You can buy a replica of the iconic Princess Leia dress from the 1977 Star Wars movie for $36.99, or you could have purchased the real thing in an auction that closed yesterday. The gown had been expected to bring up to $2 million, but the final bid amount of $975,000 failed to meet the seller’s minimum sale price. So you still have time.
If you buy the real Princess Leia dress, I wouldn’t know the difference between the two, but you would. Whether that’s worth what it cost is up to you.
The late Zig Ziglar noted, “It’s your attitude, not your aptitude, that will determine your altitude.”
“If a million people say a foolish thing”
The power of ideas to change the world is why Pride Month grows bigger and more insistent every year. For example, Time is carrying an article titled “Miss Benny is Glamorous—And Transgender.” Yahoo! wants us to know about two military sisters who used to be brothers.
Greater Good Magazine, which claims to offer “science-based insights for a meaningful life,” wants to teach us “how polyamorous people can find happiness in later life.” The New York Times informs us that “Emily Morse wants you to think seriously about an open relationship.”
And halfway through a seemingly innocuous Time article titled “The Best Father’s Day Gifts: 39 Thoughtful Ideas for the Dad in Your Life,” along with pocketknives and tumblers, we find Stella Brings the Family, which turns out to be a story about a girl and her two dads.
Ideas change the world for good and for bad. For example, a bill being considered in California would make a parent’s refusal to “affirm” their child’s transgender identity grounds for denying custody or visitation rights. More studies are demonstrating the danger of recreational marijuana use to public health, especially threatening expectant mothers and their babies, the mental health of young men, and the safety of those in the workplace.
Legal euthanasia is now being practiced in the Netherlands for people with autism or intellectual disabilities. As David French persuasively demonstrates in the New York Times, permitting transgender women to compete against biological women in sports threatens the legal foundation of women’s sports.
The singer and LGBTQ activist Rod McKuen claimed, “It doesn’t matter who you love or how you love, but that you love.” Does this apply to adultery? Polygamy? Pedophilia?
The French journalist Anatole France was right: “If a million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.”
Why people “behave badly”
You and I likely agree that, whatever conventional wisdom or personal opinion might claim, biblical morality is authoritative and foundational to life. We know we are to “flee from sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18) and to refuse all “works of the flesh” (Galatians 5:19).
But here’s the part of the story that is often overlooked: choosing to avoid wrong thoughts isn’t enough to avoid wrong thoughts.
New York Times columnist David Brooks is right: “People don’t behave badly because they lack information about their shortcomings. They behave badly because they’ve fallen into patterns of destructive behavior from which they’re unable to escape.” Consequently, he advises, “The way to get someone out of a negative cascade . . . . [is] to go on offense and try to maximize some alternative good behavior. There’s a trove of research suggesting that it’s best to attack negative behaviors obliquely, by redirecting attention toward different, positive ones.”
Brooks agrees with the Apostle Paul: “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8, my emphasis). It is not enough to avoid sinful thoughts—we must think godly thoughts. It is not enough to refuse temptation—we must choose godly behavior.
Otherwise we are like the man in Jesus’ parable who was liberated from an unclean spirit and then swept his house but left it empty. As a result, the spirit returned and brought with it “seven other spirits more evil than itself” (Matthew 12:43–45).
If, however, we fill our “house” with biblical thinking that results in biblical acting, we benefit not just ourselves but those we influence. After encouraging the Philippians to think about what is worthy of praise, Paul could offer himself as a concrete example: “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9). This was not egotism but the positive result of positive thinking in action.
“Keep your face always toward the sunshine”
NFL Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy observed, “Your mind is more powerful than you think. What is down in the well comes up in the bucket.”
This is why I so often encourage you to begin your day by meeting with God in his word and worship. (Our devotional ministry, First15, is a great resource.) I would add this practical suggestion: the next time you face temptation, ask the Spirit to show you a positive way you could respond in opposition to the sin you are being tempted to commit.
When you are tempted by immoral thoughts, reflect on biblical truth. When you are tempted to slander or gossip about someone, pray for God’s best for them instead. When you are tempted to shrink from sharing your faith, pray for courage and then stand boldly for your Savior.
Walt Whitman observed, “Keep your face always toward the sunshine, and shadows will fall behind you.”
Use evil for good and good will defeat evil.
This is the promise—and the invitation—of God.