Politisizing Morality

 by Jerry Brewer

Satan has many devices for the corruption of humanity. Among those is his ability to get his followers to redefine terms of morality. Many of those are familiar to all of us. For instance, the practice of murdering babies in the womb is called “abortion,” and one of Satan's devices is to politicize that term, along with many others. A few years ago a deacon in a congregation in Oklahoma chastised the preacher for speaking against abortion, saying that he was preaching on “politics.” Now we all know that partisan politics have no place in the pulpit and no faithful Gospel preacher would ever preach on such topics. But the devil, and his followers in high places, know that if they can persuade men that preaching on the morals God has ordained is “politics” they can silence opposition to their immorality. The same is true with sodomy. If it can be politicized, preachers who preach the Truth on it can be silenced. It's often been said by liberals that “you can't legislate  morality,” and they are (in a sense) correct. Man cannot legislate morality. God has already done that. His immutable moral code, by which He intends men to live, was impressed upon the human race in the beginning and cannot be changed. Of course, what politicians mean by that statement is that legislatures or Congress cannot legislate against immorality. When it is proposed that gambling, liquor, or “same-sex marriage” be made illegal, the cry goes up, “You can’t legislate morality.” Those proposals do not pretend to legislate in the moral realm. What they propose to do is to align man's secular laws with the moral law of God. What objectors really mean is, “You can’t pass a law that agrees with God's moral law and opposes our hedonism.”

American society—and most of the world, for that matter—is as pagan as any ancient culture. The current White House occupant recently endorsed sodomite “marriages” [and the Supreme Court later legitimized them, DM] and that ought to make decent folks tremble. When the highest office in the land demonstrates that it lives by no moral code higher than an alley cat—although alley cats disdain sodomy—the outlook is indeed dark for successive generations of our children and grandchildren.  And it becomes even darker when we consider that speaking out against such wickedness as abortion and sodomy is considered “preaching politics” within the church and “hate speech” without. This country is at a critical juncture in its existence. Decent people must either take a stand—and a firm one—against immorality and its endorsement in high places, or we will witness the end of a country that once stood as a bastion of freedom and moral rectitude. And this is not “preaching politics.” God's longsuffering ended when He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, and it could well end soon for this country that has been the recipient of the greatest blessings in the history of the human race.

Evil men in high places may politicize morality and call it “politics,” but Christians must never fall for that kind of thinking. We must lift up our voices “like a trumpet, cry aloud, and spare not” (Isaiah 58:1), and let the chips fall where they may. This land is ruled (yes, “ruled” not governed) by evil men, and the sooner they are gone from high places, the better—and that includes, but is not limited to, the current White House occupant. I have never preached on politics and do not ever intend to, but evil men have trampled underfoot the moral laws of God, calling evil “good” and good “evil,” and we cannot remain silent in the face of their wickedness.

—Jerry C. Brewer
Elk City, OK

What Has Happened to Common Sense?


by Tom Wacaster

After more than four decades of preaching and interacting with people from varied backgrounds and religious beliefs, I am come to the conclusion that once a person is determined to believe in something there is little you can do to change their mind. It seems that the more bizarre a belief, the more people are willing to embrace it. If you doubt that, take a close look at the tenants of Mormonism and the astonishing number of people who have embraced that false theory of religion. The belief that God was once a human like us, and that we, through some kind of spiritual progression can some day be like God, is just one example of the doctrine of Joseph Smith. Yet there are millions who subscribe to that theory, along with baptism for the dead, eternal marriages, and modern day revelation. I’ll say it again, when someone is determined to believe in something, no matter how strange that belief might be, there is little you can do to change their mind. Did you know that there are thousands who subscribe to the belief that this world is flat? Really! They belong to the “International Flat Earth Research Society of America.” It was founded by an Englishman named Samuel Shenton in 1956, and later led by an American named Charles Johnson, based in Lancaster, California. After Johnson’s death in 2001 it seems to have dropped off the radar until a self-proclaimed successor, Daniel Shenton revitalized the society. It is assumed that he took the name Shenton in memory of the original founder, but this new leader is a man claiming to live in Hong Kong. While he was still alive, Charles Johnson, the president of the organization during the later part of the last century, said this: “I’ve been a flat-earther all my life. When I saw the globe in school, I didn’t accept it. To me it was illogical.” In spite of overwhelming evidence that the earth is round, there are evidently some who refuse to accept the evidence and life a life in belief of a lie and a deception.

The Bible calls for men to use sound reasoning when seeking divine truth. We are to “prove all things, hold fast to that which is good” (1 Thess. 5:21-22). We are to be able to “give answer to every man that asketh you a reason concerning the hope that is in you, yet with meekness and fear” (1 Pet. 3:15). God called on Israel of old, “Come now, and let us reason together” (Isa. 1:18). Luke tells us that when Paul “reasoned of righteousness, and self-control, and the judgment to come” (Acts 24:25), that his sound logic was so convincing that “Felix was terrified, and answered, Go thy way for this time; and when I have a convenient season, I will call thee unto me” (Acts 24:25b).

Logophobia is the fear and/or rejection of the role of valid reasoning in arriving at truth. Terry Hightower has pointed out that “religious liberals and legalists have been known to criticize logic even to the point of referring to syllogisms as ‘silly-gisms.’ The fact remains that a good dose of logic is just what such ignorant individuals need, because logic is the study of the principles which determine whether inferences are justified or unjustified.” When men reject logic and good-old common sense, they find themselves in quite a predicament. Lord Halifax is credited with having said, “Nothing has an uglier look to us than reason, when it is not on our side.”

Most people engage the mind when it comes to secular matters, and draw certain conclusions based upon sound principles of logic. They may not realize they are using logic, but they do so just the same. When we exercise the mind so as to reason properly we are exercising prudence. Now there is word that we don’t hear much in today’s vernacular. The “Free Dictionary on Line” defines prudence as: “Careful or wise in handling practical matters; exercising good judgment or common sense.” Jesus once called for His disciples to humble themselves and become as little children. I have no doubt that two of the character traits our Lord encouraged us to pursue was that of being forgiving and teachable. But children also have a knack at using simple common sense in doing the things they are really interested in. Solomon tells his son to “understand prudence” (Pro. 8:5). He also tells us, “smite a scoffer, and the simple will learn prudence” (Pro. 19:25). Paul tells us that God gave us His Son to redeem us “according to the riches of his grace, which he made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence” (Eph. 1:8).

Thomas Edison is credited with having said, “The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are: Hard work, stick-to-itiveness, and common sense.” Someone once suggested that common sense is the same thing as wisdom. If not the same, at least they are first cousins. Even the renowned atheist Robert Owens was aware of the importance of common sense when he wrote, “It is a thousand times better to have common sense without education than to have education without common sense.”  It seems to be that the further our nation gets away from God the more it loses the ability to exercise plain old common sense. Does it seem that way to you? Consider the following parody (which I used in last week’s sermon). It is a tongue-in-cheek look at the loss of plain common sense that comes as a result of rejecting God and His divine will in our lives. I do not know the author:


A Eulogy for Common Sense

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Mr. Common Sense.

Mr. Sense had been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such value lessons as knowing when to come in out of the rain, why the early bird gets the worm and that life isn’t always fair. Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don’t spend more than you earn) and reliable parenting strategies (adults, not kids, are in charge).

His health began to rapidly deteriorate when well intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a six-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Mr. Sense declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer aspirin to a student, but could not inform the parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Finally, Common Sense lost the will to live, as the churches became businesses, and criminals received better treatment than their victims. Common Sense finally gave up the ghost after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot, she spilled a bit in her lap, and was awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust, his wife, Discretion, his daughter, Responsibility, and his son, Reason. Two stepbrothers, My Rights and Ima Whiner, survive him. Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.


Suicide


by Tom Wacaster

Sometime in the week of March, 1997, in Rancho Santa Fe, California, the 39 members of Heaven's Gate cult committed suicide. The suicide of the cult members (21 women and 18 men, ranging in ages from 26 to 72) was seemingly prompted by the belief that a UFO traveling in the wake of the Hale-Bopp comet had come for them. They believed it was time for them to shed their earthly bodies and move on. They had orchestrated the worst mass suicide in the United States history.

‘Reverend’ James Warren “Jim” Jones (his self proclaimed title, not mine, TW) was the founder and leader of the Peoples Temple, which is best known for the November 18, 1978 mass suicide of 909 Temple members in Jonestown, Guyana along with the killings of five other people at a nearby airstrip. Over 200 children were murdered at Jonestown, almost all of whom were forcibly made to ingest cyanide by the elite Temple members. The incident in Guyana ranks among the largest mass suicides in history, though most likely it involved forced suicide and/or murder, and was the single greatest loss of American civilian life in a non-natural disaster until the events of September 11, 2001.

While these two notable examples of suicide are the tragic consequence of believing and following error, the majority of suicides come as a result of despair and frustration with life and an attempt to escape. Euthanasia, though not actually considered suicide, is at least a close cousin to the taking of one’s own life. The morality of suicide crosses paths with euthanasia when the individual seeks to end his life because of suffering or supposedly noble reasons.  Oregon passed a doctor assisted suicide law several years ago, allowing doctors to assist in the suicide of a patient who wanted to end his life; other states are now following their lead. This so called “Death With Dignity Act” is just one area in which suicide is being considered an easy way out for individuals facing a sense of hopelessness in life. Michael McDaniel shared these frightening statistics with his readers back in 2012, and if anything it has gotten worse:  “For 15 to 24-year olds, suicide is the third leading cause of death, following accidents and homicide.   Every year, an average of 1,890 suicides occur among teens 15-19. More than 1,600 of them are boys. Although girls are more likely to attempt suicide, boys are four times more likely to die.”  Times of hardship often brings a spike in suicide levels.  For example, the Great Depression of 1929, which suddenly brought economic ruin to thousands of people accustomed to a decade of prosperity, caused an immediate and dramatic spike in suicides. Suicide rates, which averaged 12.1 per 100,000 people in the decade prior to the Depression, jumped to an alarming 18.9 in the year of Wall Street's crash. The suicide rate remained higher than normal throughout the remainder of the Great Depression, then fell sharply during World War II.  Comparing that to suicide rates in our generation, the rate in 2007 was 1 suicide every 15 minutes, for a total of 33,300 in that year.  In 2008 the rate increased by 33%, and another 15% in 2009.  Suicide is often an attempt to escape the frustrations of life rather than face the hardship that one might have to face as a consequence of various circumstances (many of those the result of a persons unwise choices).  Suicide has been evident in every society and in every generation.  My mission travels have taken me to various parts of the world, and it is not  uncommon to hear in the news that someone else has taken his life. From Russia, to India, to the United States, no country is exempt from the ravages of sin and the attempt to escape the consequences thereof by the taking of one's own life. More than 100 years ago J.C. McQuiddy wrote these words in the September 1908 issue of the Gospel Advocate:  “Nor does the discordant note end here; for, tired and worn-out with the emptiness of life, thousands are seeking rest in oblivion and slinking out of a hollow sham of life by the back alley of suicide. In the city of Pittsburg, there was a death every day in this way during the first eighteen days of July. This strange mania is constantly gaining ground, and is not confined to lunatics and nerveless, diseased people, but people apparently sane and healthy often choose this fate. Life is actually getting to be terrifying in its aspects.”

All of this is an indication of a growing disrespect for life in general, and a despair toward life in times of distress and/or sickness.  Unfortunately an increasing number of people from of all ages are turning to suicide to escape the mental anguish that plagues them. Webster defines suicide as “the act of killing oneself intentionally; in law, the act of self-destruction by a person sound in mind and capable of measuring his moral responsibility.”    One important element in that definition are the words, “a person sound in mind and capable of measuring his moral responsibility.” The late Guy N. Woods conducted the open forum at Freed Hardeman Lectures for more than 30 years. Unfortunately his comments on suicide were not published in either of the two volumes of “Questions and Answers.”  I recall hearing him address this issue from time to time, and though I cannot quote him exactly, his thoughts were in agreement with Webster's definition of suicide. The key to understanding the right or wrong of suicide centers around whether or not the act was “intentional” and if the person was indeed “sound in mind and capable of measuring his moral responsibility.” When a person has lost his ability to reason clearly and logically,  and kills himself, that person certainly is innocent before God because of the Almighty's very nature. God's compassion, mercy, and love certainly come into focus here. But when a person, “sound in mind and capable of measuring his moral responsibility,” chooses to intentionally take his life, that is another matter. While there may be exceptions to the case, a Christian “sound in mind and capable of measuring his moral responsibility,” who intentionally takes his life is demonstrating a selfish attitude. Solomon concluded that the one who lives a lone and self indulgent life is actually showing contempt for those who have sound judgment (cf. Proverbs 18:1). 

One principle that needs to be emphasized here is that suffering may be a providential means God uses to mature a person spiritually. Job is a good example here.  This great man of God had done nothing to deserve his suffering. Unknown to Job was the fact that Satan had been allowed by God to inflict Job with pain in order to demonstrate that man's great faith in the face of adversity. Had Job committed suicide Satan would have won the argument. Instead Job was “blameless and upright” (1:1), and he refused to heed the advice of  his wife to “curse God and die” (2:9-10).  Job's days of suffering humbled the man so that he listened to God's rebuke and repented in dust and ashes (Job 42:6). 

Paul is another good example of someone who benefited from suffering. Whatever Paul's “thorn in the flesh” was, God refused to remove that thorn, and instead provided Paul with the grace to handle his situation with faith and confidence in God. Never once did Paul entertain the idea of committing suicide to find relief from the persecution of his enemies. 

As our society increasingly turns its back on God, the more frustrating and meaningless life will become, and more people will turn to suicide as an escape. You and I have a great opportunity to demonstrate to others the Christian life that offers hope and joy.  Let us be faithful toward this end.