The Campaign for Morality
We hear it on Christian radio. Students hear it at Christian school. Many people hear it in church every Sunday. 21st century America has been abuzz with campaigns and resolutions to reclaim America for Christ and regain our country’s good morality.
There are even pastors who spend a good deal of time reading the newspaper from the pulpit. I remember, once, watching a pastor spend ten minutes with a newspaper in the pulpit. Glenn Beck, a Mormon, has possibly been the biggest catalyst for this idea in the evangelical community because of his conservatism. Some people really believe we can restore our entire country to Christianity and moral living.
Let me ask a different question, and maybe some of you have asked the same question. Why hardly any focus on the real solution?
Among everything we hear and see about those who want to pursue this idea, I haven’t heard much about the gospel. I haven’t heard evangelicals talking much about the need to change our minds about who God is according to Scripture, and the need to agree with God about our individual sins. I haven’t heard these things much as the only resolution to true moral change. I listen to conservative political talk radio for at least a few minutes every day. I hear the name of Christ mentioned, I hear morality mentioned, and I hear about how conservative Americans – especially Christian Americans – should write their congressmen about their concerns. Yet, hardly ever do I hear about the root issue being Jesus Christ and Him crucified for sinners, and how morality is useless, and ultimately short-lived, without a changed heart.
Some argue that it is the responsibility, even obligation, of every Christian to do everything in our power to try to change federal laws so that we can govern morality. Just recently, on Christian talk radio, I heard a woman actually say that God does not look favorably on Christians who don’t vote. Yikes! Does the Bible say that somewhere? I’ve got to say it again. Yikes! Has evangelicalism become so political that we feel the right to make such a bold statement? While we can certainly pray that God will providentially direct government officers to reverse or reject immoral laws, does that have the power to change the heart or convert the soul? Does the Bible instruct Christians to reclaim a particular nation for Christ, or to reclaim good morality in a nation? In a church? Furthermore, is there something in the Bible that implies that it’s every Christian’s obligation to do something to fix our nation’s political problems? As I look through the Scriptures, I don’t find any examples of Jesus, or the Apostles, trying to change the laws of their culture. I don’t read about them writing to their rulers regarding a particular issue in hopes of influencing them toward moral decisions.
I do see, however, endless examples of Jesus and His followers proclaiming salvation through Jesus Christ, which, in turn, converted hearts wherever they went. The result was Christian converts with new hearts, which resulted in a desire to obey God and His Word. You see, Christian morality is short-lived and useless if the heart is unregenerate, and the soul headed for Hell. How can the heart make a long term moral change, or any change for good at all, when the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9)? Christians are called to proclaim Christ and Him crucified to all creatures (Mark 16:15), and there’s nothing in the Bible that would suggest that the Christian’s obligation is to bring back morality to any society. The last thing I want is for people to be moral without Christ. Jesus harshly condemned the Pharisees for their “good morality” about the law without Him, and Paul was equally as scathing to the Jews for their “good morality” about circumcision.
Now, am I saying to stay completely away from all politics? Certainly not. If that’s your thing, then do what you want. I’m only suggesting that Christians remember what Scripture really says, or doesn’t say. I’m suggesting that we remember from where true morality originates. Christians are to be concerned with proclaiming the truth about who God is according to the Scriptures, and how the Holy Spirit can change morality from the inside out. Individuals – not nations – need to know that all have sinned (Rom 3:23) and are rebels against God. They need to know that He requires perfection (Matt 5:48). They need to know that those who repent (Luke 13:4,6) and put their faith in Jesus alone (John 14:6, Acts 4:12) can be seen as perfect in God’s eyes, and have the promise of eternal life, along with a changed heart with new moral desires.
America’s morality is slipping fast, no doubt, but unless hearts are transformed by the Holy Spirit, the good morality will not last long, and hearts will remain dead in sin (Ephesians 2). True change comes naturally out of a changed heart (Ezekiel 36), not by trying to govern morality. If you are a Christian, don’t be so concerned about changing the morality of the culture, but rather give your energy to the eternity of individuals within the culture. Instead of letting those around us believe that moralism is the solution, let’s tell them about the real solution. Let’s get behind the campaign that’s declaring Jesus Christ and Him crucified for sinners.
“It may be you never thought of this; but so it is, that a man may as certainly perish by his seeming righteousness and supposed graces—as by gross sins…Beware of this, O professing Christians; you are much in duties—but this one fly will spoil all the ointment. When you have done most and best, be sure to go out of yourselves—to Christ; reckon your own righteousness as filthy rags (Phil 3:9; Isa 64:6).” – Joseph Alleine, A Sure Guide to Heaven
“Morality shoots short of heaven. It is only nature refined. A moral man is but old Adam dressed in fine clothes. The king’s image counterfeited and stamped upon brass will not go current. The moral person seems to have the image of God—but he is only brass metal, which will never pass for current…I am not saying, repent that you are moral—but that you are no more than moral. Satan entered into the house that had just been swept and garnished (Luke 11:26). This is the emblem of a moral man, who is swept by civility and garnished with common gifts—but is not washed by true repentance.” – Thomas Watson, The Doctrine of Repentance