ROBERT SUMMER, an evangelist, called attention recently to an interesting, popular reaction which is an all too common characteristic of our generation. If a sound moral principle threatens to interfere with our reckless behavior, we simply change the rules.
In the State of Wisconsin it was discovered that an old law, enacted many years ago, made it illegal for any brewery to advertise or sponsor an athletic team. It had been put on the statute books years before the Braves baseball team of the National League had been transferred from Boston to Milwaukee and before the Green Bay Packers football team had become famous.
Upon discovering that the ancient law made these famous athletic outfits guilty of criminal action, the State senate immediately voted to amend the law, and the State assembly quickly followed suit. Guilt was transformed into innocence by the simple process of changing the law.
There was a time when adultery and indecent exposure w'ere esteemed to be sins and were treated as such both by the law and by public opinion. Then came an erosion of our conviction relative to the matter of sex, and now the exhibitionist is called an "exotic," and the adulteress has become a "corespondent." The old-time philanderer has come to be known as a "playboy."
And if such a one is inclined to make literary capital out of his adulteries, he can write a book describing his sordid adventures, and it is apt to become a best seller.
On all hands there are evidences of our efforts to sanctify sin, for to change the rules is the simplest way to escape the charge of being a sinner. There is a great need, therefore, that we shall be reminded that we do not make the rules.
There is the venerable story of the little girl who prayed very earnestly, "O Lord, make Omaha the capital of Nebraska!" When her mother asked for an explanation, the child replied, "Well, that's what I wrote in my examination this afternoon."
And there is little difference between the child who seeks to change the facts and the adult who tries to remake the moral laws.
No chemist or physicist ever undertakes to alter a principle that is known to be a law. Imagine, if you can, a scientist deciding that, for convenience sake, he will substitute a rule of his own making for the law of gravity. The chaos that would result from any such folly is too vast to estimate. But in the realm of morals, we are just as luckless and foolish.
This generation needs very badly to learn a simple fact: There are some attitudes and acts of which God disapproves, and no popular approval of ours will re-move the odium of God's disapproval.
No astronomer makes the rules which govern the heavens. No mathematician ever solves his problem by repealing the laws which govern that noble science. No garage mechanic ever puts your motor into shape by defying the principles he knows to be true.
The Christian Church faces no other task more imperative than this: That it declare to the world that the same God who gave authority to the laws of physics and mathematics has established moral standards. Defiance in one case is as stupid, and as profitless, as defiance in the other. The stamp of divine disapproval has been imprinted on a long list of immoralities, and nothing that man can do can make them moral.
Moreover, no man's social status or economic power is capable of changing God's opinions. Dishonorable dealings are under the ban whether they be practiced by a religious organization or a political machine. Theft is thievery whether it is committed by a thug or a theologian; drunkenness is terrible whether the guilty one be a deacon or a debauchee.
One of the most insidious temptations we face is the impulse to condone evil because it appears profitable or because it is approved by the majority. Injustice has been defended on innumerable occasions because, under some fantastic interpretation of the law, it is legal.
"There's no law against it" is an excuse commonly offered for sinning, as though God waited until legislatures had spoken before He passed judgment, as though a legal code could supersede a moral code.
One of the first responsibilities of the Christian Church is to draw lines of moral distinction, and one of the first duties of every Christian is to accept the will of God as the supreme law of his life.
This modern disposition to soften the judgments of God by trying to change the rules may prove to be an extremely costly experiment in morals. And in view of the desperate struggle in which we are engaged, it ill behooves us to make mistakes. Moral blunders can be as deadly as missile gaps.
One of the hardest lessons we have to learn is that man does not make the rules which govern the moral and spiritual realms.—Taken from The War Cry—Chicago. Used by permission.