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David Hegg: Daring to talk honestly about sin

Posted: August 4, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 4, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Back in 1988 Karl Menninger released a provocative book entitled "Whatever Became of Sin?" The public conversation regarding this unpopular subject was further energized by the "look alike" 1995 Newsweek article by Kenneth Woodward entitled "What Ever Happened to Sin?"

Looking back over the past 18 years we have a good vantage point from which to answer both questions. Sin is still around, but we have become experts at redefining it so that its list is becoming shorter and shorter.

Maybe in a few more years we can throw the list away completely without any twinge of guilt.

For example, what was once known as sexual sin has almost completely been redefined as acts between consenting adults. The recent Supreme Court decision dismantling the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) has advanced this retreat. The legalizing of same-sex marriage in many states continues to move homosexuality from the aberrant to the allowable, and – if its proponents have their way – to the laudable.

But there is a consequence to all this. Where will the slippery slope take us? The North American Man Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) exists to end "the extreme oppression of men and boys in mutually consensual relationships" according to their website. In Great Britain there have been numerous reports of an alarming increase in sexual events involving men, women, and animals of various sorts. But then again, who can say this is alarming? If sexuality has no natural boundaries other than the desires of those participating, then there can be no sin.

And this redefinition of sin has found its way into other ethical areas as well. Take honesty for example. I still remember a former president stating on national television that he had not had sex with one of his employees. He redefined the sin of lying according to what the meaning of "is is."

In our day we have athletes and politicians routinely lying about everything from performance enhancing drug use, to the way events actually played out in Benghazi, where the facts are being hidden behind the walls of Non-disclosure Agreements (NDA) forced upon those in the know.

The point is this. If we have no standard by which to validate or invalidate the selfish will of the majority, or of those in positions of power, then the rapid decay of our society is inevitable. The whole concept of "majority rule" was predicated on there being a societal conscience that was informed by natural and divine law.

Alexis de Tocqueville, the author of Democracy in America, has been reported as saying "America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great." Whether he really said it or not, it remains true. Majority rule only offers an ordered and healthy society if the majority is kept from their evil passions by some rule or law that lies outside of themselves.

The presence of natural law combined with divine law revealed in the Bible provide such restraint. This restraint also provides freedom and purpose for life itself. It gives hope that an ordered and noble society can allow for diversity without debauchery.

Any honest observation of our world must conclude that it has an order, an intricate design.

Those who deny it champion randomness and an antinomian ethic of self-satisfaction.

Humanity is capable of both great good and great evil. But if the only rule is the will of the many, we will soon find ourselves to be a multitude, corrupted from within, that bears a slight resemblance to a people that once were a great and honorable nation.

David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church and a Santa Clarita resident. "Ethically Speaking" runs every Sunday.


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