The Missing Straight Line

Mar 8, 2017 | Uncategorized

By Dr. Harold Sala

This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.”  But you said, “We will not walk in it.”  Jeremiah 6:16

A bus carrying 5 passengers was hit by a car, but by the time police had arrived, no fewer than 14 bystanders had boarded the bus and complained of whiplash necks and moderate to severe back injuries.  Indeed.  Amazing, isn’t it, how just watching something such as that can give you a pain in the neck, especially if the thought of hitting the insurance company for some money enters into the equation?  Why not board the bus and say you were a passenger who got hurt if you can get some money out of it?

What’s happened to a sense of honesty and decency in the average person?  Morality is a personal matter, right?  Right.  And that’s just the problem.  What someone chooses not to do because of a sense of moral conviction or a troubled conscience, others do with impunity, considering the individual who doesn’t do it to be stupid.  As C. S. Lewis used to say, “You’ve got to know what a straight line is before you understand what a crooked one is.”

OK, then our standards are too high, right? Or is it that our behavior is too low?

“As far as I’m concerned, there is nothing wrong with what I’ve done!”  How many times have you heard that line?  In other words, I decide what is moral and what is acceptable.  The problem is that our standards, our straight lines—the ones which have separated actions into two groups:  those which are acceptable and those which are frowned upon—have become obscure.

Morality no longer has a straight, hard edge to it.  It blends from black to white in a hundred or so shades and varieties.  “No moral absolutes” is the cry today.

Take, for example, the issue of adultery.  In every society known to anthropologists, commitment in marriage has been expected.  Though not always observed, and certainly ignored by some, most men and women enter into a marriage contract with the expectation of a committed, monogamous relationship.  Men and women vow to keep themselves completely for the other until death shall separate the two.

When a married person ignores that promise, we label the misdeed, “adultery.”  And from the days of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter to the present, adultery has not been an extra-curricular activity which society has embraced with open arms and hearts. It takes politicians, ministers, educators, and ordinary people as captives and exacts vengeance without mercy. In the military, adultery may cost you your promotion, and possibly your rank, unless you have enough stars on your epaulets and a few friends in very high places.

OK, then our standards are too high, right?  Or is it that our behavior is too low?

Changing the benchmarks of what is decent, proper, and right may make you more comfortable, but if there were ever reasons as to why God and society agreed that honesty, morality, integrity and commitment are important, then something is wrong—gravely wrong—when we lower the standards.

On the one hand, there is the sexual license which is perhaps without precedent in society at the same time we have enacted moral codes involving sexual harassment.  It is no wonder that our kids are confused and bewildered, wandering about as lost sheep on the hills of the establishment.

May God help us to regain some sanity before another generation self-destructs with no sense or right or wrong, nowhere to go, and nothing to do.  I can’t help thinking of the cry of Jeremiah, who said, “This is what the LORD says: ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.’  But you said, ‘We will not walk in it’“(Jeremiah 6:16).  Yes, Jeremiah, some things never change.

Resource reading: Jeremiah 6.

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