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Pic by Balazs Toth
Today we live in a culture saturated with self-serving, self-indulging, and self-gratifying people. It doesn’t take much to see how true this really is. We could point to the level of violent crime in the US, which indicates on some level a selfish desire to inflict pain on others in order to gain some demented level of gratification. Don’t believe that statement? Consider this comment from one Memphis teenager regarding a teen mob attack at a Kroger grocery store, “It’s fun…That’s just what kids do.”
Violence, though, is just one of many behaviors that reflect the reality of a selfish culture. What about a city that votes unanimously about criminalizing homelessness? Yes, it’s true. The city council in Columbia, SC voted to criminalize homelessness. Why? The motive isn’t completely clear as one council member said it was a temporary measure toward “a more sound resolution.” But like most decisions similar to these, it usually revolves around money. Apparently some businesses are voicing concerns on how the homeless crisis is affecting the city. (Read: Affecting sales and the bottom line.) Instead of addressing the issues in a more humanitarian way, it’s apparent that incarcerating, or moving the homeless to “a remote emergency shelter” on the outskirts of the city limits and where they’re out of sight, is a more acceptable alternative.
Another example of a selfish society can be found in Daytona Beach, CA and Ft. Lauderdale, FL. The law enforcement in these cities are told to enforce ordinances that make it illegal to feed the homeless. According to the laws of these cities, it’s up to the government to use taxpayer money to meet these needs in the community. The penalty to feed the homeless on your own? Large fines and even jail time. These laws seemingly run contrary in showing compassion to those less fortunate.
As children we all did certain things that we shouldn’t have. We back talked our parents. We were greedy and wanted toys all to ourselves. We hated eating spinach so we would hide it and lie and say we ate it. As children we didn’t always understand we couldn’t have our own way. And there were usually consequences.
I think the same is true as adults. We grow in age and stature but a part of our behavior suggests that we still hold on to childish ways. We buck authority. Our sin nature rebels against laws and authority. You may think I’m talking about man’s laws. In a way, that’s true. But it’s more than that. I’m really referring to God’s authority and laws.
God’s laws are our standard. Not everyone acknowledges this or even acknowledges God Himself. But God is perfect and holy. His laws are perfect. As God’s creation, we were made in His image. Many of our laws that we follow in government, including ethics and moral standards, come from the principles laid out in Scripture, God’s laws.
Because of sin we act and behave in ways that are much like little children with no understanding. We are selfish and want our own way. We hurt others without regard. If God didn’t reach out to us and reveal Himself and his holy nature, we would be spiraling headlong into moral chaos and depravity.
Like a parent, God sets the rules. He shows us what will benefit us and what can hurt us. If we live according to His ways, we find that we are blessed. But like children when they disobey their parents, we too have consequences when we sin against God’s rules.
One of the rules that God set up for us is in regards to the gift of sex. If we listen to God and see that He has established the parameters for how we should view and regard sex, there are amazing blessings for those who honor God with this gift.
However, when we disobey God and step outside of those parameters, we also should expect consequences. Sometimes what can happen when God disciplines us is mild and only a reminder to get our attention. Often, though, when we sin against God it can be very painful and leave us a complete mess.
The question then is what is God’s standard for sex? The Bible tells us that it’s a gift that should be enjoyed between one man and one woman. This principle is laid out for us in Genesis and Jesus even reinforces it in the Gospels.
The problem that all of us have, though, is that our sin nature leads us down the wrong path. It’s not always obvious. Many times it’s only our thought life. We think inappropriately about another person who is not our spouse and we sin in our hearts. In essence, we actually commit adultery in that respect.
Other times, it’s a more brazen act of defiance against God’s standards. We think we know better than God and believe living with a man or woman outside of marriage is acceptable. Today, there’s a lot of controversy about homosexual lifestyles and marriage. These too are also outside God’s design. There are other types of sexual sins, obviously, but they all have to do with going outside God’s original purpose and plan.
Pornography is another one of those areas where we have gone outside God’s standard. We might think it’s a harmless act and that it doesn’t affect anyone other than the person who views the images. However, we know better these days that it affects many people directly and indirectly.
The consequences of pornography can run deep. It often hurts, and sometimes destroys, marriages. It creates an atmosphere of mistrust. For the husband or wife that has been offended it takes an awful long time to heal and learn to trust again.
But there are certainly consequences that go outside the marriage and family unit. What about the women who are being manipulated and used? Pornography is an industry that promotes an unhealthy view and attitude toward women. It also creates a violent and troubling environment where women are forced into situations through sex slavery and exploitation. Many are raped, abused, and tossed aside like mere objects.
These are only a sample of the consequences for when we step outside God’s original purpose for sex and marriage. Appropriately, if we obey God we enjoy His gifts in a healthy, nurturing environment. And when we don’t, there’s usually pain and suffering.
The good news is that if we get off track, God doesn’t leave us there. He offers us a way to get right with Him. Just like with an earthly parent, discipline has to do with teaching us right from wrong and helping us to learn from our mistakes. That’s what God wants from us. To learn to trust Him and obey Him. Follow His lead. Surrender to His ways. When we do, God will bless you and me.