II Timothy 2:15
"Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth."
The Single Page
Normal Doesn't Mean It is Right
"Just because everyone is doing it doesn't mean you should too." These words of wisdom have probably been spoken to most of us while we were growing up. The statement is true. In our democratic western world we have adopted the idea that the majority must not only rule but must be right as well. I came across an interesting piece of research that pointed out that rapid sexual involvement may be harmful to long term relationship quality. The basic premise of the research is that those who move too quickly into a sexual relationship are potentially doing great harm to the quality of their relationship in the long run and this was especially true for women. We even have the phrase hooking up to refer to casual sexual encounters between relative strangers. The idea of casual sex and even more the idea of sex before marriage is a very interesting illustration of what I am talking about. Popular culture and media would have us believe that almost everyone is sexually active prior to marriage. Because everyone is doing it, it must be ok. You may have never know about American Olympic Hurdler Lolo Jones even though she is a world class athlete except for the fact she is also a self-proclaimed virgin. At the age of 29, her virginity is more intriguing to the mass media than her athletic accomplishments (As of this writing, she has qualified for the semi-finals and by the time you read this, the event will have awarded a gold medal). The idea of waiting until marriage to become sexually active seems weird and strange and certainly not normal.
I guess it is fair to say that not everyone is doing it, but the issue of concern still needs to be addressed. What if everyone was doing it, does that make it right? If everyone was lying, stealing or killing would that make it right? My point is that the number of people doing something is not what defines what is right. If it did then we would have to conclude that wars are right, political corruption is right and moral failure is right because these things happen quite frequently. What is normal is not what is right and often in the case of moral issues, it is the exact opposite. This leads to a bigger question, if everybody does something that isn't right, why not just turn a blind eye or ignore it. This is how society tends to address issues of social change. There are a variety of social issues today that if you were to stand up and say they were wrong, you would be labelled as narrow minded or a religious fanatic. I think those labels are in part a result of Christians having difficulties dealing with sin. We try to ignore it, deny it, legislate it or stone those who commit it knowing full well we are just as guilty. When Jesus walked this earth he was confronted with sin everywhere he went. Everyone was doing it except him.
In john 8 Jesus illustrates how he dealt with sin. A woman is trapped in the act of adultery in order to put Jesus on the spot. The Pharisees, or religious elite, wanted to see how Jesus would handle this situation. In a few short moments he exposes the self-righteous religious people who wanted to condemn and kill the women, valued the person of the woman, forgave her moral failure and directed her on a different path. Notice he didn't ignore it, pretend it didn't happen or say, "don't worry everyone does it." He stated it was wrong but he forgave her. He extended grace and then and only then did he give her some direction on living a different way. This Jesus story should teach us to be very careful about our tendency to judge and condemn when we ourselves are guilty, but also to extend forgiveness and grace before we can assume any role of advice giver.
God is the standard of what is right and what is wrong, not opinion polls. He is judge but also the one who makes transformation possible. He is the extender of grace for when we fall short. Frequency cannot be the standard of what is right or wrong but nor is a judgemental and condemning environment consistent with God's design to transform us from self centered messes to children in the image of his son. We need to understand that we are both human and fallible yet at the same time holy and sacred because Jesus is living a holy sacred life on our behalf. He died in our stead and now lives on our behalf. God does not change his expectations because we are unable live up to them. He changes us through the power of the Holy Spirit. Throughout all our wanderings he showers us with grace and confirms his love for us.
© Todd Martin, 2012