Nearly two million people are fleeing in Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas as Hurricane Matthew approaches. The storm has already devastated Haiti and eastern Cuba and is expected to strengthen over the next day. However, officials in South Florida are worried that residents have become complacent after eleven years of near misses. Weather authorities know what everyone should: the best way to respond to a hurricane is to flee its path.
This fact applies to more than hurricanes.
A new study involving more than a million women found a significant correlation between birth control pills and depression. The risk is especially elevated with teenagers: women between the ages of fifteen and nineteen who took oral contraceptives were 80 percent more likely to become depressed.
While some teenagers take the pill for medical reasons, 86 percent do so for birth control. If these women chose to abstain from premarital sex, they would avoid the pill’s depressive side effects.
Scripture repeatedly warns us to flee temptation (1 Corinthians 6:18; 10:14; 15:33; 1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:22). Contrary to conventional wisdom today, God’s moral standards are not puritanical legalism but an expression of his grace. He is a loving Father who knows his children and wants only what is best for them (Psalm 103:5). His standards are like signposts intended to keep us on the road and out of the ditch.
For instance, God warned Jerusalem that her sins would lead to her demise: “Woe to the bloody city, to the pot whose corrosion is in it, and whose corrosion has not gone out of it!” (Ezekiel 24:6). This is a powerful metaphor. When a cooking pot is corroded, nothing put inside it is edible. So it is with immorality: it poisons all it touches and ruins what comes from it.
It did not have to be this way. God told his people, “I would have cleansed you” (v. 13), but they refused his forgiving grace. Now they would face his judgment: “I will not go back; I will not spare; I will not relent; according to your ways and your deeds you will be judged, declares the Lord God” (v. 14).
Why doesn’t our loving God simply accept us in our sins? C. S. Lewis noted in The Problem of Pain, “To ask that God’s love should be content with us as we are is to ask that God should cease to be God: because he is what he is, his love must, in the nature of things, be impeded and repelled by certain stains in our present character, and because he already loves us he must labor to make us lovable.”
When I was in elementary school, I sometimes wished I didn’t have to go to school. If my parents loved me, why wouldn’t they accept me as I was? The answer was obvious: they wanted me to grow into all I could become. They loved me as I was, but they loved me too much to leave me as I was.
Here’s the paradox: if we make Christ our King and choose to glorify him with all we do and are, he gives us a greater happiness than sin could ever provide. As Craig Denison notes, “Joy is a consistent symptom of seeking first the kingdom of God because his kingdom is marked by joy.”
Choose joy today.
Note: For more on one of the moral tragedies of our day, please read my latest website essay, Fifty Shades Darker—Why is pornography so wrong?