It takes something really bizarre to shock me these days. But I must confess that the latest pulse check of the American people did, in fact, have me doing a double take. I found myself asking, “Is it really possible that my fellow citizens esteem the president so highly that he has been crowned with the august title of “Most Admired Man in the World…”?
To bestow this honor on one who has admitted to repeated unfaithfulness to his wife, has lied under oath, has mislead the populace with boldness that goes beyond bravado, has sucker-punched his closest friends, and has generally exhibited the basest of character traits is, well, “shocking” – one word that comes to mind.
I kept asking myself, “How is this possible?” I think I’ve got the answer. You’ll find it in the New Testament book of Romans, chapter one, a paraphrase starting with verse 19. It could well have been written today.
“… God’s angry displeasure erupts as acts of human mistrust and wrong-doing and lying accumulate, as people try to put a shroud over truth.” Sound familiar? “But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! What happened was this: People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn’t treat Him like God, refusing to worship Him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives. They pretended to know it all, but were illiterate regarding life.”
Does this describe Washington, D.C., or what? Romans I continues: “So God said, ‘If that’s what you want, that’s what you get.’ It wasn’t long before they were living in a pigpen, smeared with filth, filthy inside and out. And all this because they traded the true God for a fake god,” (call that “god” materialism, hedonism, humanism, me-ism, feminism, liberalism, or even conservatism), and worshiped the god they made instead of the God who made them…worse followed. Refusing to know God, they soon didn’t know how to be human either — women didn’t know how to be women, men didn’t know how to be men.”
The passage continues with this description of our society: “Since they didn’t bother to acknowledge God, God quit bothering them and let them run loose. And then all hell broke loose: rampant evil, grabbing and grasping, vicious back-stabbing. They made life hell on earth with their envy, wanton killing, bickering, and cheating. Look at them: mean-spirited, venomous, fork-tongued God bashers. Bullies, swaggerers, insufferable windbags! They keep inventing new ways of wrecking lives. They ditch their parents when they get in the way…and it’s not as if they don’t know better.” And now comes the answer to my question of how we could actually think that Mr. Clinton’s lifestyle would garner the title of “Most Admired Man in the World.” Answer? Romans 1:32: “They know perfectly well they’re spitting in God’s face. And they don’t care — worse, they hand out prizes to those who do the worst things best!”
There you have it! We have degenerated as a culture to the point that we applaud most for those who act the worst. What do you do in a society such as that? You do the same thing the Apostle Paul did — you don’t curse the darkness, you shine the light of the saving work of Christ into every black hole you can find because the light is never so bright as when it’s up against a very dark backdrop.
These days offer a wonderful opportunity to tell a hopeless and morally decadent nation (and world) of the hope of the gospel of God’s grace in the person and work of His Son.
Rev. Cox is minister of Meadowview Reformed Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Lexington, North Carolina.