Whatever Happened To Good Old Fashioned Morality?

By Tom Wacaster
 There is no doubt that when Jesus walked upon this earth that it was a time of immorality and ungodliness.  Matthew provides us with our Lord’s very own words regarding the sinfulness of those who lived at that time:  But he answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the heaven is red.  And in the morning, It will be foul weather to-day: for the heaven is red and lowering. Ye know how to discern the face of the heaven; but ye cannot discern the signs of the times.  An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of Jonah. And he left them, and departed” (Matthew 16:2-4).   Of particular interest are the words, “evil and adulterous generation.”  Even the most superficial study of the  history of the Roman Empire, and particularly the Empire during the time of Christ, will affirm the words of our Lord.    But as Solomon observed, “there is nothing new under the sun,” and with but a few exceptions in the history of mankind those two adjectives used by our Lord are a fitting description of the human race throughout history.   
Since about the mid 1960’s our nation has been undergoing a cultural revolution that now threatens the very existence of our nation.   All one need do is take a newspaper or listen to the evening news to get an idea of  how wide spread are sexual perversion, political corruption, and  unethical practices in business world.   The sexual revolution of the 60’s (as it was wont to be called by those of that generation) cracked open the door.  It has been a downhill slide since then, and the “Hippies” who cast off their clothes, rejected marriage, smoked their pot, and rebelled against the “establishment, are now ruling in Washington and sitting on the judicial benches from one end of this country to the next.  Why should it surprise us that, despite the assurance from religious and political leaders alike, things have gotten worse?  In 1974 Paul Harvey wrote an article which was published in a number of newspapers and magazines across our country. His article, “They’ Misled Us,” pinpoints many of America’s moral and spiritual problems.
‘They’ told us that, if we’d relax about sex, take our clothes off and not get all uptight about it, there would be no more sex crimes. So we let it all hang out--and the incidence  of rape has increased 10 percent every year. Maybe we’d better question some of the other advice ‘they’ gave us. ‘They’ told us we’d been too tough on criminals, that we should go easy on them. So we went easy on them--and the rate of violent crimes has increased 47 percent since 1968; increased six percent last year; is increasing 15 percent this year .’ ‘They’ said the churches were ‘old-fashioned,’ that they must modernize, liberalize, rationalize, and compromise. And those that compromised most are shrinking  fastest . Who are these ‘they’ who’ve been misleading us? ‘They’ are the materialists  who deify the finite sciences. ‘They’ meant well, but their good intentions are paving the  road to hell! Now I’ve quit commentating and gone to preaching. I don’t mean to, but I  cannot separate goodness and badness from today’s news and explain it. Every ugly  headline in today’s newspaper—and yesterday’s and tomorrow’s—is somebody’s emotions gone out of whack. He might be as smart as all get-out, but if he’s emotionally colorblind, he is an unguided missile destined to self-destruct.”    
Paul Harvey was in a class all his own and his wisdom that was based on good-old fashioned Biblical principles is in sore need today.   The voice of Paul Harvey has been silenced by death, but the voice of righteousness and uprightness is being silenced through indifference of the masses, and laws cranked out by Congress.  Even as I write this article [Tuesday, January 26, 2013] the Supreme Court is hearing arguments on whether or not “marriage” can be  restricted to a man and a woman.   Had you told me at the time Johnnie Ann and I got married that within my lifetime our society would have difficulty deciding what marriage is I would not have believed you.  When preachers of God’s word seek to warn about the evils of fornication, drinking, or any other “work of the flesh,” they are immediately vilified for being too “negative.”  No wonder our society is so confused as to what is right and wrong! Winford Claiborne shared the following with his readers regarding the moral vacuum that exists in our society:
Television--especially television talk shows--movies and other media have contributed--whether intentionally or otherwise--to the confusion over moral values. Homosexuality, bisexuality, premarital sex, and even incest are glorified in many media outlets. Phil Donahue invited six women to serve on a panel for his show. At least three of them were either engaging in prostitution at the time they were on the show or they had done so in the past. Three of the women on the panel had formed an organization to protect prostitutes or to legalize prostitution or both. One sixty-year-old prostitute was from Switzerland; one was from Italy; one was Margo St. James who had established an organization called COYOTE. The word COYOTE is an acronym which stands for Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics. What message did Phil Donahue convey to the young people of America? It said, “Girls, if you are having difficulty getting an honorable job, you can always turn to prostitution. After all, sex sells. Prostitution is the ‘oldest profession’ and an honorable way to make a living. Besides, prostitution pays well, sometimes several hundred dollars per night.” Phil Donahue’s message to boys was: “If you are having sexual difficulties at home or if you like sexual variety, you can always turn to a prostitute.” Not only is such a message morally wrong; it is physically dangerous. In some places, as many as fifty percent of prostitutes are HIV positive. Does Phil Donahue or Sally  Jessy Raphael or Jenny Jones care? (Winford Claiborne, FHU Lectures 1994).
There are a lot of factors that have contributed to the present moral vacuum that exists in our world.  Among these would be humanism, with its atheistic, “no-God” mentality, evolution that has taught for more than a century now that man is nothing more than a glorified monkey, modernism that has sought to somehow provide man a “utopia” with unlimited pleasure to the sensual man, and false religious doctrine that has robed God of His rightful place in our lives and substituted it with the doctrines of men that make void the word of God.  
Jesus warned us of false teachers in Matthew 7:15-17.   Among other things, He told us that we can tell a tree by its fruit.   The fruit that I am seeing with regard to morals, speaks volumes about exactly what or who presently controls our media, our institutions of  higher learning, our school systems, and our entertainment industry.  It has not been that long ago that our nation was at peace within, and stood strong against the enemies without.   Religion was respected, and even promoted by the media, our public schools, and even our law makers in Washington.  Almost without exception our public schools would begin the day with a Scripture reading and prayer.   Those were simple days; but they were happy days.   If men are incapable of discerning the difference in our society today and that of a mere fifty years ago, what makes us think they can lead us in the right direction with all of their legislative policies that no longer place importance on what God’s word says?  
Several years the Statler Brothers produced a song entitled, “What Ever Happened To Randolph Scott.”  The chorus had these words: 
Whatever happened to Johnny Mack Brown, and Alan Rocky Lane?
Whatever happened to Lash LaRue? I'd love to see them again. 
Whatever happened to Smiley Burnett, Tim Holt, and Gene Autry?
Whatever happened to all of these has happened to the best of me.
Whatever happened to Randolph Scott has happened to the industry.”  
Along that same line, may I suggest that “Whatever happened to Randolph Scott” has happened to good old fashioned morality!   Truly it breaks the heart.

What's The Church For Anyway?

by Tom Wacaster

They come in all shapes and sizes, from all walks of life.  White, African-American, Hispanic, and Oriental, to name just a few.  They come in the best of times, and the worst of times; during times of plenty, and in times of famine.   Some seek to avoid work, some have just been fired from work, some are in the process of looking for work, and some are on their way to a great "job opportunity" in some far off distant place not even remotely close to the church building.  Their faces reflect desperation, sorrow, heartache, anger, and hope.  Their stories are as multicolored as the flowers that bloom in the Spring time, and often as empty as the cupboard they seek to replenish.   This month marks 40 years that I have been preaching.  Most of that has been with local congregations in Texas and Oklahoma, in small towns, mid-sized cities, and metropolises such as Houston and Fort Worth.  I could fill a book with the stories of those who have sought financial help from the church where I labored.  Some of those stories are sad and heart-rending; some pathetic; some boarder on the insane; and some are obviously scams to bilk the church out of money for some unholy or  ungodly life style of the one seeking financial help.  The requests come in all forms: some ask for food, some for a place to stay, or a bus ticket to some destination.

I have had some really strange requests since moving to the Fort Worth area, including but not limited to, a request from a woman for money to pay her divorce lawyer, funds to buy  children some video games, money to help with electric bill, gas bill, food bill, water bill, and/or mortgage bill.  One of the most unique requests was a woman who asked if we could help buy her a lottery ticket in hopes that she might be blessed by God with a good fortune so she would not have to call around and ask churches for money.  I guess she thought that if a church bought the ticket (or at least provided the funds for the ticket) that such would give her an inside chance at winning the big one; after all, who would know better what the winning numbers are going to be more than God?  The list is endless; and it seems that in difficult times the requests for financial help are more frequent, and more bizarre.   

One thing I have learned in my conversations with each one of those who sought help is that none of them had any knowledge of what the church is supposed to be as set forth in the New Testament.   The church is looked upon as a relief organization, something akin to FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), a soup kitchen to feed the hungry, or a department store that provides free clothing and household necessities.  Denominations like the Salvation Army have contributed much to such a misunderstanding.   I am not suggesting that the church must not help feed the hungry, or cloth those who are destitute.  But the physical man is secondary to the spiritual man, and common sense and proper stewardship dictates that there are limits to which the church can engage in such social programs.   One of the questions I often ask people who seek help is whether or not they attend church anywhere on a regular basis.  I have never had anyone answer in the affirmative.  I'm not saying such folks do not exist; only that I have never come across one like that.  Those who are associated with a church, and who are active in religious preference, usually go to that particular church of which they are a member to obtain help.

Some weeks back I had a young lady drop into my office asking for financial help.  I told her we did not provide money for any situation, and that before we could give her food or some other form of assistance, we needed to know a little bit about her, her family, and her financial status. I make it my practice to ask for references - a name of a relative, friend, or neighbor who might vouch for the authenticity of the need.   The young lady had a poor attitude, refused to give me anybody's name, and wondered why we would not help her.  "After all," she asked, "What is the church for anyway?"

That is a good question, and it is one that deserves an answer.  If what is taking place in some churches in America is any indication of how people view the church, then you and I have an uphill battle in trying to teach and persuade men with regard to what the Bible teaches on this matter.   I hear of everything from social dances to a drama presentation of some topic that has nothing whatsoever to do with Christ, the spiritual man, or things eternal.  If going to church makes one spiritual, then I suppose our country is one of the most spiritual countries in the world(?)  But, without doubt, there are some mighty strange things going on in churches today.  As one preacher pointed out, you are likely to see nightclub artists perform their disrobing act at Sunday services; ballet dancers perform "prayer dances"; guitar picking, banjo plucking, gyrating youngsters (and some not so young) furnish the musical background for what is supposed to be a worship experience.  The sermons one hears may use an occasional Bible verse as a sort of novelty, but they are just as likely to deal with ecology, foreign affairs, the flight of the inner city poor, or the political scene in Washington.  Since our nation allows freedom of religion, we have assumed that God has joined the ranks of democratic thinking and allows us complete liberty in our worship and service to Him. If you think, dear reader, that WHAT is done in your worship service is not important, then you had better open up your Bible and start studying.  God is a spirit, and they that worship Him "MUST WORSHIP HIM IN SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH" (John 4:24).  It is not enough to just "go to church."   The Bible teaches me that the church is the "body of Christ" (Eph. 1:22-23; Col 1:18).  As the body of Christ we are to "be set for the defense of the gospel" (Phil 1:16).  The church is the "pillar and ground of the truth" (1 Tim. 3:15).  We are to be "zealous of good works" (Titus 2:14), active in evangelism (Mark. 1:15; Matt. 28:18-20), "speaking the truth in love" (Eph. 4:15), "keeping oneself unspotted from the world," while making sure that we "visit the orphans and widows in their affliction" (Jas 1:27).  There is a sense in which the church ought to meet both  spiritual and physical needs of its members (1 Thess. 5:14; Gal. 6:1-2; Jude 20-23, etc).   The church must seek to strike a proper balance. 

Tom Gaumer once wrote: "There is a vast difference between what these passages teach and being preoccupied with the needs of people in the church from a socially oriented standpoint rather from a spiritual concern for their salvation.  It appears that not a few of the programs in the churches ... are designed more for successful adjustment to the world rather than to the kingdom of Christ.  One of the direct results we are concerned with is that in such cases, as they progress in the direction they are headed, the Bible becomes less and less in evidence, evangelism has for all practical purposes gone by the wayside, and the congregation has been reduced to nothing but an adjunct of the social institutions of the community where it is found."

While compassion motivates us to help others, stewardship calls for careful use of what God has given us, and wisdom dictates that we never loose sight of the spiritual man in our efforts to assist the needy.  After all, if we manage to eliminate hunger, raise those in poverty to a better way of life, and they end up being lost, what have they really gained?