Dispensing Grace: Where Faith Meets Reality
Disillusioned words like bullets bark as human gods aim for their mark
Make everything from toy guns that spark to flesh-colored Christs that glow in the dark
It's easy to see without looking too far that not much is really sacred
A long time ago in a century far, far away some things were just not acceptable. There were boundaries that were to be respected—a style of conduct that was to guide our actions and attitudes.
It had to do with a clear-eyed worldview rooted in a realistic and compelling comprehension of human nature. We used to understand that when restraints are removed there’s an ever-present danger for us to default to the lowest depths.
Call me crazy if that helps to dismiss difficult facts, but the evidence is overwhelming: Without restrictions put upon us, we humans have an enormous capacity to be deceived by innate selfishness and greed.
History is an endless source document: When civilizations give full rein to the darkness within individuals, then any commonsense expression of morality slip-slides into assorted levels of debauchery.
In the long-gone black and white world of Father Knows Best, moral certainty was dependable. That television show, along with others like Leave It To Beaver, was surely overly simplistic in their rosy portrayal of life, but at least right was right and wrong was wrong—there was a definite difference that everyone understood.
Remember Mayberry and the practical wisdom of Andy Taylor explaining the consequences of some troublesome issue to his son Opie? Right was good and wrong was evil. In the not so distant past that primitive sounding concept was drilled into us.
The expected response to any given dilemma was to do right, regardless of the cost. Doing right was encouraged in the home, in the schoolhouse, at church and even in the media. Every authority figure delivered a consistent message that doing wrong always had serious repercussions.
In those bygone days, people would actually convey disapproval and castigate those who violated propriety. The word shame had a meaning that carried some weight, but not anymore.
Nowadays the distance between right and wrong is a thin line. We’ve grown immune to the disintegrating culture crumbling all around us. Nothing is an outrage and obviously, the concept of sin has long since ceased to carry any stigma. What used to shock is immediately taken in stride—wrong has been dismantled and then systematically rebuilt and reconditioned as right.
Even a cursory perusal of the headlines reveals that we’ve arrived at the edge of a stinking abyss that is belching its stench in our faces.
It’s easy to see without looking too far that not much is really sacred. . .
Consider our descent: Elvis Presley’s swiveling hips were banned from the Ed Sullivan Show’s cameras in the nineteen fifties, but by the nineties we had become so desensitized that a singer could dry-hump his hand to entertain the masses.
At the Super Bowl halftime show in 1993 Michael Jackson did exactly that—he repeatedly groped his crotch while satellites sent the images across the globe. His crude fondling was referred to as artistic expression and announced as brilliant dance moves.
Now in the second decade of the 21st century simulated sex and sexual innuendo are staples of prime time schedules. We live in an age when promiscuity is the presumed pattern of behavior from adolescence through to the nursing home—it’s like the human race is out rutting in the streets.
Love, like so many other important words, has been dumbed down to the point that it is largely meaningless. It is routinely used with a flippancy that devalues its character, disparaging it until it’s unrecognizable.
Consider this timeless definition of love: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
Lay that paradigm of love alongside the current self-obsessed usage of the word. Self-gratification and self-fulfillment have become the primary fixations that motivate us, leading to a compulsive pursuit of excess in the sexual arena. Our dismissal of time-honored mores has drastically altered the societal landscape.
According to the latest census information, nuclear families have been relegated to the fringe. The trend on the upswing is multi-dimensional families with optional mommies and daddies. Two-parent households are completely out of fashion.
Thanks to a rampart spirit of permissiveness, any imaginable number of mix or match alternatives are routinely glorified in pop-culture and hyped as benchmarks. Buoyed up by pseudo-scientific proclamations, the self-appointed guardians of the new moral order have elevated previously disgraceful lifestyle choices to celebrity status. Once upon a time, the word shame would have been applied to today’s value system. Oh, but I forgot; shame has no frame of reference for a society anesthetized by Hollywood’s moral ambiguity.
Woe to anyone who raises any protest; woe to anyone who suggests that normalcy has been given the heave-ho; woe to anyone who even thinks there is an objective standard of right and wrong; woe to anyone who speaks in defense of decency and personal responsibility.
When concerns are expressed or appeals are made to traditional Judeo-Christian virtues, campaigns are launched to silence those voices—they are pilloried as bigots, right-wing extremists, hatemongers, Neanderthals or much worse.
After all, we are no longer straitjacketed by rigid moral codes. We’re enlightened, don’t you know?
It’s easy to see without looking too far that not much is really sacred. . .
Here ends the rant: Venting comes easy, however, cursing the darkness accomplishes nothing.
Instead we need to strike a zillion matches and boldly declare that there is something that actually is sacred—the ancient tenets of Scripture. There are instructions in those inspired words that were provided for the benefit of the human race. We trash moral truth at our peril.
Like it or not, these morally-challenged days are the times in which we live. This era, with its capricious and fluctuating shades of gray, is where believers in Jesus Christ are supposed to be shining brightly.
In my understandings, we are commanded and compelled to be beacons of hope because by Divine design, the church is to be an instrument of transformational change, but all too often it is an institution known only for its sanctimonious condemnation, which is tragic.
Jesus of Nazareth said: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
The task for Christ-followers has never been more necessary: Dispensing grace to a world whose morality is merely yesteryear’s immorality dressed up in glad-rags is one of those hard places where faith meets reality.
- Wanted Man
Wanted Man a.k.a. Ken R. Abell, seeks to be a blessing to others. He's a rake, a rambler, and a teller of tales who understands that there is strength in a story well told and well lived. To learn more, inquire or schedule him, visit this web site.
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