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Posts Tagged ‘Morality’

“If God is not upset with the morals of America, then He will need to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.”

Rev. Billy Graham

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Concordia and Koinonia

Appointed readings: Romans 6:1-5Mark 6:14-29

About this festival:
In contrast to the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (observed on June 24), this festival commemorates his beheading by the tetrarch, Herod Antipas. From the perspective of the world, it was an ignominious end to John the Baptist’s life. Yet it was in fact a noble participation in the cross of Christ, which was John’s greatest glory of all. Christ Himself said that there had arisen none greater than John the Baptist. He was the last of the Old Testament prophets and also the herald of the New Testament. As the forerunner of Christ, John fulfilled the prophecy that the great prophet Elijah would return before the great and terrible day of the Lord. By his preaching and Baptism of repentance, John turned “the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers.”…

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In a sermon entitled, “Where are you, Adam?”, by Rabbi Marc Gellman (published in First Things), among the many cogent Torah-centered observations he preaches, this is one of many that stands out:

In The Altruistic Personality, their book about Christians who saved Jews during the Holocaust, Samuel and Pearl Oliner asked what distinguished the rescuers from the majority who did nothing, or were complicit. Their conclusion was that they were not distinguished by educational level or by political views or even by attitudes towards Jews. They were, however, different in two critical respects: they were strongly connected to communities that had straightforward and unsophisticated understandings of right and wrong, and they had a powerful sense of moral agency and shame. They said over and over again in interviews that they could not have lived with themselves—and many said they could not have answered before God—if they had not done what they had done. The righteous gentiles of the Holocaust came from communities and families that had prepared the way for their courage by teaching them how to feel shame and therefore virtue and courage. In this country those same institutions are often preparing the way for moral relativism and cowardice by teaching that nobody really knows what is right and what is wrong, so what the hell.

Jesus taught about children being brought to Him and His erstwhile disciples who were preventing parents from bringing  the children to Him, “Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (St. Matthew 19: 14)  Why do children get it, that is Jesus? Children know right from wrong.  It’s that simple.  They know goodness and evil. The families coming to Christ in His reign knew this.  The good fairy tales and children’s stories are filled with this moral clarity.  Children are ashamed when they are caught.  Their understanding is wonderfully unsophisticated.  Rabbi Gellman’s citation is most illuminating.   It was not the academic elites who resisted Nazism and their treatment of the Jews but those who knew right from wrong.  Many were Christians who are derided in our day and time as “fundies”, or cultural neanderthals and the like.  A  good documentary on one village of 5,000 Huguenots in France who saved the lives of 5,000 Jews is Weapons of the Spirit by a man who was saved at birth in Le Chambon, Pierre Sauvage.  Why did those villagers risk so much?  Their answer:  we had too.  Why?

Your Word is a lamp to my feet
   and a light to my path. Psalm 119:  105

His Word is quite clear and lights our path.

At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. (St. Matthew 11)

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The following summation of Mr. Brooks’ article is from the 9/23/2011 edition of The Week:

If it feels right to me, then it is. That, said David Brooks, pretty much sums up the moral philosophy of most young Americans, who have grown up unmoored from any cultural or religious framework for knowing right from wrong. In a depressing new book, Lost in Transition, a group of sociologists documents how people in their late teens and early 20s have come to view moral choices as “just a matter of individual taste,” and seem perplexed when asked to make judgments about behavior that earlier generations would clearly label as wrong. Cheating on tests? Infidelity? Drunken driving? In interviews, young people say that decisions about such behavior are “up to the individual.” There is virtually no sense of any overarching value system or obligation to society or to others. “I guess what makes something right is how I feel about it,” is a typical refrain. For this, we can only blame schools, institutions, and families. From blind deference to churches and authority, our society has swung to the other extreme, and now morality is purely “something that emerges in the privacy of your own heart.”

My Comment:  What Mr. Brooks has left out is this  aspect of this moral decline of an absolute moral code:   Protestant denominations were particularly complicit in this.  Neo-liberals did not want at all “blind deference to churches”,  they/we wanted “dialogue” about divorce, war, abortion, homosexuality, feelings etc. etc.(many still do: see the ELCA). In the 60s the old morality was replaced by the “new morality”, which as one evangelical said back then was just the old immorality.  We bought into values clarification with a Christian veneer in which the self is the final moral arbiter.  We did this in youth groups. We “reaped the wind and sowed the whirlwind” (see Hosea 8:7).  The whirlwind?  Wrath.  The Law of God is written into our very being.  If we deny this, bury it, we are doing the impossible.  The wrath of breaking His Law and denying it is visited upon us.  We say as we do something blatantly wrong, “What the hell!”.  In deed, what the hell we pay in anger at each other, in self-destructive behaviors and idolatry (see politics, conservative or liberal today).

Romans 1:  18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.

Only then can we pray from the depths:  Lord, have mercy.

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