When the human body no longer reacts to external stimuli one of three things has taken place: it is either anesthetized, desperately ill, or a corpse.
When a social order no longer reacts against flagrant sin it has become insensitive to evil or spiritually dead.
Where is the grace of righteous indignation of which we once were capable?
Where is the sense of moral anger which rebels and cries out against sins which are a stench in the nostrils of a holy God?
We have become so tolerant of evil that we mutely turn away while it expands and flourishes all about us.
Even as I write this I can hear the cry of “Negativism” which this article will elicit from churchmen who should know better.
Let me say with all the earnestness I can command: The human body which does react vigorously to infection is in grave danger: so too is the Church which fails to react against evil.
Our sense of values has become so distorted that we are inclined to accept the standards of the world rather than those given to us by a holy God.
Every one of the Ten Commandments is flouted today while, even within the Church, many try to rationalize these aberrations and excuse them in terms of the degenerate philosophies of the paganism by which we are surrounded.
The loss of the ability to be aroused over immorality—and those things which lead to immoral practices—is now so marked that those things once done in secret are now matters of common discussion.
What has happened to a generation in which there is so little outery against evil? What has happened to churchmen who condone in their own families immodesty and looseness of behavior which only too often leads to disaster?
What has happened to our national leaders when their votes against evil practices are usually predicated on “what my constituency wants,” and not on the moral issue itself?
The evidences of moral and spiritual deadness are in evidence on every hand. Even now we are entertaining as a guest a man who represents the very incarnation of evil.
We have become so enamoured with the word “freedom” that we have confused it with license. We are so anxious to be “liberal” that we forget God’s holiness cannot be liberalized. We are so concerned with “progressive” programs that we often fail to see they are reversions to discredited philosophies of the past.
There is much talk today about “prophetic preaching” and this is good. But when such preaching concerns itself primarily with the collective sins of society and ignores the soul-damning sins of the individuals of which that society is composed, it is overlooking the one hope of a redeemed society—redeemed people.
If one will study the minutes of the great denominational meetings one will find that much of the time is spent discussing matters which have no bearing on the eternal welfare of man. Why is there so much concern over the immediate and so little about the ultimate.
When we know that alcoholism is one of America’s great social problems why is the Church largely silent about social drinking—from which alcoholism proceeds?
When we are confronted with the fact that America, as a nation, has become obsessed with sex, why does the Church say so little about purity of life?
Hours are now spent in church courts lowering the standards regarding divorce and remarriage while not even a minute is devoted to the Seventh Commandment.
We believe the Church must share in the responsibility for America’s lowered moral standards. Too few have had the courage to speak out against that unending pressure to throw off those moral restraints which are a part of genuine Christian character.
Too many Christians have become enmeshed in the trends of our day and in so doing lost their inclination and right to speak out against evil.
The writer is on neither a witch hunt, nor is he speaking from ignorance. We know conditions have changed and that moral values have slipped to an unbelievable low. For a good many years we associated with a number of people who were classified as rather “rough” in those days: college and medical students, local politicians and police, professional baseball players and hangers-on. In all those years we never came in contact with a known homosexual.
Now these people are everywhere. The president of a theological seminary told us only last week that the president of another great Christian institution remarked that his great problem came from homosexuals, not from alcohol.
In the Old Testament Sodom and the revolting practices of that city are held up to us as examples of utter depravity.
In the letter to the Romans Paul speaks of this matter in the frankest way: “Men with men performed these shameful horrors, receiving, of course, in their own personalities the consequences of sexual perversity.”
What has happened which has permitted perversion to be regarded as merely a psychiatric problem? Why is alcoholism merely a disease and no longer a sin? Why is lewd literature merely the expression of our times and not an affront to society?
Why does evil become “art” when portrayed in attractive form from the stage or screen? Why is dishonesty so commonly condoned, provided the thief gets by with his crookedness?
These and many other perversions of right are so entrenched in our society that nothing less than a cleansing work of the Holy Spirit can bring about a change.
But the Holy Spirit operates in the minds and hearts of individuals. It is His purpose to fill men and through them to speak out against unrighteousness wherever it is found.
This is a matter of the gravest importance. There is every reason to believe that the judgment of God will fall on our nation because we have lost our own sense of righteous indignation over the evil which is flouted on every side.
In the epistle to the Romans we read: “Now the holy anger of God is disclosed from Heaven against the godlessness and evil of those men who render Truth dumb and inoperative by their wickedness … are you by your obstinate refusal to repent simply storing up for yourself an experience of the wrath of God in the Day when, in His holy anger against evil, He shows His Hand in righteous Judgment?” (Phillips).
A moral anger exercised without divine wisdom plays into the hands of the Devil. That which we need is a renewed cleansing of our own hearts and an infilling of the Holy Spirit. Then, and only then, can we stand in the breech and become the instruments of a righteous witness against which even the unregenerate will quail.
It may cost us dearly, but Christ’s own cannot count the cost.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 65+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more
More from this Issue
Read These Next
- TrendingDied: Pat Robertson, Broadcast Pioneer Who Brought Christian TV to the MainstreamWith CBN, “The 700 Club,” Regent, the Christian Coalition, and a run for president, he changed evangelicals’ place in public life.FrançaisIndonesianрусскийУкраїнська
- From the MagazineEve’s Legacy Is Both Sin and RedemptionThe first woman tried to get free of God. But when she aligned herself with God’s purposes, she became the ‘Mother of All the Living.’
- Editor's PickPCA’s 50th Anniversary Comes During a Season of GriefPresbyterians expect less fight and more fatigue as they gather following the Covenant shooting and the deaths of Harry Reeder and Tim Keller.