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Rampant Immorality

October 15, 2015

How is that for a title?  Do a google search on that phrase and you would think that we evangelicals have copyright on it.  The articles that come up are almost all from conservative Christians.  The common theme is that, in our contemporary culture, immorality is spreading unchecked.  But you may be surprised who agrees with you.

Bernie Sanders.

I watched the Democratic Presidential debate the other night and, as in the Republican debate and pretty much all debates, the candidates all had their talking points ready.  Hillary Clinton managed to work into her answers the fact that she was a woman so many times that had you been in a drinking game for that you’d have passed out before the debate ended.

Sanders on the other hand did not, for whatever reason, feel the need to remind us he was male.  His repeated reference was to morality and immorality in our culture.

  • The incredible greed on Wall Street that led to the financial collapse of 2007-8 was immoral.
  • The fact that the top 1% in wealth has received almost all the income increases since the collapse while the middle class got almost nothing and the poor actually lost is immoral.
  • Mortality drives us to address climate change before our children are left with a disaster.

Those are just a few of the mentions he made.  Unlike the evangelical articles on immorality, which are almost 100% about sex, he had nothing to say on that subject.  I did some online research and there were only two references I could find where he spoke into the subject – sort of.

  • He thought it immoral to deny to others a civil status (marriage) that we can have.
  • He thought it immoral to deny or inhibit the access of free contraceptives to the poor.

I suspect most evangelicals would have exactly the opposite opinions on those two.

We could debate forever why evangelicals have, in our public expressions, largely limited morality to sexual issues.  Even when we agree that other issues are, or can be, moral choices we rarely mention them; let alone crusade for them as we do sexual issues.  No wonder people think that we, in or own way, are obsessed with sex just as much as the wildest porn addict.

But there is another issue I want to mention here.  Our culture is not as immoral as we think.  They, particularly Millenials, have a very strong sense of morality; it is just not the same as evangelicals.  In fact, while we are over here wringing our hands about rampant immorality, many are listening to us and thinking that we are the immoral ones.

Bernie is no dope.  He is tapping into a very strong sense of contemporary morality and his poll numbers show it.  How else can you explain an elderly socialist’s popularity among young voters?

We evangelicals, on the other hand, are largely clueless.  We preach our morality, decry or ignore their morality, and then wonder why they don’t want to be like us.  Here is an evangelism tip – unless you can agree with someone on what is, and is not, moral they probably would not want to convert.  We must, in word and deed, show that we take their morality seriously and offers answers to how we plan to address the things that make their hearts ache over injustice.

While I am at it, here is a second tip – if we want people to agree with our sexual morality we must give them convincing reasons why they should.  It is not enough to tell them that “the Bible says so.”  Quoting Scripture to someone who does not believe it is the authoritative word of God is, to them, akin to saying “You can know I am telling the truth because I don’t lie.”


From → Christianity

  1. People in our culture “have a very strong sense of morality; it is just not the same as evangelicals.” This is true: every group of civilized people, every nation, has a sense of right & wrong. It tends to shift with the times and sometimes it differs widely from what the Bible teaches.

    Just as one example: the Bible teaches mercy and forgiveness, the Prodigal son coming home and being received, etc. But in 1850 if an unmarried young woman was found to be “in a delicate condition” she was cast out by her family and ostracized by society — to the point of ending up in the poor house. They were upholding the morality of their time. The poor were to occupy that position; the rich had their station in life. This was “right” in God’s eyes.

    Today society looks at morality in conjunction with social rights, the environment, etc. Christians can’t take their definition of morality from the world at large. I believe this is what’s been confusing evangelicals so badly: they still want to.

    American Christians can look back to the day when society’s definition of morality ran parallel to their own. It doesn’t anymore. Christians shudder at that widening gap and fear they will fall through into some deep abyss of persecution — or are already tumbling in. There surely must be a way to call society back into line. But there isn’t.

    Jesus said, “Marvel not if the world hate you.” He didn’t tell us to embrace our society’s — the world’s — definition of “morally right” to avoid that, either.

  2. Marshall permalink

    “We could debate forever why evangelicals have, in our public expressions, largely limited morality to sexual issues.”

    I’d imagine that the 10 Commandments act almost as a touchstone and as a beacon for morality discussions, being clear (in theory) commands about what is right and what is wrong. Christians and (our) society are more or less in agreement on several points, like “Theft” and “Murder” are Bad. Not much need to lead/sound a charge on “Murder is Bad!” when you could probably pick a random person on the street and confidently wager they’d agree with you.

    Sexuality is one of the points where the two groups tend to differ. I suggest (not having actually researched this claim) that another big difference, “Everyone needs Jesus!”, is another topic that evangelicals trumpet about.

    Just offering a thought about why sexual issues might seem to dominate the evangelical discourse.

    • What you say about the Ten Commandments is interesting, and yes, Christians & society are united on some points. But the main thing my non-Christin family criticizes evangelical (“born again”) Christians for is covetousness. Just plain being greedy, wanting all the latest stuff.

      Covetousness is something the Ten Commandments reproves and Jesus told us to beware of, but evangelical Christians rarely mention, or try to define, this sin. Is it because we like to focus on what we’re not doing, or things we clearly should not do? Or is it just easier to avoid describing where the fine line is between having enough and having too much?

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