In a TV drama entitled Uprising, the plight of the Jews of Warsaw and how they resisted the forces of the Third Reich is vividly portrayed. Some 350,000 men and women were forced like animals into the Ghetto where they were systematically annihilated.
In the drama that recounts the heroic story of resistance, a young Jewish male is forced by the Germans to be a spy and policeman. Of course, he hates what he has been asked to do, yet he wants to survive. In the drama, he repeatedly asks the question, “Can a moral man maintain his morality living in an immoral world?
Basically, this is the same question that Job asked long ago. Can you maintain your integrity in a world that scoffs at doing right, at being moral? How would you answer that question?
Many say, “To get along, you have to go along!” In other words, don’t be different. Don’t make an issue out of someone’s theft or immoral behavior. Nobody likes a whistle-blower! Mind your own business.
When the former President of the Philippines, Joseph Estrada, was asked how police could be expected to be honest when no one could support his family on such a minimal salary, his response was, “Well, there are some honest policemen.”
His wife said to him, “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!” Job 2:9
Can a moral person of integrity maintain his integrity in an immoral world? A friend of mine tells how he went to a lumber yard in Ukraine and made some purchases. As he was leaving the compound, he presented his bill of sale to the woman keeping the gate who asked for some additional money. “No!” he replied. “That would be a bribe, and I don’t give bribes.” The woman burst into tears. “Look,” she said. “I am a single mother with two kids, and I am not paid enough to feed my children unless everybody who goes out this gate gives me a small bribe.”
Can a moral person of integrity maintain his integrity in an immoral world? In the drama, Uprising, the young man eventually answers his own question by his actions as he becomes a double agent for the resistance movement and eventually lays down his life for those whom he hopes to spare.
The reality is that there is a price to be paid for maintaining your integrity in a morally bankrupt world. John Bunyan paid that price by languishing in prison. Scores of modern martyrs have paid the price for holding on to their faith when even small compromises would have resulted in their being spared great suffering.
Towards the end of the first century, Christians were martyred by Rome because they refused to take even a pinch of incense and go to a pagan temple and say, “Caesar estin Kurios!” which meant, “Caesar is Lord.” Why? Because they were convinced that only Jesus Christ is Lord. Others told them, “Hey, what does it really matter? You don’t have to really believe that. Just say it, then go worship your Jesus.”
People who maintain their integrity and morality in an immoral world end up being stubborn, out of step with their culture and are thought of as bull-headed and obstinate, yet they can hold their heads high, having refused to compromise.
Can a moral person of integrity maintain his integrity in an immoral world? It depends on the kind of stuff you are made of, how far your vision goes, and what kind of an answer you get when you ask, “Am I willing to be overcome by what I detest?”
William Shakespeare wrote, “To thine own self be true and it shall follow as does the day the night, thou canst not then be false to any man.” Yes, you can maintain your integrity in an immoral world.
Resource reading: Job 1:1 to 2:13