It was an amazing day for the US at the Rio Olympics. Michael Phelps won his fourth gold medal, his twenty-second in his career. Simone Biles won the all-around gold in women’s gymnastics. And Simone Manuel became the first African-American swimmer to win gold.
We can always use some good news. That’s why I’ve just published a new booklet, Half-full or Hopeful? Five reasons for optimism in a pessimistic day, which I hope you’ll order from our website.
But this morning I must tell you about a story that seems too appalling to be true, but it is. According to USA Today, a mother in New Mexico gave her son up for adoption when he was a baby. He is now nineteen years old. They found each other on Facebook last year and began a sexual relationship.
They have been arrested for incest and now want to bring attention to something called “Genetic Sexual Attraction,” defined as “intense sexual desire that can arise between genetically related people who are united in Adulthood, after having been denied the opportunity to form proper emotional bonds.” Advocates want to “eliminate the irresponsible stigma associated with such relationships.”
You and I live in a culture which no longer has the tools necessary to determine right from wrong. We read stories daily about increasing acceptance of same-sex marriage, abortion, euthanasia, pornography, and cohabitation. Across the moral spectrum it seems America is becoming less biblical than ever before.
That’s why, more than ever before, it is critical that the church be the church. Before we can counter unbiblical cultural trends, we must first recognize that they are unbiblical. Then we must decide that the Bible is right, no matter how unpopular its teachings might be today.
For instance, the Bible expressly forbids incestuous relationships (see Leviticus 18:6–18; Deuteronomy 27:22–23; 1 Corinthians 5:1). And it expressly defines marriage as a monogamous, lifelong relationship between two heterosexuals (see Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5). I cannot imagine that you need the first reminder. But a few years ago I couldn’t have imagined that Christians would need the second, either.
Moral purity is essential to spiritual health. Scripture teaches that “whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it” (James 2:10). In other words, a single sin makes me a sinner and breaks my fellowship with God.
This is a subtle strategy of the enemy against those who seek to follow God. Satan calls our attention to areas of obedience in our lives, hoping we will ignore or justify the sins we commit. This is like focusing on the fact that my heart and lungs are healthy when there is cancer in my liver.
So let’s choose to live biblically whether the culture agrees or not. Such authentic faith will be our most powerful witness to a society in desperate need of God’s truth and love. Henri Nouwen: “Often we are preoccupied with the question, ‘How can we be witnesses in the Name of Jesus? What are we supposed to say or do to make people accept the love that God offers them?’ These questions are expressions more of our fear than of our love.
“Jesus shows us the way of being witnesses. He was so full of God’s love, so connected with God’s will, so burning with zeal for God’s Kingdom, that he couldn’t do other than witness. Wherever he went and whomever he met, a power went out from him that healed everyone who touched him.
“If we want to be witnesses like Jesus, our only concern should be to be as alive with the love of God as Jesus was.” Do you want to be a witness like Jesus today?