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Depraved Beings We Are

Ashley Madison is a company that profits from people who are interested in committing adultery. This past Presidents’ Day (February 17), they advertised through a billboard along Interstate 30 in Little Rock, AR. The billboard showed a picture of three former U.S. presidents—Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Bill Clinton—along with the message: Who said cheaters never prosper? Happy Presidents’ Day!            

The company has a highly profitable website that states: “Long gone are the days of working late and having an affair with the office secretary. With today’s technology the ability to have a discreet emotional or sexual affair is at your fingertips. You have definitely come to the right website. Ashley Madison’s married dating services can help you find that special someone who makes you feel young and alive again.”

The company’s founder, Noel Biderman, is a Toronto entrepreneur who claims to be happily married with two children. But he also states that, “Monogamy, in my opinion, is a failed experiment.” When confronted with how his company is promoting marital infidelity, Biderman responds by saying that they merely “facilitate cheating rather than promote it.” Even though the company’s trademark is, “Life is short, have an affair,” it also advocates marriage counseling: “If you are having difficulty in your marriage or relationship, you should seek counseling.”

My friends, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t provide a service for people to commit marital unfaithfulness while at the same time encourage people to work out their marital problems. When asked how she would feel if her husband cheated on her, Biderman’s own wife said she would feel “devastated.”

The Bible says, “Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water” (James 3:11-12).

Ashley Madison is just another example of our broken humanness and cultural degeneration. As Princeton professor, Robert P. George, puts it,

Consider how common it is for people to reason as follows: “My conscience does not tell me that X is wrong; therefore X is not wrong for me.” Or, even more egregiously: “My conscience does not tell me that X is wrong (or wrong for me); therefore I have a right to do X as a matter of freedom of conscience.” Every manner of evil and injustice is today rationalized, defended, and insulated from rebuke by appeal to conscience.

Our culture is sliding down the slippery slope of turning conscience into a green light for whatever feels right or expedient and then claiming that right to engage in the conduct. As Chuck Colson says, “And if it’s a right, why not claim it’s a constitutional right? And if it’s a constitutional right, why not claim a legal immunity even from criticism by others?”

In Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), the Supreme Court declared, “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concepts of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” The concept of self-will was unheard of until the nineteenth century, and now it is a constitutional right!

The issue is “self-will” vs. “God’s will.” If we do not accept objective standards of truth, universal principles of morality that transcend cultures, then we will become like the people of Israel at the end of the Book of Judges, “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). That may not bother some who think self-will and individualism trump all values, but once their self-will competes with someone else’s self-will, then we have a problem. This is the case with four-year olds fighting over a toy and governments fighting over who is in charge. Typically, in these battles the old adage rings true: “Might makes right.”

History has proven this time and time again. When there is no higher law, each person defines the law and moral obligation based upon his or her own “concepts of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” And when those definitions clash, which they always will, those with power make their ideology supreme.

Not all agree, but depraved beings we are, and we only have two options for restraining the evil that resides within: One is through our surrender to the higher law established by God Himself, and the other is our surrender to those with the power to enforce their concepts of existence and meaning on everyone else. As Colson writes, “You take away the internal restraints of the heart and conscience, and you are controlled by force. Take away a nation’s Bibles; polish up the bayonets.” Bibles or bayonets? History has proven that Bibles are always the better choice.

In Plenty and In Want, Give Thanks to the Lord

“Beware of the smooth places where you are walking. But if the road is rough, thank God” (Charles Spurgeon).

In Deuteronomy 8:10-18 Moses speaks to the Hebrews before they enter the land of Canaan with words of encouragement and warning. He encourages them to remember the Lord by keeping His commandments, rules and statues. He reminds them that the Lord will bring His blessing upon them as they enter “the good land He has given.” Moses encourages the people to build houses and live in them and to see their flocks and herds multiply. But herein lies the warning. When “your silver and gold are multiplied and all that you have is multiplied,” don’t forget the Lord your God. “Beware, lest you say in your heart, `My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth” (Deuteronomy 8:17-18).

Peace and prosperity are roads upon which all of us wish to travel. But they are roads beset with their own form of danger. Jesus said, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many” (Matthew 7:13). In our humanness we tend to eye those with financial success, luxurious houses and expensive cars with envy. We see their path as smooth and filled with ease and comfort. Those who have attained higher levels of financial success, however, would be the first to admit that their path is filled with many a pothole and sharp, dangerous curves through mountainous terrain. What appears to be a blessing to one person can actually be a curse to another.

That is why the Lord gives us the same warning He gave the Israelites: “Beware, lest you say in your heart, `My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth.” Our dependency is upon the Lord. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1). God owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and He owns the hills as well!

As the Apostle Paul reminds us, we are to be content no matter what our circumstances. We can learn the secret of being content when we are brought low and when we abound. “[We] can do all things through [Christ] who gives us strength” (Philippians 4:13). If we eye our fortunes as the result of our might, power and intellect, and we fail to acknowledge the hand of the Lord God Almighty, He will swiftly and severely bring His discipline upon us. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).

If, however, you find yourself in a season of misfortune, and you, too, take your eyes off the Lord, you are withdrawing from the very One who will grant you His supernatural strength to endure your current struggle. It all comes down to how we view our lives. Are we “self-made” or “God-made”? If we are self-made, then we will not experience the joy of the Lord in our blessings, and when we fail and find ourselves “un-made,” we will not experience the hand of the Lord bringing comfort in our struggle. Rely upon the Lord. Put your hope and trust in Him. If you are in a season of plenty, give thanks, and fail not to acknowledge His provision. If you are in a season of affliction, give thanks, hard though it may be, for in those moments you will sense a depth of God's love beyond measure.

Spurgeon wrote, “If God always rocked us in the cradle of prosperity; if we were always bounced on fortune’s knee; if there were no stains on the alabaster pillar; if there were no clouds in the sky; if there were no bitter drops in the wine of this life; if there were no such things, we would be intoxicated with pleasure. We would dream that `we stand.' And stand we would, but on a pinnacle, like the sailor asleep atop the mast, in jeopardy every moment. We bless God for our afflictions. We thank Him for our changes. We extol His name for loss of property. We feel that if He had not chastened, we would have become too secure and self-confident. Continued prosperity is a fiery trial. Afflictions, though they seem severe, in mercy often are sent."

And so we pray, “Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, `Who is the Lord?’ or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God” (Proverbs 30:8-9).


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