Tuesday, March 8

Basic Morality

Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice...Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very thing, but also approve of those who practice them. --Romans 1:28, 29, 31

As she closes each hour of her radio program, Dr. Laura admonishes her callers to "go do the right thing". I find this ironic, especially considering that her success is built on the fact that most people are incapable of knowing that the right thing is, let alone how to actually do it. I am saddened to see how our society is crumbling. Basic morality and common decency are no longer basic nor common. We have put tolerance in the place of standing up for what is right. The fear of hurting someone's feelings or squelching their freedom precludes insistence on moral behavior.

C.S. Lewis, in his book "Mere Christianity" spends a great deal of time discussing the Law of Human Nature. Lewis believes that there is a right and a wrong in the universe, and humans have the capability to know the difference. Everyone, regardless or their cultural or religious beliefs, has a sense of right and wrong. This seems to be true in consideration of today's verses from Romans.

"Mere Christianity" was first published in 1952 and represents the social and ethical dynamics of its day. As I have been reading it over the last few days, I have realized that the world I live in is a lot like Rome in the first century and not so much like Mr. Lewis' time. At the time "Mere Christianity" was written, the western world was still reeling from the after-effects of WWII and the horrific destruction inflicted by the Nazi regime on millions of innocent people. For some, recognizing what was good and what was evil was as easy to identify as which countries belonged to the Axis powers and which to the Allies.

Now, more than fifty years later, our society's ideology has shifted. Instead of speaking out against blatant disregard for human and civil rights, we close our eyes and our mouths, pretending that we don't see the moral decay that is corroding us. Instead of telling our country's teenagers that sex outside of marriage is a recipe for disaster, we allow our tax dollars to be used to establish day care facilities at high schools so that 14-year-old unwed mothers can still hang out with friends, and the irresponsible fathers don't have to even acknowledge that they are parents.

Every day I see countless examples of bad decision making--I'm not just referring to people who turn left from the right lane without using blinker! What makes me the most upset is that no one seems to believe that they should be held responsible for their poor choices. We dismiss sinful actions by saying "they didn't know better". For example, a recent court decision ruled that juveniles who have been convicted of murder are no longer candidates for the death penalty. The courts feel that juveniles are just kids who don't know any better. Although I personally believe that everyone, even murderous criminals have the potential to turn their lives around, I disagree with the argument that anyone "doesn't know any better" when it comes to engaging in criminal behavior. I believe that C.S. Lewis would agree with me, and that he would add that everyone, including a teenager, has the basic morality to know that murder is wrong!

Our country is in a very sad state, and it appears that from today's verses from Romans, we are in the same moral vacuum as Rome was 2000 years ago. As Christians we have the moral obligation to not only be light in this world of darkness, but to do all we can to stomp it out. We are responsible for letting the world know that God is real and his judgments are final. To do the right thing in today's world means going against the grain and demanding that each person behave in a manner that is consistent with the basic morality that God has instilled in the heart of everyone.

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