But that good man Lot, driven nearly out of his mind by the sexual filth and perversity, was rescued. Surrounded by moral rot day after day after day, that righteous man was in constant torment (1 Peter 2:7-8 MSG).
Move over Lot, you should be having company.
Contextually, Peter was referring to Lot being in those notoriously wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. How wicked were they– say compared to the present time? I cannot say. A conjectured comparison is not what this post is about.
Recently though, that statement by Peter crossed my mind and prompted me to consider if anyone is feeling today what Lot felt then? Has there been any torment going on in our souls about the moral rot that surrounds us? This is what this post is about- morality or lack of it.
I realize this is not a popular discussion. It is loaded with all kinds of loaded opinions and passionate presuppositions. Post-modernism does not easily lend itself to any kind of moral conversation. it seems to break down too quickly into divisive rhetoric which then becomes counterproductive to any constructive dialogue.
But even with the challenges– shouldn’t we be having this conversation?
Do we really want Miley Cyrus (who is just the latest performer to “shock” us) and the pervasive entertainment industry to define the moral standards for our culture? (To a large extent- they are, BTW) We cannot run or be afraid to address what is playing out before us. If indeed the moral rot embedded in our culture bothers us– then shouldn’t we feel compelled to speak out?
But not with signs, picketing, angry shouts, hate-fueled language and slander. Go back a couple of paragraphs to the counterproductive point. I don’t think that has really gotten us anywhere. So what to do? Here are my thoughts:
- “Be shrewd as snakes”- This quotation is from Matthew 10:16. Jesus gave this advice to his disciples before he sent them out on a mission to “the lost sheep of Israel.” Jesus not only gave this advice, he lived it (as well as the equally important second part). Christ engaged people where they were without creating unnecessary barriers. He did not use hate-language or angrily confront the lost sheep. He sought opportunities to dialogue and present kingdom alternatives to prevailing morality (see John 4:1-42). He told penetrating stories that made people think and reconsider choices they had made. Make no mistake– he spoke truth, but in love. Also make no mistake- our moral failures tormented him. That is why he became flesh and why that flesh was bruised and pierced. This is how he became personally engaged in our conversation. We can learn volumes from him on how to become personally engaged in our current cultural conversations.
- “And innocent as doves”- Hypocrisy undermines any credibility Christians have in a discussion of morality. Moral rot my torment our soul, but if we participate in it– we simply have no place in the conversation. There was no guile in Jesus. He had no hidden agenda or secret sin. He did not posture or manipulate. He was authentic, compassionate, and innocent. So must we if we are to have any voice in the overall cultural discussion.
It also has to do with those kingdom alternatives. We simply cannot just rail against and not offer something healthier. Authentically and joyfully living out Jesus is that healthy alternative. The Sermon on the Mount; heaven’s values revealed in the parables; the heart of Christ embedded in his people; these will go a long way to counter moral rot.
I guess it could be worse, though. What if this moral rot is not tormenting our soul? What if it doesn’t bother us at all?