Feb. 4, 2021 - Right Turn Only
"Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right..." (Philippians 4:8)
I had professor of social science tell me, "If you want to understand the behavior of a culture, look at their laws." True.
Morality, per the secularists, comes from social agreement. In other words, "we think this would be a good, or positive, or productive decision for the community in which we live." Let's not have a speed limit of 80 miles per hour in front of a school zone. Let's not have people yell, "Fire!" in a crowded movie theater when there is none. Let's make a law, a moral community agreement that we will abide by and where we will agree to the punishment if violated. All good things.
But there is an underlying moral code, and I would argue, a divine moral code, that supports those laws. Both communicate that we put a high value on life not on individual freedom that would pose a threat to life. It is why abortion may be legal but it is not right. It is why telling a six year old that they can choose what gender they want to be is legal but it is not right. I could go on ad nauseum.
Every culture has a moral code. Every culture believes that it is wrong to premeditatively murder a person. You just can't have people going around killing other people. That's not nice. Unless the person is an enemy of your particular community. Then it is okay. Or...an unwanted or unproductive member of society. Per Communism, Socialism, Fascism, and Nazism, that's okay. That is community preservation. That is the "Survival of the Fittest." That is "Just War Theory." That is "abortion on demand." That is the "Government is God" theory. Immoral or amoral people deciding what is moral for the rest of the populace.
The problem with "community think" is that it is based on the prevailing group at the moment. That's why we can all look back and say, "Wow. Times have changed" - for the good and for the bad. Anyone remember the years when we had "Blue Laws"? Thank God for pagans. I like going out to eat after church on Sunday every once in a while.
Why have things changed? The secularist's morality, while an internal gift from God, has been seared and replaced with man's blinded wisdom and hedonism (self-pleasure). Instead of things being done because they have their source in God who is morally right, we now have laws on the books that are based on "if they are right for you or the majority." We have lost our divine mooring. We are tied to nothing except the prevailing winds.
The prophet Isaiah said, "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight. Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine and champions at mixing drinks, who acquit the guilty for a bribe, but deny justice to the innocent. Therefore, as tongues of fire lick up straw and as dry grass sinks down in the flames, so their roots will decay and their flowers blow away like dust; for they have rejected the law of the Lord Almighty and spurned the word of the Holy One of Israel."
"Oh, Pastor Dan your such a prude. Get with it, man. Those were the old days. That's not how God works today. God is a god of love. He accepts things now that He didn't then. Besides, those rules were for the Jews and not for us Gentiles."
"I, the LORD, do not change." (Malachi 3:6)
I'm not writing this to condemn unbelievers or even supposed "Christians." Their condemnation will be from the Lord. I want to please God and keep my focus where it divinely needs to be. And so when I read Philippians 4:8, when I am asked to "think on these things," then my presupposition is that there are "right" things to think upon.
In the Book of Deuteronomy, the Lord told the people to obey all that He had commanded so that it would go well with them and their children, because you will be doing what is good and right before the eyes of the Lord. (Deut. 121:28) Jesus took those laws and extrapolated on them in his classic Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).
What is right?
It is right to love and not be angry with other believers.
It is right to reconcile as quickly as possible with a person who opposes you.
It is right to look at a woman and appreciate her beauty but without objectifying her.
It is right to keep my covenant vows with my wife.
It is right to be a man of my word. Keep your promises.
It is right to absorb the abuse of another and show grace.
It is right to love your enemy.
It is right to give, to fast, to pray, to lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven and not in this world.
It is right...not to worry. God loves you. He knows your needs. He knows your fears. He knows your desires.
"Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right...think on these things."
Now, where are we going for lunch after church this Sunday?