Many years ago, my wife and I were having a marital "moral discourse," and I was becoming increasingly agitated. In my fury, I yelled at her and aimed my fist at a section of the dining room wall. Unfortunately, the Holy Spirit failed to guide my hand between the studs, as he usually had done, and instead I hit a stud right on. I broke a knuckle.

A deathly silence settled in the room. While I came from a family in which nothing got done until someone yelled, Barb came from a family in which yelling brought things to a standstill. She was not going to speak to me for weeks. As I writhed in physical pain, I also writhed in emotional pain. I was a moral failure of a husband.

Recently, the front page of the Chicago Tribune showed Al Gore testifying before Congress about global warming. The accompanying article said, "Gore was at his most passionate when he spoke of a 'moral imperative' that members of Congress have to act in light of new evidence that global warming is getting worse."

This strong language was surely chosen deliberately by Gore. A moral imperative is a command from a higher authority—presumably God, the architect of all morality—and leaves little wiggle room. If we fail to obey a moral imperative, then, logically and naturally, we are guilty of immorality, or sin.

There was similar story on that same front page. Gay activists were dismayed by Senator Barak Obama's initial hesitancy to distance himself from the comments of Peter Pace, who had said, "Homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral." In the days following, the general was called everything from "insensitive" to "bigoted."

One Obama supporter said, "[Obama's] inability to make strong, declarative sentences in support of our issues is disheartening ...

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In "SoulWork," Mark Galli brings news, Christian theology, and spiritual direction together to explore what it means to be formed spiritually in the image of Jesus Christ.
Mark Galli
Mark Galli is former editor in chief of Christianity Today and author, most recently, of Karl Barth: An Introductory Biography for Evangelicals.
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