flesh is revealed is the normal clothing walking the halls of our public schools. Teachers as well as students wear clothing of this type. Improper dress and behavior is no longer an embarrassment!
Today, homosexual behavior is considered normal and is flaunted. Those who oppose such practices are rebuked and accused of being hateful, unloving and intolerant. Television promotes homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle in many of its shows. Furthermore, many of the current TV programs abound in foul language, inappropriate touching between men and women, immodestly dressed individuals and children showing disrespect to parents and teachers. Even our newscasters use profanity and dress in revealing attire! We have a TV Guardian on our home television, and it filters out foul language (in non-live programming) by capitalizing on the closed caption feature; alternate wording in place of audible foul language appears on the screen. We are so accustomed to this feature that we are appalled at the language we hear when viewing a television without this device. Now, we rarely turn on the TV in a hotel room because of the proliferation of foul language on almost every channel. People no longer blush at what they see and hear!
Sadly, modern America is not different than the Israelites of the Old Testament. Consider the following passages.
And said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens. (Ezra 9:6 KJV)
Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the Lord. (Jeremiah 6:15)
In the passage from the Book of Ezra, the prophet was embarrassed with the behavior of God’s chosen people. The people and their leaders had committed a multitude of sins against God. Ezra could not look to God because he was embarrassed by their behaviors! Decades ago in our nation, righteous people were embarrassed by the behaviors of the ungodly, but not anymore. Modern America is more like the Israelites discussed in Jeremiah 6. Here we see that God tolerated the sinful actions of His chosen people long enough. He sent a mightier nation to destroy the nation of Israel and lead its inhabitants into a strange land as slaves. The reason for God’s wrath was their sinful practices and the fact that the people were no longer ashamed of the evil committed by their fellow citizens. Sin was not an embarrassment.
The inspired apostle Paul gave the Galatian Christians a list of sinful practices.
Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21 NKJV)
The apostle John gave a similar list in Revelation 21:8, “‘But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.’” Whereas Paul told sinners they would not go to heaven, John conveyed that sinners will go to hell!
First Corinthians 6:9-11 is another list of sins. Pay close attention to the final verse listed below.
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
Paul reminded the Corinthians what sin is and then prompted them to remember that at one time they committed these sins. However, since they obeyed the Gospel they have an eternity with God waiting for them.
Romans 1:18-32 gives a clear picture of the world during the New Testament time period as well of modern day America.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man — and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.
In this passage, Paul discussed God’s wrath toward the unrighteous. Paul acknowledged that mankind can know God and His power by observing the creation of the universe. Furthermore, people of long ago knew God – knew of His righteousness and His power – but they chose to turn to themselves and ignore their loving Creator. They believed themselves to be wiser than God, and thus they were foolish. Then, Paul showed the Christians at Rome exactly what sin is. Look at the last verse. After Paul had described sinful practices, he taught that those who participate in these activities deserve eternal punishment. However, wait! Paul was not finished yet. He went on to say that those who approved – took pleasure in – those sinful behaviors were guilty of sin also!
The citizens of America have forgotten how to blush! Immoral behavior no longer bothers us, but it seems to be normal, acceptable behavior. Unfortunately, I am afraid that many Christians have forgotten to blush as well! When we fail to take a stand against the immorality surrounding us, are we not guilty of the sin mentioned in Romans 1:32 – “those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them”? God did not tolerate the sinful practices and the acceptance of those behaviors by the Israelites of the Old Testament. How long will He tolerate modern day nations and modern day Christians who fail to blush at the evil of this world? I implore you to learn how to blush again and help turn our nation from wickedness into a country that again overall strives to please God.