Arguing for the truth of God’s word is made that much easier when the pagans are gracious enough to do the heavy lifting. In Romans 1:18-32 the apostle Paul describes for us the sequence of degradation experienced a society that has rejected the Creator.
As I read the daily headlines, I am always reminded of one specific section from that passage:
…their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools…
Hardly a day goes by where there is not at least one illustration of these two concepts, ranging, as they do, from the tragic to the absurd.
Let’s start with the absurd.
Admittedly, this is low-hanging fruit…but they make it so easy! This is Emanuel Cleaver, a congressman and ordained minister (!) wrapping up his prayer before a session of congress:
Now, of course, the absurdity of the “awoman” line is what has gotten the most attention in the media, and it deserves every piece of mockery that has come flying its way. But as we reflect on how a man with a divinity degree could say such a thing with a straight face (one wonders if he intends to change his own name to “E-WOMAN-uel”), let us not forget what comes before it. This prayer is offered up in the name of the “monotheistic God”, of the Hindu god Brahma, and in the name of any other god that people happen to worship anywhere else in the world.
In other words, the “a-women” thing is not the most absurd part of the prayer. Praying to non-existent deities is. His sinful unbelief is the root of his problem. Embarrassing ignorance of the etymology of the word “amen” – that’s just a symptom. If you reject the creator, you will ultimately seek to deny His creation…to the extent of uttering a linguistic absurdity, on camera, in the lame attempt to attack biblical gender roles. Professing to be wise, they became fools…
That was the absurd. Now for the tragic.
This one strikes a little closer to my Brazilian home – Argentina, to be exact. Los Hermanos, as my Brazilian friends affectionately refer to our neighbors to the south, recently made abortion-on-demand the law of the land . This makes them only one of four countries in Latin America to grant virtually unrestricted access to abortion.
Here was the scene in Buenos Aires as the announcement was made:
Built into womanhood is the instinct to protect the young, no matter what the cost. I have personally witnessed the the shyest wallflowers among women turn into raging animals at the slightest perceived threat to their children.
And yet here are these Argentine women, yelling, cheering, weeping at the news that they now have the right to kill their own children. The old liberal line that “nobody really likes abortion” was a lie from the start. These women love abortion. Their rejection of their creator has taken them to a very sinister place indeed. Their foolish hearts have been darkened…
Now back to where we started.
Reading the headlines and seeing the daily confirmations of Romans 1:18-32 can be exhausting for the believer. Things seem to be getting worse, not better. But it helps to remember that before verse 18 come verses 16 and 17:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”
The significance of this is that those two verses serve as the introduction to a subject for which verses 18-32 are just the first sub-point. Yes, sin degrades and destroys, but the Gospel saves!
This has a major implication for believers as we navigate the strange days in which we live. Political action, responsible voting, social activism – all of these things are within the spectrum of the Christian’s responsibility. But our primary responsibility, the one that should occupy the majority of our time and effort, is to spread the Gospel. Society can be temporarily reformed through politics, but it can only be transformed through the saving power of Christ.
The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined. Isaiah 9:2
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